Harvesting the Asian Arowanas on the 15 Aug 98. Here am I, William with my brother-in-law, Simon. It takes about 5 persons and an hour to harvest a pond.
A total of 60 fries from a single Male Arowana !
A Dragon Fish Industry record !
The proud father of the 60 fry !
Another picture of the fries,aren't they lovely ? At this stage, they are only one inch long. They are about a month old as at 15 Aug 98
Guess what type the father is ? Is it a red tail golden or a over back golden?
Well, it is a first grade or high back redtail golden (note the gold colour is up to the fifth level), about 4 years old. Probably, in about 12-18 months, the gold colour will cross over its back .

The Asian Arowana is a difficult fish to breed, more so under glass tank orfibre glass pond conditions. It will only breed in natural, earth pondswhen they reaches maturity between ages 3-5, depending on colour variationand water conditions. Sexing them is difficult. However, the male's mouthis wider and deeper as the Asian Arowana is a male mouth brooder! Eachspawn will only yield 30-80 eggs and stays in the male's mouth for about5 weeks. Each egg is orange-red in colour and is very fragile. Pre-pawningbehavoir lasts 2-3 months, with both parents swim around the perimeterof the pond day and night.

Theaverage pond size is 30m by 15m by 2m. Both water lilies and water hyacinthserve the dual roles of providing shade and biological filtration for thefishes. The ponds are covered with netting to prevent birds from entering.

A breeding pond for Arowana


 TheArowanas are territorial and aggressive fishes. Therefore, never keep 2-3fishes in a single tank. Instead, keep one alone or 6-10 together. Whenin a group, their aggressiveness tends to be subdued. Notorious as a greatjumper, care must be taken to place a heavy object on top of closed covers.They are known to grow up to 3 feet (90cm) in the wild and can weigh upto 7kg. They prefer neutral to slightly acidic, aged water (pH 6.5-7) anda temperature of 28-32 degree celsius. Depending on tank sizes and numberof fishes, it will be good to change 25% of the tank's water once or twice a week. Never conduct a 100% change in water as it is very sensitive to Chlorine and other chemicals/medications. Feed live or dead prawns, smallfishes, insects, frogs, etc., once or twice a day. For convenience, halfa kilo of fresh prawns from the market can be frozen into many smallerpackets and defrosted daily as required. As the Arowana is a surface dweller,when deciding on the size of the fish tank, depth is not so much a factorcompared to surface area and width. Young fishes of 6 inch (15cm) can bekept in tanks of 4feet by 1.5feet by 1.5feet(depth). Adult fishes of around1 feet (30cm) would be better off with a 6feet by 2feet by 1.5feet(depth)tank.

Growing up tank for the young arowana (over back gold)

Secrets of bringing up a beautiful Arowana

It is always such a joy to see a full bodied, brightly coloured Arowana that swims with an awe of grandeaur. No doubt good pedigree does play an important part ,but it is only the foundation. To built on the foundation,the fish requires good water quality and the right type of food for it to achieve it's full potential . Good water quality can be achieved by an effective biological filtration system ,frequent water changes, AND daily removal of FISH WASTE, pH and nitrite checks etc. Arowana requires carotene for its pigmentation and shining scales . Hence, feeding prawn with shell is good for enhancing the color of the Arowana . On the other hand, feeding small, whole fishes will ensure that the Arowana gets all the minerals,vitamins and proteins it requires .


Please note that"drop" eyes is not a disease.

Basically, the Arowana is a very hardy fish; even forthe first timers. However, due to unsuitable water conditions, poor diet,high nitrate levels, etc., illnesses like bulging eye, cloudy eye, gillcurling, external parasites, fin rot, dropsy and internal bleeding mayoccur. Watch out for the last two symptoms as they are likely to be fatal.In all cases, raise the water temperature to 34 degree celcius and add0.03% salt to the water (ie 300g of salt for 100litres of water). Dependingon respective cases, add a wide spectrum medicine with anti-bacterial oranti-parasitic compounds. Medicines like tetracycline, acfriflavine mayalso help. One point to note; do not be too concerned over fin rot causedfighting. Even in cases where extensive damage to the whole tail has beendone, the recovery period is only a matter of weeks.

