Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus): Ultimate Care Guide

Common NameAsian Arowana
Scientific NameScleropages Formosus
OriginSoutheast Asia
Temperature75F to 86F
Water pH6.0 – 7.0
Sizeup to 36 inches

Asian Arowanas are a type of arowana that is impressively large and beautiful fish. They have long bodies that have long fins. Their fins are set more towards their tails giving them a more streamlined look. They have large mouths that are full of teeth and can open wide enough to siphon their prey in. Asian Arowanas have 2 barbels located on their bottom jaw. They have many teeth in their mouths that are located on most of their bones. They have large scales that can be different colors. Their large scales give them the appearance that they are made of gemstones. Asian Arowanas can be found in a wide range of beautiful colors such as greens, golds, reds, and grays.

Where Can I Find Asian Arowana For Sale?

If you do find yourself lucky enough to live in an area where you can purchase Asian Arowana, you will be able to find them from reputable breeders online, but beware, they will cost quite a lot. Make sure that you are checking your local laws to make sure that it is legal for you to import and keep them as well.

Asian Arowana Price

Asian Arowanas are considered to be one of the most expensive fish in the aquarium hobby. The average price of an Asian Arowana can range from $300 up to $70,000. However, this they can be sold for as high as $300,000. There are multiple factors that affect their price such as size, type, coloration, rarity, etc. In 2009, an Asian Arowana was sold for $300,000 and this was a rare albino Asian Arowana.

Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus)
Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus)

Are Asian Arowana Rare?

Asian Arowanas are rare because they are endangered in the wild. In addition, they are difficult to breed in captivity as well, further contributing to their rarity.

There are many fish that are endangered in the wild due to habitat destruction, but have become widespread in the aquarium hobby due to their ease of breeding. However, this is not the case for Asian Arowanas. They remain rare both in the wild and in captivity.

Asian Arowana Population

While the exact number of the Asian Arowana population is unknown, it is evident that the wild population has decreased drastically over the past few decades. In the past, wild populations of Asian Arowana have existed in abundance in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Malay Peninsula. However, recent reports indicate that the wild populations have decreased dramatically, at a rate of 75% to 90%. In some population are believed to be locally extinct.

Since the wild population of Asian Arowanas have decreased dramatically, there are currently more Asian Arowanas in captivity that in the wild. In addition, the genetic variation of Asian Arowanas is lower in wild populations that in captive populations, according to a study conducted in Malaysia.

The vast majority of the Asian Arowana population in captivity have been bred in captivity. Considering how difficult they are to breed in captivity, this illustrates how critical it is to protect the remaining wild population.

Are Asian Arowana Legal in the U.S?

Since the wild population of Asian Arowanas are nearly depleted, they are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Considering the endangered state of the wild population, Asian Arowana are illegal to import to the United States, along with many other countries. In 1975, 183 countries signed a treaty to classify the fish as a rare species that need to be protected.

There may be an exception to this ban if the fish is being imported for scientific and research purposes. In order to keep the fish, a permit may be required as well.

Asian Arowana Care

Asian Arowana are not considered easy fish to care for. They require a large tank to house them and keep them happy, and they have to be kept in the correct water parameters or they will get sick rather fast. Asian Arowanas are a species of fish that is prone to stress, and they will take a turn for the worse if they are stressed out. It is important to make sure that you can provide for their needs for the long term, or have a backup plan before you purchase these fish.

Tank Requirements

Asian Arowana are not recommended for beginners to the fish keeping hobby as they have a rather large and expensive requirement for housing. A single adult Asian Arowana needs to be kept in an aquarium that is a minimum of 250 gallons. Juvenile Asian Arowanas can be kept in a much smaller tank of at least 60 gallons, but they will need to be moved to a much larger tank as they grow, and they grow fast. They are most comfortable when kept in a temperature range of 75F to 86F, and a 6.0 to 7.0 pH.

Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus)
Asian Arowana (Scleropages Formosus)

Size & Lifespan

Asian Arowanas can grow up to 36 inches at full maturity, and if properly cared for they can live on average 10 to 15 years. Asian Arowanas have a rapid growth rate of up to 2 inches per month until they reach full maturity at around 36 inches.

Tank Setup

If you are looking to set up a tank for Asian Arowana, it would be a good idea to take a look at their natural habitat and try to create a space for them that is similar. Some owners of Asian Arowanas keep them in outdoor ponds to not only provide them with the large amount of space that they need, but also give them the ability to jump into the air to catch their prey without fear of them getting Drop Eye.

For substrate, most Asian Arowana owners keep their tanks bare. That way they can keep their water more clean. Asian Arowanas are messy eaters, and dirty substrate can harbor disease and throw off water parameters.

Asian Arowanas do appreciate live plants in their aquarium, but they also prefer lots of swimming space. They are jumping fish, so you will want to make sure that you have a secure lid on your tank so that they can not jump out.

It is important to remember that Asian Arowanas are prone to stress if they are not kept in the appropriate environment with plenty of space for them to roam. It is important to notice and address the stress of your fish so that it does not turn into sickness and eventual death of your fish.

Natural Habitat

 In the wild, Asian Arowanas can be found in Southeast Asia. They can be found in slow moving waters, and blackwater that flows through forest swamps and wetlands. They have adapted to lower oxygen levels not only to help against competition for food, but also because the prey that inhabits these waters with them tends to be slow moving and easy to catch as well.

