Silver arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)

Silver arowana or Dragon Fish (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a tropical freshwater fish of Osteoglossidae family.

It’s a popular tank fish, which is often kept in zoos, public and amateur tanks around the world.
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Inhabitance in the wild

The fish is native to South America river basins – such as the Amazon river, Rupununi, Orinoco and Essequibo river.

The fish was introduced in North America, several times arowana was caught in USA, in ponds of different states. Dragon fish inhabits in backwaters and inshore zones of rivers and lakes with water temperature about +24…+30 °C.

Each year during overflow of the Amazon river this fish swims into flooded bottomland forests. Silver arowana can live in oxygen-deficient waters.

Description

The fish body may be up to 90 cm (35 in) long, more seldom – up to 120 cm (47 in). It’s weight is up to 6 kg (13 lb), in average usually it’s 4.6 kg (10 lb).

Its tape-like body is rather flattened from sides, covered in very pale scales with some silvery glitter and golden tint. Young arowana fish body has yellow-orange stripes and some blueish glitter on it.

The fish dorsal and anal fins are very long and narrow-width, they almost coalesce with its fluke. Together with very wide and flattened laterally tail-stem of the fish they form an unusual “paddle” which gives arowana rather strong acceleration when the fish attacks its prey and it allows the fish to jump out from water quite high to catch something.

Once a scared arowana in a tank jumped out of it 3 meters high.

Arowana dorsal has about 42-50 rays and 49-58 rays in the anal one. Arowana’s body has 30-37 scales on its lateral line and it has 84-92 spinal bones.

The fish has very wide upward-pointing mouth and there are 2 fleshy barbels on the edge of its mandible.

Most of the time Silver arowana slowly swims close to water surface, at that its barbels are pointed forward and it looks like the fish is probing water by doing this.

Difficulties in keeping

This tank fish is definitely not for the beginners. Even young silver arowana fish requires a spacious tank, since it grows rather fast.

A tank of 250 liters (66 gallons) is enough for young species, however rather quickly the fish will require a bigger tank, about 800–1000 liters (265 gallons).

Also the fish needs very clean and fresh water. However, arowana, just like the majority of freshwater fish, is rather tolerant to changes of water pH and hardness. Besides, to feed arowana isn’t a cheap thing.

Keeping in a tank

The most important condition to be observed to keep this fish in a tank is the size of this tank. Recommended tank capacity must be over 500 liters (132 gallons).

Minimal tank size is 160 cm long, 60 cm wide and 50 cm high. Ideal tank size for Silver arowana has to satisfy the following formula: the tank length has to be at least 3 times larger than the fish length and the tank width should be not less than 1.2 of the fish size.

It’s acceptable to keep young silver arowana in smaller tanks temporary, however, later the fish must be taken into a proper sized tank to avoid the fish body deformation and to insure the fish maximum life span and body length. The tank has to be securely closed with some glass from the top to prevent the fish from jumping out of it.

Silver arowana prefers soft water with pH value from 6.0 up to neutral.

The fish requires strong water filtration, 25-30% of water, and weekly tank cleaning to keep the proper water characteristics.

Tank water temperature should be from 24 to 28° С (75-82F), ideally it should be close to 26°С(78F).

Scientific NameOsteoglossum bicirrhosum
Common NameSilver Arowana, Dragon Fish, Arawana, Monkey fish
Tank size250 liters (66 gallons) and more
TemperamentPeaceful towards fish of similar size
DietPredatory
Temperature24 to 28° С (75-82F)
pH6.5-7.5
Size120 cm (47 in)

Feeding

Dragon fish hunts mainly close to water surface. It is an omnivorous fish, but it feeds mainly on fish, though it eagerly catches large insects (mostly bugs), spiders, crabs, snails, frogs and other small selva inhabitants, including terrain and tree dwelling ones, which sit on the branches and leaves hanging above the water and arowana jumps out of the water to get them.

It is said that even snakes and birds were found in arowanas stomachs as well as some plant remnants, which speaks for the fact, that the fish really is an omnivorous one.

In the wild arowanas eat food with huge amount of bulk substance – such as bird feathers, insects chitin etc.

It means that you should feed the fish in a tank correspondingly to all above mentioned. The fish diet may include large insects, shrimps, fish (not more than twice a week), large arowana species may be fed with small animals, for example, mice.

You may also use some special food made for arowana. You mustn’t feed the fish with food that drowns all the time, since it may cause the fish eye focus shifting (cross-eye). Large amount of fat food also may cause the same disease, because too much fat leads to relaxation of skin structure under the disease eye. In the wild eyes of healthy fish are directed vertically, not downwards.

