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Arowana Factoids

Origin

South America, Australia, S.E. Asia

Sexual Differences

None discernible. Females probably chubbier.

Temperature

75o to 80o

Attitude

Eager fighter with fellow arowanas.  Jumper.

Biggest Threat

Improper foods in their baby stage

Schedule

Day shift

Security

Not hiders but likes a bit of decor

Size

Two feet long likely.  Three feet possible.

Foods

Eats smaller fish

Water

Demands clean water

Breeding Comments

Unlikely.  Mouthbrooders.

LA Pic
Here's looking at you kid.  Beeg arowana.


Origins:  The silver, the blue, and the black arowanas come from South America.  Jardinis (the ones we prefer) come from Southeast Asia.  The Formosa variety also comes from Southeast Asia and the Philippines.  We’ve never seen these in real life because no one can bring them into the country and because of their cost.  The red dragon starts at $6,000 FOB Malaysia.  This variety comes with an imbedded microchip proving you didn’t capture it from the wild.  Still, none of our wholesalers can import them.

LA Pic
Nice size silver arowana -- good 18-inch specimen.

Appeal:  These scaly, underwater dragons look great undulating thru their aquaria in search of prey or an argument with another dragon.  Most Asians highly regard any dragon-like fish -- especially arowanas.  Many Asian restaurants display these “lucky dragons.”

Keep Covered:  Arowanas leap from the water and can make tremendous jumps.  As they increase in size, their ability and likelihood to leap increases.  Use a strong lid because they can easily knock a lid loose and bail.

LA
Still absorbing yolk sac.  Very fragile at this stage.

LA Pic 
This little silver arowana just absorbed his yolk sac.  He needs some real food now.

LA
At this stage, they need feeder guppies.

LA Pic
Rough looking fins like on this arowana normally heal in 2 to 3 weeks.

LA Pix
Sold to us as "African arowanas," we've never seen these 2.5-inchers before or adults.
 

Gary Davis, May 26, 2007
I claim no expertise in this matter, but a couple of decades of raising and
observing these fish have led to conclusions that are not offered at your
site.
Young arowanas like still water. When there are no ripples, they will cruise
with the tips of their barbels gliding at the surface. It may hold no
significance, but in this posture, the second or third dorsal spine also grazes the surface. When swimming like this, they are very sensitive to disturbances, and will turn toward the source -- like a fruit fly dropped into the water -- showing some directional acuity. Their preference for swimming at the surface, their sensitivity to slight surface ripples, and their superior positioned mouth, combine to indicate that they eat what alights on the water.
Shortly before their yolk sacs are fully absorbed, they will readily accept small insects like young crickets and wingless fruit flies. When fed insects, they often ignore feeder fish. This tendency continues through adulthood. They will eat fish if you don't give them a choice. The barbels-on-the-surface behavior diminishes quickly. At four/five inches, arowanas are visual hunters, with their barbels having no obvious use. I've read speculation that their barbels have an olfactory function.
In a tank where pump and filter effluence ripples the water's surface, young
arowanas will not exhibit the barbels-on-the-surface behavior, and they can
be raised in small groups. In a tank with still water, they are very territorial, and one dominant fish will kill its siblings or drive them to lower depths to starve, if they are not removed.
Adults seem to eat anything (other than amphibians) that will fit in their
cavernous mouths: whole shrimp, crayfish, mice, earthworms, chunks of raw
fish, mealworms, crabmeat, but their staple is always bugs. For laughs,
rinse some live brine shrimp, and watch a two and a half footer pick them
off one by one.
These comments apply to silver, black and jardini arowanas, except I have
not raised more than one jardini at a time.
I concur with Kevin Parent's assertion that nothing less than 180 gallons
will suffice for an adult. Also, I tried large fish, aggressive fish, fast
fish, and nocturnal fish as tank mates for my jardinis, but none lived to
tell the story. Jardinis also objected to rooted plants. My advice is: bare
tank for jardinis, well-planted tanks for silvers and blacks, well-covered
tanks for all. Good luck,

A:  Thanks for the very useful info.  I'm adding it to my web page with your name on it, of course.  I've always had problems with the little guys.  You've encouraged me to add a half dozen of the little cruisers this week.  I should have known they prefer bugs after seeing all those oriental paintings of arowanas leaping out of the water to snag dragonflies.  LA

 

Size:  South American arowanas (silvers) start out as cute little two-inch, fork-tongued dragons dragging a large orange egg sac from their belly.   At this stage, they succumb to many problems usually initiated by improper and insufficient foods.  We prefer to start with the larger guys well past this delicate stage.  Beware.  They all grow to at least two feet long and eat ever-increasing amounts of food.

LA
Try fishing for 10-inch arowanas.  No hooks, please.

LA
Much easier to get them to eat when several compete for the food.

LA
Judging from his belly, this is not his first nightcrawler.

LA
When they run like this, all the other arowanas (and tinfoil barbs) try to yank the worm away.

LA
So they hide in the corner ...

LA
... to no avail.  Tinfoils move much faster than arowanas.

Foods:  Start baby arowanas on feeder white clouds.  Feeder guppies make a poor second choice because they die so easily.  Also, guppies like to pick at other fishes, even larger ones.  Many arowanas will convert to live worms and frozen foods as they grow.  Once an arowana reaches four inches, you’ll likely have few feeding problems.

LA Pic
This nine- inch blue arowana barely fits in a 20H -- his temporary home.

LA Pic
About the same size in a planted tank.  Note the convict, supposed to be food.  He grew.

 

Housing:  Arowanas can start out in a 10-gallon tank.  As they grow, they need a 100-gallon tank.  You can keep them in a 70, but this really cramps their style.  As they grow, they get along together less and less.  They get along better in larger groups than in couples.
 

