Arowanas, also called Dragon Fish, are unique aquatic creatures. They have large scales, dark barbells, and a bony tongue. These pre-historic features attest to the fact that they have lived on Earth for over 100 million years.
They can reach 48 inches in captivity, and you will require a large tank to keep them comfortable.
Arowanas are not bullies in a community tank as long as they are well fed. They are only mildly aggressive during feeding time, but they will generally ignore other tank mates.
They can be kept with cichlids and semi-aggressive fish since they use their tough scales to ward off any threats.
Arowanas thrive in temperatures between 75-83 °F and a pH range of 6.0-7.0. They prefer the middle and top areas of the tank and sturdy live plants.
Some of the ideal arowana tank mates are:
1. Clown Loaches
Clown loaches are bottom dwellers, and they will keep out of an arowana’s way. Clown loaches also love to move around in large aquariums, although you need at least four of them to encourage their schooling nature.
The clown loach is also brightly-colored and it is a graceful swimmer in the tank. The fish appreciates a lot of hiding spaces that you can create using sturdy plants, rocks, wood, and caves.
2. Freshwater Stingray
Freshwater stingrays are named for the poisonous barb on their tails that they use to defend themselves. They are bottom dwellers and require a large tank of up to 180 gallons for adults.
They stay buried in the substrate waiting for food which should mostly include live foods. You can teach stingrays to hand feed and experience their interactive nature.
Use a fine sand substrate to protect their bodies from injury. The fish appreciate temperatures between 75-82 °F and a PH range of 6.8-7.6.
3. Tiger Datnoid
The tiger datnoid or tiger fish is named for the multiple stripes running across its gold and white body.
Wild datnoid fish are impressive predators, and they stalk small fish, crustaceans, shrimps, snails, and crabs. You will need to satiate this carnivorous nature with live foods, although the fish can learn to feed on pellets and frozen food.
Wild datnoid fish can reach up to 18 inches in captivity. The fish are a bit shy, so you should include plenty of hiding spaces in your tank. Datnoid fish will co-exist peacefully with arowanas.
4. Parrot Cichlids
If you have kept cichlids before, you will find it easy to raise a parrot fish. The fish is a fairly new hybrid from two Central American cichlid species. Parrot fish are commonly bright orange in appearance with small patches of colors like white. They mostly reach eight inches in size.
Parrot fish are active tank inhabitants, and they are often seen swimming around the aquarium. They will quickly dash away to hide once they sense danger, and you should provide a lot of hiding spots. Invest in a sand substrate since they live to dig around the bottom.
5. Common Pleco
The common pleco can be a misleading term since there are almost 150 pleco species in the Loricariidae family. It is quite an unusual fish that will grow to around 15 inches in the aquarium.
The common pleco has earned the name armored catfish thanks to its well-formed bones that take the appearance of a war armor.
Plecos are bottom dwellers who are notorious for nibbling on plants, algae, and driftwood. You can give them vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and peas. Feed them in the evening because they are active at night.
6. Knife Fish
The knife fish has a striking blade-shaped body, and it can swim backward in a fascinating fashion. There are multiple species of the knife fish that vary in habitats. Some of them originate from Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, and Central America.
Most knife fish grow quite large. African knives, for example, can reach lengths of 8 to 12 inches. Some of them will require tanks as enormous as 200 gallons.
They can uproot plants due to their active behavior and some aquarists prefer to keep them with artificial plants. Keep the temperature and PH at 75-80 °F and 7.0-8.0, respectively.
7. Snakehead Fish
The snakehead fish is another excellent tankmate for arowanas since they both require large tanks. Its head shape and scales resemble those of a snake.
The ability of snakeheads to survive in areas with low oxygen is impressive, and wild populations have been recorded in dirty and thickly planted water bodies.
The fish can move across flat muddy areas for short distances while looking for alternative habitats.
Snakeheads are, therefore, undemanding when it comes to tank conditions, but it is still advisable to maintain pristine water conditions.
Leave some space between the aquarium top and the water’s surface to allow the snakeheads to breathe atmospheric air.
8. Iridescent Shark
The iridescent shark is a catfish species related to the Mekong Giant catfish. They have a shiny grey appearance and long barbels for navigation.
The iridescent shark spends a lot of time swimming in the middle column of the aquarium. Leave this area open and use a soft substrate to cushion their fragile barbels.
The fish can reach up to four foot and adults will demand at least 300 gallons to be comfortable. Iridescent sharks are a schooling fish, and you should keep four or five of them.
9. Pacu Fish
Pacu fish are cousins to piranhas and tetras with their native habitats in South America. The size of the pacu ranges between 6 inches to over two feet, depending on the species.
The fish demand temperatures between 76-82ºF and your aquarium should be fitted with a capable heater to ensure these conditions are met.
While juvenile pacu exhibit shoaling behaviors, most of them become solitary as adults, and they can be kept alone. The pacu can nip at fins so do not keep them with fish that have long and beautiful fins.
10. Silver Dollar Fish
The silver dollar fish are popular aquatic pets thanks to their shiny silver bodies that resemble coins. You will need a small school to experience its fascinating coloration and behavior.
