Arowana Information


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The breeding of asian arowana                                         

In wild, arowana pair themselves up by natural selection. They spend weeks to months courting, and when they are ready, the female will lay eggs on a slow stream riverbed and the male will fertilize them immediately.

Fertilized eggs are then scooped up by the male arowana and the eggs will hatch in his mouth. The eggs hatch in about two months. The fry  then leaves the father's mouth, initially for a brief time only and slowly increase the duration.

The father arowana will signal his fries when there is a sign of danger and the fries will swim back immediately for refuge. The fries will leave the father when they are capable to survive by themself.


Arowana are usually breed in  a earth pond. Breeding arowana in a tank is possible but much harder.

In earthpond breeding, tens of matured arowanas (half males, half females) are put into the pond and a natural selection of pairs are allowed. The arowanas are observed carefully. When a pair is formed, they will chase the others away and will start laying eggs. A net is then put in to separate the pair from the other arowanas. When the fries are free swimming, they are netted and kept in grow up tanks.

Asian Arowana are hard to sex, especially when they are young. Generally, males are larger in size and have bigger fins then the females. They also have wider and deeper jaws (to hold the eggs and fries). Females, on the other hand are smaller in size and have a more rounded body. It takes a lot of experience to sex mature asian arowana. Only when they started breeding,  you can be 100% sure which one is male and which is female.

The time for arowanas to mature depends on the condition they are growing in. The better the care, the earlier they will reach maturity. Generally a female takes 2-3 years and a male 4-5 years to reach maturity.




Different Types Of Arowanas

There are different types of Arowanas, classified into Asian, South American, Australian and African.

Asian Arowanas
(a). Super Red Arowana(Chili and Blood)
(b). 1.5 Grade Red Arowana(xbreed between Red and yellow tail Arowana)
(c). Malaysian Crossback Arowana
(d). Green Arowana
(e). Red Tailed Golden Arowana
(f). Yellow Tailed Arowana

South American Arowanas
(a). Silver Arowana
(b). Black Arowana

Australian Arowanas
(a). Pearl Arowana
(b). Golden Pearl Arowana
(c). Red Pearl Arowana (very rare)

African Arowanas
(a). Araipaima Gigas(not suitable for aquarium tank rearing)

The main difference between the Asian Arowanas and the rest are the scales! Asian Aros have 5 steps of scales comparing to their counterparts which are having 7 steps of scales.

RTG = Red Tail Golden
XBACK = Cross Back
YT = Yellow Tail
YTL = Yi Tiao Long ( straight line scales on 6th level )
TKL = Tikum Leng
PLJ = Protruding Lower Jaw
SR = Super Red ( Grade 1 Red )
CR = Chilli Red
ER = Emperor Red
BMB XB = Bukit Merah Blue
PG = Panda Gold
PHG = Pahang Gold
PR = Purple Red
EBXB = Electric Blue Crossback
VFSR = Violet Fusion Super Red
BB = Beneficial Bacteria
SABF = Singapore Arowana Breeding Farm ( Farm based in Singapore )
DFI = Dragon Fish Industry ( Farm based in Singapore )
QH = Qian Hu ( Farm based in Singapore )


                                                          swimming fortune




Asian arowana
Super red arowana
Super red arowana
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae
Genus: Scleropages
Species: S. formosus
Additional species disputed (see text)

Binomial name
Scleropages formosus
Müller and Schlegel, 1844

Asian arowana refers to several varieties of freshwater fish in the genus Scleropages. Some sources differentiate these varieties into multiple species while others consider the different strains to belong to a single species, Scleropages formosus. They have several other common names, including Asian bonytongue, dragon fish, and a number of names specific to different varieties.

Native to Southeast Asia, Asian arowanas inhabit blackwater rivers, slow-moving waters flowing through forested swamps and wetlands. Adults feed on other fish, while juveniles feed on insects.[5]

These popular aquarium fish have special cultural significance in areas influenced by Chinese culture. The name dragon fish stems from their resemblance to the Chinese dragon. This popularity has had both positive and negative effects on their status as endangered species.

Evolution and taxonomy

Like all members of Osteoglossidae, Asian arowanas are highly adapted to fresh water and are incapable of surviving in the ocean. Therefore, their spread throughout the islands of southeast Asia suggests they diverged from other osteoglossids before the continental breakup was complete. Genetic studies have confirmed this hypothesis, showing that their ancestor of the Asian arowanas diverged from the ancestor of the Australian arowanas, S. jardinii and S. leichardti, about 140 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous period. This divergence took place in the eastern margin of Gondwanaland, with the ancestors of Asian arowanas carried on the Indian subcontinent or smaller landmasses into Asia. The morphological similarity of all Scleropages species shows that little evolutionary change has taken place recently for these ancient fish.[6]

The first description of these species was published between 1839 and 1844 (1844 is the date commonly cited) by German naturalists Salomon Müller and Hermann Schlegel, under the name Osteoglossum formosum, although later this species was placed in Scleropages with the name S. formosus.[7]

Super red arowana in a public aquarium.
Super red arowana in a public aquarium.

