It was time to bring this arapaima from the quarantine facility to its exhibit at Amazon Flooded Forest. The biggest the aquarists have seen, the transfer proved to be quite the challenge.

Morning briefing

19 November 2019, 10.25am Fish Holding Quarantine

The aquarist and vet team members involved in the transfer gather for a safety briefing of the transfer procedure as well as a walk-through and rehearsal of the procedure from start to end.

Sedating an arapaima

19 November 2019, 10:40am Fish Holding Quarantine

Veterinarian Dr Ali Anwar sedates the fish by mixing an anaesthetic solution into the tank, starting with the lowest dosage.

Keeping a watchful wait

19 November 2019, 10.55am Fish Holding Quarantine

The drug dosage needs to be carefully managed to avoid too deep a sedation that could lead to depression of the respiratory system. The team waits for the anaesthetic to kick in.

Pole guiding

19 November 2019, 11.16am Fish Holding Quarantine

When the arapaima is ready to be moved, the aquarists go in the tank, using wooden poles to guide the fish towards the canvas stretcher.

The first attempt

19 November 2019, 11.17am Fish Holding Quarantine

Despite its sedated state, the arapaima put up an impressive fight, tearing the canvas into half.

Second time lucky

19 November 2019, 11.22am Fish Holding Quarantine

An additional dose of the anaesthetic drug was administered before a second attempt is made. It took all the skill and strength of seven aquarists to safely contain it.

Up, up...

19 November 2019, 11.26am Fish Holding Quarantine

Three of the aquarists then clambered up to join their team members receiving the arapaima from above.

… and away

19 November 2019, 11.28am Fish Holding Quarantine

As swiftly as possible, the arapaima is brought to the tank of water atop the waiting lorry that will bring the fish to its new home.

Destination reached

19 November 2019, 12.05pm Amazon Flooded Forest BOH

The lorry arrives at the Amazon Flooded Forest back of house. After a final check to ensure all safety precautions were in place, the arapaima is gently unloaded.

Heave, ho

19 November 2019, 12.08pm Amazon Flooded Forest BOH

The aquarists keep a firm hold on the arapaima as they bring it to the tanks at the back of house.

New home at last

19 November 2019, 12.09pm Amazon Flooded Forest BOH

Finally! The fish is gently released from the canvas carrier.

All’s well that ends well

19 November 2019, 12.16pm Amazon Flooded Forest BOH

An aquarist stays in the water to check that the arapaima is well and surfacing for air. All’s well so it is given access to the front of house tank.