Silver arowanas are large and beautiful freshwater fish that have become increasingly popular in the aquarium trade.
While owning a silver arowana can be a rewarding experience, it’s essential to understand them before bringing one home.
So, let’s understand this fish species in detail.
Silver Arowana Species Overview
Silver arowanas, scientifically known as Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum, is a freshwater South American arowana fish species belonging to the Osteoglossidae family.
They are found in the Amazon, Essequibo, and Oyapock river basins.
They inhabit the calm waters and swamps in shallow flooded areas and can’t swim through rapidly moving waters.
These fish are found in black and whitewater environments, including flooded forests.
Species: O. bicirrhosum
Binomial Name: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum (Cuvier (ex Vandelli), 1829)
Silver arowanas are silver to gold in color.
Young silver arowanas exhibit a blue hue and have a yellow-orange stripe adjacent to their body.
These fish have long, slender bodies with large, upturned mouths that help them sneak potential prey from the water’s surface.
They also have large scales, with dorsal and anal fins that extend to the tail, almost merging with the small caudal fin.
Male and female silver arowanas look similar, with only subtle differences to differentiate them.
Male silver arowanas have a comparatively longer anal fin than females.
Another difference is that female silver arowanas are slightly plumper than their male counterparts.
Silver arowanas have a long lifespan, with an average life expectancy of 10 to 15 years in captivity.
However, they can live a little longer in the wild, up to 20 years.
Factors such as a nutritious diet, optimal water parameters, and proper tank maintenance all play a role in their longevity.
Silver arowanas can grow quite large, up to 3 feet in captivity.
They can reach 4 feet in their natural habitat due to food availability and ample space.
These fish exhibit a rapid growth rate and may exceed the capacity of smaller tanks in no time.
Hence, it’s vital to consider their full potential size because they need a large tank once fully grown.
Silver Arowana Tank Setup
Silver arowanas are challenging fish to keep due to their large size, active lifestyle, and specific needs.
They need an experienced fishkeeper with adequate time and resources to ensure their well-being.
Let’s understand the tank requirements of silver arowanas in more detail.
The silver arowana is a large fish and needs a minimum tank size of 250 gallons to thrive.
These fish are active and need plenty of space to swim and explore their surroundings.
A young silver arowana can thrive in a 60-gallon tank.
However, these fish outgrow a tank quickly because they can grow up to 2 inches a month during their first year itself.
Hence, the bigger the tank, the better it is for your silver arowana’s overall development.
A smaller tank can result in space constraints. This will lead to stunted growth and other health problems.
Also, the tank needs to be shallow and broader since silver arowanas are known to jump out of the tank.
Tank Equipment and Decorations
In addition to a large tank, silver arowanas need specific aquarium equipment to thrive.
A large and spacious tank with plenty of open swimming space is necessary since these fish are active swimmers.
Silver arowanas mostly dwell at the upper surface of the water.
Hence, you can add plants at the back of the tank, leaving the middle section open for the fish to swim freely.
The tank should also have good filtration and aeration systems to maintain clean and oxygenated water.
It’s also recommended to have a heater to maintain a stable water temperature and an adjustable light source to mimic the silver arowana’s natural environment.
The aquarium should also have plenty of hiding places such as driftwood, rocks, and caves for the silver arowana to rest and hide.
These fish are popular for their jumping abilities and are called “water monkeys” because of this.
Silver arowanas can jump up to 3 meters high in the wild to catch prey.
So, a shallow and wide tank with a tight-fitting lid is necessary to prevent them from jumping out of the tank.
Given below are the items that you should keep in a silver arowana tank:
- Fine gravel substrate,
- Aquarium filter,
- Aquatic plants,
- Adequate lighting,
- Decorations like rocks, caves, etc., for shelter,
- Tight-fitting lid,
- pH testing kit, and
Silver Arowana Care
Silver arowanas are beautiful and majestic fish that need proper care to thrive. So they are best suited for experienced aquarists.
Let’s learn more about how to take care of these fish.
Silver arowanas are carnivorous fish that need a diet rich in protein.
In the wild, they mainly feed on large insects, frogs, crustaceans, and fish that fit into their mouth.
These fish are predatory and have an insatiable appetite for live food.
They love to hunt live prey, such as fish, shrimp, and insects.
Hence, their diet should consist of live or frozen food to satiate their dietary requirements.
