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Tips to take care and buy an Arowana Fish

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Arowana, the truly majestic dragon fish has been around us for so many years. With facial barbs and coin-like metallic scales, and because of its resemblance to a Chinese New Year dragon , the Asian Arowana is thought to bring prosperity and luck in Asian cultures.

I was introduced to Arowana 8 years ago and was amazed by the sheer beauty of this magnificient creature. A little more insight into this majestic fin dragon revealed to me its secret as to why this beautiful creature is the most costliest fish in the Aquarium business.

Arowana , has become a new status symbol to its owner to show-off its prized collection to his neighbours.

It is important to know a few pointers before buying your first healthy Arowana :-

  • For a beginner the size of an arowana recommended for purchase is 15-20cm (6-9 inches), as this is the best size to groom your Arowana. But you can purchase a larger one if you have the correct housing and the budget to look after it.

  • Find an Arowana which is active , alert and actively swimming as it will be less timid when it goes back to your home tank.

  • Do a Background Check. For more serious buyers , it is recommended that you try to know the history of of the fish from the country of origin.

  • Here is the most important aspect to consider , is to check on the Diet that the Arwoana is being fed on ( e.g live feed or pellets) MAke sure that the Arowana is eating well and its fecal matter shuld be dark brown in Colour.

  • If you decide to buy the Expensive Arowana, check for its authenticity with the Farm. This can only be done if its micro-chipped.


Other Tips to consider

Scales :- The body should be radiant and shining and not dull or some scale decayed.

Eyes :- Should be the same size and not one small and the other Large.

Mouth :- The mouth should close properly with the ends of the top jaw and bottom jaw meeting.

Barbels:- Should be pointed upwards.

Fins :- Should not have any blood clotting .

Gills :- Should be clear and red.

Size of the Aquarium

Arowana should never be kept in a smaller aquarium , if you cannto afford to buy a bigger aquarium please do not even think of buying this magnificient creature. This fish can grow to the size of tanks3-4 feet in the wild and in captivity can grow upto 3 ft. The Depth of the tank is very important. As the Arowana is the free flowing swimmer it will be cruel to keep it in a 1 feet breadth (distance between behind and front of the Glass) as it creates an obstrubtion for its movement..The minimum size of the fish tank recommended should be atleast 4ft in length for a Juvenile Arowana of 6 inches.

Water Condition and Temperature

Asian arowana live in soft, acidic water in the wild, at a temperature of 30°C/86°F so this should be replicated to provide them with optimum conditions — which may result in better coloration and more readiness to breed.

Pearl arowana like similar hot, acid conditions, whereas Spotted arowana are hardier with regard to water hardness, tolerating conditions up to 8.3 — so neutral to hard, alkaline and cooler water will be fine.

Fish Food

Arowana are finicky eaters at the start and takes time to adapt to their new environment. before purchasing your favourite arowana, it is imperative to know from the seller about the dietery requirement of the fish.

Consider wide range of foods normally sold for reptiles, such as crickets, locusts, giant mealworms. Earthworms would also be suitable.

There’s also a wide range of proprietary arowana foods on the market providing all the necessary vitamins, nutrients and supplements they may need. Many will also contain colour enhancers that can heighten red coloration.

I had an Arowana refusing to eat arowana food sticks,, so to get over it, I use to insert the food stick into the prawn and feed them.

Fish Disease

Stress plays a very important role in the death of an Arowana. Bad water quality and poor maintenance of the aquarium leads to stress and eventually death.

We will look at some of the Disease in an Arowana :-

Tilted Gill Covers :- This occurs when the space given to the dragon becomes smaller as time passes on, its not only important to provide nutritional food but also space. Temperature of the water should always be maintained . It should not be too cold nor too hot. Also check on the rotten food lying somewhere in the tank it can increase the nitrite levels in the tank leading to the poisoning of the fish. Lack of oxygen can kill any fish.

Treatment :- When you see these indications first thing to do is to change the water by 20% to 30% every 2-3 days. Also air bubble stones can be added to the water so that extra oxygen level can be increased. This can help in 50% of the health of the Fish. If it still does not respond the best thing is to cut the tilted portion near the Gill of the fish. Make sure that the fish is promptly put in the tank after this minor surgery. Proper medication and anti-bodies should be provided to the fish in a separate tank for it to recover.

Cloudy Eyes :- This happens due to contaminated water or an Eye Injury. Atleast 1/3rd of water needs to be changed and the temperature needs to be increased to atleast 30 degree celsius to 33 degree celsius. Salt can also be added to the water during the treatment of the cloudy eyes.

Portruding scales disease :- It can happen to the dragon fish when its small in Size. This happens due to bad water condition and also change in the temperature. Change the water every 3 to 4 days. Increase the temperature of the water to 32 degrees celsius to 34degree celsius. Add copper sulfate medications to the water.

Rotting Gill Disease :- Happens due to not changing the water for a long time. It effects the breathing of the fish.

Stomach Ailments :- An injury caused by the sharp pincer of the prawns effecting the internal wall of the stomach to be infected with bacteria, resulting in a swollen belly. Even Stale food can effect its stomach. Commercially available medications is the only source of cure. Temperature should be increased to 25 to 30 degree celsius.

Parasites are mainly introduced through live food. Fish lice and the Anchor worms are the common parasites that effect the fish. Use of medicine containing copper sulphate is recommended for the treatment of the Fish. Also during the treatment the increase of oxygen is very important. ​

Head Rot :- Usually caused by using active carbon filter. Head rot will start off by a patch of white spot on the head. As time pass by, the white spot will starts to rot and produced dents on the Arowana's head. Only known cure is to add some aquarium salt until Arowana recovers. Allow 2 to 3 weeks for recovery.

Barbels :- The barbels are very prone to fungus or parasite attacks. Fungus attacks usually start because of an injury to the barbels. Injuries may occur when the Arowana knocks itself against the aquarium wall, or when it struggles during transportation. If an open wound results, it may leads to fungus attack. Hobbyist is advised to be receptive to such behaviour as it is a clear indication that there is trouble. The recovery time depends on the age of the Fish.


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