Silver Arowana Care Guide: Tips for a Happy, Healthy Fish

The Silver Arowana is an eye-catching freshwater fish prized for its striking appearance and unique swimming style. Its sleek, silver body and distinctive up-turned jaw can make it a captivating addition to your aquarium. But with great beauty comes great responsibility, as this species requires specific care and attention.

As a fish enthusiast, you know that providing a proper environment for your aquatic pets is essential for their well-being. For the Silver Arowana, this means understanding their needs in terms of tank size, water quality, and temperature, as well as their diet and tankmate compatibility.

In this care guide, we’ll help you learn everything you need to know so you can successfully raise and maintain a healthy Silver Arowana in your home aquarium. Get ready to create a thriving habitat for these fascinating fish!

Species Overview

Scientific nameOsteoglossum bicirrhosum
Common namesSilver Arowana, Monkey Fish, Dragon Fish
DistributionAmazon River Basin
Size3-4 feet
Lifespan10-15 years
TemperamentPredatory, semi-aggressive
Minimum tank size250 gallons
Temperature75°F – 86°F
pH6.5 – 7.5
Water hardness1-8 dGH
Care levelIntermediate-advanced
Filtration/Water FlowModerate to strong
Water typeFreshwater
BreedingEgg layers
Breeding difficultyDifficult
CompatibilityLarge, non-aggressive fish

Caring for a Silver Arowana in your aquarium can be an ambitious but rewarding experience. In this section, we’ll give you an overview of the species, touching on their origins, natural habitat, size, shape, color, markings, and lifespan. This accessible, friendly guide will provide you with the essential information you need to help your Silver Arowana thrive.

Origins and Natural Habitat

The Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) belongs to the Osteoglossidae family and is native to South America’s Amazon River Basin. Their natural habitat includes slow-moving rivers, swamps, and flooded forests. In the wild, they can typically be found near the water surface, hunting for small fish and insects.

Size and Shape

Silver Arowanas have a distinct and striking appearance. Their elongated, slender bodies can reach lengths up to 35-47 inches (90-120 cm) at full size. They have a somewhat flat body shape, with a unique two-barbeled chin and a large mouth that opens upwards. Adults typically weigh around 6-7 lbs (3-3.5 kg).

Color and Markings

As the name suggests, Silver Arowanas have a beautiful silver body that reflects light, creating an iridescent shimmer. Some individuals may exhibit faint bluish or greenish tints on their scales. Their two large, scale patterns on the sides resemble the marking of butterflies, and they have dorsal and anal fins that join with their long, tapering caudal fin, giving the impression of a single, continuous fin.


With proper care and a conducive environment, Silver Arowanas can live for 10-15 years in captivity. Managing water quality, providing a balanced diet, and monitoring stress levels are key aspects of ensuring your Silver Arowana lives a healthy, long life.

Silver Arowana Care

As an Silver Arowana owner, it is essential to maintain these specific parameters for a healthy environment. Be mindful of your fish’s compatibility, as they can be predatory and semi-aggressive. Remember, Silver Arowanas have specific breeding needs and can be challenging for even experienced aquarists. By adhering to these guidelines, you will create a thriving habitat for your Silver Arowana.

Tank Size and Location

When it comes to housing your Silver Arowana, size matters. These fish can grow quite large, reaching up to 4 feet in length. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with a spacious aquarium of at least 250 gallons. Make sure to place the tank in a stable, low-traffic area of your home, as these fish are known to be skittish and may become stressed by excessive movement or noise around their environment.

Water parameters

Silver Arowanas are native to warm streams and tributaries in South America and can adapt to both blackwater and whitewater environments. While replicating murkiness is not necessary, maintaining proper pH balance, temperature, and hardness is crucial.

In the warm Amazon River Basin, water temperature ranges from 75°F to 82°F, while pH levels can vary between 5.0 to 7.5, with the middle range being ideal. Water hardness should be kept within 1 to 8 dGH.

Given their sensitivity to changing water conditions, regular water tests using a reliable aquarium testing kit are essential. Ideally, perform tests every 2-3 days to ensure the parameters remain within acceptable ranges.

By carefully monitoring and maintaining appropriate water conditions, you can create a suitable environment for Silver Arowanas to thrive and stay healthy in their aquarium habitats.

