Arowanas are an extremely unique species of fish. Arowanas are sometimes known as bony tongues. The bony tongue name comes from one of their unique features – a bone plate on the lower part of their mouth that features teeth. That boney plate is their only identifying feature; arowanas tend to have long, slender bodies covered in scales as well as barbells coming from the tip of their jaw.
These exciting fish tend to be native to waters in South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia. Arowanas are sometimes known as Dragon Fish in Asian countries or Shui Long in Mandarin-speaking countries. They also believe that Arowanas may bring luck because they resemble a Chinese Dragon. However, in most other cultures, the Arowana isn’t as revered because of its monster-like appearance.
But despite their intimidating and monstrous appearance, Arowanas are still highly coveted around the world. That popularity is likely due to their unique look and long life span. Arowanas have been known to live for over 20 years in captivity. However, there are some unfounded reports of Arowanas living until the age of 50. If you want a one-of-a-kind yet strange fish, one that can potentially be a pet for life, then look no further than the Arowana.
What is special about Arowana fish?
Arowana Fish is a special species of fish; their long lives and unique appearance are evidence of that. Their uniqueness is what makes them highly coveted. These fish have a boney lower jaw that is the source of one of its many nicknames – bony tongues. Arowanas are also one of the fastest-growing species you could add to a tank. Sometimes they can even grow a full 2 inches per month. Their fast-growing nature means they may outgrow most tanks pretty quickly, and that they can reach their full size in just a couple of years. Most species of Arowana will average around 3 feet in length, but some species can get noticeably larger than that. Arowanas may grow too large for most people to keep in their homes; these monstrous fish are most commonly found inside fish tanks in Asian restaurants, public aquariums, and even some pet stores.
Why are Arowana so expensive?
If you’re looking to purchase an Arowana, the first thing you may notice is how pricey it can be. Most Asian Arowanas can cost thousands of dollars. The reason for that high price tag is because Arowanas are endangered and in high demand. Their endangered nature means that the supply usually can’t match the demand, which is why the price tags can seem astronomical. Another factor that plays into their price and their endangered nature is that Arowanas are very difficult to breed in captivity. Arowanas are also revered in Asian culture, and highly coveted. This is because Asian Cultures believe that Arowanas will bring prosperity, good luck, and good fortune. And if you can afford an Arowana, you need to consider how much it’ll cost you to house it.
These fish can get very large, and tanks large enough to accommodate them won’t be cheap; sometimes, they’ll be more expensive than the fish themselves. Another reason for the astronomical price of the Arowana is the fact that Asian Arowanas are banned from being imported into most countries. This means they can be purchased in less than legal places for a high markup. One of the places where Asian Arowanas are banned is the United States. So, if you live in the United States, you need to pay a ridiculous price to illegally import one, which isn’t recommended. However, other options include purchasing an African or South American Arowana. African and South American Arowanas look very similar to their Asian counterparts, but for just a fraction of the cost.
Many types of Arowana are found worldwide, from Asian Arowana out of Southeast Asia to Arowanas found in Australia, such as the Jardini Arowana and the Spotted Arowana. Several different types of Arowanas can also be found in Australia and South America.
In the following section, we will give a brief overview of some species of Arowanas to give you a general understanding of them. Some of the species of Arowana we’ll be covering are as follows: Asian Arowana, Green Arowana, Red Arowana, Super Red Arowana, Blood Red Arowana, Redtail Arowana, Chili Red Arowana, Gold Arowana, Golden Crossback Arowana, as well as the High Back Arowana. We will also cover Silver Arowana, Albino Arowana, Black Arowana, Jardini Arowana, African Arowana, Leichardti Arowana and Batik Arowana. We will provide details for each species, such as their appearance, size, origin and natural habitat, and price. Price is a significant factor when it comes to Arowanas because these fish can be very expensive.
