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Summarizing Needs of Silver Arowana

My first encounter with a giant silver arowana (Osteoglossum bicirrhosum) was couple of years back when I got the special privilege to visit a private freshwater fish sanctuary located in Indonesia. Owned by successful Indonesian-Chinese businessman cum avid fishkeeper, he specially constructed a massive 8000 gallon outdoor pond to house various types of primitive monster fishes ranging from freshwater stingray, featherbacks, catfishes, giant gourami and of course the silver arowana as the main attraction. Despite its rather dull appearance, one thing that made me put careful observation on the fish is its graceful movement and elongated shape (when viewed from above) which bears close resemblance to the mystical dragon. That somehow led me to conduct my own research and understanding further about this special creature.

south american silver arowana
What makes it unique?
Unlike its colorful and fancy asian arowana cousins, the silver arowana which actually originated from another continent in South American rivers is rather pale with some exhibiting slightly darker coloration. However, what makes up short in one area is replaced in another as the silver arowana is considered among the category of extremely smart fish. They are very responsive and are known to recognize the owner who feeds them. You can actually get close to the fish which unlike any other fish will just dash away, the silver arowana will allow you to perform hand feeding up to the extent of even allowing you to touch their body and scales. Initially I was worried about the fish swallowing or injuring my hand, not to sound dramatic or anything out of the extraordinary but when you consider and see with your own eyes the size of the mouth opening, it just sends the chill to bone. However, after several rounds of interview with the owner and then trying it out myself, I just conclude that they are smart enough to be able to differentiate on what they call food and friend.

Their requirements
Keeping the giant fish nevertheless will require a very huge enclosure. Considering their size which can go up to 4ft in length, any standard aquaria or even those special-made 200 gallon tanks measuring close to 8ft (which have already doubled their length) would still not be enough. I was told that when they are actually forced to live in tight living space, it will actually induce unnecessary stress and jittery. One thing leads to another and the worst case scenario is developing some hard-to-cure illness and disease. Silver arowana kept in subpar poor living condition will never grow to reach their full body size and some were known to develop crooked shape as frequent awkward turning around the tank can inflict injury to their body. Another important fact that all aquarist will also need to understand about the fish is that they will readily jump. This is actually the natural predatory instinct which allows them to hunt for insects and other surface dwelling organisms and to recap the tight living condition which I’ve mentioned earlier, this will further encourage them to jump in order to escape from their tank. Nevertheless, the most ideal condition is to construct a pond and let them develop their true potential.

Home Pond Setup
Just like any other fish species, maintaining clean, oxygen rich water remains your top priority. This means having a high performance aquarium filtration will make a lot of difference. If possible, invest on getting a wave maker which is often installed in a saltwater fish tank as it will help induce your pet fish to swim and develop a healthy body. Make all effort to avoid overcrowding as too many inhabitants will reduce the dissolved oxygen content and lead to higher waste generation. In terms of suitable tank mates, usually there is not much of a problem as long as the size of the fish is not too big to fit into your silver arowana’s mouth. Your pet should be able to get along very well with other non-aggressive fish and they will even tolerate the presence of their own species. The is no limit as to how big you prefer your pond to be but ideally in terms of depth it should not be anything less than 4ft in depth. Try not to go too deep (above 10ft) as the deeper the water goes, it would mean there would be lower concentration of dissolved oxygen. Sometimes, when you are not sure whether it would be better to have a pond or a gigantic aquarium, probably you might want to read up on the pros and cons factors before finalizing your decision. Also, do read up on how to dig and build your own pond.

Feeding
Food plays a major role in terms of growth and overall health. Avoid putting the same type of food everyday and instead opt for variety of meal. There are quite a number of quality prepared fish meals like hikari floating pellets made exclusively for arowana, so I would suggest you try that out. Also avoid feeding goldfish as their main diet as these feeder fish are rich in fat and are sometimes known to harbor parasites in their body and thus inadvertently gets transferred to your arowana. If possible, provide diets rich in protein like beef and then varied their diet with insects (crickets) and crustaceans like for example shrimps. Feeding should be limited to twice a day (at least 10 hours apart) but never feed more than what is needed because depending on what you give to your pet fish, the digestion process can be very slow.

Disease Treatment
Silver arowana are known to develop a condition called drop eye. Although there are several explanations and hypothesis said to be the root cause, there is really nothing to worry about as it won’t affect their general health except losing some aesthetic value. Instead, more attention should be given when they refuse to eat. In this case, look for signs of parasite usually by checking the stool discharged by your pet fish. You can notice that the poop will turn white if your silver arowana is suffering from this condition and the best approach is to apply the medicated foods containing antibiotic sold by pet shops which can directly deal with the parasites hiding inside. Sometimes it may not relate to parasitic infection after all and for general illness, work on adding some salt and bring up the water temperature at least 3 degrees higher than what you normally control in your fish pond. This will assist towards natural healing process.



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About Me

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My fascination and interest towards aquarium fish has led me to devote my time towards caring and learning about this wonderful pet.

Aquarium fish keeping is a very challenging and exciting hobby. When I first started, I never knew much or have the necessary guidance back then because none of my family members were actually a keen hobbyist. And because of that, I’ve encountered numerous failures and the worst part is having to deal with dead fish every time when you started to grow fond and getting attached to my pets. However, I persevered and took steps to find out and search for information from other hobbyist, apart from the knowledge gained and learned from my own experience and research. The blog that I’ve created here is meant to share useful information and tips about aquarium fish keeping so that new hobbyist will not make the same mistakes that I’ve made in the past."

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