Silver Arowana: Care Guide, Tank Size, Diet and More…

The Silver Arowana, also known as the Dragon Fish or Monkey Fish, is a freshwater fish indigenous to South America.

Renowned for its hunting ability and large size, this fish is one of the most iconic around and will be the prized possession of any hobby aquarist.

Whilst not generally recommended for beginners, this fish can make a fantastic addition to an experienced keeper’s tank.

Before we explore our complete guide to Silver Arowanas below, I’ve condensed the key information down into a facts table shown below.

Your Free Little Extra: Download our free Silver Arowana ebook which covers everything from their natural habitat to their diet.

Silver Arowana Facts & Overview

Care Level:Difficult
Color Form:Silver
Lifespan:10-15 years
Size:Up to 36 inches
Minimum Tank Size:250 gallons
Tank Set-Up:Freshwater: rocks, and plants

The Silver Arowana is a bony, freshwater fish that is native to the South American Amazon River Basin.

Also known as the Dragon Fish, Monkey Fish, and occasionally misspelled as Arawana and Arahuana, this fish is adored by many hobby aquarists.

Arowana are strong powerful swimmers and can be fairly aggressive at times. They are predator fish that can grow up to 4 feet in size and weigh in excess of 6kg. When raised in captivity you should expect an Arowana to have a lifespan of 10-15 years.

If you ever encounter them in the wild, you will notice their unique hunting style. They have a huge leap which allows them to hunt animals on low-level branches etc.

They also have the ability to survive short periods of time out of the water, by using their swim bladder.

In general, if you are looking for an Arowana, Silver Arowanas are the least restricted to import regulations and because of this are also the cheapest variant of Arowanas available.

Some people get confused about whether keeping a Silver Arowana is legal in the United States. 

While it is not banned on a federal level, some local governments may have banned them, so it is worth checking your local policies.

The confusion is caused by the Asian Arowana, which it is illegal to own in the United States due to the endangered nature of the species. 

Generally, there are rarely legal problems when keeping a Silver Arowana.

Their huge size, precarious nature, and long lifespan make them a fish that only experienced aquarists should consider.


Silver Arowana ApperanceThe Silver Arowana is a much sought-after fish, normally the crowning jewel in any collection.

They are large and silver-colored and can grow up to 4 feet in the wild, however, when kept in captivity you should expect them to grow to around 3 feet. In terms of weight, the average Arowana will weigh around 4.6kg (10lb) when fully matured.

Its most distinguishing characteristic is its jawline. Affectionately referred to as a ‘drawbridge’, their mouth is nearly vertical.

Many of the bones in the mouth have teeth. This includes the jaw, palate, pharynx, and even the tongue. These help them to grab and hold onto their food.

As for their body, you will see they have large pearl-like silver scales across their entire body. As juveniles, these scales can have a blueish tint to them.

Their long sleek body appears flat when viewed from the side, and if you look closely you will notice their dorsal is almost fused with the caudal fin.

Females are generally ‘thicker’, with males being more slender and having a larger anal fin.

As for their growth rate, they start out small (around 4 inches after their egg sack has been consumed), but grow exceptionally fast. During their first year, they will grow 2 inches each month, so you need to make sure they are well fed and have plenty of space in their aquarium.

In recent years, another variety of Silver Arowana has become available in the aquarium trade. 

The Albino Silver Arowana largely resembles the original species in shape; it mainly deviates through color. It appears much whiter across its body.

The rarity and color of this variety raise its price but also makes it more sought-after by Arowana enthusiasts.

There are many types of Arowana, some people confuse the Silver Arowana with Asian Arowana.

Asian Arowana tend to have a more pronounced tail fin, and they usually have more color over their body. Silver Arowana are the most commonly sold in stores though.

General Behavior

For a large fish, they can be surprisingly skittish. Arowanas will get scared from sudden movements, for example when you approach the aquarium quickly or turn the lights on.

