Silver Arowana Care Requirements and Tank Selection for Hobbyists

juvenile silver arowana The prehistoric looking arowana is long and sleek, streamlined fish with a distinct personality. Arowanas feature a unique scale pattern and come in a variety of hues, such as silver, gold, and even red. Arowanas are long, elongated fish of the Osteoglossidae family. The thin body of these fish gives them an almost eel-like look. Arowanas are freshwater fish that may be found in Asian, South American, and Australian rivers, lakes, and ponds. In addition, they may be found in flooded woodlands. This fish family is closely connected to the Arapaimidae family, another bony-tongued fish family that is also known as Arowanas. They're a huge, predatory species with a ferocious personality. They have the ability to grow at a quick rate of up to two inches every month. It's a common tank fish that may be found in zoos, public aquariums, and home aquariums all around the globe. It is a symbol of riches and success in East Asian nations. Many people think that arowanas bring good fortune and luck. Some fish species are worth tens of thousands of dollars.

In the family Osteoglossidae there are six species belonging to two genera:

Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) - native to South America
Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai) - native to South America
Southern Saratoga (Scleropages leichardti) - native to Australia
Northern Saratoga (Scleropages jardinii) - native to Australia
Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus) - found across Asia
Myanmar Arowana (Scleropages inscriptus) - native to Myanmar

Arowana habitat information

Representatives of the Osteoglossidae family may be found on practically every continent, including South America, Africa, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Because the fish is so old, this is the case. During the Jurassic era, Arowana forefathers lived on the supercontinent Gondwana, which later split into the continents we know today.

The fish is endemic to river basins in South America, including the Amazon, Rupununi, Orinoco, and Essequibo. The fish was brought to North America multiple times, and arowana was captured in ponds around the country. Backwaters and inshore zones of rivers and lakes with water temperatures between 75 and 86 degrees F are home to this fish. This fish travels into flooded bottomland woods every year when the Amazon river overflows. It favors vast river regions with a sluggish flow a little to the side of the flow center in the wild.

Surface water dwellers are easily identified by their looks. Its superior mouth, long straight back, and far-reaching dorsal speak for itself. The dorsal, anal, and tail fins make a powerful paddle that helps the fish to move quickly.

It gracefully twists its body from side to side while swimming upstream, and its acute eyes never stop studying everything that happens on the water's surface. Its two sensitive barbs on the mandible detect even the slightest water oscillations caused by falling insects. When the fish detects its target, it leaps for it and opens its massive jaws.

Silver arowanas, sometimes known as monkey fish, are excellent jumpers. They will leap up high from the water if required to grab insects and tiny birds flying past.

Arowana overall description and size

The body of the fish may be up to 90 cm (35 in) long, and more rarely - up to 120 cm (47 inches). It may weigh up to 6 kg (13 lb). It's generally 4.6 kilograms on average (10 lb). Its tape-like body is flattened on the sides and coated in extremely delicate scales with a golden tinge and silvery sheen.

The body of the juvenile fish displays yellow-orange stripes and blueish glitter. The dorsal and anal fins of the fish are very long and thin. With its fluke, they're on the verge of coalescing. They produce a distinctive "paddle" when combined with the fish's unusually broad and flattened tail-stem on the side, giving the arowana a powerful acceleration while attacking its food. It enables the fish to leap fairly high out of the water in order to capture anything. When terrified, an arowana in a tank may leap 3 meters into the air.

The dorsal rays of the fish are 42-50, whereas the anal rays are 49-58. The lateral line of Arowana's body comprises 30-37 scales, while the spine includes 84-92 bones. The fish has a large, upward-pointing mouth with two fleshy barbels on the mandible's border. The arowana usually swims gently near the water's surface, with its barbels pointing front, as if investigating the water.

Silver arowana can survive in low-oxygen environments. It likes to spend the most of its life in densely vegetated waters with low oxygen levels. As a result, it has evolved and created new breathing techniques.

The air-bladder of a fish has a large network of blood arteries that allows it to serve as a lung and dissolve oxygen in the blood. A specific epibranchial organ has developed in several fish species, enabling them to collect atmospheric air.

Why are arowana called bony tongued fish?

