Silver Arowana Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Caring for a Silver Arowana is achievable for beginners by following essential guidelines. Focus on the right tank setup, proper water conditions, and a balanced diet for your fish. Pay attention to their health, suitable tank mates, and have a consistent care schedule to ensure their well-being.

silver arowana

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Silver Arowana Species Profile and Identification

The Silver Arowana, scientifically known as Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, is a large, captivating freshwater fish originating from South America. With its shimmering, silver-scale armor and double barbels, the Silver Arowana resembles the dragons of East Asian folklore, making it a popular choice for hobbyist aquarists.

Size and Shape: Silver Arowanas can grow up to 3 feet in length, boasting a long, slender body, tapered tail, and large scales. The dorsal and anal fins extend all the way to the small caudal fin, in which they are nearly fused.

Color: Unlike their relative, the Black Arowana, Silver Arowanas maintain a consistent silver hue throughout their lifespan. Adults of both Silver and Black Arowanas can appear very similar, but their fin structure and measurements can help distinguish the two.

Mouth and Barbels: A special characteristic of Silver Arowanas is their drawbridge-like mouth, which is specifically adapted for surface feeding. Additionally, they have two prominent barbels near their lower jaw, which are sensory organs used for detecting movement in the water.

Habitat: Native to the Amazon basin, Silver Arowanas thrive in slow-moving or still waters, such as tributaries, backwaters, and lagoons. They are known as surface dwellers, preying primarily on small fish, insects, and other animals that float on the water’s surface.

The Silver Arowana is a striking species with a unique appearance and behavior, making it an intriguing addition to large home aquariums. Familiarizing yourself with their distinct features will aid in proper identification and appreciation of this stunning fish.

Silver Arowana Supplies

Caring for a Silver Arowana requires the right supplies to ensure its health and well-being. When setting up your aquarium, make sure to invest in high-quality equipment suitable for this unique fish species. Here are the essential supplies you’ll need:

  • A large aquarium: Silver Arowanas require a spacious tank due to their size and active swimming habits. Ensure your tank has a capacity of at least 250 gallons to provide ample swimming space for this fish.
  • Powerful filtration system: Arowanas produce a significant amount of waste, so a high-capacity filter that can effectively handle the bioload is crucial. Consider investing in a reliable canister filter for optimal water quality.
  • Proper heating equipment: Maintain a stable water temperature between 20 to 30°C (68 to 86°F) by using a high-quality heater. Always use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the tank.
  • Aeration equipment: Silver Arowanas need well-oxygenated water. Enhance the oxygen level in your aquarium by using air pumps or powerheads.
  • Sturdy tank cover: As notorious jumpers, these fish require a secure cover to avoid any accidental escapes. Opt for a tight-fitting and heavy-duty cover to contain your fish safely.
  • Lighting: Although Silver Arowanas don’t have specific lighting requirements, suitable aquarium lighting will enhance their natural coloration, showcase their beauty, and promote a healthy environment.
  • Decoration and hiding spots: Add driftwood, large rocks, or artificial structures to provide some hiding spots. However, avoid overcrowding the tank and allow ample swimming space.
  • Feeding equipment: Provide a varied diet to your Silver Arowana, comprising live and frozen foods, insects, and specially-formulated pellets.

By outfitting your Silver Arowana’s aquarium with these supplies, you can ensure their health and happiness. Investing in quality equipment and dedicating proper care to the aquarium setup will greatly contribute to the fish’s well-being, allowing it to thrive in your care.

Silver Arowana Tank Setup

Setting up a suitable tank for your Silver Arowana is crucial to its long-term health and well-being. Since these fish can grow to reach a size of up to 3 feet in length, it is important to provide them with a large tank.

A minimum tank size of 250 gallons (950 liters) is recommended for a single individual, but going even larger will be better for the fish in the long run. Make sure the tank dimensions include a long length and width, allowing plenty of swimming space for your Arowana.

A suggested minimum dimension is 72 inches (183 cm) in length, 24 inches (61 cm) in width, and 24 inches (61 cm) in height.

To create an environment that resembles its natural habitat, consider these elements:

  • Substrate: Use a fine, soft sand substrate to avoid potential injuries and provide an authentic appearance.
  • Decoration: Arrange driftwood and branches at the water surface to mimic flooded forests and provide some cover.
  • Plants: Though not essential, using live or artificial plants can give your Arowana a sense of security.