FAQ on Fish Illnesses

Question 1

Hi,I'm sorry to bother you, but I have a question aboutarowana that I can't find an answer to. I have 5 S. American arowana ina 240g tank (8' x 2' x 2'). They get along real well, and are now about25 to 30 inches long (about 3 years). But recently the top fin on all ofthe fish is developing fin rot. It began as fin rot on just a few of thesmaller fish and females, but now even my largest male has it. If firstthought it was from jumping and hitting the top, since there is no finrot on the lower fins or tail. But now I doubt that is true. Also, someof the smaller fish have some scales that look as if they are rotting away.The males seem fine. I change about 50% of the water weekly, and add 1tablespoon of rock salt for every 10 gallons of water. Anyway, I know theseare not Asian arowana, but I really enjoy your home page (I look at itoften), and thought you might have some info. I sure wish I had some ofthose beautiful Asian arowana, but I like these fish and would like tocare for them properly. Thanks, Ric Otte .

Answer 1

Dear Ric Otte , Your Silver Arowana problems with finsis due to Finrot ( bacteria called Aeromonas Hydrophila ). Firstly theedges of the fins take on a slightly opague look .Then, a few days laterthe membrance come away and exposed the rays .These bacteria loves badwater quality . Something have happen to the filtration system ! Did youdo anything to the filter a week before the infection started ? DO youfeed live food ? Did you introduce any new fish ? To treat the fishes ,wemust calculated the volume of water of your tank which is about 700 litres. Then do the following :

  • 1. check Ammonia,nitrates and nitrites .(0,30,0)
  • 2. check Ph (6- 7)
  • 3. check temperature (30-32 ) used heater .
  • 4. check disolved oxgyen (min. 5 ppm)
  • If all ok ,then added 2 kg of salt ,and 7 teaspoonof tetracyline for the first day .On the second day do the same checkson the water quality ,if still ok do not change water . On the third daychange 50 % of water and add 50 % of medication and salt .(note .only agedwater , no chlorine ). Do the same check on everyday . Change water onevery other day . No feed throughout the five day of treatment . Your fishwill start to recover after the five days of treatment .

    Question 2

    Subject: curling gill problem

    I'm an enthusiast hobbyist. I enjoy very much in keepingthe asian arowana but I have a problem with these fishes. They always havegill curling. How do you prevent this and what is the best way to curethis disease. How do fix this on a grown fish who had it for quite a while.Thank you for your expert advise .

    Answer 2

    Normally the gills cover of the Arowana curling isdue to bad water quality and lack of swimming space . ie too small a fishtank for the fish . It happens only to fishes of 12 inches and above .What is the size of your tank ? To correct this problem, you can performa minor surgery on the fish - The procedures are as follows: First, anesthesiathe fish by adding chemicals or lots of ice. Place the fish on a wet pieceof cloth. Heat the small pair of clean scissors and cut the curled partof the gill cover. Finally, apply some anti bacteria powder on the partconcerned. Put the fish back to the tank. The recovery time from the gill-cuttingoperation ranges from 3-6 month for a Arowana about 12 inches to 10 to18 months for a Arowana about 20 inches .

    For further details, please refer to our new book,'Arowana - A Layman's Guide'. It only cost S$50 to USA .

    Question 3

    I have a six inch austrailan arowana in a 55 gallon tank. About a week ago I noticed that one of his gill was begining to curl outwards. My maintenance schedule is changing 20 gallons of water on a weekly basis. When I noticed the curling of the gill I immediately changed 20 gallons of water in the tank. What causes this problem and what steps do I take to cure it? I don't want to lose another arowana.

    Answer 3

    The water change percentage and frequency seemed O.K. How about the filtration system? For a small arowana of this size in such a 55 gallon tank, space is certainly more than enough. It must have something to do with poor water quality. For instance, over feeding, left over food, filtration system not established yet in the case of a new tank, etc. Conduct checks for nitrite levels.

    Question 4

    I'm confused in this area as well. From everything I read, and was told at fish stores, once your amonia is gone, your tank is done it's cycle, the good bacteria took hold, and thats it. I never heard that I have to keep checking my nitrites or nitrates. What is the reason for checking these and why do they matter? I know you can get amonia at any time from things like overfeeding, but the nitrite thing has me confused. Thanks in advance!

    Answer 4

    The whole matter is commonly referred to as THE NITROGEN CYCLE. It's quite simple. All you need is lots of oxygen and a good biological or mechanical filter to support all the good nutrifying bacteria. Stage 1 - fish waste, uneaten food, decaying plant etc will give offAmmonia, which is highly toxic. Stage 2 - Ammonia will be oxidize by good bacteria into the harmful,less toxic Nitrites. Stage 3 - Nitrites will finally be oxidize again into the not-so harmful Nitrates, which is normally converted into Nitrogen gas or eliminated through water changes or even be absorbed by any live plants as their food.

