Silver Arowana 101: Care & Compatibility Guide

profile of silver arowana
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: September 25, 2023
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The silver arowana, a captivating freshwater fish from South America’s Amazon basin, is prized by aquarium enthusiasts for its beauty and rarity. With its shimmering silver scales, elongated body, and predatory nature, it’s a standout in the aquatic world. These majestic creatures glide gracefully through water and feed on various prey, making them a remarkable addition to aquariums. However, providing sufficient space, appropriate tank conditions, and a suitable diet is crucial for their well-being. In conclusion, the silver arowana’s stunning appearance, behavior, and hunting abilities make it a fascinating choice for aquarium keepers.

Article Summary

  • The silver arowana belongs to the Osteoglossidae family and is known for its ancient lineage.
  • They can grow up to three feet long in captivity and even larger in their natural habitat, with a potential lifespan of up to 20 years.
  • Providing sufficient space, suitable tank conditions, and the right diet are crucial for their well-being.

Species Overview

The silver arowana, scientifically known as Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, belongs to the Osteoglossidae family and is commonly referred to as the “bonytongue.” This species is well-known for its ancient lineage and popularity in the aquarium hobby.

Originating from the slow-moving rivers, floodplains, and lakes of South America, the silver arowana has adapted unique hunting techniques. It is capable of leaping out of water to catch prey in the wild. This remarkable ability sets it apart from other fish species.

In addition to its physical attributes, the silver arowana holds cultural significance in East countries where it symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Its elegant appearance and graceful movements have made it highly sought after by aquarium enthusiasts worldwide.

silver arowana reflection

When observing a silver arowana, one cannot help but be captivated by its sleek silver body adorned with large scales. These scales not only contribute to its striking appearance but also provide protection against potential predators. Furthermore, this species possesses an elongated jaw that adds to its distinctive features.

One notable characteristic of the silver arowana is its unique body shape, which includes long dorsal and anal fins. These fins aid in their ability to jump out of water while hunting for food or evading threats. The combination of their streamlined bodies and specialized dorsal and anal fins allow them to swiftly navigate through their aquatic environment.

The Silver Arowana can reach an adult size of up to three feet long when kept in captivity. In their natural habitat of the Amazon river basin, they can grow even larger, measuring between 35 to 47 inches in length and weighing up to 13 pounds. With proper care in captivity, these magnificent fish can live up to 20 years.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Regular water changes are also vital in keeping the tank conditions suitable for the silver arowana. Changing approximately 25% of the water every two weeks helps eliminate accumulated toxins and maintains good water quality.

Tank Set Up

The silver arowana, known for its impressive size, requires a spacious tank that provides ample swimming space. Due to their large size, these freshwater fish need a tank with a capacity of at least 250 gallons (946 liters). This ensures they have enough room to move around comfortably and exhibit their natural behaviors.

To maintain a healthy environment for the silver arowana, strong filtration is crucial. These fish produce high amounts of waste, so investing in a reliable canister filter is essential. The filter will help remove impurities and keep the water quality optimal for your fish.

silver arowana in natural substrate

Water Parameters

Creating water conditions that resemble the silver arowana’s natural habitat in the Amazon river basin is important for their well-being. These fish prefer soft and slightly acidic water with a pH level ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. To achieve this, you can add natural elements like driftwood or use specific products designed to adjust pH levels in aquariums.

Maintaining stable temperature within the range of 75-82°F (24-28°C) is crucial for the silver arowana’s health. Fluctuations in temperature can cause stress and even lead to diseases. Using an aquarium heater with an adjustable thermostat helps regulate the temperature effectively.

Monitoring ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels closely is essential as these parameters directly impact the health of your fish. Elevated ammonia or nitrite levels can be toxic while high nitrate levels indicate poor water quality. Regular testing using reliable aquarium test kits allows you to take appropriate measures if any parameter becomes imbalanced.

Substrate and Decor

silver arowana in natural substrate

Adding suitable substrate and decor enhances both the aesthetic appeal of your tank and provides hiding spots for the silver arowana. Dense vegetation or driftwood can be incorporated to mimic their natural habitat in South America and create hiding places where they can retreat when feeling stressed.

