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

Although, most commonly known as the Silver Arowana this fish has other names on its name tag. You may find them online or in your local pet store with the name tag calling it a Monkey Fish or a Dragon Fish. These three very different names are all associations to the same fish native to South America.

This fish is sought after as a jewel in any hobbyist tank. Most known for its hunting abilities and rather large size. Although, the Silver Arowana is not the best choice for beginners.

Overview

As mentioned before the Silver Arowana is a native fish to South America. This fish is a freshwater fish that has no tolerance to salt water conditions. You will most commonly find it living within the basin of the Amazon River.

One top of having three names given to it this fish can be hard to find due to the common misspelling of its name. Often mistaken as Silver Arawana or Arahuana.

This fish is massive growing roughly 4 feet in size and weighing over 13 pounds. With its strong swimming capabilities and its aggressive personality this can be an intimidating fish.

In the wild Silver Arowana are known for leaping out of the water and attacking prey. Going for animals on low limbs or other surfacing fish.

Arowana commonly live between 10 to 15 years in captivity. They also can live a short period of time out of water; using this special feature called a swim bladder.

A swim bladder is an outer pocket of the digestive tube that is a common trait amongst bony fish; just like the Silver Arowana. Although it has many functions one impressive function is that it can act as a lung outside of water giving it the ability to survive short amounts of time outside of water.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a Silver Arowana to add to your tank. As this fish comes with one of the least restricted amounts of rules and regulations of its family. Making this one of the most popular Arowana within tanks today.

Inexperienced hobbyist should not purchase this fish for many reasons as it’s not safe for the caretaker; and it’s not fair for the fish due to its special needs only experienced takers would be able to provide.

Appearance

This elegant fish can add beauty and size to any large tank. Often found with a grey toned 4-foot-long body in their natural habitat. Commonly only growing a little over 3 feet in captivity. Arowana weight over 13 pound in the wild; and 10 in a ranked environment.

The Silver Arowana are vastly known for their jawline. They have a jaw that opens vertically and is often compared to a drawbridge.

Their bodies are large grayish white scales along their body once they are fully matured. As an immature juvenile these fish often have a bluish tint amongst its scales.

This elongated fish seem almost paper thin when being viewed from the side. Although, if you look a little closer you will notice some dimension to the fish. If you look at the fins along this fish it seems almost as if each fin is fused with the next. Although that is just perception.

When differing sexing there are a few features that depict one from the other. Females have a thicker body; while males have a thinner body. Males have a larger anal fin to attract mates; while females’ anal fin are smaller in size.

Juvenile Silver Arowana average 4 inches long. Growing roughly 2 inches a month until they reach maturity. With said growth rates its important they receive the food and nutrients they need in order to grow. Will need to make sure to have a large enough aquarium with enough space for these fish to swim freely.

Behavior

Although these fish are rather large and are a predator fish, they do get frightened easily. You will notice these fish get flustered when you do things such as approach it to quickly and when you turn the lights on or off.

This is important to keep in mind when placing your tank. You don’t want it in an area where people are coming and going often. This can place your fish in a high alert mode and can make them have a short life.

These fish tend to be more of a top dwelling fish. They tend to prefer the top area of the water swimming as close to the surface as they can.

Silver Arowana fish are known jumpers. They can jump over 9 and a half feet into the air. These fish often jump to catch prey in the wild. So, it’s important that your tank has some sort of lid to enclose this fish.

Ranked Arowana will most commonly jump for one of two reasons. During their uncomfortable stage; when they are very first placed in the tank and are getting comfortable. Or when they are in an environment that they have outgrown.

If you keep a Silver Arowana in a tank that is not suitable for it then it will began jumping and trying to free itself. If it comes to these circumstances, it’s common for these fish to jump even if it’s enclosed. Often resulting in injury either from the lid or the fall.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

As mentioned before these fish grow up to 3-4 feet long. That calls for a large tank. The number one problem for most hobbyist is not the fish itself but the tank requirements; needing 250+ gallons for an adult Silver Arowana.

Juvenile’s need roughly 60+ gallons to suit them and give them plenty of room. Although, growing 2 inches a month means they quickly grow out of tanks and need larger ones quickly.

If you do not move your fish into a larger tank you will begin having very noticeable problems surface. Problems such as body deformations. Such deformations often cause a shorter lifespan and a miserable unhealthy fish.

These fish prefer some sort of fine substrate; such as small rocks/gravel. They prefer few plants along the edges of the tank. Keep in mind said plants must have sturdy and strong roots because these fish are not nice of plants. They do tend to uproot plants. Silver Arowana need plenty of open space to swim around in.