You should make sure to keep your Arowanas in a tank placed in a low foot traffic area. This prevents them from getting startled each time you walk past the aquarium.

When watching your Dragon Fish, you will notice they spend most of their time swimming close to the surface of the water.

However, it should be noted that Silver Arowanas are notorious jumpers. It’s been claimed that they can jump up to 3 meters high. They are most likely to jump when they are new to an aquarium or are placed in an aquarium that is too small for them.

When placed in an aquarium that is too small for them, they will repeatedly try to jump to freedom. Even if the aquarium is covered, they will still jump and can injure themselves when bouncing off the lid.

This is why it’s crucial you only place Arowanas in a suitably sized tank.

Habitat and Tank Requirements

Silver Arowana in TankAs mentioned in the appearance section above, Silver Arowanas are large fish and strong swimmers. They quickly outgrow most hobby aquarist tanks and require a tank at least 250 gallons in capacity.

Juveniles can be raised in a smaller tank of 60 gallons, but will quickly need moving out into a larger aquarium.

If they aren’t moved into a large enough tank, you will quickly start to have problems with your Arowana, most notably body deformation and reduced lifespan.

The substrate should consist of fine, small gravel. The tank should be sparingly planted, and have lots of open space for them to move around in. If you like to decorate your aquarium, you can do so with driftwood, rockwork, and sturdy plants. You should avoid plants with weak roots as they can be dislodged by Silver Arowanas.

Finally, it should be noted that Silver Arowanas are notorious jumpers, so you need a very heavy cover to stop them from jumping out of the tank.

Tank Conditions

You should aim to keep the water temperature anywhere from 75-82°F. Meanwhile, pH levels should be 6.5-7.5, and water should be soft to moderately hard.

As Silver Arowanas are particularly susceptible to poor water quality, strong water filtration is required, in addition to weekly water changes of 25%.

Like other freshwater fish, Silver Arowanas are tolerant to changes in these conditions; however, you should aim to keep your water within the tolerances outlined above.

Tank Tip

Arowanas are easily spooked, so you should keep the aquarium in a low-traffic area.

Tank Mates

Silver Arowana Swimming
The first thing to remember about Silver Arowanas is that they are first and foremost a predator fish. This has implications for their compatibility and which fish can share a tank with them.

Let’s start by looking at them as juveniles.

When they are young they are particularly susceptible to bullying by more aggressive breeds. So you should bear this in mind when placing them in an aquarium.

You should also know that when young, they can be kept together and raised. It’s recommended that you keep 6 or more Silver Arowanas together. This prevents the smaller ones from being excessively bullied by the larger Arowanas.

Now let’s look at the compatibility and ideal tank mates for adult Silver Arowanas.

It probably isn’t surprising to hear that finding ideal tank mates can be difficult. This is because they are targeted by aggressive fish due to their size. On the other end of the scale, smaller fish aren’t good tank mates as they usually end up being eaten by Silver Arowanas; remember they are predator fish.

However, there are still lots of species that can live with Arowanas.

When assessing fish to keep with your Arowana, keep in mind these three general rules:

  1. You want to find peaceful yet slightly aggressive fish.
  2. Fish should also be large enough that they can’t be eaten by the Arowana.
  3. You should introduce the Arowana to the tank first.

So good examples of this would be: Green Terrors, Oscars, Knifefish, Large Plecostomus, Parrot Cichlid, Angelfish, and Catfish.

Remember though that temperaments of individual fish can vary hugely, so always have a backup plan if they don’t ‘get along’.

Keeping Arowanas Together

If you plan on keeping multiple adult Arowanas together, do so cautiously. They generally don’t get along well together. If you are insistent, you should keep at least 6 of them together and keep them in a large natural pond (or an aquarium of similar size).


Silver Arowanas are generally considered to be carnivores, however, they are occasional omnivores.

In the wild, they will consume a wide variety of prey including: small fish, snails, large insects, rabbits, frogs, and even snakes!

However, if given an option, their food of choice is normally small fish and crustaceans.