Some aquarists have found their silver arowanas accepting dried pellets.
However, pellets shouldn’t be their staple food because silver arowanas need a protein-rich diet to stay healthy.
Some of the live food that you can feed silver arowanas are:
- Insect larvae,
- Feeder fish like minnows, etc.
Silver Arowanas can be found in warm streams and tributaries throughout South America.
Hence, they prefer warm and oxygenated water to thrive.
These fish are also known for their resilience since they can adapt to certain fluctuations in water parameters.
However, it’s crucial to maintain suitable water parameters in their tank to ensure that they stay healthy and active.
The ideal water parameters for arowanas are:
Water Temperature: 75°F to 85°F (23.8°C to 29.4°C),
Water pH: 6.0 to 7.0,
Water Hardness (dGH): 1 to 8.
Proper tank maintenance is essential for the health of silver arowanas.
The tank should have a robust filtration system to keep the water clean.
It’s vital to perform regular water changes and clean the tank regularly to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.
Any uneaten food should be immediately removed to avoid water contamination.
Proper tank maintenance requires regular cleaning of aquarium filters, substrate, and decorations.
The tank should also be monitored regularly for ammonia and nitrite levels using a testing kit.
Silver arowanas are pretty hardy. However, they are susceptible to many aquarium diseases.
Given below are some of the common diseases that can affect silver arowanas:
- Fin rot,
- Drop Eye,
- Bacterial infections, and
- Parasitic infections.
It’s important to keep the water clean and stable to prevent illnesses.
If you notice any signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, or abnormal swimming behavior, consult a veterinarian or a fish expert immediately.
Silver Arowana Behavior and Temperament
Silver arowanas are known for their aggressive behavior and aren’t recommended for beginner aquarists.
They are territorial fish and can become aggressive toward other fish in the tank, especially when they feel threatened.
Although aggressive, these fish are skittish and easily startled by sudden movement or loud noise.
These fish are primarily carnivores and will eat any smaller fish that fits into their mouth.
Hence, keeping them with fish of similar or larger sizes is the best option.
Silver arowanas are very active. So they need a large tank with plenty of swimming space.
They also need lots of hiding places, such as caves and plants, to feel secure in their environment.
Silver Arowana Tank Mates
Finding suitable tank mates for silver arowanas is challenging due to their large size and predatory nature.
Given below are some of the compatible tank mates that you can keep with silver arowanas:
- Jaguar Cichlids,
- Green Terror Cichlids,
- Silver Dollars,
- Large Plecos,
- Parrotfish, etc.
These fish are of similar size and temperament to silver arowanas.
They also have different color patterns, which can add visual interest to your tank.
However, not all fish are compatible with silver arowanas.
Here are some fish to avoid keeping with silver arowanas:
Small fish shouldn’t be kept with silver arowanas since they might get eaten.
Similarly, fin-nipping fish should also be avoided as they can cause stress and injury to silver arowanas.
Silver Arowana Breeding
Here are some essential things to keep in mind if you want to breed silver arowanas:
- Breeding silver arowanas in captivity is difficult due to their aggressive and predatory nature.
- They are very particular about mating and usually do it during the flood season in the wild.
- Most silver arowanas are bred in captivity only by commercial breeders.
Silver arowanas have a reasonably long courtship period in their natural habitat, and they spawn only once a year during the flood season.
If you want to breed silver arowanas in captivity, here are some tips to remember.
Provide a large tank to encourage breeding. Ensure that the water conditions are optimal.
You can adjust the water temperature and pH levels to encourage breeding.
Feed a nutritious diet to the pair for better conditioning.
Once the pair is formed, silver arowanas display their fins, circle, and nip during courtship.
The pair then builds a nest for the female to lay her eggs.
Silver arowanas are mouth brooders.
The male silver arowana fertilizes the laid eggs and holds them in its mouth for around 50 days until they hatch.
Once the fry hatch, they are released into the open water.
You must move them to a separate rearing tank with suitable water conditions.
To encourage growth, feed the fry a protein-rich diet consisting of live food, such as brine shrimp and daphnia.
Finally, ensure the tank is adequately filtered and maintained to create a healthy environment for the fry to grow.
Breeding silver arowanas is a challenging task that needs a lot of patience and dedication.
So most aquarists purchase silver arowanas from commercial breeders.