The order Osteoglossiformes, or bony-tongued fish, includes arowanas. These fish have a bony tongue, as the name implies, and some of their teeth are also present on their tongue. Arowanas have teeth in the top of their mouths and a pair of little barbels at the bottom of their jaws that function as sensors. Their mouth is designed to eat near the surface and opens in a drawbridge-like fashion. Their gut also varies from that of most other bony fishes in that it wraps over to the left rather than the right side of the esophagus.

There are over 220 species of bony-tongued fish, all of which may be found in freshwater.

What are the specifications required for keeping arowana fish?

This fish is not for the faint of heart. Even juvenile arowana fish demand a large tank due to their rapid growth. For immature species, a tank of 250 liters (66 gallons) is sufficient.

However, the fish will soon demand a larger tank, about 800-1000 liters (265 gallons). In addition, the fish need very clean and fresh water. However, arowana, like other freshwater fish, is relatively tolerant to pH and hardness variations.

Arowana feeding isn't inexpensive, however.

Care and keeping in a tank
Scientific Name Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
Family Osteoglossidae
Common Names Silver arowana, arowana fish, silver dragon fish
Ease of keeping Medium
Lifespan 12 years and more
Tank size 500 liters (132 gallons) and more
Temperament Predatory
Tank type Community of large fishes
Diet Omnivorous
Temperature 24 to 28 °C (75-82F)
pH 6-8
Water hardness 9-20 dGH
Size up to 120 cm (47 inches)
Provided with proper tank conditions, silver arowana can live up to 12 years.

Arowana tank size and its importance for healthy fish

The most important condition to be observed is to keep this fish in a tank is the tank size. Recommended tank capacity must be over 500 litres (132 gallons). 160 cm length, 60 cm wide, and 50 cm high is the minimum tank size. This is a fairly long fish, and it should be able to readily spin in the aquarium. The following formula must be followed when choosing an arowana tank size: the tank length must be at least 3 times the fish length, and the tank width must be at least 1.2 times the fish size.

Young arowana may be temporarily housed in smaller aquariums. Later, the fish must be placed in a tank that is the correct size to minimize body deformation and to guarantee the fish's maximal lifetime and length. To prevent the fish from leaping out of the tank, it must be tightly secured with a glass cover.

The fish spends most of its time on the water's surface, thus tank depth isn't important to it. However, since arowana may automatically attempt to grab any bug and leap from the tank, a clear cover for the tank is required.

Arowana water conditions are very important in the aquarium

The wild silver arowana needs soft water with a pH range of 6.0 to 8.0, however it is undemanding of the water chemical composition in a tank. It quickly adjusts to a broad variety of hardness and acidity in tank water. The tank water temperature should be between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius (75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit); preferably, it should be about 26 degrees Celsius (78°F).

Arowana tank specifics and aquarium plant recommendations

Because it spends most of its time in the top water layer, this fish is unconcerned with the tank's interior. Typically, the tank is painted to resemble its natural biotope. The bottom substrate is sand or tiny stones. As embellishments, stones and snags are employed. Vallisneria americana 'Gigantea' is a wonderful option for live tank plants, but you should surround it with stones so the fish don't dig it out. The lighting in the tank should be dim. To avoid scaring the fish, you should use lighting fixtures that turn on gradually.

Arowana filteration and recommendations

To maintain the right water qualities, the fish needs vigorous water filtration, a weekly water renewal of 25-30%, and tank cleaning. The silver arowana is tolerant of high nitrate levels in the tank water, but even low levels of ammonia and nitrites are harmful to it, thus a canister filter and frequent water changes are required. This huge fish generates a great deal of waste and should be eliminated from the system.

Arowana food selection and specific prepared foods available

Fish mostly searches at the water's surface. It is omnivorous, but mostly feeds on fish. Arowana, on the other hand, leaps out of the water to capture big insects (mainly bugs), spiders, crabs, snails, frogs, and other tiny dwellers, including terrain and tree-dwelling ones, which perch on the branches and leaves above the water.

Even snakes and birds, as well as plant fragments, have been discovered in the stomachs of arowanas, indicating that the fish is really omnivorous.

