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What is an Arowana?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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An arowana is a large, sleek tropical fish that fits into any large aquarium. It features whiskers called mandibular barbels that help with swimming along the water's surface. The freshwater bony fish goes by other names, and several varieties come from around the world. This type of fish thrives on a carnivorous diet and lives for up to 10 years in a healthy environment.

Most arowana fish are often streamlined, with the reputation for growing up fast and acting aggressively. The average size ranges from 2 to 4 feet (approximately 60 to 120 cm)in length even when housed in an aquarium. As for aquarium size, it is more important to focus on tank width rather than height. For instance, a baby arowana should be housed in a 20-gallon-long tank, while the adult fish should be placed in at least a 180-gallon-long tank to allow room for swimming. Covered aquariums are also a must because the freshwater bony fish loves to swim to the surface and may even jump out of the tank.

Besides being labeled as a bony-tongued fish, the arowana is identified by other names. Coming from the Osteoglossidae fish family, it may also be referred to as a dragon fish or a baramundi. Its other names include Kelesa and Saratoga.

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Different varieties reside in various parts of the world. They are kept as aquarium pets in North America and live in the waters of South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Variants include the Asian or golden arowana, believed to bring good luck, or the silver, which originates from the Amazon basin, and the spotted version, which swims in temperatures between 75° and 85° Fahrenheit (approximately 24° to 29° Celsius). The Northern Saratoga variety from Australia tends to be less aggressive than the others, while the African arowana also prefers to swim in warm water temperatures.

Regardless of variety, the arowana prefers a steady and carnivorous diet of shrimp, worms, insects, and smaller frozen fish. When kept in an aquarium, they will also eat fish pellets or flakes. Pet experts recommend feeding young fish up to three times each day. The adult fish need to be fed only once per day. Overfeeding should never occur; the leftover food taints the aquarium's water quality.

As long as the aquarium tank provides healthy water quality and temperatures, this type of fish can live up to 10 years. Experts recommend changing tank filters every day as well as the water to ensure a temperature range of 72° to 82° Fahrenheit (approximately 22° to 28° Celsius). At least 25 percent of the tank's water should also be changed weekly to keep the fish healthy. Lack of care, and even tank overcrowding, can result in stress and disease for the arowana.

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