Arowana fish care

Arowana Fish Care Guide: The Complete Manual

Welcome to the Arowana fish care guide, where we share our experiences and guide you in caring for the amazing fish, Arowana.

The majestic Dragon Fish, also known as Arowanas, have captivated fish enthusiasts worldwide for years. Arowanas, with their extended bodies, iridescent large scales, and catfish-like whiskers, has long been considered a symbol of good luck and success. It is a freshwater fish native to the swamps and rivers of Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America. These fish have become a popular addition to aquariums around the globe.

To ensure your aquatic pet’s well-being, it is crucial to understand the specific care requirements of Arowanas. These large fish have unique care needs to be met to prevent a stressed and unhealthy fish.

Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or a first-time Arowana caretaker, this page offers valuable insights and information on Arowana fish care and maintenance.

Arowanas: A Brief History

Arowana Care

There are various species of fish in the Osteoglossidae family, including the well-known Arowanas such as the Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum), the Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai), and the Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus). Each fish has unique traits and specific care requirements when selecting one for your aquarium for better Arowana fish care.

Fossil records suggest that Arowanas have existed for over 100 million years, and their distinctive anatomy is a testament to their ancient lineage. With their bony scales that cover most of their body, they appear to have an armor-like appearance. Their long dorsal and anal fins extend along their body, and their sharp teeth and protruding lower jaw are distinctive features.

In the wild, Arowanas are known for their jumping abilities, which they use to catch prey. Therefore, a secure lid is essential when setting up the aquarium to prevent escapes for better Arowana fish care.

Arowanas are regarded as symbols of good fortune and prosperity, particularly in Asian cultures, due to their resemblance to the mythical Chinese dragon. While these beliefs may be rooted in folklore, their captivating beauty and elegance make them popular among aquarium enthusiasts.

However, owning an Arowana requires a significant commitment as it can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm) in length and need a spacious and well-maintained tank to thrive. These fish also have specific dietary requirements and can suffer from various health issues if not appropriately cared for.

Choosing the Perfect Arowana: Species, Color, and Characteristics

To choose the right Arowana for your aquarium, it’s crucial to consider the distinct needs and traits of the various available species. This section will provide an overview of the most popular Arowana species, their distinguishing characteristics, and the important factors to consider when selecting your Arowana, as it will also determine your Arowana care practices.

Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus)

Among Arowana enthusiasts, the Asian Arowana is highly coveted and esteemed, thanks to its striking colors and connection to Asian cultural beliefs. This species is indigenous to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The Asian Arowana is further classified into several color variations, including Red, Golden, Green, and Blue Arowana.

It’s crucial to note that owning an Asian Arowana is prohibited in some nations, including the United States because it is an endangered species. Before obtaining an Asian Arowana, familiarise yourself with local regulations and conservation efforts.

Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)

The Silver Arowana originates from South America and is another frequently kept species among Arowana enthusiasts. This species has a silver body and unique scales, which make it quite eye-catching.

Because it is generally more resilient and adaptable to diverse water conditions, the Silver Arowana is frequently considered a better option for novice Arowana keepers, and they can learn better Arowana fish care.

There’s also a unique species known as Albino Silver Arowana, a much more expensive type that you should be aware of.

Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai)

The Black Arowana is also native to South America and is closely related to the Silver Arowana. As the name suggests, this species has a darker coloration, ranging from dark brown to black.

The Black Arowana is known for its beautiful iridescent sheen, which can reflect various colors depending on the lighting.

African Arowana (Heterotis niloticus)

The African Arowana is native to the Nile River and other African freshwater habitats. This species is less common in the aquarium trade but can be an interesting addition for experienced Arowana keepers. The African Arowana has a more elongated body shape and is generally smaller than its Asian and South American counterparts.

When choosing an Arowana, it is crucial to consider factors such as the species’ size, temperament, and care requirements. Additionally, ensure that your aquarium setup suits the specific needs of the Arowana species you choose.

Ideal Arowana Tank Setup: Size, Filtration, and Décor

Ensuring optimal living conditions for your Arowana is vital to its overall health and better Arowana fish care. This section will explore the essential components of an ideal Arowana aquarium setup, such as tank dimensions, filtration, and decoration.

Minimum Tank Size

Arowana fish itself is a large fish and will need a large tank. When selecting an aquarium for your Arowana, it is vital to consider the specific species’ adult size. As a general rule of thumb, the tank should be at least three times the length of the adult fish and 1.5 times its width. For instance, a Silver Arowana, which can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm), would need a large aquarium of at least 9 feet (270 cm) in length and 4.5 feet (135 cm) in width.