Asian Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
Asian Arowana, as their name suggests, are native to Asia, specifically Southeast Asia. Arowanas are extremely popular in Asian culture because they are believed to bring good luck and prosperity.
They are considered to bring both good luck and prosperity because they resemble a traditional Chinese Dragon. Asian Arowanas are also believed to have positive feng shui energy. Several different species of Arowanas are considered Asian Arowanas. Those species are Green Arowana, Red Arowana, Super Red Arowana, Blood Red Arowana, Red Tail Arowana, Chili Red Arowana, Gold Arowana, Golden Crossback Arowana, and High Back Arowana. While Asian Arowana can be contained in a tank at home, they are more commonly kept in larger tanks found in aquariums or Asian restaurants. That is because Asian Arowana can be extremely expensive; some variants of this unique fish can sell for upwards of $5000. Even with that price tag, these remarkable fish are still extremely popular.
Green Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
Green Arowana are one of the many species of Asian Arowanas. As their name suggests, Green Arowana are, in fact, green. Their bodies tend to be gray, with a green tint towards their fins. Green Arowanas can be found In Malaysia, more specifically at the Nami Dam.
Most Asian Arowanas tend to grow to be around 36 inches or 3 feet in length, and Green Arowanas are no exception to that. On average, the Green Arowana can live for upwards of 15 years. If you plan to keep a Green Arowana, you need to be sure you have a tank large enough for them. Most experts recommend a tank that is at least 250 gallons. Green Arowanas are one of the more rare species of Arowanas. Their rarity causes to their price to increase, sometimes even up to an astonishing $2500 for a single fish. That price is also dependent on the size of the Green Arowana. The larger the fish, the more money it’ll cost. The $2500 price tag is for a smaller Green Arowana.
Red Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
Red Arowanas can usually be found in Borneo. As the name suggests, Red Arowanas are red in color, but that isn’t always true. When they are younger, their red color is only apparent around their mouths and fins. Once the Red Arowana reaches around three years of age, its red color becomes extremely prominent and noticeable.
That vivid coloring makes these fish extremely sought after, as their price is evident of that. Red Arowanas usually sell for over $1000, if not more. You may have heard of a Super Red Arowana, Blood Red Arowana, a Redtail Arowana, or even a Chili Red Arowana. Those species of Arowanas don’t actually exist. The names Super Red, Blood Red, Redtail, and Chili are just used in marketing in an attempt to mark up the price of a traditional Red Arowana. With that in mind, you’ll be able to prevent overpaying for this beautiful fish. But there are still some issues to take into account. You need to be sure that you buy from a respected dealer and do all of your research before purchasing and be wary.
The Red Arowana, regardless of name, are endangered and can not legally be imported into the United States. If you were able to import them, you need to have a setup large enough for them – around 250 gallons. A tank that size would also require a lot of Maintainance and filters and heaters sufficient enough to accommodate its size. If you live outside of the United States, you couldn’t go wrong by adding a Red Arowana. These fish are incredibly gorgeous and unique and would be the focal point of any tank.
Gold Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
Gold Arowana are similar to their counterparts in everything but color. They require a tank large to accommodate them, usually around 250 gallons in size. That tank needs to also emulate its native environment; for Gold Arowana, that native environment is Indonesia. As such, the temperature of a Golden Arowana tank needs to fall between 75 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with a water pH level between 6.0 – 7.5. Much like other species of Asian Arowana, the Golden Arowana can reach around 3 feet in length when fully grown. The coloring of the Gold Arowana is where they set themselves apart from other species. Their large scales are a deep and lustrous golden color.