Additionally, Silver Arowanas require specific equipment to maintain the tank:

  • Filtration: A powerful and reliable filter is essential to keep water quality stable. Consider using a canister filter or a combination of filters with a good flow rate.
  • Aeration: High oxygen levels are important for Silver Arowanas. Use an air pump and air stones to provide ample oxygen.
  • Heater: Maintain water temperature between 20-30°C (68-86°F) with a suitable aquarium heater.
  • Lighting: Moderate, natural lighting is ideal for Arowanas. Avoid overly bright lighting setups.

Lastly, be sure to have a tightly fitting and heavy cover for your tank. Silver Arowanas are known for their jumping ability and can easily escape if not properly covered.

Silver Arowana Water Requirements

To ensure the health and well-being of your Silver Arowana, it’s important to provide the right water conditions. These stunning fish have specific requirements when it comes to water parameters, and keeping them within the ideal range will help them thrive and display their best colors.

  • Temperature: Maintain a stable water temperature between 20-30°C (68-86°F). Use a high-quality aquarium heater to achieve this.
  • pH: Silver Arowanas prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, so aim for a pH of 5.0-7.5.
  • Hardness: Keep the water hardness between 36-268 ppm (parts per million) to accommodate their preferences.

To successfully maintain these water parameters, it’s crucial to invest in a reliable test kit for regular water testing. Here are some tips to help you manage the water conditions in your Silver Arowana tank:

  • Perform regular water changes: At least once a week, change 30-50% of the aquarium water to help maintain stable water conditions.
  • Invest in a high-quality filtration system: This will work wonders in maintaining your aquarium’s water quality. External canister filters and sponge filters are excellent choices for Silver Arowana tanks.
  • Add live plants and/or driftwood: These natural elements can help maintain the balance of the aquarium and provide hiding spots for your Arowana.
  • Monitor the water parameters closely: Consistently keep an eye on your aquarium’s water conditions, making adjustments as needed.

By following these guidelines, you’ll create an environment that keeps your Silver Arowana healthy and happy, allowing it to showcase its striking appearance in your aquarium.

Silver Arowana Diet and Feeding

Silver Arowanas are carnivorous predators that require a varied and balanced diet to thrive. In the wild, their diet mainly consists of snails, crustaceans, insects, smaller fish, and even small mammals or birds.

Offer a diverse diet: To replicate their natural diet, provide your Silver Arowana with a mix of high-quality live or frozen food, such as:

  • Earthworms
  • Prawns or shrimp
  • Krill
  • Mussels
  • Crickets
  • Small fish (gut-loaded to enhance nutritional value)

Remember to avoid feeding mammalian or avian meat, as these can cause health problems.

Feeding frequency: Feed juveniles two to three times a day, while adults require feeding once per day or every other day. Monitor your Arowana’s body condition to adjust feeding accordingly, preventing over or underfeeding.

Floating vs. sinking food: Floating food is ideal, since Silver Arowanas are surface-dwelling predators. However, sinking food can help prevent obesity and promote natural foraging behavior.

Vitamin supplements: Occasionally supplement your Arowana’s diet with vitamins to ensure proper nutrition and prevent deficiencies. Consult with an expert to select appropriate supplements.

Following these guidelines will keep your Silver Arowana healthy and encourage natural feeding behavior. Maintaining an adequate diet is crucial for their well-being and longevity, so be attentive to your Arowana’s needs and adjust their feeding regimen if necessary.

Silver Arowana Care Schedule

To maintain a thriving Silver Arowana environment, it’s crucial to establish a consistent care routine. Adhering to this regimen ensures that your fish remains healthy and happy in its habitat.

  • Daily: Observe your Silver Arowana’s behavior and appetite, ensuring it is energetic, responsive, and actively feeding. Check water temperature and confirm it stays within the range of 24-30°C (75-86°F).
  • Weekly: Conduct weekly water changes of 30-50% to maintain water quality, as stable conditions are indispensable for the well-being of this species. Measure pH, hardness, and ensure they’re within the acceptable range of 6.0-7.0 (pH) and 36-268 ppm (hardness).
  • Monthly: Inspect and clean your filter system, replacing any worn out parts and confirming that water flow is optimal. Examine the tank’s decorations, accessories, and plants, removing any algae or waste buildup.
  • Annually: At least once a year, perform a thorough tank inspection. This should include checking your heater, lighting system, and other equipment for signs of wear and ensuring they’re functioning efficiently.

By persistently adhering to this care schedule, your Silver Arowana will have an environment conducive to its growth and well-being. Remember to keep a close eye on your majestic fish and its surroundings, and promptly attend to any concerns that arise.

Silver Arowana Health Problems

Silver Arowanas are generally hardy fish, but like any other aquatic species, they can suffer from various health issues. By taking proper care of your Silver Arowana, you can minimize the chances of them getting sick.