Ideal Aquarium Setup

The ideal aquarium setup for Asian Arowana can be achieved by looking at their natural environment. They require lots of space so that they can roam, and fully turn around in their aquarium or pond. A pond is a more ideal setup as it gives them maximum amount of room to roam while also allowing them to jump out of the water without risk of them getting Drop Eye from hitting their head on the aquarium lid.

Breeding Asian Arowana

Asian Arowana numbers are dwindling in the wild and virtually impossible to breed in the home aquarium, so the majority of Asian Arowanas that you see for sale are bred in captivity in large fish farms in Asia.

How Do Asian Arowana Breed?

Asian Arowanas become mature enough to spawn at around 3 to 4 years. This is a little longer than other fish take to mature. When the female is ready to spawn, she will lay anywhere from 30 to 100 eggs at a time. Asian Arowana eggs are rather large, and have a reddish orange tint to them. After the female is done laying her eggs, the male Asian Arowana comes along and fertilizes the eggs. Once he is done, he picks them up in his mouth to shelter them until the fry are hatched and their yolk sacs are fully absorbed. Once the fry are able, they swim away from the parent fish, and hide amongst the plants where they will hunt for their own food.

Difference Between Asian Arowana Males and Females

You can tell the male Asian Arowanas from the females by taking a look at their genital papillae. The genital papillae are structures that protrude from the underside of the fish. Male Asian Arowanas have long and pointed papillae, while females have a more blunted shape. It has been said that you can tell if the fish is male or female by exposing their genital papillae further, but it could potentially endanger the fish.

Asian Arowana Disease

Asian 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 Asian 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. Asian Arowana, like other species of Arowana, are sensitive to changes in their water quality, and their health can take a turn for the worse rather quickly.

Some of the common ailments that Asian 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 all types of 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 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.

Protruding Anus

Due to the sensitive gastrointestinal system of the Asian Arowana, they can sometimes be affected by a condition called protruding anus that    is essentially their digestive tissues that are swollen so much that they protrude enough that you can visibly see them when looking at your fish. It can be treated if caught early enough but it can be difficult.                                                                                                       

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

Asian Arowana Tank Mates

Asian Arowanas do best when kept as solitary fish; they do not even do well with members of their own species. They can cohabitate peacefully with other Asian Arowanas, or even large Cichlid species if they are given enough room. A pond is recommended if you are thinking of housing your Asian Arowana with other fish.

Compatible and Incompatible Tankmates for Asian Arowana

Incompatible tankmates for Asian Arowanas would be any fish that is smaller than they are as they will most definitely be hunted as a meal. There aren’t really any compatible tankmates for Asian Arowana as they do not typically get along with other fish. They are territorial and require their own territory to claim. If you can provide them with a pond or large aquarium, then you might be able to successfully house them with large Cichlids.

Asian Arowana Types

There are many types and color variants of Asian Arowanas. Some are rarer than others. Likewise, some are more expensive than others.

Green Arowana

One of the only 3 colors that occurs naturally in Arowanas, Green Arowanas are silver but will appear green under certain lighting. Green Arowanas are picky eaters, and this makes them more susceptible to ailment. They are rare, and if you find yourself lucky enough to find one for sale, you can expect to pay around $2500 for a small sized Green Arowana.

Red Arowana

As a juvenile, Red Arowanas only sport a little red on their heads. Once they reach maturity at around 3 years old, they start to truly develop their bright reddish coloration. Red Arowanas are among some of the most rare of the species, and if you can find one for sale, then you can expect to pay around $1500 to $15,000 for a single fish.

Super Red Arowana

Super Red Arowanas are highly coveted for their bright, vibrant red coloration. Their red coloration is the most popular, but they also come in variations of color. In addition to their signature red color, they can also have purples, greens, yellows, and orange. To purchase a Super Red Arowana, you can find them for sale for up to $1000. Their price is largely dependent on their colorations.

Blood Red Arowana

Blood Red Arowana much like Super Red Arowana, sport a vibrant red coloration. They were discovered in the same regions as Super Red Arowana, but they were different enough in color to be given their own name. Even though they are different in color than Super Red Arowanas, you can still expect roughly the same price range.

Chili Red Arowana

Chili Red Arowanas are bright red with brownish undertones. They are a popular choice for aquarists for their almost shiny gemlike scale appearance. They are very much like Asian Arowanas with their requirements with their main difference being their appearance, but they have much larger mouths. These mouths help them siphon food in.

Gold Arowana

Gold Arowanas are one of the three colorations that occur naturally in the wild. Gold Arowanas have a golden appearance to their scales, and they are coveted for their looks as well as their claimed ability to grant luck, good health, and prosperity for their owner.

Golden Crossback Arowana

The Golden Crossback Arowana is said to be the most coveted of Asian Arowanas due to its coloration. It has large, bright golden scales that are tipped in a different shade of darker color. Gold varieties of this Asian Arowana go for the most at around $300,000 for just one fish.

High Back Arowana

The High Back Arowana has a gold coloration that varies at the 5th level of scaling on the fish. This High Back coloration can be found among many types of Arowana. They are expensive fish, and can be purchased online for around $1,500. They can be cheaper than that, but it depends on their size and sex.

Asian Arowana VS Silver Arowana

Asian Arowanas are very similar in appearance to Silver Arowanas. They have the same basic shape, but Asian Arowanas often are shorter than Silver Arowanas at full maturity. Asian Arowanas can be found in many different but all strikingly beautiful and coveted color variations. Silver Arowanas are typically only found in silver variations. Both fish however, are endangered and illegal to own in the United States.