There are several variants of Gold Arowanas. One such variant is the Golden Crossback Arowana; the only difference between the Gold Arowana and the Golden Crossback is that the gold coloring crosses the back of the Golden Crossback. Another variant is the Golden Head Full Helmet Crossback Arowana. As their name suggests, the Golden Head Full Helmet Crossback Arowana are gold in color, with a similar golden back to the Golden Crossback, but these unique fish also have a fully golden head – meaning their entire body is a vivid gold color. Golden Head Full Helmet Crossback Arowana is the most coveted variant of Gold Arowana because of its fully golden body. Gold Arowanas can sell for anywhere between $400 – $4000. Their price depends on the size of the fish and what type of fish it is. Golden Head Full Helmet Crossback Arowana will fetch more, while smaller Gold Arowanas will be towards the lower end of the spectrum. Regardless of what type of Gold Arowana you purchase, it won’t matter if you don’t give them the proper care they require. Subpar care will negatively affect the coloring of these beautiful fish.
High Back Arowana (Scleropages formosus)
High Back Arowanas are native to Asia, specifically Indonesia. The High Back Arowana is actually a cross-breed of the Red Tail Golden Arowana, and the Golden Crossback Arowana. Due to the fact it is a cross between the High Back Arowana and the Golden Crossback Arowana, it is incredibly coveted.
High Back Arowanas are also highly coveted because of their reputation in Asian cultures. Asian culture believes that Arowanas bring good luck and fortune because they resemble Chinese Dragons. The High Back Arowana usually sells for between $500 – $2500. As is the case with other types of Arowanas, the price is dependent on a few factors. Those factors being their size, their age, and their coloring. A High Back Arowana that has lustrous golden scales, in addition to deep red fins, will sell for more money than other variants. Because the High Back Arowana is a type of Asian Arowana, you need to care for it as such. High Back Arowanas need a tank that is at least 250 gallons in size.
High Back Arowanas need a tank that large because when they are fully grown, High Back Arowanas can reach upwards of 36 inches or 3 feet in length. If you plan to purchase a High Back Arowana, you need to ensure that your filter and heater are powerful enough for the massive tank. The temperature of a High Back Arowana tank should fall in the range of 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. As for water pH level, that needs to be between 6.0 to 7.5. They are also a territorial and somewhat aggressive species, which means they may not do well if placed in a tank with other fish. High Back Arowanas are also carnivores and will not hesitate to eat anything that fits into their mouth. The biggest hurdle that most people have when trying to purchase any type of Asian Arowana is that they are endangered species. Being an endangered species means that they are illegal to sell in many countries, including the United States. Despite being illegal, many people still try to import types of Asian Arowanas. Those dedicated enough shouldn’t have much trouble importing an Asian Arowana, although the price will likely be high. We do not recommend importing any illegal species, including the Asian Arowana.
Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)
Silver Arowanas are not a type of Asian Arowana; they have a completely different scientific classification: Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum. The native habitat of the Silver Arowana is South America, where it can be found in rivers and river basins. Out of every type of Arwowanas, Silver Arowanas are actually the largest.
They have been known to grow to over four feet in the wild, over a foot longer than other types of Arowanas. On average, the Silver Arowana tends to weigh just around 10 pounds. Similar to Asian Arowanas, the Silver Arowanas is known for its bony lower jaw. The jump of the Silver Arowana is so powerful that it can leap and catch animals on lower branches of trees. Silver Arowana are also sometimes referred to as Monkey Fish because they will sometimes leap out of the water to catch their prey. Silver Arowana are legal in the United States, unlike their Asian counterparts. Because the Silver Arowana is legal, it is much more affordable than the Asian Arowana. Silver Arowanas tend to sell for anywhere between $20 to $150 – just a fraction of the cost of a single Asian Arowana. The price of a Silver Arowana depends on its size. A Silver Arowana that is around 3 inches in length will be the cheapest, selling for only about $20.
Albino Arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum)
The Albino Arowana, or the Albino Silver Arowana, are most commonly found in the Amazon River in South America. As their name suggests, the Albino Silver Arowana is a variant of the Silver Arowana. Because they are a variant of the Silver Arowana, they are very similar.
