Red Arowana – A Complete Guide (Care, Diet, Facts)

The Red Arowana is a big and beautiful fish.   One of the world’s most expensive aquarium fish.  It may prove to be a great challenge in your fishkeeping experience, as finding a suitable tank could be an issue. The fish could grow to be three feet.

The Red Arowana is thought to resemble the Chinese Dragon, which brings good luck. It is believed that if the owner treats it well, the Arowana will protect its owner.

Thus, the Red Arowana is also named the dragonfish. It might Also be called the Super Red, The Blood Red, or the Chili Red Arowana.

In Asia, where the Red Arowana can be purchased, the fish are bred and raised on fish farms. They are practically extinct in the wild.



The Red Arowana can be purchased in Asia, where they are bred and raised on fish farms. The spreading habitation of this fish is found mostly in Southern Asia. They can also be spotted in the Amazon, as well as, Australia.

It is an ancient aquarium fish that sells for a high price. It is probably the most sought after and popular freshwater fish in the world. It dates all the way back to the Jurassic Age.

There are six species of Arowanas, 2-3 different kinds of Red Arowanas. They are covered red from barbell to tail. They have a unique body structure.


The Red Arowana can reach up to 35 inches. They have a steep angled mouth with a drawbridge type jawline. They are covered in large scales, each one having a trio of colors.

The Red Arowana is an elongated shape, almost like an eel. It is very interesting as it is a deep red color, with gold like scales. Their colors become prominent as they mature, usually around the age of three.

The red Arowana has big black eyes next to their mouth. They have long pectoral fins that are joined just behind the head. The fish has a broad anal and dorsal fin, as well as broad tail.

They have many teeth, with a bone in the bottom of their mouth, which gives it a nickname, Bony Tongue. It has whiskers coming out of its chin. It is known as long yu, the Chinese dragon fish.

Most Arowanas and fish from this family, have bony heads and elongated bodies. The fish appears to be very large and heavy.

Arowanas can be red, gold, or green. The red arowana was protected by the Endangered Species Act and could not be legally brought into the U.S. as a pet.

The fish can live many decades, but often die prematurely in captivity. They can live over 20 years in captivity. There are some unconfirmed reports of a longer lifespan in the wild.  The fish is plain as a juvenile but becomes more colorful as it matures

They have a long body, large colorful scales and a pair of barbells protruding from the tip of the lower lip and jaw area. The red arowana is also known as dragon fish or Shui long.


The Red Arowana swims in the middle of the tank most of the time but will swim lower or sometimes towards the surface. They are superfast, highly territorial and they tend to fight.

You can occasionally find one that may get along with other fish or have a more docile personality. If you are interested in keeping more than one, it is best to have them in separate tanks.

These fish are hardy, making them easy to care for. They are tolerable to a wide range of environmental conditions. Even so, they do require consistency.

As juveniles, they live in small groups. But as they mature, they become more solitary. It is best if they are in a tank alone.

They travel alone as they are hunting for food and prey. They have adapted in order stay alive in their specific environment which are large rivers.

Red Arowana are not similar in body structure to other freshwater fish. The Red Arowana has a small, bony head and a long and heavy body.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

The Red Arowana needs a tropical freshwater aquarium with plenty of space. The large tank needs a sturdy stand in a place that is close to a water source. Keep it in a spacious area.

The red Arowana is frightened by sudden movements. The tank should be kept in a low traffic area. Lighting should be kept dim, as opposed to abruptly turning it on and off.

The tank should have a thick glass.  Make sure that the tank has a sturdy lid. The arowana is a large fish that could bread the glass if less than half on inch thick.

A fully grown arowana will need a 250-gallon tank. If the tank were too small and the arowana couldn’t swim freely, his growth would be stunted.

Even though the Arowana is a loner, you may find that you can house 6 or more together. In this case, you would need an extra 100-gallons of water for each additional fish.

You should be sparing with the décor, as they need all the free space for swimming. Floating plants would be more ideal than rooted.

The substrate should mimic the bottom of rivers or ponds, so sand is ideal. If rooted plants are used, make sure they are firm in the substrate.

The Red Arowana is a surface feeder.  In the wild, they can jump up out of the water to get food. So, they will jump out of the tank if given the opportunity.

Tank Conditions

Make sure that you have a filter, a heater, and a tight- fitting lid. These fish are known to leap up out of the water.  Leave a gap between the surface and the lid. They often come to the surface for oxygen or perhaps to catch food.

The red Arowana is from tropical waters.   Make sure the water temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees. The ideal ph. should be kept at 6 and the water should be soft.

Tank Mates

Finding tank mates can be difficult. They should be able to tolerate the unpredictable behavior of the Arowana.

Some ideas for suitable companions are Oscars, knifefish, blood parrot cichlids, convict cichlids, discus, angelfish, large pleco catfish, green terrors and stingrays.

Any fish that swims near the water’s surface or at the top water level will be in the way of the Arowana. A risk that could be deadly.

The Red Arowana has a very large mouth, so avoid any animal that they could easily scoop up. Avoid tetras and guppies. Most invertebrates are too small and will end up a snack for the arowana.

If your arowana is sharing a tank, there may be fighting. If this happens, they will have to be separated. Their personalities can be unpredictable. Any fish that swims at the top water level will be in arowana territory and at risk of getting attacked.

They are territorial, so make sure they are either by themselves or in a group of 6. For every other arowana, you should add 100 gallons of water.


The red Arowana is a carnivore and prefers live meaty foods, something they can scoop up before it sinks to the bottom. They like crickets, flies, bloodworms, shrimp, even small frogs.

They don’t eat from the substrate, so all their foods should be middle level or above, of the water column. The Red Arowana should be fed at least twice a day.

Keeping your Arowana well-fed, it is less likely to want to jump out. This is how they catch food in the wild.

It would be a good idea to have a bottom dweller that could clean the substrate or eat from the bottom. You can safely keep a semi-aggressive catfish to do the job.

General care

The Red Arowana is a hardy fish that tolerates a range of conditions but needs a consistent environment. A sudden change in water, for example, might lead to illness or even death.

Make sure to test the water parameters and maintain on a consistent basis. The red Arowana is a tolerable fish but must have a consistent environment. If you are overfeeding, and food can decay, it will lead to illness or death. Make sure there is efficient filtration.

The Sick Fish

The Red Arowana could suffer from a disease called eye droop.  The eye starts to point downwards. It is a fatty deposit that builds up behind the eye. To avoid droopy eye, keep the tank environment clean. While consistently providing a healthy diet.

If you are interested in keeping the red Arowana, it will take much planning as to how you are going to get this fish.  They will have to be the first fish introduced to the tank environment if you are interested in having different species.

The Arowana is accustomed to the river, where it has plenty of space to swim and jump. Make sure you have no less than a 250-gallon tank to house this fish as it matures. Their fins and muscular body create quite a movement throughout the water as they swim.

The red Arowana is on the endangered species list.  You are not allowed to fish for the Red Arowana. If you want to breed them, you must have a license. Although, there is a black market.  The Red Arowana is one of the most coveted fish in the luxury market. It is almost extinct in the wild but are bred on high-security farms and then microchipped.

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