Arowana Care: Arowana 101

Popularly known as a household pet, the arowana fish is a freshwater bony fish which belongs to the Family Osteoglossidae (coming from the Greek words osteos meaning “bone” and glossa meaning “tongue”; literally bony-tongued). This name is gotten from the fact that their tongues have a “tooth” which they use to grind against the tooth in the roof of their mouths. Another interesting about the mouths of the arowana is that they use them to hatch their eggs, an adaptation known as buccal incubation. In fact, on average, an arowana can hold hundreds of eggs in its mouth, where the young ones would eventually feed.

These fishes have a bony head and an elongated, slender body. Their scales, shaped by the turbidity of their natural habitats, are large and heavy with mosaic patterns and canals; in some species, the scales even acquire a glossy and reflective surface. Aside from these scales, their fin patterns also give the arowana fish a distinct look. Their dorsal and anal fins have soft rays and are long based, while the pectoral and ventral fins are small. Also, they are known as obligatory air breathers, fishes which need to fill their swimbladders with air not only to float, but also to obtain oxygen. These swimbladders resemble the lungs in the sense that they are lined with arteries and veins.

The arowana fish is naturally carnivorous, and are shaped by evolution to be excellent surface feeders: they get their food by jumping. Specialized muscles and aerodynamic body shape enable them to become powerful jumpers, some noting that they can jump as high as 6 feet. These heights suit their diet of flying insects, small arboreal mammals, and low flying bats. Two species of the arowanas are found in the Neotropical region, one in the Southeast Asian region, and two in New Guinea.

Having an arowana fish as a pet can be tricky, but the rewards make the struggle all worth it. That’s why there are certain points and tricks to remember on how to maximize the joy from keeping an arowana. First, arowanas are really huge fishes with sizes averaging to 37 inches, and they like to be alone. Many hobbyists, however, had found ways to mix in a little bit of a company with large and active fishes like plecostomus catfish and tinfoil barbs; others which are smaller and weaker tend to be dinner. Second, they move around A LOT, and that’s why there needs to be a sandy base and a huge room for movement. To keep them from being stationary, however, many enthusiasts had already seen the benefits of placing a table tennis ball in the tank; something which is moving.

Third, they need a hell lot of nutrition, and it is better if it is alive. Be careful, however, not to introduce disease. Also, fat should be avoided as to prevent the drop eye disease. Variety should also be introduced as to prevent the onset of nutritional deficiencies, as well as the fishes getting tired of the diet. Mixes of insects, chopped meat, and pellets have been proven effective.

Fourth, it should also be known that they are naturally shaped to become excellent jumpers; they jump randomly. This calls for a tight lid. Lastly are the tank conditions; something an arowana fish tends to be meticulous about. The water should be fresh and have a well-kept pH level of 7 (neutral). The temperature also should not be far from 80 Fahrenheit, since the arowana is an equatorial fish. Again, because of its size, be prepared to have huge space for a tank which holds about 50 to 120 gallons.

The rest is for the arowana fish to ask for.