Some common health problems you may encounter include:

  • Dropsy: This is caused by a buildup of fluid in the fish’s body, leading to swelling and pinecone-like scales. To treat dropsy, try adjusting the water parameters, and consult a veterinarian for possible medications.
  • Fin rot: Commonly caused by poor water conditions or bacterial infections, fin rot is characterized by frayed or disintegrating fins. Improve water quality and consider using antibacterial medications to treat the condition.
  • Ich (white spot disease): Caused by a parasite, Ich appears as small white spots on the fish’s body and gills, often causing distress and constant scratching. Gradually raise the tank’s temperature to about 86°F (30°C) and use an Ich treatment from your local fish store.
  • Fungal infections: These can manifest as cottony growths on your fish’s body. Keep the water clean and medicate with an antifungal treatment.

To prevent health problems, maintain a consistent care schedule and monitor water parameters regularly. It is also vital to provide a balanced diet, as nutritional deficiencies can lead to health issues.

Common Health Problem Cause Treatment
Dropsy Fluid buildup Adjust water parameters, consult vet for medication
Fin rot Poor water conditions, bacterial infections Improve water quality, use antibacterial medication
Ich (white spot disease) Parasite Raise tank temperature, use Ich treatment
Fungal infections Fungal growth Keep water clean, use antifungal medication

By keeping a watchful eye on your Silver Arowana and acting promptly if issues arise, you can prevent many health problems and ensure your fish thrive in a healthy environment.

Silver Arowana Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your Silver Arowana, it’s crucial to choose species that are compatible with their size, temperament, and behavior. As a general rule, avoid any tank mates small enough to be considered prey by the Arowana, as well as those that are overly aggressive or territorial.

  • Large Cichlids: Species such as Oscars, Green Terrors, and Jaguar Cichlids can make good tank mates for Silver Arowanas. Ensure they are of a similar size and temperament to avoid conflicts.
  • Large Catfish: Larger species of Doradids and Loricariids, like Sailfin Plecos or Raphael Catfish, can coexist peacefully with Silver Arowanas. These bottom-dwelling fish will not compete for space or food in the upper levels of the tank.
  • Other Large Fish: Fish that grow large enough to not be consumed by the Arowana, such as Giant Gouramis or Datnoids, can also be housed together. Monitor closely for aggression or territorial disputes.

Please be cautious when introducing new tank mates, and always keep a close eye on their interactions. A safe practice is to introduce new fish when they’re of a similar size to your Silver Arowana and observe the dynamics among them.

Keep in mind that the size of your aquarium plays a significant role in the success of cohabitation. A suitably large tank measuring at least 8-10 feet in length and a minimum capacity of 250 gallons will prevent overcrowding, minimize stress, and promote a harmonious living environment for your Silver Arowana and its tank mates.

Silver Arowana Breeding

Breeding Silver Arowanas in an aquarium for beginners is quite challenging due to their specific requirements and unique breeding habits. However, once you gain sufficient knowledge and experience, you could succeed in breeding this fascinating species.

The first step in successful breeding is ensuring you have both male and female Arowanas. Sexing Silver Arowanas is difficult, so it’s essential to raise a group of juveniles and wait for a pair to form naturally. Prepare a separate breeding tank to minimize stress and disruptions to the pair, and maintain the same water parameters as their primary tank.

After a strong pair forms and has been moved to the breeding tank, the next crucial step is replicating the natural water conditions they experience during breeding season in the wild. Gradually lower the water level and increase the water temperature to about 28-30°C.

This replicates the dry season, the onset of breeding. After a week or two, gradually raise the water level to replicate the rainy season.

When conditions are right, the female will lay eggs. Silver Arowanas are paternal mouthbrooders, meaning the male will keep the fertilized eggs in his mouth, protecting and nurturing them until they hatch. Remember these key points about Arowana breeding:

  • Ensure both male and female Arowanas are present
  • Set up a separate breeding tank with stable water parameters
  • Replicate the natural water conditions of the dry and rainy seasons
  • Understand that the male Arowana is responsible for mouthbrooding

Note: Breeding Silver Arowanas is not a task for those new to the hobby. Attempting to breed Arowanas without the necessary experience and knowledge can lead to stress and poor health for the fish. It is advised to gain experience in keeping Arowanas before attempting to breed them.


Properly caring for your Silver Arowana can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, even for beginners. With the right supplies, tank setup, and attention to their unique needs, these beautiful fish can thrive in your home aquarium.

We would love to hear about your experiences with Silver Arowanas, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

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