Jzareau Proctor, Denver, CO, March 2, 2009
Because I use your site as one of my first researching tools I usually use yours as one to trust. But I was reading your arowana page and several others readers have said that nothing less than 180 or 150 gallons would be far to small. But several of the fish stores that I have been going to for years and have been in business for even longer have all suggest that nothing less than 100 is too small and I whole-heartedly agree. But they all agree that while all arowanas have the capability of reaching over three feet in length easily in the wild, that in captivity you're incredibly lucky to make it up to three, unless you have access to a 2,000 gallon pond. One of the store owners kept  silver aros in a 450 gallon indoor pond and none of them ever reached 3 feet, and many lived over eight years. Also the same owner said they maintained and set up several Asian restaurant's tanks and in one specific case a restaurant had 4 silvers in a 150. Personally I think that is pushing it a little, but they lived in that tank over 10 years. I'm sure that there is still a risk of stunting any fish in too small of a home. But these fish store owners have been doing this for more than 20 years and I'm sure they speak from experience. I am not accusing the other readers of anything, but I thought that it was interesting and I have had a lot of luck with all of these people

A:  I'll add your comments to my Arowana Page.  LA

LA
This Jardini was in with one slightly larger Jardini.

LA Pic
Here's six 12-inch arowanas at a wholesaler sort of getting along in a low 40B.

LA Pic
We liked these arowanas so much, we bought them all.  They now look even better at Aqualand.

LA Pix
And they eat like pigs.  The school brings out the arowana's competitiveness.

LA Pic 
Baby black arowana still at the delicate stage. 
  

Black Arowanas.  Also from South America, these guys start small but cost more.  The adults stay much smaller than the silvers.

LA
Adult black arowana 

LA Pic 
Adult Jardini arowana -- our favorite because the feds won't let reds and golds into the US.

LA
Four-inch Jardini arowana.

LA
Ditto

LA
Four-inch Jardini arowana.

LA
5-inch jardini.

LA
Same guy.

LA
Same guy.
.

LA
Six-inch jardini.

LA
Profile of 12-inch Jardini.

LA
Same guy face on.

LA
Same guy.

LA
Ditto.

LA Pic
You usually see them at this 1.5-inch (touchy) stage.  Cute but hard to keep.

LA
Likes nightcrawlers.

Jardini Arowanas.  From Australia, these guys also stay smaller than the silvers.  They also cost more.

LA
This is why they are called "bony-tongued" fish.

LA
Geophagus rarely get rowdy and they do make great scavengers.

Tankmates:  You can keep arowanas with smaller cichlids too large for them to swallow -- even smaller oscars and larger goldfishes.  If your cichlids get too rowdy (like when they want to breed), you may have to remove aggressors.  The swifter swimming cichlids can skin your arowana’s scales right off.

Temperature:  Keep your arowanas at tropical temperatures – 75o to 80o.  They do not do well in cool water.

LA Pic
This two-foot arowana feels crowded in his 55.

Temperament:  Arowanas keep moving all the time -- possibly looking for food, possibly looking for an argument.  Usually good natured, they do spaz out when startled.  Avoid scaring them and keep your juvenile tank whackers away from them.  An adult arowana can break a tank.

LA Pic
Another nine-inch arowana.

LA
11-inch silver arowana.

Decor:  Arowanas act very uncomfortable in bare tanks.  They might knock some of their decor around, but they act much calmer in a decorated tank.

Plants:  Feel free to add live plants to their tank.  Arowanas do not eat vegetation.  They may knock plants loose, but do it by accident rather than intentionally.  Put them at both ends of your tank.  This keeps them from losing their fork and from building a lip callous.

LA Pic
Two larger arowanas getting along.  Potential mates?  Not likely.

Breeding:  If you keep the two sexes in a seriously large tank, you could possibly spawn arowanas.  They do the work.  You get the credit.  Wait a bit before ordering the cigars.

LA Pic
Did we mention that arowanas like goldfish?

LA
Does this look like an oriental painting or what?

Last Word:  Keep their water clean and large.  You cannot over filter your arowanas’ water or give them too much room.  LA.

LA
Foot-long black arowana which looks to me exactly like a blue arowana.

LA
18-inch blue arowana.

LA
2.5-inch African arowana.
 

Kevin Parent, May 13, 2007
I was looking over your information on the care of Arowanas and I found some things that are incorrect. Firstly, you do not address the specific feeding habits of the African Arowana, also known as the African Bony tongue. This fish is a filter feeder and will starve to death if it does not have almost constant access to food while young, It becomes a little more hardy when it grows bigger but still should  have access to food almost all the time. I also feel it is necessary to point out that both the Black Arowana and the Blue Arowana are the same species, Osteoglossum ferreirai. In regards to size all species of Arowana have to capacity to grow to at least 30" in size. For this reason a 100 gallon tank is much too small for a fully grown Arowana. The minimum tank size for a fully grown Arowana should be 180 gallons, to house it comfortably, although it could be housed in a 150 gallon. Either way your recommendation is too small and could result in stunting the fish, and/or causing it to have gill curl. A condition where the gills of the Arowana will curl outward, this results from the fish having to swim backwards due to an insufficient tank size. Also, Jardini Arowanas and the Spotted Barramundi, another Australian species of Arowana,
should not be housed with tank mates. This is due to the fact that they will kill most tank mates, and can only really be kept with other Australian Arowana species.
PS - Arowana's belong to the order Osteoglissidae, which consists of two subfamilies Heterotidinae and Osteoglossinae. Only the Osteoglossinae subfamily is regarded as the true Arowanas. The African Arowana is for this reason not regarded as a true Arowana because it is from the subfamily Heterotidinae.

A:  Good info.  I'll add it to my Arowana page.  Thanks.  LA

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