Several distinct, naturally occurring colour varieties are recognised, each found in a specific geographic region. They include the following:

  • The green is the most common variety, found in Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
  • The silver Asian (not to be confused with the silver arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) is considered part of the green variety by some. It has two subvarieties, the "grey tail silver" or "Pinoh arowana," and the "yellow tail silver," each found in a different part of the island of Borneo in Indonesia.
  • The red-tailed golden is found in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • The gold crossback, blue Malayan, or Bukit Merah blue is native to the state of Pahang and Bukit Merah area in Perak, Malaysia.
  • The red, super red, blood red, or chili red is known only from the upper part of the Kapuas River in western Borneo, Indonesia.

In 2003, a study[2] was published which proposed breaking S. formosus into four separate species. This classification was based on both morphology and genetics, and includes the following species:

  • Scleropages formosus was redescribed to include the strain known as the green arowana. The gold crossback, which was not part of the study, was included in this species by default.
  • Scleropages macrocephalus described the silver Asian arowana.
  • Scleropages aureus described the red-tailed golden arowana.
  • Scleropages legendrei described the super red arowana.

Other researchers dispute this reclassification, arguing that the published data are insufficient to justify recognizing more than one Southeast Asian species of Scleropages.[8]


Asian arowana scales are large (most over 2 cm in length) and have a delicate net pattern.
Asian arowana scales are large (most over 2 cm in length) and have a delicate net pattern.

Asian arowanas grow up to 90 cm (35 in) total length.[9] Like all Scleropages, Asian arowanas have long bodies; large, elongate pectoral fins; dorsal and anal fins located far back on the body; and a much larger caudal fin than that of their South American relative, the silver arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum. The mouth is oblique with a very wide gape. The prominent lower jaw has two barbels at its tip. The gill rakers are stout. Asian arowanas bear teeth on many bones of the mouth, including the jaws, vomer, palatines, pterygoids, parasphenoid, and tongue.[10]

Asian arowana scales are large, cycloid, and, in some varieties, metallic coloured, with a distinctive mosaic pattern of raised ribs.[11][2] The lateral scales are arranged in horizontal rows numbered from the most ventral (first level) to the most dorsal (fifth level), with dorsal scales designated the sixth level.[12]

Asian arowanas are distinguished from Australian congenerics S. jardinii and S. leichardti by having fewer (21-26) lateral line scales (versus 32-36 for the Australian species), longer pectoral and pelvic fins, and a longer anterior snout.[2]

Green arowanas are dark green on the back, silvery or golden green on its sides, and silvery or whitish on its ventral surface, with dark greenish or bluish patches visible through the lateral scales. In mature fish, the top of the eye and the head behind the eye are bright emerald.[2]

Both grey-tailed and yellow-tailed silver Asian arowanas are dark grey on the back and silver on the sides, with dark ring patches on the lateral scales and a silvery or whitish belly. In yellow-tailed specimens, the fin membranes are yellowish with dark grey rays. In grey-tailed specimens, the fins are uniform dark grey.[2]

Red-tailed golden arowana. Although the scales are golden, the anal and caudal fins are reddish-brown.
Red-tailed golden arowana. Although the scales are golden, the anal and caudal fins are reddish-brown.

Mature red-tailed golden arowanas have brilliant metallic gold lateral scales, gill covers, bellies, and pectoral and pelvic fin membranes, although the back is dark. In juveniles the areas destined to develop golden colour start out metallic silver. The anal fin and the bottom portion of the caudal fin are light brown to dark red.[2]

Mature gold crossback arowanas are distinguished from the red-tailed golden arowanas by having metallic gold crossing the back completely. This variety also lacks the reddish fins of the red-tailed golden.[13]

In mature super red arowanas, the gill covers, lateral scales, and fin membranes of these fishes are metallic red, with the exact hue varying from gold-tinged to deep red. The back is dark brown. In juveniles, the darker the dorsal colouration, the deeper the red will be on maturity.[2]


Asian arowanas are paternal mouthbrooders. They are slow to reach sexual maturity and difficult to breed in captivity, with successful spawnings typically taking place in large outdoor ponds rather than in aquaria.[14]