Arowanas produce significant waste, so maintaining high water quality is essential. A high-quality filtration system is necessary to remove waste, chemicals, and toxins from the water. A combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration is recommended for Arowana aquariums. Canister and sump filters are efficient and popular filtration choices for Arowana aquariums. Invest in a quality air pump for the tank too.

Water Parameters

Maintaining stable water parameters is critical to the health of your Arowana. The ideal water temperature for Arowanas ranges between 75°F and 82°F (24°C to 28°C). A heater and thermometer are essential to monitor and maintain the appropriate temperature. The pH level should be between 6.0 and 7.5, depending on the specific species. Regular water testing and changes are required to ensure stable water parameters.


When decorating your Arowana’s aquarium, consider its natural habitat and specific species preferences. Arowanas are generally found in slow-moving rivers and swamps with many submerged branches and vegetation. However, they need ample open swimming space, so not overcrowding the tank with decorations is essential.

Substrates like fine gravel and live plants can be added to the tank, but remember that Arowanas are robust swimmers and may uproot plants or disturb the substrate. Hardy plants like Java fern or Anubias, which can attach to driftwood or rocks, are recommended. Driftwood and rocks can provide hiding spots and additional visual interest for your Arowana.

Tank Lid

Arowanas are known for their jumping ability, which they use to catch prey in the wild. In an aquarium setting, this may lead to escape attempts or injury. To prevent accidents and better Arowana fish care, it is crucial to have a secure and sturdy lid on your Arowana tank.

Tank mates

Arowanas can live alone, and they can also live with other tank mates. There are more than 20 Arowana tank mates that you can consider, but you should always understand the behavior of each fish before adding them to the same space as your Arowana.

Water Parameters and Maintenance: Ensuring a Healthy Arowana Environment

Maintaining proper water parameters is crucial for Arowana care. This chapter will cover the essential water parameters for Arowanas and guide on maintaining a stable and healthy aquatic environment.


Lightings are important as it gives a better view of Arowanas. Always invest in a good LED aquarium light as it will last longer than other types of lights. We have reviewed some of the best aquarium lights, which will give you some idea of the best aquarium light for your Arowana.


The ideal water temperature for Arowanas ranges between 75°F and 82°F (24°C to 28°C), depending on the specific species. To maintain a stable temperature, use a high-quality aquarium heater and regularly monitor the temperature with a reliable thermometer. Place the heater in an area with good water circulation to ensure even heat distribution throughout the tank.

pH Level

The pH level in your Arowana tank should be maintained between 6.0 and 7.5, depending on the species. Asian Arowanas generally prefer a slightly acidic pH, while South American and African Arowanas can tolerate a wider pH range. Regularly test the pH level using a reliable test kit, and make adjustments as needed by using products designed to increase or decrease pH levels.

Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels

Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are toxic compounds that can build up in your aquarium due to fish waste, uneaten food, and decaying plant matter. It is essential to monitor these levels regularly to ensure the health of your Arowana. Ideally, ammonia and nitrite levels should be kept at 0 ppm, while nitrate levels should be kept below 20 ppm.

To maintain safe levels of these compounds, perform regular water changes (10-20% of the tank volume weekly) and ensure your filtration system is functioning efficiently. Additionally, avoid overfeeding your Arowana, as uneaten food can increase ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

Water Hardness and Mineral Content

Arowanas generally prefer soft to moderately hard water. The ideal water hardness for Arowanas is between 4 and 12 dGH (degrees of General Hardness). You can test the water hardness using a test kit and make adjustments using products designed to increase or decrease water hardness.

Water Changes and Maintenance

Regular water changes are essential for maintaining stable water parameters and a healthy Arowana environment. If necessary, perform water changes of 10-20% of the tank volume weekly or more frequently. This will help remove excess waste and replenish essential minerals and trace elements in the water.

It is also good to clean the aquarium glass, filter components, and decorations during water changes to prevent algae and debris buildup. Be sure to use aquarium-safe cleaning products and avoid using household cleaners, as they can be toxic to your Arowana.

By carefully monitoring and maintaining the water parameters in your Arowana tank, you can create a stable and healthy environment for your fish to thrive.

Arowana Feeding Guide: Feeding and Diet for a Healthy Dragon Fish

Proper Arowana fish care involves providing a balanced and diverse diet to support your fish’s health, growth, and coloration. In this section, we will discuss the dietary requirements of Arowanas and provide recommendations for feeding practices and diet for better Arowana fish care.

Dietary Requirements

Arowanas are carnivorous fish that primarily feed on insects, small fish, and crustaceans in the wild. To ensure proper nutrition, it is essential to replicate this natural diet as closely as possible when keeping them in an aquarium.