Filtration System

A strong filtration system is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy environment for your Silver Arowana. These fish produce a significant amount of waste, and poor water quality can lead to health issues. Opt for a high-quality, external canister filter to effectively remove waste and debris from the tank.

Substrate and Decorations

Despite their large size, Silver Arowanas prefer a natural, minimalist environment. Choose a fine-grained substrate, such as sand or small pebbles, to create a comfortable and visually appealing base. When selecting decorations, avoid overcrowding the tank and allow for ample swimming space. Incorporate a few live plants and driftwood to enhance the aquarium’s natural aesthetics. However, keep in mind that Silver Arowanas are known to be jumpers, so it’s essential to secure the tank with a tight-fitting lid to prevent any surprise escapes.

Diet and Nutrition

Caring for your Silver Arowana requires proper attention to their dietary needs. This beautiful fish thrives when provided with a balanced and nutritious diet. In this section, we will discuss the types of food your Silver Arowana will enjoy and their feeding schedule.

Types of Food

Your Silver Arowana is a carnivorous fish and loves a variety of foods. Here are some common food options for your fish:

  • Live Foods: Silver Arowanas enjoy live foods like feeder fish, shrimp, and insects such as crickets and mealworms. Feeding them live foods helps stimulate their natural hunting instincts and keeps them active.

  • Frozen Foods: If live foods are not always available, frozen options like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or plankton are a great alternative. Just make sure to thaw the frozen food before feeding it to your Arowana.

  • Pellets: High-quality pellets specifically formulated for Arowanas can also be part of their diet. These can provide a balanced source of nutrients. However, it’s essential to supplement their diet with live or frozen foods for optimal health.

Feeding Schedule

Feeding your Silver Arowana adequately is crucial for their overall health and growth. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Frequency: Feed your Arowana two to three times a day, depending on their size and age. Younger fish should be fed more often, while adults typically need less frequent feeding.

  • Portion Size: Be mindful of the portion size in each feeding. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues. As a general rule, provide your fish with as much food as they can eat within 2-3 minutes.

Remember, a proper diet and feeding schedule are essential in keeping your Silver Arowana healthy, happy, and thriving in its aquarium home. Regularly monitor their eating habits and adjust as needed to ensure they maintain the appropriate weight and size.

Health Check

Signs of Healthy Silver Arowana

A healthy Silver Arowana should display the following characteristics:

  • Active swimming: Arowanas should be actively swimming in the upper or middle parts of the tank, showing off their sleek and elegant form.
  • Healthy appetite: They should have a strong voracious appetite, eating everything from live fish and insects to pellets and frozen foods.
  • Bright, vibrant colors: Keep an eye out for a lustrous sheen and well-defined scales on their body. The silver color should appear bright and clean.
  • Clear eyes: The eyes of a healthy Silver Arowana should be clear and alert, with no signs of cloudiness or injury.

By observing these traits, you can ensure that your Silver Arowana is in good health.

Common Diseases

Despite being relatively hardy, Silver Arowanas can be prone to a few common diseases, which include:

  • Dropsy: Caused by bacterial infections, the fish’s body swells and the scales may protrude. To treat it, maintain good water quality and use antibacterial medications.
  • Fin Rot: As the name suggests, it affects the fins, causing them to appear ragged. Treat the disease with antibacterial or antifungal medications and ensure proper water conditions.
  • Ich: Small white spots appear on the fish’s body, resembling grains of salt. It is caused by a parasite and can be treated with copper-based medications and increased water temperature.
  • Pop-eye: One or both eyes become swollen. This can be caused by bacterial infections or poor water conditions. Address the root cause and use appropriate medications if necessary.

To keep your Silver Arowana healthy, always ensure that you maintain a clean and stable environment with proper water parameters. Regular tank maintenance and a varied, high-quality diet will also contribute to the overall health of your fish.

Behavior and Temperament

The Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is a unique and captivating freshwater fish, known for its sleek, elongated body and striking appearance. When it comes to their behavior and temperament, they are quite active and curious creatures.

One interesting aspect of their behavior is their unique swimming pattern; Silver Arowanas tend to swim near the water’s surface, which allows them to hunt and spot potential prey. It is essential to keep a well-secured lid on your tank as they are known to jump out when startled or searching for prey.