When choosing decor, it is advisable to opt for natural elements like stones and driftwood. These not only provide hiding spots but also offer surfaces for the growth of beneficial bacteria, which aid in maintaining water quality.

Tankmates and Temperament

The silver arowana is a stunning and majestic fish that can be a great addition to any aquarium. However,There are several factors to consider.


Silver arowana fish are generally best kept alone or with other large, non-aggressive fish species. They have an impressive size and can grow up to three feet in length, so it’s crucial to provide them with enough space in the tank. These fish are known for their territorial nature, especially towards similar-looking species or during the breeding season. It’s essential to monitor their behavior closely during these times and ensure they have ample room to establish their territories.

profile of silver arowana

Compatible Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your silver arowana, care should be taken to prevent aggression and ensure compatibility. Here are some suitable options:

  • Black ghost knife fish: These nocturnal creatures make excellent companions for silver arowanas due to their peaceful nature.
  • Blood parrot: Known for their vibrant colors and gentle temperament, blood parrots can coexist harmoniously with silver arowanas.
  • Oscars: Although they belong to different regions of the world, Oscars share similar requirements with silver arowanas and can make good tank mates.

It’s important to note that introducing new tank mates should be done gradually. This allows the fish time to adjust and minimizes stress levels. Monitoring their interactions closely during this period will help identify any signs of aggression or compatibility issues.

Tank Mates to Avoid

While there are compatible options for tank mates, there are also certain species you should avoid housing alongside your silver arowana:

  • Smaller fish: Silver arowanas have predatory instincts and may see smaller fish as potential prey. It’s best to avoid housing them with species that can fit into their mouths.
  • Aggressive fish: Tank mates with aggressive tendencies can lead to conflicts and stress for the silver arowana. It’s important to steer clear of aggressive species that may pose a threat.

By being mindful of the tank mates you choose, you can create a harmonious environment for your silver arowana. Providing ample space and carefully selecting compatible companions will help ensure the well-being and happiness of your beloved fish.

length of silver arowana

Silver Arowana Care

Maintaining excellent water quality is essential for the well-being of your silver arowana. Regular filtration and partial water changes play a vital role in achieving this. By regularly cleaning the tank and replacing a portion of the water, you can remove any accumulated waste or toxins that may harm your fish.

Food and Diet

To ensure the optimal health of your silver arowana, it is crucial to provide them with a balanced diet. These magnificent fish are carnivorous and thrive on live or frozen foods. Offering a variety of options will help keep their diet interesting and nutritious. Some suitable choices include insects, small fish, and shrimp.

Care Recommendations

Silver arowanas are particularly sensitive to high levels of ammonia in their surroundings. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor ammonia levels closely. High ammonia concentrations can lead to stress, illness, or even death in these beautiful creatures. Regularly testing the water for ammonia levels and taking appropriate action if necessary will greatly contribute to their care.

Another critical aspect of caring for silver arowanas is monitoring the tank temperature. It is recommended to keep the temperature between 75°F – 82°F (24°C – 28°C) to create an environment that promotes their overall health. Installing an aquarium heater with a thermostat can help maintain consistent temperatures within this range.

silver arowana in natural habitat

Common Diseases

While silver arowanas are generally hardy fish when provided with proper care, they are still susceptible to certain diseases. Being aware of these common ailments can help you identify symptoms early on and seek appropriate treatment promptly.

One prevalent disease among silver arowanas is Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, commonly known as ich or white spot disease. This parasitic infection manifests as small white spots on the fish’s body and fins, causing irritation and discomfort. Treating ich typically involves raising the tank temperature gradually while administering medication specifically designed for parasite eradication.

Another disease to watch out for is dropsy, a condition characterized by bloating, swelling, and raised scales. Dropsy often indicates an underlying issue with the fish’s internal organs or bacterial infection. Prompt isolation of affected individuals and treatment with antibiotics may help combat this illness.