Arowanas have a distinctive hunting style. Due to the position of their mouth they can swim just below the water line before jumping up out of the water to catch their prey. They can also catch small fish by swimming beneath them and scooping them up.

When keeping these fish you want to make sure their diet is as close to what they would eat in the wild.

Their preference is a meat-based diet, which can include: earthworms, crab, crickets, shrimp, beef heart, krill, and crustaceans.

You can also give them feeder fish. This allows you to watch them hunt which can be very absorbing. If you want to use feeder fish, I would generally recommend you breed your own, this way you can ensure the breeder fish are healthy.

If you are buying feeder fish from pet stores or online you can’t ensure they are healthy and you risk bringing disease into your aquarium.

If you’re worried about the expense of fresh meat, you can feed your Arowanas frozen food to try and keep the costs down. I have heard that some have been trained to eat pellets but this isn’t common.

Finally, it should be noted that juvenile Arowanas are very fussy eaters.

You should only feed them fresh/live food at this stage in their life. As they begin to mature (above 8-9 inches) you can introduce them to frozen foods such as krill.


In the wild Arowanas will normally lay their eggs at the start of the flood season (December – January).

Before spawning, they will pair off and build a nest. The female will then lay her eggs into the nest before the male takes the eggs in his mouth; Silver Arowanas are mouthbrooders.

These eggs are reasonably large in size and are orange/red.

The male will carry the eggs for around 50 days where they mature from an egg to larvae, to fry. At around 5 weeks after hatching they will leave their father’s mouth and start to find food.

Unfortunately, there is only a handful of breeding success stories in home aquariums. These successes are also reported from tanks/ponds bigger than 500 gallons. For this reason, it’s generally not recommended to attempt to breed them from home aquariums.

The majority of Arowana available to buy today are sourced from Asian fish farms.

Is the Silver Arowana Right For Your Aquarium?

The Silver Arowana is not a fish that is suitable for beginners.

Due to its large size and long life expectancy, only more experienced aquarists should undertake this challenge. It requires an enormous tank (at least 250 gallons in capacity) and finding suitable tank mates for them can be challenging.

They are considered to be carnivores and eat large quantities of food so this should also be considered before purchasing them. Though you could make your own fish food to save money.

In terms of price, the Silver Arowana is normally the cheapest type of Arowana available and should cost you around $40 for a small one.

If you are looking to get an Arowana, try to buy them when they are at least 8 inches long. By this time they have started to mature and are much hardier which means you will have a better chance of successfully keeping them.

Do you already keep Silver Arowanas? Let me know your experience with them in the comments below…

About Robert 454 Articles
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third-generation fish keeper, and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, and the Nature Conservancy.


  1. Raj Ranasinghe says:

    I just bought 2 Arovanas without knowing all this information you have given, when I bought them one was about 3 inches now almost 5 inches,other was about 2 inches and now over 3 inches and taking good care of them. Never knew it was so hard to look after them.

    Thank you

    Raj Ranasinghe.

    • Robert says:

      Happy to help Raj 🙂

  2. Raj says:

    Hi I am having a silver arowana which is about 3 inches approx. Now it’s been 5 days it’s not eating sticks or blood worms nor feeder fish.
    What to do.

    • Robert says:


      This is quite common for the first week or two. Leave the feeders in for when he starts to get hungry. You can also try some shrimp.

      Let us know how he gets on.


      • Raymando says:

        Hi. I have an 8 inch silver arowana and i out guppies from our own pond at home(man made with Koi fishes). I noticed some guppies nibbling the arowana. Is that okay? Though ive seen the silver eat them too.

  3. Trev says:

    My tip for getting Silver Arowanas to feed. First starve them for a couple of days. Then put some live river shrimp in which should stimulate them into feeding. At the same time put in some frozen cocked. I let them defrost in the tank as they then float for longer. What I find is the Arowanas start to eat the frozen food at the same time as the live river shrimps.