Socializing with other fish can be a bit challenging for Silver Arowanas due to their predatory nature. Although they may coexist with some larger tank mates, it is recommended to keep them with similar-sized or larger fish to avoid predation. Keep an eye on their interactions to ensure a peaceful aquarium environment.

Overall, caring for a Silver Arowana involves understanding their lively and inquisitive personalities. By providing them with a suitable tank setup and compatible tank mates, you can enjoy the beautiful presence of this unique fish in your aquarium.

Suitable Tank Mates

Finding suitable tank mates for your Silver Arowana can be quite challenging due to their aggression and limited compatible options. Regardless, it’s important to observe the behavior of potential tank mates closely to ensure compatibility and be prepared to separate them if necessary.

A good starting point for tank mate selections are larger, slightly aggressive fish that can defend themselves against the Silver Arowana. Keep in mind that tank size plays a significant role in the success of pairings.

Some possible tank mates for a Silver Arowana include:

  • Large catfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Jaguar Cichlid
  • Pacu (if the tank is large enough)
  • Silver Dollar Fish
  • Large Plecos
  • Bichir
  • Green Terror Cichlid
  • Black Ghost Knife Fish

It’s worth mentioning that Silver Arowanas don’t usually do well with other Silver Arowanas unless housed in large ponds. As arowanas are solitary fish, it’s recommended to keep just one fish in the tank unless you plan to breed them. Please also consider your arowana’s feeding habits when selecting tank mates, as they can be selective eaters, especially with live feeds. Make sure to quarantine live feeds before adding them to the tank to prevent pathogen transmission, and think about the long-term care of the feeder fish if the arowana refuses to eat them.

Breeding Silver Arowana

Breeding Silver Arowanas in captivity is a rare event, as most of the fish in stores come from commercial fisheries. They have specific breeding requirements, which usually occur during the flood season in July. It’s essential to understand that bonded pairs are uncommon since Silver Arowanas often don’t get along with each other.

When the female completes nest building, she will lay eggs, and the male will collect them in his mouth. Silver Arowanas are mouthbrooders, meaning the male carries the eggs for up to 50 days until they hatch. This intriguing behavior is fascinating to observe.

After hatching, the fry remain in the male’s mouth for an additional 5 weeks. By this stage, they are large enough to consume small feeder fish or brine shrimp. Interestingly, male Arowanas do not eat while mouthbrooding.

To successfully breed Silver Arowanas, you need to pay careful attention to their specific breeding behaviors and conditions. With patience and a friendly approach, breeding Silver Arowana can be a unique and rewarding experience for aquarists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for a Silver Arowana?

The ideal tank size for a Silver Arowana is at least 250 gallons for a single adult fish. This is because they grow quite large and require plenty of space to swim around comfortably. It’s essential to maintain water parameters between 6.5 to 7.5 pH and keep the temperature within a range of 75°F to 86°F.

What are suitable tank mates for a Silver Arowana?

Silver Arowanas can be quite aggressive, so it’s important to choose tank mates that are equally assertive and can hold their own. Suitable tank mates include large cichlids, catfish, and other large fish species that can coexist with the Arowana. Avoid pairing them with smaller or slow-moving fish, as the Silver Arowana may consider them prey.

How often should a Silver Arowana be fed?

Silver Arowanas have a carnivorous diet, so it’s important to feed them a variety of live or frozen foods like shrimp, crickets, and small feeder fish. You should feed your Silver Arowana 2-3 times a day, providing just enough food that they can consume within a few minutes. It’s crucial not to overfeed them, as this can lead to health problems.

What is the average lifespan of a Silver Arowana?

The average lifespan of a Silver Arowana is around 10-15 years in captivity with proper care and a well-maintained environment. It’s crucial to ensure they have an adequately sized tank, clean water, and a balanced diet to increase their chances of living a long and healthy life.

How large can a Silver Arowana grow?

A Silver Arowana can grow to be quite large, reaching over 3 feet in length. It’s essential to accommodate their growth by providing an adequately sized tank and maintaining ideal water conditions.

What factors affect the growth rate of Silver Arowanas?

The growth rate of Silver Arowanas can be influenced by several factors, including genetics, diet, water parameters, and tank size. Providing a balanced diet with proper nutrients and maintaining optimal water conditions will help support healthy growth. Additionally, ensuring that the tank has sufficient space for the Arowana to swim and grow comfortably is crucial.