The Arowana is a bony fish that is prehistoric in actuality and in appearance. It resides in aquariums and natural freshwater sources throughout the world. The head of this fish is bony and its body is covered in large, thick scales. It glides through the water with the help of long anal and dorsal fins and small, thin pectoral and ventral fins.
There are ten varieties of Arowanas, all belonging to the Osteoglossidae family. Two of these ancient species are from Australia, four are from Asia, three are from South America and one is from Africa.
While different species vary in size, location and population, there are some characteristics that are present throughout all Arowanas species. The Arowana’s body is extremely long in size, growing up to 120 cm in length. Arowanas kept as pets are generally smaller, as living in an aquarium can limit the length to which a fish might have grown outside of captivity.
If kept as a pet, an aquarium with plants is visually appealing, though it is recommended that the Arowana not share a small space with other fish, as it can be aggressive in nature. On its own, it is a docile, well-tempered fish. It is also an undeniably strong fish, requiring a firmly latched lid to prevent it from jumping out. It has been known to knock off flimsy lids and jump out from inside the tank, which can lead to injury or death. In the wild, the Arowana can jump nearly two metres above the water’s surface, earning it a nickname of the “water monkey.”
The amount of food and the frequency of feeding are dependent upon the size and age of the Arowana. Young, growing Arowanas should be fed several times a day, whereas larger or full-grown fish require a meal only once per day. Overfeeding can reduce a fish’s quality of life, as well as its lifespan. Like humans, Arowanas benefit from a healthy diet that has some variety. The Arowana is carnivorous and enjoys eating shrimp, prawns, krill, insects, and other similar foods, which may be alive or dead. Pellets are another feeding option, though it is not recommended that this be the only component to this fish’s diet.
The Arowana can be one of many striking colours depending on where it originates. A fish’s colouring may not be fully determined until the Arowana is full grown. Colours include vibrant shades of red, green, blue, gold or silver.
This particular type of fish is popular in Asian culture, in part because of its appearance. The mythical dragon is revered as a symbol of luck and prosperity. The Arowana has whiskers that are thought to resemble those of a dragon, so it is also considered a symbol of good fortune.
To ensure that a pet Arowana has a clean tank to live and swim in, it is recommended that the water be changed every one to two weeks. To maintain a stable water temperature and make the cleaning process easier on the fish, consider cleaning one third to one half of the water at any given time. This will allow the Arowana to stay in its aquarium when the water is being changed, which lowers the risk of complications.
This large, hardy fish is not prone to many health problems, though some conditions have visible symptoms. A healthy Arowana should swim smoothly through the water with only the rear of its body showing movement. Swimming with observable movement in its head and tail could indicate illness. Similarly, if the Arowana swims with its body at an angle, it could be the sign of a digestive or bladder issue. A healthy fish will also have clear, alert eyes. An Arowana that lives in a clean, spacious aquarium may live up to 15-20 years in captivity.
Though this type of fish has seemingly always been in existence, their population has stabilized considerably since the Arowana became popular as a household pet.