  4. Mayuresh Vanarse says:

    Hiii can I kept silver & golden Arowana together in one tank ..
    I have 5 feet tank

    • Robert says:

      I wouldn’t recommend putting two Arowanas in one tank. Ideally, you should either keep them singularly, or in a group of 6 or more.
      Thanks, Robert.

    • Hunter says:

      that tank is far to small for even one silver, let alone a golden too.

  5. Lex says:

    HI, I just want to know if I can feed my aro beetle stag larvae? Thanks

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Lex, I’d be reluctant to give your silver arowana anything insects or larvae you’ve found in your garden.
      Thanks, Robert

  6. Shan says:

    Hi..can you please explain the age of arowana as per the size/inches..?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Shan,
      This depends on the specific Arowana, what they’re fed etc. What is it you’re wanting to know?

  7. RC says:

    Hi, I’m currently keeping my arowana(4inches) in my pond. U know what’s the most interesting part, I mixed my arowana with two Oscars and one SNAKEHEAD fish. Thankfully they didn’t harm each other. I’m planning to get a tank for my arowana. Any tips for the tank filtration system?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      You could either build your own sump or use an external canister filter. What size tank with the arowana be going into? Robert

  8. Shafi says:

    Hi I have 2 silver arowanas in my aquarium
    They are about 5 inches and size of aquarium is about 5 feet. Is that any problem while putting two of them in one tank and they do not eat anything.

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      If you are keeping more than one, we recommend keeping a group of a minimum of six, I suggest either getting a larger tank and adding more or giving them a tank each. These fish require huge tanks as they grow though. You can see minimum sizes in the article. Thanks, Robert

  9. santhosh reddy says:

    hii i brought 10 inch arowana n my tank size is 3 feet is it enough for it

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Santhosh, it will soon outgrow this tank. They need at least a 250 gallon tank. Thanks, Robert

      • Arun Mohan says:

        Planning to grow six Arowanas together, can you please let me know the tank capacity required. Thank you

  10. Landon says:

    I am wanting to build a pond with South American fish such as red tailed catfish and pecok bass would this fish be a good idea to keep

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Landon, Neither of these fish are easy to keeping and both are recommended only for the more experienced aquarist. Thanks, Robert

  11. sumit says:

    250 Gallon tank means what size in feets or inches??

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      It’s roughly 96″ x 24″ x 24″. Thanks, Robert

  12. Chris Patham says:

    Hi, I have a silver Arowana approximately 2 1/2 foot. It has been rather hot over the past few days and thought I have tried to keep the water temperatures steady there have been fluctuations variation from 28C to as much as 33C. I feed him chicken strips and liver as that is what its previous owner was giving him. I have had him for more than a year now. The other thing is that he is sticking to only one side of the tank not swimming up and down as he normally does.

  13. Pradap says:

    I just bought a silver arowana it’s now just only 10cms and I kept it in a 3.5*2*2 feet tank is it enough for how long can I keep him in that tank should I move it another

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Pradap, these fish grow quite quickly so I’d prepare a new tank for him as soon as possible. Thanks, Robert

  14. Rose says:

    Hi i have a 5″ arowana. Can i feed it chicken liver??

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Rose, I wouldn’t feed fish anything that they wouldn’t find naturally in the wild. Thanks, Robert

  15. Subin says:

    I have a 700 gallon tank.. is it suitable to grow 6 silver arowanaa’s in it?and also what kind of filtration unit should i use ?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Subin, yes that should be large enough. Choose a canister filter with a large enough capacity for a 700 gallon tank. Thanks, Robert

  16. Ashique Ali S says:

    I bought a silver arowana 6 months ago when it was 3 inches of size and now it’s around 1.5 foot.
    So can you suggest any specific tank mates for my arowana sizing 1.5 foot ?