Both the Albino Arowana and the Silver Arowana have remarkably similar needs. They need a tank large enough to accommodate their massive size – these fish can grow up to four feet in length. Because of their enormous size, you need a tank that is at least 300 gallons for your Albino Arowana. It is recommended to have a covered tank so that these nimble fish don’t attempt to jump out. These fish are very aggressive and predatory; they will eat anything they can. Albino Arowanas are known for their large, pearly scales. Those scales will get a slight color change as the fish ages, usually to either red, blue, or green. The Albino Arowana sells for around $200 on average, but that price varies based on the size of the fish.
Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai)
As the name suggests, Black Arowanas have a dark coloring. But, Black Arowanas are not completely black. Black Arowanas tend to have a black stripe running down the length of their body. As the Black Arowana ages, that black stripe tends to fade into a purple color.
They are darker than their Silver Arowana counterparts, but the Black Arowana can survive in colder temperatures. Black Arowanas are said to grow more slowly than Silver Arowanas. Since Black Arowanas are very similar to Silver Arowanas, they both grow to around the same size. A Black Arowana can reach lengths of nearly 40 inches.
Jardini Arowana (Scleropages jardinii)
Jardini Arowanas are also known as the Australian Arowana, Water Monkey, or by its scientific classification Scleropages Jardinii. Typically, Jardini Arowana are found in freshwater in New Guinea and Australia. Jardini Arowana are on the smaller end of Arowanas when it comes to size.
Jardini Arowana only tends to grow to be around 24 inches or 2 feet in length. That means they can easily live in a tank smaller than other types of Arowanas. Most experts recommend a tank size of around 180 gallons. That tank needs to have specific water parameters for the Jardini Arowana to survive. The water temperature of a Jardini Arowana tank needs to be within the range of 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level of the tank needs to be 6.0 to 7.0. It is also imperative that you perform at least 15 percent water change each week; doing so will help prevent your Jardini Arowana from getting sick. These fish also tend to live for a long time; there are unconfirmed reports of Jardini Arowanas living for up to 50 years. A more conservative estimate is that a Jardini Arowana will live for around 20 years. On average, the Jardini Arowana sells for about $100 but can sell for upwards of $300.
African Arowana (Heterotis niloticus)
As the name suggests, African Arowanas are native to Africa. These unique fish can be found in the Chad and Nile River Basins, as well as Lake Turkana. On average, the African Arowana grows to be just over 3 feet, usually around 38 inches in length.
That size is about on par with other species of Arowanas, meaning they need a tank that is similarly as large. Experts recommend a tank that is 120 gallons in size for a smaller African Arowana, but they will likely need to get moved as they grow in size. These fish get so large that most people have to move them into public aquariums. Because of their massive size, most experts wouldn’t recommend keeping them in a home tank. If you do your research and ensure that you have a tank large enough to accommodate them, you should be able to keep an African Arowana. If you want to purchase an African Arowana, they can be bought for anywhere between $50 -$200. Their price depends on the African Arowana’s size, health, and age.
Leichardti Arowana (Scleropages leichardti)
Leichardti Arowana also known as Southern Saratoga, are from Australia. They grow 48–49 cm in length, and they can live up to 20 years. These are primitive fish have a flat back and usually swim near the surface of the water.
Batik Arowana (Scleropages inscriptus)
Batik Arowana, also known as Myanmar Arowana, originate in Mayanmar in the Tanintharyl River. They grow up to 35 inches in size and can live up to 20 years. Their scales have a unique appearance that resembles a tattooed or batiked pattern.
- Jardini Arowana (Scleropages jardinii): Care Guide
- Black Arowana (Osteoglossum ferreirai): Ultimate Care Guide
- African Arowana (Heterotis niloticus): Ultimate Care Guide
- Leichardti Arowana (Scleropages leichardti): Ultimate Care Guide
- Batik Arowana (Scleropages inscriptus): Ultimate Care Guide
- Silver Arowana (Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum): Ultimate Care Guide
- Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus): Ultimate Care Guide