Asian Arowana

Asian arowana, scientific name Scleropages formosus, belongs to the Osteoglossidae family. The name is largely collective and is often used in relation to all Arowanas found in Asia. Although in reality, scientists distinguish at least four independent species, as well as many subspecies and geographical forms.

The fish is of particular cultural importance in Asia, in particular in China, and in a number of countries in Southeast Asia. The analogy with the Chinese dragon, as a symbol of prosperity, predetermined high demand, which was certainly reflected in the cost.

Asian arowana is considered one of the most expensive fish. Active fishing put it on the brink of extinction. Since 2006, the species has been included in the Red Book and is protected by law. The catch and international export of wild animals is prohibited.

For aquaristic purposes, there are more specialized fish farms included in CITES. Each fish grown in them has its own unique identifier, certificate of authenticity and birth certificate. Recently, all data are gradually being converted into electronic form. Each fish sold is implanted with a microchip that carries all the necessary information.

However, there is also an illegal market with many nurseries, shadow exporters, auctions and points of sale. For more on this, see Simon Worrall’s interview with Emily Voigt in National Geographic.


If we take into account geographical forms, then the natural habitat extends to the whole of Southeast Asia, including the archipelagos of Malaysia and Indonesia. In nature, it inhabits stagnant swampy reservoirs, river backwaters. Prefers shaded areas near the coastline, flooded rainforest.


Adults reach a length of up to 90 cm. The fish has a long body with large pectoral fins. The dorsal and anal fins are displaced closer to the tail. Unlike the Silver Arowana from South America, the caudal fin is noticeably larger. Another characteristic feature is the size of the scales – each scale can be up to 2 cm in diameter!

The color is different and depends on the place of origin. The following color forms are distinguished: green, silver, red (the most valuable), golden.

Behavior and compatibility

They live in the upper layers of water. In the daytime, they prefer to hide under vegetation hanging above the water surface among flooded snags and roots. They are most active in the evening and at night, when they go hunting.

Predatory and territorial species, competes with congeners for forage areas. As a rule, they are kept alone, or in the company of large benthic species or fish that live in the water column.

Brief information:

  • The volume of the aquarium is from 1000 liters.
  • Temperature – 24-30 ° C
  • PH value – 6.0-7.5
  • Water hardness – soft to medium hard (2-15 dGH)
  • Substrate type – any
  • Lighting – dim, moderate
  • Brackish water – no
  • Little or no water movement
  • The size of the fish is up to 90 cm.
  • Nutrition – live feed
  • Temperament – territorial, aggressive

Maintenance and care, arrangement of the aquarium

Asian arowana is not for the amateur. Those who have the opportunity to purchase this fish, probably already have the appropriate knowledge about the peculiarities of caring for it and can afford to invite the necessary specialists. For this reason, within the framework of our site, it will not be appropriate to describe in detail the nuances of the content, we will restrict ourselves to brief information.

The optimal sizes for keeping one Asian Arowana start from 1000 liters. Fish can jump out of the water, so tanks are equipped with a lid. The design is simple, the main condition is to provide enough free space for swimming in the upper layer of water, as well as the placement of several large vertically oriented driftwood.

A comfortable environment is clean, soft, acidic water, rich in tannins. The source of the latter is either special suspensions, additives to the filtration system, or natural decoration elements, such as the bark and leaves of some plants.


A well-chosen diet is key to the success of long-term maintenance. The diet is based on live food such as shrimp, crickets, mealworms, forage fish, small amphibians, earthworms, insect larvae, etc. Nurseries use a combination of several foods, including dry pelleted foods.

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