A well-balanced Arowana diet should consist of a variety of high-quality protein sources, such as:

  • Live food or frozen fish, including feeder fish, guppies, and mollies
  • Large insects like crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers
  • Crustaceans such as shrimp and krill
  • Commercial pellet food specifically formulated for Arowanas

Feeding Frequency and Amounts

The frequency and amount of feeding will depend on the size and age of your Arowana. Juvenile Arowanas need to be fed more frequently, up to three times daily, while adult Arowanas can be fed once or twice daily.

When feeding your Arowana, provide an amount of food it can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and poor water quality, so avoid it.

Live vs. Frozen Foods

Live foods can be an excellent source of nutrition and stimulation for your Arowana. However, they can also carry parasites and diseases, harming your fish. If you feed live foods, obtain them from a reputable source and quarantine them before feeding.

Frozen foods are a safer alternative, as they are less likely to carry pathogens, which is better for Arowana fish care. However, some nutrients can be lost during freezing, so it is essential to supplement with high-quality pellet food to ensure a balanced diet.

Food Supplements and Vitamins

In addition to a varied diet, it can be beneficial to supplement your Arowana’s diet with vitamins and minerals. This can help support their immune system, enhance coloration, and promote overall health. Commercial supplements can be added to the water or mixed with the fish’s food.

By providing a varied and balanced diet and following these feeding recommendations, you can ensure the health and well-being of your Arowana.

Observing Your Arowana’s Feeding Habits

Monitoring your Arowana’s feeding habits and adjusting the diet as needed is essential. If your Arowana is not eating or showing a preference for certain foods, it may be necessary to try different types of food or consult a veterinarian for advice. It’s interesting to note that Arowana can also be picky with food, which is very obvious when the Arowana is older.

Next, we will discuss common Arowana health issues and how to prevent and treat them to ensure optimal Arowana fish care.

Common Arowana Health Issues: Prevention and Treatment

Silver Arowana Care

Keeping your Arowana healthy requires vigilance and understanding the common diseases that can affect these majestic fish so that they will receive the ideal Arowana fish care. We have a full list of Arowana Diseases, so here we will cover some common ones.

Drop-eye Syndrome

Drop-eye syndrome is common among Arowanas, characterized by one or both eyes appearing to “droop” downward. The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but it is believed to be related to poor water quality, inadequate nutrition, or genetic factors.


  • Maintain stable water parameters and perform regular water changes.
  • Provide a balanced and varied diet, including high-quality pellet food and supplements.
  • Ensure your Arowana has ample swimming space and visual stimulation.


  • There is no proven treatment for drop-eye syndrome. However, improving water quality and diet may help alleviate the condition. In severe cases, consult a veterinarian for further advice.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial or fungal infection that causes the edges of the fins to become frayed, discolored, and eventually decay. Poor water quality and stress are the primary causes of fin rot.


  • Maintain stable water parameters and perform regular water changes.
  • Monitor your Arowana for signs of stress, such as aggression, and address any issues promptly.
  • Quarantine new fish or plants before introducing them to your Arowana tank.


  • Improve water quality by performing more frequent water changes and ensuring proper filtration.
  • Consult a veterinarian for advice on appropriate medication to treat the infection.

Parasitic Infections

Arowanas can be susceptible to parasitic infections, including external parasites such as ich (white spot disease) and internal parasites like tapeworms. These infections can cause various symptoms, from small white spots on the body to weight loss and lethargy.

  • Maintain stable water parameters and perform regular water changes.
  • Quarantine new fish or plants before introducing them to your Arowana tank.
  • Avoid feeding live foods that may carry parasites, or quarantine them before feeding.


  • Consult a veterinarian for advice on the appropriate medication to treat the parasite affecting your Arowana.

Swim Bladder Disease

Swim bladder disease can cause Arowanas to have difficulty swimming or maintaining their balance in the water. This condition can be caused by various factors, including bacterial infections, constipation, or physical injury.


  • Maintain stable water parameters and perform regular water changes.
  • Provide a balanced and varied diet, including high-quality pellet food and supplements.
  • Ensure your Arowana has ample swimming space and a secure lid to prevent injury.


  • Consult a veterinarian for advice on the appropriate treatment, which may include medication, changes in diet, or increased water temperature.

Understanding the common health issues that can affect Arowanas and taking preventive Arowana fish care can help ensure a long and healthy life for your Dragon Fish.

Handling and Transporting Your Arowana: Safety and Arowana Care Tips

Taking care of your Arowana’s safety during handling and transportation is crucial to avoid stress and injuries. In this section, we will provide you with tips and guidelines for safely and effectively handling and transporting your Arowana. It’s all about proper Arowana fish care!