Two breeders reported success using a garden pond measuring 18 feet by 18 feet by 3.5 feet deep (5.5 metre by 5.5 metre by 1.1 metre deep), with pH maintained between 6.5 and 7.0. The fish were over five years old. The successful harvest took place after the third spawning; in the first two spawnings, the male swallowed the eggs, possibly due to improper water quality.[15]

Relationship with humans

Cultural beliefs

Asian arowanas are considered "lucky" by many people, particularly those from Asian cultures. This reputation derives from the species' resemblance to the Chinese dragon, considered an auspicious symbol.[16] The large metallic scales and double barbels are features shared by the Chinese dragon, and the large pectoral fins are said to make the fish resemble "a dragon in full flight."[17]

In addition, positive Feng Shui associations with water and the colours red and gold make these fishes popular for aquariums. One belief is that while water is a place where chi gathers, it is naturally a source of yin energy and must contain an "auspicious" fish such as an arowana in order to have balancing yang energy.[18] Another is that a fish can preserve its owner from death by dying itself.[19]


The Asian arowanas are listed as endangered by the 2006 IUCN Red List, with the most recent evaluation taking place in 1996.[1] International trade in these fishes is controlled under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), under which it was placed on Appendix I, the most restrictive category, in 1975.[20] S. formosus is one of only eight fish species listed on Appendix I.[21] There are a number of registered CITES breeders in Asia and the specimens they produce can be imported into several nations. Other nations restrict or prohibit possession of Asian arowanas; for example, the United States has listed this species under the Endangered Species Act, and therefore it cannot be possessed in that country without a permit.[22]

Declining habitat is a major threat. For example, Asian arowanas are now uncommon in the Malay Peninsula, where they were once widely distributed, due to environmental destruction.[23] Inclusion in the IUCN Red List was originally based not on biological reasons but on practical ones: though widely distributed throughout southeast Asia, they have been harvested heavily by aquarium collectors. However, habitat loss is likely a greater threat than aquarium collecting.[24]

There is no recent evaluation of conservation status by IUCN.[1] Additionally, considering the current confusion as to number of species as well as the wide distribution, conservation status needs to be reconsidered. All strains are probably endangered, but some more critically than others.[2]

The Asian arowana's high value as aquarium fish has impacted its conservation. Its popularity has soared since the late 1970s, and hobbyists may pay thousands of U.S. dollars for one of these animals.[25][26]

Beginning in 1989, CITES began allowing Asian arowanas to be traded, provided certain criteria were met, most notably that they were bred in captivity on a fish farm for at least two generations.[27] The first of these farms was in Indonesia.[26] Later, the Singapore government's Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (then called the Primary Production Department) and a local fish exporter collaborated in a captive breeding program. Asian arowanas legally certified by CITES for trade became available from this program in 1994.[27]

Captive-bred arowanas that are legal for trade under CITES are documented in two ways. First, fish farms provide each buyer with a certificate of authenticity and a birth certificate. Second, each specimen receives an implanted microchip, called a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT), which identifies individual animals.[26]

Genetic fingerprinting has been used to assess the genetic diversity of a captive population at a Singapore fish farm in order to improve the management of this species.[28] DNA markers that distinguish among different strains and between sexes have been identified, allowing aquaculturists to identify these characteristics in immature animals.[29]

Care in captivity

Because they can grow up to 90 centimetres (35 inches) long, Asian arowanas require a large aquarium. They are territorial and may be kept with other Scleropages only in a very large aquarium, provided all fish are of similar size. Like other arowanas, they need a tight-fitting cover to prevent jumping.[30] The water should be well-filtred, soft, and slightly acidic, and maintained at a temperature between 24-30° C (75-86° F).[30]

Asian arowanas are carnivorous and should be fed a high-quality diet of meaty food, such as shrimp and crickets. They are surface feeders and prefer to take food in the upper parts of the water column. Aquarists recommend live foods and meaty prepared foods. Examples of appropriate live foods include mealworms, crickets, shrimps, feeder fish, small frogs, and earthworms. Prepared foods include prawns (shrimp), lean pork, frozen fish food, and pelleted food.[31]