By providing a well-balanced diet, maintaining excellent water quality, and being vigilant about common diseases, you can ensure the health and longevity of your silver arowanas. Remember to observe your fish closely for any signs of distress or unusual behavior, as early intervention is key in addressing potential issues. With proper care and attention, these majestic creatures will thrive in your aquarium.

silver arowana against black backdrop

Breeding the Silver Arowana

Breeding silver arowanas, also known as dragon fish, can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor for fish enthusiasts. However, it is important to note that successful breeding of these magnificent creatures can be quite challenging due to their specific requirements in terms of water conditions and tank setup.

Ease of breeding and behavior of breeding pair

Breeding silver arowanas is not a task for the faint-hearted. It requires careful preparation and attention to detail. These fish are known for their unique behaviors during the breeding process. The male will typically establish his territory by patrolling around the chosen nesting area, while the female displays her willingness to mate through subtle changes in her body coloration.

Selective breeding efforts have resulted in various color morphs being available today. This diversity adds another layer of complexity to the breeding process, as breeders strive to achieve specific color variations in their offspring.

Recommended Tank Set Up

To increase your chances of successful breeding, it is crucial to provide the right environment for your silver arowanas. Start by setting up a dedicated breeding tank that mimics their natural habitat as closely as possible. Ensure that the tank has plenty of swimming space and hiding spots for the fish.

Maintaining optimal water conditions is essential for successful breeding. Silver arowanas prefer slightly acidic water with temperatures ranging from 78°F to 82°F (25°C – 28°C). Regular water changes and filtration are necessary to keep ammonia levels low and maintain good overall water quality.

close up profile of silver arowana

Breeding process

Once you have established a suitable tank setup and introduced sexually mature pairs into it, you can observe their fascinating mating rituals firsthand. The female will lay her eggs on floating plants near the surface of the water while being closely guarded by the male. After fertilization takes place, she carries the eggs in her mouth until they hatch.

During this incubation period, which typically lasts for several weeks, the female will not eat. She diligently guards the eggs, ensuring their safety and providing them with optimal conditions for development. It is truly remarkable to witness the dedication of these fish during this crucial stage.

Fry Care

When the fry finally hatch, they are referred to as alevins. At this stage, they require tiny live foods to sustain their growth. Brine shrimp or insect larvae are excellent options for feeding these delicate creatures.

Interestingly, even after being released from her mouth, the female continues to protect her offspring. When threatened, the fry instinctively seek shelter in their mother’s mouth until they feel safe enough to venture out on their own.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is silver arowana fish lucky?

The Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is often considered a symbol of luck and good fortune in some cultures, particularly in Southeast Asia. In countries like Malaysia and Singapore, it is believed that keeping a Silver Arowana in your home or workplace can bring prosperity and ward off negative energy. However, the perception of luck associated with the Silver Arowana varies from person to person and culture to culture.

Are silver arowana aggressive?

Silver Arowanas are known for their predatory nature and can exhibit aggression, especially when they are larger. While they may not be aggressive toward other fish of similar size and temperament, they may view smaller fish as potential prey. It’s essential to provide them with a spacious tank and carefully choose tank mates to minimize aggressive behavior.

How big does a silver arowana get?

Silver Arowanas are one of the largest freshwater fish species in the world. They can grow up to 3 to 4 feet (approximately 90 to 120 centimeters) in length, with some individuals reaching even greater sizes under ideal conditions. Due to their substantial growth potential, providing a large and adequately sized tank is crucial for their well-being.

What type of arowana is silver?

The Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a specific species of arowana known for its silvery coloration and elongated body shape. It belongs to the genus Osteoglossum and is distinguished by its metallic appearance and large scales, making it one of the most sought-after arowana species among aquarium enthusiasts.

What is the luckiest arowana?

The perception of which arowana is considered the luckiest can vary among different cultures and individuals. While the Silver Arowana is often associated with luck and prosperity in some regions, other arowana species, such as the Asian Arowana (Scleropages spp.), are also believed to bring luck and wealth, particularly in Asian cultures. The idea of the “luckiest” arowana is subjective and often depends on personal beliefs and cultural traditions.

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