Silver dollars are easy to care for, as long as you give them ample room to maneuver as they can get large. This active behavior means that they produce a lot of waste, and you will need an elaborate filtration system for your setup.
The peaceful nature of silver dollars means that they will be ideal companions for your arowanas. The fish need a plant-based diet to thrive in the aquarium.
11. Flying Fox Fish
The flying fox fish is a member of the Cyprinidae family with origins in Thailand, Malaysia, Java, and Sumatra. It can reach six inches in the aquarium with an average lifespan of eight years.
You will need at least 100 gallons to give the flying fox fish adequate swimming space. Set up your aquarium to mimic a river bed, and use a sand or gravel substrate, pebbles, roots, driftwood, plants, and rocks.
Keep the temperature between 68-78 °F with a PH of 6-7.5. The flying fox should be sustained on an omnivorous diet of algae wafers, live and frozen foods, and vegetables.
12. Green Terror Cichlid
The green terror cichlid is a native of South America, and it is closely related to the Blue Acara.
It can reach lengths of 12 inches, and adults will require at least 100 gallons for the best living conditions.
To experience the beauty of the green terror cichlid, you can use various LED colored lights and watch the reflections from their bodies change from bluish-green to pale green.
They have a huge bio-load and a canister filter is recommended for green terror cichlid tanks.
13. Jack Dempsey Cichlid
The Jack Dempsey cichlid has an unfortunate reputation for being aggressive, and they are better left to experienced aquarists.
The male will especially establish dominance, but you can minimize territorial fights by decorating your aquarium with caves and crevices. These cichlids stay in the lower and middle levels of the tank.
Jack Dempsey cichlids will spice up your aquarium with varying shades, including pink, blue, and gold. They will reach 10 to 15 inches, and they require a minimum of 80 gallons.
The cichlids do not destroy live plants and they thrive with a sandy substrate.
14. Firemouth Cichlid
Another cichlid to keep with your arowana is the firemouth cichlid. It is a largely peaceful fish, but it insists on creating its territories within an aquarium.
It will hide among the vegetation in the middle and lower sections and will create caves out of rocks and wood.
Firemouth cichlids need tropical temperatures of 75-86 °F, and a PH range of 6.5-8.0. the fish are often seen moving ornaments around the tank, and they can even dig out and move plants.
They are also monogamous, and the male is exceptionally territorial of its young. Firemouth cichlids will live peacefully with your arowana.
15. Texas Cichlid
The Texas cichlid has a sparkly appearance featuring a pearl-gray body and bluish to green-colored scales. This appearance has earned the fish the name pearl cichlid.
It can reach almost a foot in length, although it will be smaller in aquariums.
Texas cichlids can get aggressive, and they should only be kept with large fish like arowanas. Keep them in a 125-gallon tank or larger, and invest in a reliable filtration system.
The fish likes to uproot plants and re-arrange other items, but you can still include plants, driftwood, rocks, and a fine sand or gravel substrate.
16. Oscar Fish
The oscar fish is another cichlid that you can safely keep with arowanas. This South American cichlid can reach 12 to 16 inches in size, and it can live for up to 12 years in captivity.
An oscar fish tank should have a heater to keep temperatures between 74-81 °F. Ensure that the temperatures do not extend beyond this range to protect their immune system.
Oscars are quite messy so you need to stick to a strict maintenance schedule. 10-15% of the tank water should be renewed every week. Keep your oscar on a diet rich in proteins.
17. Peacock Bass
The peacock bass is a formidable predator in the wild, where it mostly preys on small fish to the point of reducing populations of species like the spotted tilapia.
They are voracious eaters, and the juveniles will lay waiting to be fed in the aquarium. Give the young ones small quantities of live or frozen food several times a day. Adults will be fine with one or two large meals a day.
Peacock bass fish can attain lengths of 18 inches, and you need a large tank to tame their territorial temperament. Keep the temperatures between 75-81ºF with a PH range of 6.5-7.5.
18. Tinfoil Barb
The tinfoil barb is indigenous to South-East Asia, where it lives in large river channels and bottomland coastal regions. It can reach lengths of 14 inches and typically lives for 8-10 years.
The fish is a perfect addition to a colorful tank as it features red tails and fins and a silvery body with a gold gradient.
The tinfoil barb is undemanding in the aquarium, as long as you provide a roomy tank. Invest in a stony substrate and include smooth stones. Keep the temperatures and pH between 72-77 °F and 6.5-7.9, respectively.
19. Bichir Fish
Bichir fish originate from Africa, where they inhabit freshwater basins. There are around 14 genuses of the fish, including the ornate bichir, marbled bichir, and Senegal bichir.
Bichir fish are slow to claim food, and you should be careful during feeding time to ensure that they get a fair share. It feeds on live foods but it can also accept pellets and flakes.
20. Bala Shark
The bala shark is named for its high dorsal fin that is similar to that of a shark. The similarities end in appearance, however, as the fish is a pleasant tank mate in a community tank.
You will need at least four bala sharks as they are a shoaling species. They are active swimmers and greedy feeders, and you should close the aquarium since they can easily jump.
Arowanas can be safely kept with similarly large fish species. You will need an enormous setup since some of the fish on the list can grow exceptionally large.
It can also be expensive and demanding to keep some of the species listed above.