asian arowana

Asian Arowana: The Dragon Fish and a True Legend

Isn’t it shocking that a fish can cost you a fortune?

As a matter of fact, it’s true and alive in front of us in the form of Asian Arowana, an epitome of beauty and glory.

Asian Arowana is famous around the globe for its price. One might wonder why this fish so special? What makes it so important in the fishkeeping world? Why keeping this fish is a luxury in its sense?

This is the world’s most expensive fish ever. Also known as Dragonfish, this majestic creature is considered a symbol of “wealth and prosperity”. This exotic freshwater creature is truly a sign of power, money, and supremacy.

Now it’s time to answer some basic questions regarding this weirdly mesmerizing freshwater creature. Where it came from? What’s its speciality? What does it look like? So, let’s not waste even a second more and dive straight into some interesting facts about this beauty.

Important Facts About Asian Arowana


Arowana belongs to the family Osteoglossidae. This fish is also known as “Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum” from their ancestors. They belong to the Great Amazon River situated in South America. They are closely associated with Arapaimas.

  1. Scientific Name: “Scleropages formosus”
  2. Kingdom: “Animalia”
  3. Phylum: “Chordate”
  4. Family: “Osteoglossidae”
  5. Genus: “Scleropages”
  6. Species: “S. formosus.”

They have a tiny toothed bone in the floor of their mouth. The roof of their mouth also has a toothed appearance, making it a “real beast of the aquarium”.

Based on their origin, “Silver Arowana” was classified into four classes around the Jurassic era.

  • Asian Arowana
  • South American Arowana
  • Austrailian Arowana
  • African Arowana

Arowana belongs to the great Amazon river situated in South America. They are closely associated with Arapaimas. Silver Arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum separated to Asian Arowana and Australian Arowana around the Jurassic era.

Symbol of Beauty

In appearance, no other Freshwater creature can compete with this glory. Generally, Arowanas has an elongated, streamlined body with a collection of coin-like scales all over them. These coin-like round, metallic and shiny scales are believed to bring prosperity and success to their owner.

Arowanas can attract anyone’s attention with their marvellous display of colors and striking shiny eel-like body. Its naturally stunning and splendid personality makes it stand out from the rest of the aquatic creatures. Its metallic vibrant colors make it worth more than 300,000$.


Arowanas are quite diverse in colors and origins. Thus, the following are the different types of Arowana.

  1. Silver Arowana
  2. Super red Arowana
  3. Albino Arowana
  4. Indonesian green Arowana
  5. Australian Jardine Arowana

Arowana can attract anyone’s attention with its marvellous display of colours and striking shiny eel-like body. It’s naturally stunning and splendid personality makes it stand out from the rest of the aquatic creatures. Its metallic vibrant colours make it worth more than 30,000$.

Growth and Survival

Their size ranges from 35-40 inches. In captivity, their size can reach a maximum of 30-35 inches. Their survival instincts are worth admiring. They have an upward-facing mouth and teeth to catch the prey from the surface of the water.

 The best one is sparkling Silver Arowana; it can live in a hot environment and survive without food for a few days. They can tolerate a temperature range of 30-40 degrees Celsius. Their lifespan is almost “10-15 years”. They are predators, so they have good survival and preying strategies.

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Knowing the behavior of the fish is an important factor while selecting an aquarium fish. This South American species is extremely territorial and hostile. Australian Arowana is the most aggressive one. Once they adjust to an aquarium, they get comfortable and less violent.

They tend to stay alone and enjoy their own company. They are often seen in small batches and avoid the crowd. Wild Arowanas love to stay on the slow-moving water surface. Thus they are extremely competitive for their habitat.

Tankmates for Arowana

Arowanas don’t usually enjoy company; thus, finding appropriate tankmates for them is challenging. Usually, bottom dwellers and semi-aggressive species are the best tankmates for Arowanas. Cichlids are considered a better choice.

Following is a list of tankmates that can get along well with Arowana.

  • Parrot Cichlids
  • Freshwater Stingray
  • Clown Loaches
  • Common Pleco
  • Green Terror Cichlid
  • Jack Dempsey Cichlids
  • Oscar Fish

It would be best to avoid other violent fishes as they can really become troublesome for you to handle. Some of the fishes that are strictly forbidden to be kept with Arowanas are following.

  • Angelfish
  • Flowerhorn cichlid
  • Discus cichlid
  • Goldfish

Keeping the Arowanas Together

If you intend to keep adult Arowanas together, you should be very careful and experienced. It is problematic for two main reasons.

  1. Arowanas can grow exceptionally large in size, and adult Arowana requires more than a 200-gallon tank.
  2. Arowanas are extremely combative and territorial; they are not good at sharing their space. Thus it will be tough to keep them together.

So to keep Arowanas together in one space, you should prefer an outdoor pond or a huge aquarium. Moreover, fish experts suggest that you keep at least 6 of them together to decrease tension.

Difference Between Male and Female Arowana

According to most aquarists, it isn’t easy to distinguish between male and female Arowana as they are monomorphic. Monomorphic means they are similar in form and thus look alike.

After extensive research, aquarists could differentiate between the two genders that really helped in the breeding process.

  1. Males are usually brighter in colors; they have better pigmentation.
  2. Females are generally broader, but the length to width ratio is small. In comparison, males are slimmer and larger.
  3. In some cases, the egg-shaped pattern is seen on the bodies of males. These markings are called “egg spots” and are an important landmark in gender analysis.
  4. In males, the caudal and anal fins are pointed, edgy, and more flowing. In contrast, female fins are smaller and rounded.

