Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum): Ultimate Care Guide


Common NameSilver Arowana, Monkey Fish, Dragon Fish
Scientific NameOsteoglossum Bicirrhosum
OriginSouth America
Temperature75F to 86F
Water pH6.5 – 7.5 pH
Size36 inches
DietCarnivorous

Silver Arowana Facts

  • Silver Arowanas that grow up in captivity often reach up to 3 feet in length, but wild Silver Arowanas can grow much larger. Up to 4 feet in length.
  • They are commonly referred to as lucky fish or dragon fish for their large scales, and their resemblance to a mythical, Chinese dragon that is said to welcome wealth, health, and prosperity into your home.
  • Silver Arowana are efficient hunters that can rocket their bodies out of the water to catch their prey.

Silver Arowanas are rather impressive fish. They can grow rather large, and they are agile enough to catch their prey out of the air. They have shorter fins that look as though they are a part of their tail. These fins are short, but powerful. They give the Silver Arowana a streamlined appearance. Silver Arowanas are typically metallic silver colored with some Silver Arowanas being more golden in coloration.

Silver Arowanas have 2 small barbels on their lower jaws. They have large scales, and small eyes. Their large mouths work to siphon food in, and they have a bone like tongue that helps them crush it up so that they can eat it.

Is Silver Arowana Considered A Lucky Fish?

Some Chinese people believe that Silver Arowanas are lucky fish as they resemble a mythical dragon, and will bring forth luck, prosperity, and good health.

Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum)
Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum)

Silver Arowana Care

Silver Arowana are not easy fish to care for. They require a lot of space as they grow rather large, and they can be very sensitive to changes in their water parameters. It is not recommended that a beginner to the fish keeping hobby take on the challenge of owning a Silver Arowana unless they have done their research thoroughly.

Tank Requirements

Silver Arowanas grow rather large, and they require a tank of at least 250 for a single adult fish. They require their water parameters to be kept at around 6.5 to 7.5 pH, and their temperature to be kept in a constant range of 75F to 86F to keep them happy. They are very sensitive to changes in their water parameters, and this can lead to poor health for your Silver Arowana. It is a good idea to establish regular water checks and changes to keep your Silver Arowana happy and healthy.

Silver Arowana Size

Silver Arowana typically grow much larger in the wild than they do in captivity, but they still all average out to be about 3 feet long at full maturity. This large size usually deters people from purchasing them for their home aquarium.

Max Size

Silver Arowana average around 3 feet in length, but they have been reported as large as 4 feet in length.

Growth Rate

The growth rate of the Silver Arowana is one of the reasons that they are difficult to house. They start out life at around 4 inches long already, and they continue to grow rapidly after that. You can temporarily house a juvenile Silver Arowana in a tank as small as 60 gallons, but they will not be happy there for long. They can grow at a rate of up to 2 inches per month.

Food and Diet

Silver Arowana are carnivorous fish, but they prefer a more carnivorous diet. In the wild, Silver Arowana can be found eating smaller fish and insects both in and out of the water. Their bodies are streamlined and powerful so that they can launch themselves out of the water to catch their prey. In captivity, you will have to feed juvenile Silver Arowanas small, live fish, insects, and worms. Owners of Silver Arowana suggest that they can eventually be conditioned to accept high quality, protein rich, pelleted foods, but it can be difficult to get them to transition. Make sure that you are giving your Silver Arowanas a high quality, varied diet that is rich in protein, and you will be able to keep them happy.

Size and Lifespan

Silver Arowana can grow up to 4 feet long in the wild, but in captivity, they do not grow nearly as large. Silver Arowana that grow up in captivity will typically reach up to 3 feet in length, or 36 inches. The key to the health and happiness of captive Silver Arowanas depends on how much they are being cared for. If they are fed correctly, and kept in the appropriate conditions, you can expect your Silver Arowana to live up to 15 years.