Arowanas consume food that has a lot of bulk stuff, such as bird feathers, insects, chitin, and so on, in the wild. It implies that you should feed the fish in a tank in accordance with all of the aforementioned requirements. Big insects, shrimps, and fish (no more than twice a week) may be included in the fish diet, and large species may be fed small mammals such as mice.

You may also feed your arowana some unique arowana food. You must not constantly feed the fish with drowning food, since this may cause the fish's visual concentration to change (cross-eye). It spends most of its time in the wild searching the water surface for prey, but if it is fed with food that falls to the tank floor, it will learn to look below. After a while, one of its eyes will be continually looking down, a condition known as drop eye.

A high-fat diet may also promote the condition because too much fat causes the skin structure beneath the affected eye to loosen. Healthy fish's eyes are pointed vertically, not downwards, in the natural.

Many arowana species prefer frogs as a food source. They could get so used to it that they won't eat anything else. Frogs may be purchased at a pet store or from the market.

Feeding live little fish allows you to witness the arowana hunting process, so it's more than just some nutritious food for the fish. Such fish should be chosen based on their size, so that arowana may readily ingest them. There should be no gorefish, and there should be no sharp dangerous pins. Another guideline is that the tank fish must be free of contagious illnesses.

There are prepared aquarium foods that you can offer your arowana as an alternatie to live fish etc. You many consider the following proven items to feed your arowana fish including cichlid pellets, carnivore sticks, freeze dried krill and freeze dried earthworms.

What tank mates can you keep with arowana fish?

Keep in mind that arowana is a predatory fish while purchasing one for your aquarium. It does, however, get along with other tank mates if they are three times its size.

Black ghost knife fish, blood parrot, plecostomus catfish, oscar fish, flowerhorn, enormous clown loach, black pacu, gigantic gourami, plecostomus) may all be maintained along with silver arowana. Smaller fish, such as african cichlids and goldfish, will, nevertheless, be viewed as food. I wouldn't choose this if you wanted to maintain arowana and angelfish. Arowana will not eat giant angelfish, particularly altum angelfish, although it may consume lesser angelfish.

Only one adult arowana should be kept in a tank at a time, since this fish may be hostile to other arowana species. When a dominant species chooses and occupies a certain region in the wild, it fights any relative that approaches it. As a result, mature arowanas are typically kept alone to prevent potential species conflicts.

How to tell male from female in arowana fish?

Gender dimorphism isn't really noticeable here. Males have longer anal and dorsal fins, as well as a bigger head and a more graceful body. They have a very aggressive demeanor. During the spawning stage, it is simpler to distinguish between the male and the female. The female has a round belly and seems to be bigger than the male.

Is it possible to breed arowana fish?

The spawning season for fish begins with the commencement of the flood. A limited number of eggs are laid by the female fish, which the male fish carries in his mouth. Male fish incubates the eggs for 40 days in captivity, according to observations. The eggs are huge, reddish-orange, drop-shaped, and contain a lot of nutrients.

Arowana juveniles are 3 cm long when they hatch. After then, they remain in one of their parents' mouths for the rest of their lives, sometimes swimming out. For juveniles, their yolk sac continues to be a source of sustenance (they are 6-7 cm long). 5 weeks after it hatched, a young fish exits its parents' mouth. When the yolk sac of the juvenile is depleted, they begin to devour the food you provide.

As soon as possible, the youngsters must be isolated from the adult species. They usually achieve this by forcing the breeder to open its mouth or by waiting for the youngsters to leave it on their own. The method utilized is determined by the behavior of the breeders. The natural manner is preferred if they take care of their young; otherwise, the first alternative is preferable. Both options will secure the protection of the youngsters while also cutting the period between spawnings in half.

There are just three documented occurrences of silver arovana reproducing in captivity today. As a result, the fish is grown using hormones in South-East Asian fish farms.

Can arowana actually breath air?

As previously stated, Arowanas can thrive in hypoxic water, which is water with low oxygen levels. They may aid themselves by switching from depending on their gills to inhaling air at the water's surface, which supplies supplementary oxygen when the water conditions are insufficient to suit their demands.

At the surface, arowanas suck air, which is subsequently transferred to their swim bladder. The swim bladder, like lung tissue in other animals, is lined with capillaries.

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