Again, due to the fact these fish are known for their jumping it is important to have a heavy lid that will keep these fish inside the tank. If they manage to jump out, they can injure or kill themselves.

Tank Conditions

Being from the Amazon River Basin Silver Arowana prefer warm water temperatures, between 75°F and 82°F. They enjoy a Ph between 6.5 and 7.5; and need medium water hardness.

Arowana are not tolerable to poor water conditions. With that said it is important to purchase a strong water filtration system to keep your fish happy and healthy.

Also, it’s important to do weekly 25% water changes. This means you take out and replace a quarter of the tank weekly. Be sure to keep your water conditions consistent.

One aspect in many freshwater fish is that they are accepting in some water changes. Silver Arowana are one of these fish. They can tolerate change in water conditions. Just be sure to keep it between their tolerable levels and not far off.

Tip

Keep in mind the location of your tank and choose a place with limited traffic to shorten the likelihood of your fish jumping out of the tank.

Compatibility and Tank Mates

Being a predator fish plays a big role in who you can place in a tank with these fish. Being a predator means it sees smaller weaker fish as a meal and not a friend. You can’t blame them for what is bred into them.

As juveniles they are only roughly 4 inches long meaning they aren’t the king of the tank. They are often bullied by fish with more aggressive attitudes in this stage of life.

It’s important to know that as juveniles it’s not rare and often recommended that you keep a shoal of 6 or more juvenile Silver Arowana. This will protect the smaller weaker jubilee from being bullied or eaten by other fish in the tank.

It shouldn’t be no surprise when you are told it can be very difficult to find the perfect tank mate for this specific breed of fish. As they are often targeted by other large fish due to its size and personality. While smaller fish often will be ingested due to the fish being a predator fish.

Don’t give up though following a few steps and recommendations you can find the perfect tank mate.

  • Find a fish that has a friendly yet semi-aggressive personality
  • A fish that has enough size to it that it can’t be eaten as the Silver Arowana’s next meal
  • Always introduce your Arowana to the tank before it’s mates

Keep in mind that while there is a generalized personality that each breed is given due to a majority. Each fish acts a little different and can be upset by something slightly different. So always have a backup plan when dealing with fish of this size.

Can you keep multiple Silver Arowana together?

The short answer is yes; but there are some things to keep in mind. First off, these fish don’t normally get along well with one another. They tend to be fairly aggressive towards one another. Two if you insist on having multiple you need to ensure you have enough take space for multiple.

If you insist on having more than one is recommended that you gave at least six. This way they will be more of a shoal and won’t tend to attack one another. Due to space this will most commonly be done in a pond or very large aquarium.

Diet and Feeding

Silver Arowana are most commonly known for being a carnivore; although they also have been seen as omnivorous. In the wild they choose to feed on things both in and out of the water. From smaller fish and snails in the water to snakes and rabbits outside.

With the help of the Arowana physical features they have a very peculiar hunting method. They stay just below the water until their prey gets close enough. Then they jump out and grab ahold of it. To eat fish, they often go below it then scoop it up with their large mouth.

To keep Silver Arowana healthy it’s important to feed them roughly what they eat in the wild. On top of things such as insects, cow hearts, and crustaceans you may feed them feeder fish.

Although due to diseases it’s best if you raise your own feeder fish. When purchasing feeder fish at your local pet store or online you are risking bringing something into your whole tank. Sometimes it’s something as small and curable as Ich or sometimes it’s something that wipes out your whole tank. You just have to decide if you’re willing to make that risk.

You may decide it’s too expensive, or you don’t have time to raise your own feeder fish and you don’t want the risk. If that’s the case, you can feed them frozen food. It’s very rare to find an Arowana that will eat pellets or flake food.

It’s common for juveniles to be rather picky when it comes to their food choices. They often will refuse frozen food and will only eat fresh feeder fish. It’s recommended they only eat feeder fish until they reach at least 8-9 inches long.

Summary

Due to the size and personality it’s not a fish for beginner hobbyist. Full grown Silver Arowana need approximately 250+ gallons to comfortably live in.

Finding a tank mate for this fish can be very difficult but not impossible. As long as you do your research you can find the perfect fish suitable for both your Arowana and yourself.

Being a large fish and feeding on mainly live food it can be expensive to maintain. Be sure to think about this before your purchase.

When purchasing an Arowana it’s best to buy them when they are at least 8 inches long. By this time, they have become a little stronger. This will increase your chance of having a healthy adult Arowana in the future. Purchasing one to small will increase your chance of death due to change.

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