Amazon Best Sellers for arowana
Food
Hikari Tropical Food SticksFood Sticks™ are a complete, nutritionally balanced formulation,
developed for carnivorous fish whose main diet of live
food tends to cause nutritional deficiencies
Monster Fish Medley by AqueonIdeal for catfish, arowana, oscars and other large cichlids
Monster Fish Medley is quick and convenient daily
nutrition in a resealable pouch
Hikari carnivoreivore Sticks JumboThe World’s first Sponge-Like Monster Stick Food
A Scientific Diet for Larger Awowana and
Top Feeding Carnivores
Gravel Cleaners
Python No Spill Clean and Fill Aquarium Maintenance SystemWill not disturb fish or decor during routine aquarium maintenance
Adapts easily to most faucets
Complete ready-to-use system
KEDSUM Aquarium Gravel Vacuum SiphonWith well-formed shape,compact structure,
it is easy to install and operate
Suitable for the fish tank range:
50-100Gal (water depth:11.81-23.62 inch).
Aquarium Water Treatments
Seachem Arowana BufferArowana Buffer adjusts pH to 6.5 from either a
low or high pH and maintains it there for 2-4 weeks
It safely softens water by precipitating
calcium and magnesium
It also improves the ability of arowanas to resist infections
Seachem ReplenishReplaces Minerals Stripped By Ro Units
Prevents Osmotic Shock
Creates optimal conditioning
Seachem PrimeDechlorinates
Detoxifies heavy metals
Promotes natural slime coat
Economical
Will not overactivate protein skimmers
Books
The Dragon Behind the GlassA riveting journey into the bizarre world of the Asian arowana
or “dragon fish”—

the world’s most expensive aquarium fish—
reveals a surprising history with profound implications for the
future of wild animals and human beings alike.

Arowana: The Complete Owner’s Guide for
the Most Expensive Fish in the World
This book is guaranteed to answer any and all questions you may have about Arowanas
and is a must have for anyone interested in keeping an Arowana as a pet.
Aquarium Test Kits
API FRESHWATER MASTER TEST KIT 800-TestIncludes Freshwater pH, High Range pH, Ammonia, Nitrite,
and Nitrate.
Kit features computer-analyzed laminated color cards,
instruction booklet,
4 test tubes, a holding tray and test tube rac
Accurately monitors 5 most vital water parameters levels in
freshwater aquariums:
pH, nitrite, nitrate, carbonate and general water hardness
Designed for use in freshwater aquariums only
Use for weekly monitoring and when water
or fish problems appear
Tetra EasyStrips 6-in-1 Test StripsWith Tetra EasyStrips Now More Convenient to Test Your Water
More accurate hardness test
Reaction stops in 60 seconds to prevent false higher readings
Aquarium Décor
Zoo Med Tag Mopani WoodZoo Med Laboratories mopani Wood
A beautiful two color African hardwood for aquariums or terrariums
One of the hardest and densest woods available
Sinks immediately in aquariums and unlike driftwood, will not rot
Coco Philippines Java FernLIVE IMPORTED PHILIPPINES JAVA FERN — Microsorum pteropus “Philippine”,
or Philippines Java Fern is a beautiful species of underwater fern
Tantora Premium Grade Catappa Indian Almond Leaves50 Medium “Indian Almond Leaves” 5-7 Inches
All natural and organic; Rich in tannins
Antibacterial and anti-fungal properties
Stimulates fish and shrimp color
Marimo Moss BallsAesthetically Beautiful
Create Healthy Environment
Eco-Friendly, Low Maintenance & Curbs Algae Growth
Shrimps & Snails Love The
Luffy Coco Mini MosBuilds a Beautiful and Natural Aquascape
Easy Care, Hardy and Long Lasting Plant
Filters and Provides Aquariums with Oxygen

Frogs are favorite food of many arowana species. They may get used to it that much, that they’ll stop eating any other feed.

You can buy frogs in a pet shop or on the market.

Feeding arowana with live small fishes will let you observe the process of arowana hunting, so it’s not only just some nutritive food for the fish. Such fish should be selected according to the size, so arowana would easily swallow them.

It shouldn’t be a gorefish and it shouldn’t have any sharp poisonous pins. Another rule – this must be tank fish without any infectious diseases.

Compatibility

When buying silver arowana to keep it in your tank, keep in mind that this is a predator fish. However, it does well with other tank mates, if they are 3 times larger than it is.

There should be not more than one adult arowana in a tank, since this fish tends to be aggressive to the species of its kind.

Silver arowana can be kept together with other middle-sized tank fish (green terror, black ghost knifefish, cichlid parrot fish, large botia fish, saifin pleco, freshwater angelfish).

Breeding

The fish doesn’t breed in captivity. Therefore, the fish is bread in fish farms of South-East Asia using hormones. The fish breeds at the beginning of flood. Arowana female lays a small number of eggs, which is carried by the male fish in its mouth.

According to the observations in captivity arowana male fish incubates the eggs for 40 days. The eggs are very large, red-orange, drop-shaped with high amount of nutrient substances. Arowana juveniles hatch being 3 cm large, after that they continue staying in one of their parents’ mouths and they swim out from time to time.

Their yolk sac continues to be the source of food for juveniles which are 6-7 cm long. Young arowana fish leaves its parents’ mouth 5 weeks later since the day it hatched. After the juveniles yolk sac comes to an end, they start eating the feed you give them.