    Question 5

    I have a 40 gallon tank. I am running an underground filter and thetemperature at 26 C( or 79F). I have as follows3 goldfish (5 cm)2 angelfish(small)1 gaurima(~7.5cm)2 red fin sharks (5 cm)2 sucking catfish (5 cm)6 neon tetrasThey are all healthy, aside from one minor bout of white spot,disappeared after 4 day treatment.I feed the fish twice daily, what they can eat in two to three minutes,both flake food and some greens.I also have two fern sprigs, purple cabbage(?) and some elodia.Now the problem,The water is cloudy, has come up in the last week. I have had the tankfor month and a half. Since the water has become cloudy I have done athird water change and intend to do another in the next couple of days.What can I do to clear the water up. Here are my guesses1-I am managing the tank badly, get rid of some fish2-Put charcoal/ foam filter in to trap the material???? that is cloudingthe water3-Too much bacteria, try water clearer (Potassium permanganate, frommemory)4-Admittedly I have not checked the nitrates, haven't got a kit yet

    Answer 5

    Your tank is certainly not over crowded with the number of fishes thatyou had put in it. Since the tank is quite new, I suspect that there arenot enough bacteria around to break down the fish waste. I suggest thefollowing -1. add some yeast to act as bacteria so that they will carry out thenutrification process properly. 2. use an extra internal or external filter containg these, filter wool,activated carbon, zeolite granules in a bag, etc. Filter wool must bewashed once every month. Carbon and zeolite must also be changed once in2-3 months. 3. reduce your feeding to once a day for the moment till the waterclears. 4. use lesser of flake food as these tend to cloud water. May considerfood pellets instead.

    Question 6

    Are you using feeders? Any problem with them?

    Answer 6

    Live feeder not only brings in diseases but also parasites . It is not only expensive but hard tocome by too. Once an arowana is used to live foods, it is real difficult to alter their tastebuds again!I would recommend feeding dead prawns that are frozen with their shells intact. Remove the headand sharp portion of the tail section before feeding. Feed prawns with their shell on will enhance the 'redness'of an arowana due to the carotine prawns contain.

    Question 7

    Optimal water parameter for Australian Arowana ?

    Answer 7

    There are two types of the Australian Arowanas - Jardini and Leichartdi. Both are commonly found in Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. They would prefer a temperature of 25-32 degree Celcius. pH is best at 6.8 to 7.3. Too high a pH, they will develop cloudy eyes immediately! They are very territorial in nature too and will inflict injuries on each other no matter you place 2 or 10 fishes together! Do not subject them to drastic pH changes and too much Chlorine. They can't cope with that. Leichartdi has pinkish/red spots all over the body while Jardini has scales with pink outlines. The latter is a prettier and more affordable fish to start with.

    Question 8

    when selecting a fish what exactly is the perfect body shape. i have silvers and australians. how do you know what a good body shape is? i know, not to select one with a bent back or stuff like that. how do you know if the fish has a stunted growth or something too?

    Answer 8

    The 'perfect shape'is sometimes quite subjective. But to most arowana lovers, it should be something like this. The fish must be viewed as a whole. That is to say, the fins, head size, tail fin, curvature jawline, size of barbels, eyes etc must be in proportion to one another.Stunted fish usually have very big eyes and do not look proportional . The slope from the fish back down to the head must be gradual. Too steep a slope is simply not presentable. Dorsal fins must be straight, fully opened while swimming. From the front, the body must be long and broad. Colour must be in accordance to the type of species it belonged to. For instance, an adult red arowana must have bright and deep red colouration over the whole body. Lips and barbels, gill cover must also be red. View from the top, the fish must be straight. Barbels should be the same length and straight. The swimming style should be slow,dinified, graceful with an awesome and grandeur appeal.



    Asian Arawana
    (Protected under CITES)

    Scleropages Formosus

    Gold (Over Back)


    Gold (Red Tail)





    Vietnam, Burma, Thailand,Malaysia

    Australia Arowana

    Scleropages Jardini



    Scleropages Leichardti


    South American

    Osteoglossum Bicirrhosum


    Brazil, Columbia

    Osteoglossum Ferreirai


             Themain physical difference between the Scleropages and Osteoglossum genusis that the latter has a longer dorsal and anal fin so much so that itappears to be joined together from far. Also, the number of scales in thelateral line is 32-35 for the latter and 21-25 for the former. This impliesthat the Asian Arowana generally has larger and fewer scales. A point totake note here - not the whole Scleropages genus are under the CITES protection.Strictly speaking, only the four colour variations found in Asia are protected.

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