Tank Setup

If you are looking to set up a tank for Silver Arowanas, you should take a look at their natural environment, as well as keep a few things in mind about these large, powerful fish.

Silver Arowanas not only need a large tank to house, but they need a tank that has thick glass as well. They have been known to break the glass on aquarium tanks that are less than half an inch thick. Make sure your tank also has a secure lid as they are agile, and will jump out of the tank if given the chance.

Substrate can be used in a Silver Arowana tank, but it is not usually used or recommended as it could potentially make the tank more difficult to clean. Placing lots of decorations and plants around their tank is also not necessary as they could potentially injure the fish as they go after their food. Plants and decor would also take away from the swimming space in their tank. They need lots of open space to swim freely. The more space they get, the happier they are. They like lots of lighting, so you will want to purchase a good light for your Silver Arowana aquarium.

Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum)
Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum)

Silver Arowana Breeding

Silver Arowanas are not bred in captivity as they do not tolerate other fish of their same species and the tank size requirement is so large. There are only a handful of success stories of people breeding them in captivity.

Silver Arowana are egg laying, mouth brooding fish. When the females are ready to spawn, they lay their eggs. Silver Arowana eggs are large, orangish eggs. Once the male has fertilized the eggs, he will then scoop them up into his mouth and care for them until they hatch and leave. This usually takes the fry around 50 days.

How to Tell the Difference Between Silver Arowana Males and Females

Unfortunately, there is not much of a difference between Silver Arowana males and females until they reach full maturity. It is suggested that male Silver Arowanas are more slender than the females are. This is especially true as they approach the spawning season. Silver Arowanas spawn only once a year, from December to January.

Silver Arowana Diseases

Silver Arowanas are susceptible to many of the same diseases that other freshwater fish are. The key to their health and happiness are largely dependent on how well they are cared for. If you notice that your Silver Arowana is not eating well, or seems to be looking dull in coloration, you can almost bet that there is something wrong with their water parameters. Silver Arowana are sensitive to changes in their water quality, and their health can make a turn for the worse rather quickly.

Some of the common ailments that Silver Arowana can get are:

Fin and Tail Rot

Fin and tail rot is identified by simply looking at the fins and tails of your fish. They will start to lose pieces of their fins and tails. This sickness is caused by a bacteria in the water, and it is an important reason to quarantine any feeder fish before you introduce them into your aquarium. If caught early enough, it is possible to treat and potentially cure the infected fish with water changes and medicine.

Hemorrhagic Disease

Hemorrhagic Disease is typically caused by the fish rubbing its barbels against the tank until they become infected. This infection will happen quickly if their water is poor quality as well. This can happen to Silver Arowanas that are not kept in the appropriate sized aquarium. The treatment for this is clean water, medicine, and a larger aquarium. If left unresolved, it can result in the death of the fish.

Ich

Ich is a parasitic infection that shows up as white spots on the skin of the fish. If left untreated it will spread and eventually clog up the gills of the fish and kill it. Ich is contagious and will spread to other fish as well. Infected fish should be quarantined in an effort to stop the spread. If caught early enough, Ich can be treated with medication.

It is better to prevent ailments in your fish than it is to correct them when they appear. Silver Arowanas require clean water, and for their health, you need to establish regular water changes for them.

Drop Eye

Drop Eye is a condition that often affects Arowanas. When a fish has Drop Eye, this means that they have eyes that are swollen and bulging from their normal position on the head of the fish. Drop Eye is caused by over-zealous fish when they feed, potentially hitting their head on the lid of the tank or on the tank itself. Sadly, this condition has no cure and can not be fixed.

Silver Arowana is Not Eating

It is possible that your Silver Arowana fish will not eat for a few days and it will be totally normal for the fish. Especially if they have eaten a rather large meal. Your Silver Arowana could also not be eating because you have recently given them live food, and they will only accept live food now. You can test this by dropping in a few worms to see if they go after them.