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  1. ^ a b c Kottelat, 1996.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pouyaud et al., 2003
  3. ^ ITIS, 2006.
  4. ^ Kottelat and Widjanarti, 2005.
  5. ^ Fishbase, 2006.
  6. ^ Kumazawa, 2000; Kumazawa et al., 2003.
  7. ^ Catalog of Fishes, 2006.
  8. ^ e.g. Kottelat and Widjanarti, 2005.
  9. ^ FishBase, 2006.
  10. ^ Ismail, 1989; Pouyaud et al., 2003; West & NSK (Arowana, 2003.
  11. ^ Ismail, 1989
  12. ^ West & NSK (Arowana, 2003.
  13. ^ Unoaquatic Arowana Group, 1999.
  14. ^, 2004.
  15. ^ Shin Min Daily News, 2005.
  16. ^ Dragonfish Industry, 1997.
  17. ^ West & NSK (Arowana, 2003.
  18. ^ Unoaquatic Arowana Group, 1999.
  19. ^ Hindustan Times, 2005.
  20. ^, 2004; CITES, 2005.
  21. ^ Dawes, 2001, p. 20.
  22. ^ United States Fish and Wildlife Service Threatened and Endangered Species System (TESS).
  23. ^ Ismail, 1989, p. 27.
  24. ^ Ismail, 1989, p. 434.
  25. ^ Ismail, 1989, p. 434
  26. ^ a b c Lee, n.d.
  27. ^ a b Dawes, 2001, p. 22.
  28. ^ Fernando et al., 1997.
  29. ^ Yue et al., 2003.
  30. ^ a b Dawes, 2001, pp. 293-294.
  31. ^ Anglo Aquarium (n.d.); Shin Min Daily News, 2005;, 2004.


External links






London, UK - Richard

An interview with a serious keeper of Asian arowana and black rays in London, UK.

Richard "T1karmann" is an active and well known member on internet forums devoted to the keeping of large predatory fish. Richard lives in London, England and currently has one of the most beautiful Asian arowana community tanks I have yet seen in person. I was able to pay a visit to Richard's home in January 2008 to interview him and check out his fish collection.
For the past 20 years Richard's special interest has been arowana, though he is also an accomplished keeper of exotic freshwater stingrays and Siamese tiger fish. He kept black South American arowana for seven years before moving on to Asian arowana. He has never kept South American silver arowana as he finds they always end up with drop-eye. His first Asian arowana was a banjar red, a fish he really regrets keeping. He found the adult fish colouration weak and nondescript. Richard's advice for anyone starting out with Asian arowana is to purchase a red tail gold, as they offer very good value.
In addition to keeping arowana, Richard is also a very accomplished keeper of black freshwater stingrays. He is one of the relatively few people in the world to have captive bred the P. leopoldi (P-14). Most of his current collection of cross back gold arowanas were obtained through a trade he made with some prestigious stingray breeders from Holland. Richard has also kept many Siamese tiger fish over the years, along with a few flagtail prochilodus, Metrodontous tigrinus cats, and pig nose turtles. I am sure he has kept may other fish, but those mentioned above are the ones I made a note of in our meeting

A lovely collection of fish

A fine trio of P.leopoldi rays

A fine trio of P.leopoldi rays

As already mentioned, Richard's arowana collection is the result of his trading a pair of breeding P-14 rays with the fellows at Richard may be starting all over again with his ray breeding, since thanks to Frank and Nico he also has a trio of young P-14's. Richard hopes to breed these fish one day. The juvenile colouration and marking of these rays is fantastic; vibrant blacks and whites, nice definition, and a profusion of spots - all hallmarks of high quality fish.
The top center arowana is missing a scale or two. On the whole the tank seemed quite harmonious without there being too much fighting amongst the fish

I found Richard's eight "Electric Blue Cross Back Gold" Asian arowana from Quian Hu to be on the whole a wonderful group of fish - especially since not one of them has any drop eye or protruding lower jaw. Concerning the entire collection of Asian arowana, Richard thinks he may have spoiled the fish by overfeeding them on a diet of king worms. Too much high protein food fed too often can lead Asian arowana to bulk out too fast. This added size seems to come at the expense of stronger colouration. I'll leave it to Richard to offer this critique of his fish. Personally, I look forward to seeing how the fish look in another few years when their final adult colours should be set.
Richard's large and striking Siamese tiger fish (D.pulcher) was initially raised by him, but then sold. He then bought it back, only to sell it once more. He finally bought it back for a third (and he tells me final) time. The price paid for the tiger fish went up from 125 to 250 to 525 pounds. Who knew that owning a fish could be such a good investment? Richard also has a thin bar Siamese tiger fish as well as a small New Guinea Datnoid.

A fine D.pulcher Siamese tiger fish

The tiger fish (D.pulcher) pictured above is quite valuable now. This particular species of fish is no longer available from its native Thailand due to a combination of over fishing and habitat loss. Consequently the value of such fish already on the market has sky rocketed. This fish has been trained to eat sinking carnivore pellets - something hard to do with this notoriously piscivourous fish.