Feeding Arowana

Now a question might pop up in mind that what do they eat? In wildlife, surprisingly, Arowana can eat anything. They have exceptionally largemouth that helps them in ingesting large fishes, snakes, birds, and frogs. Mostly they feed on insects, crustaceans, small fish like barbs, koi, and goldfish.

As for a pet living in an aquarium, Arowana is a mess to feed. First of all, their diet is quite expensive. Moreover, they eat a large quantity of food at a time. Arowana likes to eat fresh food including, small fishes, cockroaches, insects, and shrimps.

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Canned food is not their first choice. Food in the form of pellets that stay on the water surface is a better option. Arowanas are a bit choosy; well, I guess that makes them unique and special.

Breeding Guide

Arowana has split up into different species based on their habitat including, Asian, African, Australian, and Amazonian. Every species has its separate mode of reproduction and mating.

Firstly it is difficult to differentiate the two genders, which makes it problematic for the breeders. Furthermore, they have different strategies for keeping the eggs safe from other predators. Most of the males carry the eggs within their mouths wherever they go.

Some female Arowana’s build a nest for their eggs at a place not easily accessible for predators. The female can lay up to at least 30 eggs at a time.

Some species of Arowana are late to develop and even late to reach sexual maturity. It may take almost 3-4 years for Arowana to reach its peak size.

Taking Care of Arowana

Arowana is quite burdensome for a pet. They are expensive, require large living space, are picky eaters, and need a lot of care. As it is quite a hostile fish, so, Arowana does not prefer to have tank mates. Green terror cichlids, pacu, and clown loaches are its favorite tank mates.

One of the biggest requirements of keeping an Arowana is tank space. Young Arowana needs a space of at least 66 gallons or more. As they grow faster, so they need even bigger space. Talking about a rather larger one will need a tank of almost 265 gallons or above. So, tank space is a great hindrance in petting this fish.

A clean and large aquarium is all this fish need. Thus, regular water changes, a healthy diet, and a good water filtration system are inevitable. Arowanas are basically inhabitants of slow-moving shallow water; thus, a water pump is not necessary. Unnecessary water currents can also upset your fish.

Fun Facts About Asian Arowana

Here are some interesting facts regarding this wonderful creature. In addition to being the most expensive fish around the town, Arowana has many other valuable facts to know.

Monkey Fish or Silver Arowana

One kind of Arowana, the breathtaking Silver Arowana, is known as “Monkey fish”. This name is given to this fish for its skills of leaping over the prey like a monkey. Silver Arowana can even jump for almost 5 ft to catch prey at less height.

Bony Tongues

Another interesting thing about silver Arowana is their similarity with Arapaimas, in having exceptionally largemouth and toothed tongue. Their large mouth helps them carry the eggs in their mouths to protect from predators and catch their prey.

Dragon Fish

Due to Arowana’s bright red color, Arowana is also known as Dragonfish because of its shiny bright red color. Chinese consider Arowana a sign of Goodluck and success because of its sparkling coin-like metallic scales. Its long tail, widespread fins, and lustrous red skin make it look like a dragon.

Illegal Around the Globe

This fish is banned for export to most parts of the world because of two reasons. First and foremost, they are rare species and are difficult to breed.

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They are endangered and require utmost protection to prevent them from getting extinct. The Asian Arowana is becoming an endangered species because their care and reproduction are difficult.

Secondly, it is considered illegal because it’s expensive and often used in smuggling as an alternative to money. Keeping that in view, this fish is banned in most parts of the world.

Most Expensive Aquarium Fish

This fish earned a place to be the most expensive aquarium fish. People started smuggling it for its price. Moreover, It’s a rare and valuable breed, hard to find and difficult to keep. A good-looking, medium-sized Arowana can cost you a whopping sum of more than $300’000.

Lucky or Just A Myth?

There are many myths associated with this true living legend. For instance, in Chinese history, red Asian Arowana is highly valued as they believe that having an Arowana is a sign of good fate, prosperity, and protection from evil.

Moreover, many people think that those keeping an Arowana are the luckiest on the planet and are about to get wealthy and successful.

Whether it’s true or just a fabricated story but many people died in search of this fish.

Many were murdered in search of this lost treasure, but the quest is still running.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is Asian Arowana Illegal in Most Parts of the World?

Asian Arowana is illegal in more than 180 countries around the globe. It is an endangered species, so Wildlife Conservation Authorities has banned this fish from international trade.

According to the Endangered Species Act (1975), Arowanas cannot be kept in personal possession. Moreover, this exotic fish is extremely expensive, and many people started smuggling it. Thus according to law, it can only be kept and sold by a license holder.

How much does an Asian Arowana cost?

It’s surprising to know that a fish can cost you more than $300,000, but it’s true. Asian Arowana is an exotic freshwater fish known for its unprecedented beauty, and its metallic scales shine brighter than diamonds. Thus this beauty can cost you from $70,000 to $300,000.

Despite having this much money, it’s challenging to find this gem for yourself as it is legally banned for any trade. Thus this fish can actually cost you a fortune.

How fast do Asian Arowana grow?

The growth and size of every fish depend on the food provided, the water parameters, tank size, and conditions. In the case of Asian Arowana initially, they grow at a slow rate, but later they grow exceptionally in the first year.

Starting at a rate of 2 inches per month, they can reach an exceptional size of 35-40 inches. Thus tank size should be changed according to the size of the fish to provide enough space.


In conclusion, we can say that Asian Arowana is without a doubt the most popular, versatile, and legendary fish. Its bright colors, scale patterns, and mesmerizing beauty make it the most expensive fish in the fishkeeping world.

In the end, people who can afford to keep one of these bad boys are fortunate.

Let us know what do you think about this legend?

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