Stress could be another huge factor in your Silver Arowana not eating. If your Silver Arowana is stressed out, you will be able to see other signs than just a hunger strike. If your Silver Arowana is stressed you may see it darting around your tank, crashing into things, rubbing itself on rocks and decor, and hiding a lot more than usual.

Stress in fish is commonly a death sentence in fish if left unattended. Silver Arowana will stress easily if they are not being kept in a large enough space, or in the correct water conditions. If you suspect that your Silver Arowana could be stressed, then the first thing you look at should be the tank size and the water parameters. If those are fine, then the problem could be a tank mate that is making your fish stressed. Whatever the reason your fish may be stressed, it is important to figure it out so that your fish do not suffer.

Silver Arowana Tank Mates

Finding tankmates for Silver Arowana can be difficult. A single Adult Silver Arowana requires a lot of space to thrive and keep happy. Silver Arowanas are commonly kept alone for this reason. They do not do well with other tank mates of the same species either. Possible tank mates could be large Cichlids as they are aggressive enough, large enough, and tough enough to endure a Silver Arowana attack.

To successfully keep Silver Arowanas with any other fish, you will need a massive amount of space, and a small pond is a good option. Keep in mind that each of these types of fish have personalities that vary depending on the fish. It is possible that you could do everything correct and still have issues with certain fish. It is important to monitor any new fish together, and have a plan in place to separate them if needed.

Are Silver Arowana Aggressive?

Even though Silver Arowanas are considered one of the least aggressive species of Arowana, they are still difficult to keep with any tank mates, even others of their own species. They are hunter fish that will consider any fish that is smaller than they are as a meal.

Compatible and Incompatible Tank Mates

There are more incompatible tank mates than there are compatible ones for Silver Arowana. Any fish that is smaller than the Silver Arowana will be hunted for food by the Silver Arowana.

If you have enough space for a pond, or an extremely large aquarium, you might be able to successfully house a large Cichlid with Silver Arowana. However, each individual fish has its own personality, and it is possible that even if you have done everything right to house them together, you could still not be successful. It is important to monitor every fish that you put together to make sure that there are no problems, and make sure that you have a backup plan in place to house them if they need to be separated.

Where Can I Find Silver Arowana For Sale?

If you are looking to purchase Silver Arowana for yourself, you will be able to find them for sale from reputable breeders online. You will want to make sure that you are purchasing from a reputable breeder so that you are getting healthy, quality fish. You can expect to pay around $50 for a 5 inch Silver Arowana juvenile.

Silver Arowana Types

There are a few types of Silver Arowana that are popular in the aquarium hobby. Many of these fish are rare and/or very expensive.

Platinum Arowana

Platinum Arowana is the most coveted of all Arowanas due to its coloration and rarity. These fish  are considered to be lucky, and Platinum Arowana can be expensive to purchase due to this reason. They can cost up to 300,000 to purchase just one Platinum Arowana.

Albino Arowana

Albino Arowanas are more rare than Silver Arowanas, and you can expect to pay more to purchase one. They are not as highly sought after as Platinum Arowana, but they do cost more. If you are looking to purchase an Albino Arowana for yourself, you can expect to pay around $180 for a small juvenile Albino Arowana.

Silver Arowana VS Asian Arowana

One of the main difference between Silver Arowana and Asian Arowana is their origin. Asian Arowanas can be found in Asia, while Silver Arowanas can be found in South America. They have some differences in looks as well. It is said that Asian Arowanas have a more pronounced tail fin structure, while Silver Arowanas have a more pointed tail fin.

Similarly to the Silver Arowana, you will have difficulty placing them with other fish as they do not often get along with others.

Silver Arowana VS Jardini Arowana

Jardini Arowana are more typically bronze colored, and have reddish undertones to their coloration. They visibly have red tipped scales that you can see. They also have red spots on their fins. Other than their notable color differences, Jardini Arowana originates from the waters of Australia.

Just like Silver Arowana, Jardini Arowanas are fierce hunting fish that do not do well when housed with others.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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