Thin bar Siamese tiger fish

Richard had recently acquired the fish pictured above and was still quite excited about him; he tells me (and I believe him) that it is hard to find such a fish with a full collar (bars that continue all the way around the fish). There is also a small New Guinea Datnoid in the background of photo (blurred).
The final fish in Richard's collection is a fine 16 inch Petrochlidous. Richard raised this fish from a small size. As many keepers of Asian arowana already know, a flagtail prochilodus or Fei Feng (as it is known in Asia) acts a good scavenger.

A beautiful flagtail prochilodus

Pictured above is one of the larger Flagtail fish (prochilodus) or Fei Fengs that I have seen. Measuring about 16 inches, it is likely full size in this tank. Richard told me the story of another similar fish he once had with some large black rays. The rays cornered the fish one day and sucked its eyes out! Richard regretfully euthanised that fish, there being no real alternative for such an unfortunate situation.
Until recently, Richard owned a 22 inch Merodontus tigrinus catfish. Although happy with the fish, Richard found that its long tail streamers were frequently eaten by his rays. In chatting with Richard we found that neither of us has had much luck with young tigrinus catfish. Some kind of "sudden death syndrome" seems to be common with these catfish when they are bought young.

Not a drop eye in site!

Fantastic colouration and patterns on these rays!

A large golden or yellow hued Siamese Tiger fish (D.pulcher) is a beautiful fish. Sadly they are very hard to come by now.

Richard's tank holds 1400 liters of water (350 gallons) and is made of plexiglass. He chose plexiglass due to its lower weight compared to glass. Richard's tank has hard edged corners as opposed to the rounded ones more common on plexiglass tanks sold in North America.
Richard's philosophy for filtering is simple - you can never filter enough. Thus, he currently runs four top of the line Eheim Pro 3 filters and an external pond canister filter. In addition, he runs two internal Eheim filters which together process "easily 1200 liters per hour." These two internal filters have been running continuously without problems for 12 years. Altogether Richard reckons his filters process about 9500 liters per hour. His tank holds 1400 liters (350 gallons), so this works out to almost an 8 times filter flow through rate per hour! In addition, Richard told me that all this filtration adds another 200 liters of water to his tank's effective volume, boosting it to 1600 liters (400 gallons). Richard periodically uses an ultraviolet (UV) filter as well.

Eheim Pro 3 filters and an Eheim external pond canister filter

Richard goes through some trouble to import a special filter wool from the USA called "Polyfilter." He has been told the product is used in dialysis machines for filtering the blood of kidney patients. His thinking is that if it is good enough for this use it must be good enough for his fish too.
The temperature in the tank is kept at a constant 86 F. Richard's heaters are 300 watt external heaters from an Italian company.
Richard does a 25% water change twice a week. He uses a python-like system to siphon water out; afterwards he doses his tank with Seachem water conditioner (to remove chlorine, chloramines, etc.), hooks a hose up to a faucet, adjust the temperature of the tap water, and fills the tank up. I was surprised that Richard does not treat the water before adding it to the tank. Given the health of his fish - and that he is an accomplished stingray breeder - I am not going to disagree with him.
As Richard and I chatted about his tank, he mentioned that he would love to build a seven foot long planted refugium or overhead sump filter; we agreed it would look stunning if it was mounted to the wall above his tank, just below the ceiling…

King Worms kept under the tank

Richard feeds his fish a mix of live king worms (which he keeps fed with meal inside a holding area below the tank), Hikari sinking carnivore pellets, and frozen market prawn. He feeds the fish twice a day, but is now ready to move toward daily feedings.
You can read the enjoyment, pride, care, and attention in Richard's profile as he feeds the fish. These fish are Richard's pets and are treated accordingly.

Richard ensuring the appetites of his fishes are met.

I found Richard to have a top-notch aquarium display. All his equipment is the best you can buy, the foods he uses are high quality, and he maintains a tight schedule of water and filter changes to ensure optimal water conditions. His care and attention to detail are justifiable when you consider the retail value of his collection. If you are familiar with the prices for the fish in his collection you will recognize the extent of his investment.

Fish such as this beautiful black ray can take on an added dimension when seen in such a novel way as this blue light.

It seems inevitable that Richard's collection will continue to change in the future. Once his fish reach full size they will either need to be housed in a larger aquarium or else have to be reconfigured as a collection. I look forward to following the development of the tank.
I'd like to once again thank Richard for opening his home to me and sharing his knowledge and inspiration. Seeing his aquarium reminds me how much I miss keeping similar fish - and how much I look forward to keeping them again in the future.  

Author: Theo Wyne