Handling Your Arowana

In proper Arowana fish care, it is best to avoid handling your Arowana unless necessary, as these fish can become stressed and injured during the process. When you need to handle your Arowana, follow these guidelines:

  • Wet your hands before handling the fish to minimize the removal of their protective slime coat.
  • Gently but firmly grasp the fish behind the head and just above the tail, avoiding the gill area.
  • Keep the handling time to a minimum, and return the fish to the water as soon as possible.
  • Do not use nets for handling Arowanas, as their fins and gill covers can become entangled, causing injury.

Transporting Your Arowana for Short Distances

When transporting your Arowana for short distances, such as during a tank cleaning or water change, follow these steps:

  • Prepare a large, clean container or holding tank with water from the Arowana’s aquarium to maintain a stable environment.
  • Use a large plastic bag or appropriately-sized fish transport container, filling it with enough water to cover the fish.
  • Gently but firmly grasp the fish described in the previous section and transfer it to the container or bag.
  • Seal the container or bag securely and place it in the prepared holding tank or container.
  • Keep the fish in the temporary container for as short as possible to minimize stress.

Transporting Your Arowana for Long Distances

If you need to transport your Arowana for a long distance, such as during a move, follow these guidelines:

  • Acclimate the fish to a slightly lower water temperature before transport to reduce its metabolism and stress levels.
  • Use an appropriately-sized fish transport container or styrofoam box, filling it with enough water to cover the fish.
  • Add a battery-powered air pump or oxygen tablets to maintain oxygen levels during transport.
  • Secure the container or box in your vehicle to prevent it from tipping or sliding during transit.
  • Monitor the fish during transport and take breaks to check on its condition.
  • Upon arrival, gradually acclimate the fish to its new environment, following proper acclimation procedures.

By following these guidelines, you can minimize stress and ensure the safety of your Arowana during handling and transportation.

Breeding Arowanas: Selecting Pairs, Breeding Environment, and Fry Care

Breeding Arowanas can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. This section will discuss breeding Arowanas, including selecting breeding pairs, preparing the breeding environment, and caring for Arowana fry.

Selecting Breeding Pairs

Selecting suitable breeding pairs is the first step in breeding Arowanas. Look for healthy, mature fish with no signs of deformities or health issues. Both males and females should be at least three years old and have reached their full size. It is essential to ensure that the fish are compatible and show signs of courting behavior before attempting to breed them.

Preparing the Breeding Environment

Providing a suitable environment for the Arowanas is crucial to encourage successful breeding. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Tank Size: A large, spacious tank (minimum 300 gallons) is necessary to accommodate the adult Arowanas and provide ample room for courting and spawning behavior.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable water parameters as discussed in Chapter 4, with a slightly warmer temperature (around 82°F or 28°C) to stimulate breeding behavior.
  • Hiding Spots: Provide ample hiding spots and visual barriers using driftwood, plants, and other decorations. This will help reduce stress and aggression among the fish during the breeding process.
  • Lighting: Dim the lighting in the tank to create a more natural, subdued environment that encourages breeding behavior.
  • Courtship and Spawning

Arowanas exhibit unique courtship behavior, which includes chasing, nipping, and displaying their fins. The male Arowana will often initiate the courtship by displaying his fins and chasing the female. The female will then respond by laying her eggs, which the male will fertilize externally. Arowanas are mouthbrooders, meaning the female will pick up the fertilized eggs in her mouth and incubate them for several weeks until they hatch.

Caring for Arowana Fry

Once the fry hatch, the female Arowana will continue to carry them in her mouth for protection. After a few days, she will release the fry to swim and feed independently. At this stage, it is essential to provide proper care for the Arowana fry:

  • Tank Setup: Prepare a separate grow-out tank for the fry with stable water parameters and a gentle filtration system to prevent injury.
  • Nutrition: Feed the Arowana fry a balanced diet of high-quality, finely crushed pellet food and small live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp and daphnia.
  • Water Changes: Perform frequent water changes (20-30% daily) to maintain excellent water quality and support the rapid growth of the fry.
  • Monitoring: Keep a close eye on the Arowana fry to ensure their health and well-being, and remove any unhealthy or weak fry to prevent the spread of disease.

Breeding Arowanas can be challenging, but with proper preparation and care, it can be a rewarding experience for dedicated hobbyists.

Legal and Ethical Considerations in Arowana Ownership and Trade

As majestic and sought-after as they are, Arowanas are also subject to various legal and ethical considerations due to their endangered status, particularly the Asian Arowana. This chapter will discuss the legal and ethical aspects of Arowana ownership and trade and how to ensure responsible and sustainable practices.