    • Fishkeeping World says:

      Hi Ashique,

      You’ll need to choose a fish which is too large to fit in the Arowana’s mouth, that isn’t too aggressive or likely to nip at fins. Also remember that as your Arowana grows, which ever tank mates you choose will also need to remain larger than his mouth. He is a predator and will eat anything he can. A few suggestions. Large Cichlids such as Oscars would be a good fit at this point. Thanks, Robert

      • Omkar Vaidya says:

        I have 4 three year old silver Arowana who grew up in a 800-gallon tank (since they were about 1 foot). They still tend to take swipes at each other every now and then, but not so much as to cause severe damage. I’m thinking about adding dither fish. Will it reduce aggression, and will the arowana try to eat them? Which dither fish should I pick?

        • Fishkeeping World says:

          Hi, I’d suggest a school of Silver Dollars or Tinfoil Barbs. They’re large enough not to be eaten and should reduce their aggression. Many thanks, Robert

          • Omkar Vaidya says:

            Would it be possible to choose a fish that is too small to be eaten instead? I kinda want to give the existing silver Arowana as much room as possible. What would you recommend?

          • Fishkeeping World says:

            Personally, I wouldn’t house any smaller fish with Arowana’s, they are extremely likely to be eaten. Many thanks, Robert

  17. john palma says:

    Hi i have buy jardini its about 2 days in my aquarium but he didn’t eat and its look like he try going to get out i think he is stress and i turn on my heater maybe it can help him relieved hes stress. . Heater is recommended for new arowana in tank?

  18. Anup says:

    I have 2 Oscar (4″), 4 Silver Dollar (2″), 2 Oscar (2″), 1 Parrot (2″) in one aquarium of 24″x12″x18″ aquarium with 75gallon capacity Canister filter. All are happy and no stress or issues currently. Having 1 Pleco (4″) also but pleco always hiding.
    I have 1 Silver Arowana (4″) in another small aquarium. Now I am creating a 75 gallon capacity aquarium so that I can add all of them in the bigger aquarium (45x20x20″). So do i need any precaution? or whatever i have to do?
    Please suggest.

  19. Dianne says:

    I am wondering if you can help we have kept our arrowana since young changing tank sizes three times now . It seems to like a diet of freeze dried anchoives through when we got him from the shop they had us feed him pellets which he ate for about 2 years trying a few different fishes he like the anchoivies the best. i am worried our fish is at the end of his life it is approximately a bit over 5 years and has stopped eating and although swims quite alot and often i catch it seems to be watching me as my work desk is positioned close to tank. i find the fish is staying close to the heater i have checked the temp is where it should be and have turned it a bit higher to see if this made a difference in behavior. never thought i would admit this but i worry about the fish and truly this fish was purchased by my boss who doesnt have any experience with any fish so i have taken it on myself to make this fish comfort my goal.not knowing i had a jump out of tank experience wish i had read your article before that happened lol. anyway i want to know if you think i can do anything for t his fish or just try to make its life as comfortable as i can and wait it out has been about a month since i have seen him eat anything . can you help please

  20. Agnes says:

    Is the silver arowana also a lucky fish?

  21. vipin khatri says:

    I have a arrowana for last 3 years… feeding on pallets…I am not sure about the sub species it belong to can you help me knowing it… it’s about 13 inch now… is it adult now

  22. Caitlyn says:

    Hi we just purchased a silver arowana I believe. He’s only 4 inches and as soon as he was put into the tank he started to slowly die. Hardly swims or moves and we keep trying to bring him back to life? What can cause him to die almost immediately from putting him in our tank?

  23. Edward James Parry says:

    might be the ph levels…

  24. Johann "Hans" Fischer says:

    Hi! My Arowana is 18 month old and 26 inches… the most peaceful, relaxed and absolutely NOT scared Aro, I’ve ever owned! He watches over me, while I’m watching Tv above his tank and “Walter” just sinks to the bottom and staying still, watching “over me”! Great fish, almost dog like and: he loves “people food” over raw, or fish food! His favorite are little chunks of bbqed Bratwurst! Weird, odd and has a abnormal mellow behavior! I love him in his 7x3x2 foot tank! Hans

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