Introduction to Silver Arowana

The silver arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a freshwater ray finned fish which belongs to the family Osteoglossidae under order Osteoglossiformes of Class Actinopterygii. It is also known as two barbels bony tongue, monkey fish, water monkey, dragon fish etc. It is distributed in Amazon River basin and in the Rupununi and Oyapock Rivers in South America and waters in Guyana. It usually swims near the water surface waiting for potential prey. It chiefly feeds on crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes and other animals that float on the water surface.

Silver Arowana’s Overview

The silver arowana has an elongated body with a compact and wedge-shaped head and large eyes. Body is silvery in color with large cycloid scales. It has pink and beautiful tapered fins with large and oblique mouth and forked barbels on the tip of the lower jaw which are used as sensory organ, able to detect movement on the water`s surface. This amazing species can also obtain oxygen from air by drawing it into their swim bladder. They are an exciting species that are constantly swimming around the aquarium, providing plenty of action and enjoyment. Dorsal and anal fins are extended up to the small caudal fin, with which they are fused together. It can grow up to 5 kg in weight and 120 cm in length and can live up to 20 years. With proper care, the silver arowana is a very hardy fish. It can have issues such as gill curl, which is often due to abnormal water quality and limited space. White spot or ich, cloudy eyes and coned scales are the other arowana ailments. Proper care should be taken to protect your fish from these abnormal situations.

English Name: Silver arowana, Two barbels bony tongue, monkey fish, water monkey, dragon fish

Scientific Name: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum

Origin: Colombia, Peru

Maximum Size: 120 cm

Water Temperature:  75-82° F

Water pH: 6.0-7.0

Water Hardness: 36 – 268 ppm

Behavior:  Semi-aggressive

Breeding: Very hard to breed in captive condition

Care Level: Moderate

Life span: 20 years

Tank Size:  Minimum 250 gallons

Compatibility:  6 or more juveniles can be kept together, but 10 or more is better

Background of Silver arowana

The Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) was first introduced into the aquarium hobby in 1912. Its scientific name is derived from the Greek terms for genus ‘Osteoglossum’ which means bone-tongued and for species ‘bicirrhosum’ which means two barbels. For this reason it is known as two barbels bony tongue.  Due to its silver coloration it is also known as a Silver Arowana. Its eyesight is also remarkable. With a keen vision, this fish can see above the surface, spotting and leaping out of the water to strike insects and birds from over hanging tree branches. This has lead to still another nickname for this fish, the ‘Water Monkey’.

Housing Silver Arowana

Juvenile Silver Arowanas can be kept in about 40 gallons tank but adult prefers an aquarium of 600 gallons or larger with a fine gravel bottom and soft, peaty water with lots of open space above for swimming. This species can be aggressive towards conspecifics if space is limited. Tank should be decorated with rock work, bogwood/driftwood and sturdy plants such as Amazon Swords and Giant Vallisneria. Silver arowana does best if there is a high proportion of dissolved oxygen and moderate degree of water movement so external filters, powerheads, airstones, etc., should be employed as necessary because they do not tolerate poor water quality, so excellent filtration along with frequent partial water changes of 25% or more is required to keep nitrates low. The Silver Arowana are excellent jumpers and very strong, so make sure the top of the aquarium is securely fitted with a tight and heavy cover. 6 or more fish can be kept together, but 10 or more is better. Knifefish, large Plecostomus, Catfish and Ornate Bichirs, large Oscars and other large South American species make good tank mates for the Silver Arowana. It can be harassed by large Pike Cichlids if the aquarium doesn’t provide enough space. Tank should be placed in low traffic areas to keep the Arowana from getting frightened by sudden movements.

Recommended for Silver Arowana

Feeding Silver Arowana

Juvenile Silver Arowanas chiefly feeds on small fish, tadpole larva, live brine shrimp, live brown worms, small earthworms and other live foods. They also like pellets, sticks, chunk of frozen foods, chopped and whole market shrimp and other meaty foods while adults accept strips of fish flesh, whole prawns/shrimp, mussels, live river shrimp, larger earthworms, etc. Like the vast majority of predatory fishes this species should not be fed mammalian or avian meat such as beef heart or chicken. Some of the lipids contained in these cannot be properly metabolized by the fish and can cause excess fat deposits and even organ degeneration. Feed should be supplied once a day. These fish are prone to Drop Eye in captivity, so proper care should be taken during feeding.

Sexing silver arowana

It is Very difficult to sex visually. Mature females are generally more rounded in the body and have a slightly shorter anal fin.

Breeding Silver Arowana

A report for breeding in aquarium is unknown but due to their large eventual size this species is often bred commercially in outdoor facilities such as large ponds. Silver arowana are brood caring and egg-layers. At the beginning of the flood season, silver arowana pairs up and builds a circular nest in the mud of the floodplains where the female lays 50-250 eggs per reproductive season. After breeding, the male Silver Arowana is responsible for carrying the large eggs in his mouth where they mature in 50 to 60 days. When young, these fish are easily harassed by more aggressive species such as Cichlids. The fry are normally quite large, measuring around 50-75 mm during hatching. Proper care should be taken during young stages to protect your aquarium arowana.

Silver Arowana for sale & Where to Buy

Silver Arowanas are actually displayed through many speciality fish stores. Owners seems to usually have one on display probably from a previous owner that couldn’t accommodate to the Silver Arowana’s growth. Typically finding them online will be a challenge due to the size of some, but juveniles are still sold if you know where to look. Look down below for some places where to buy Silver Arowana