The Endangered Status of the Asian Arowana

The Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus), also known as the Dragon Fish, is native to Southeast Asia and is considered an endangered species. Habitat loss, pollution, and over-exploitation for the aquarium trade have contributed to this species’ decline in wild populations.

As a result, the Asian Arowana is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), making international trade in wild-caught specimens illegal.

Legal Ownership and Trade of Asian Arowanas

Despite the restrictions on wild-caught Asian Arowanas, captive-bred specimens can be legally traded and owned under specific conditions. To legally own an Asian Arowana, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Purchase the fish from a reputable, CITES-certified breeder or dealer who can provide the necessary documentation to prove the fish’s captive-bred origin.
  • Ensure that your country or state permits the ownership of Asian Arowanas. For example, it is illegal to own an Asian Arowana in the United States under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Obtain any permits or licenses required by your local government or regulatory agencies to keep an Asian Arowana.
  • Ethical Considerations in Arowana Ownership and Trade

As an Arowana owner or enthusiast, it is crucial to consider your actions’ ethical implications and promote responsible, sustainable practices within the hobby. Some guidelines to follow include:

  • Supporting reputable, CITES-certified breeders and dealers who prioritize the fish’s welfare and species conservation.
  • Educating yourself and others on the importance of conservation and the threats facing Arowanas and their natural habitats.
  • Advocating for responsible Arowana ownership, including proper care and husbandry, to ensure the well-being of these magnificent fish.

By understanding the legal and ethical considerations surrounding Arowana ownership and trade, you can promote the conservation and responsible management of this iconic and endangered species. We cover this in detail on this topic: “Are Arowanas Legal in the US

Arowana Fish Care in Review: Tips for Long-Term Success

Keeping Arowanas as pets can be an exciting and rewarding experience but also requires significant responsibility and commitment. Arowanas are large, beautiful, intelligent fish that need a suitable environment, proper nutrition, and attentive care to thrive.

Invest in Proper Tank Setup and Equipment

Arowanas need a spacious tank that can accommodate their size and an efficient filtration system to maintain optimal water quality. Suitable lighting is also crucial, providing the necessary light spectrum for Arowana’s growth and development.

Maintain Optimal Water Quality

Regularly monitor and adjust water parameters, perform water changes, and keep the tank clean to ensure a healthy environment. Regularly monitoring and adjusting water parameters, performing water changes, and keeping the tank clean are essential steps in ensuring a healthy environment for your Arowana.

Provide a Balanced and Varied Diet

To ensure proper nutrition, offer a diverse diet of high-quality pellet food, live or frozen foods, and other appropriate food items. Arowanas are carnivorous fish that require a diverse diet of high-quality pellet food, live or frozen foods, and other appropriate food items to thrive.

Educate Yourself and Stay Informed

Continuously learn about Arowana care and husbandry, and stay updated on the latest research and developments in the hobby. Continuously learning about Arowana care, their behavior, and their needs will help you provide the best possible care for your pet. Staying updated on the latest research and developments in the hobby will also inform you about potential threats to Arowana’s health.

Prioritize the Health and Welfare of Your Arowana

Always ensure that your Arowana’s health and welfare are your top priority, and be prepared to make adjustments or seek professional help.

Is Arowana easy to care for?

Arowanas require advanced care due to their size, specific water conditions, diet, and behaviors. They are sensitive to water quality changes, require a spacious tank, and need a varied diet, making them suitable for experienced aquarium hobbyists.

What size tank do I need for Arowana?

Arowanas, given their large size (often over 2 feet), require substantial space. A minimum 120-150 gallon tank is needed for a young Arowana, while an adult will require at least a 250-300 gallon tank.

How do you maintain an Arowana fish tank?

Maintaining an Arowana tank involves monitoring water quality, including pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. A powerful filter and maintaining a consistent temperature around 75-86°F (24-30°C) are also essential. The tank must be securely covered as Arowanas are known jumpers.

What does an Arowana fish eat?

Arowanas are carnivorous and prefer a varied diet. They can eat shrimp, small fish, crickets, mealworms, and, occasionally, commercial pellets. Providing a balanced diet is important for their health and color.

How long does Arowanas live?

Arowanas can sometimes live for 15-20 years or even longer with proper care and optimal living conditions.

What does Arowanas eat?

Arowanas eat a carnivorous diet consisting of small fish, shrimp, insects like crickets and mealworms, and occasionally commercial pellets. Variety is key to ensuring they receive all necessary nutrients.

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