Tropical fish jumping out tank

Silver arowana

The silver arowana, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, sometimes spelled arawana, is a freshwater bony fish of the family Osteoglossidae, commonly kept in aquaria. The term "Osteoglossum" means "bone-tongued" and "bicirrhosum" means "two barbels" (from the Greek language).


This species is found in the Amazon River basin and in the Rupununi and Oyapock Rivers in South America as well as in still waters in Guyana.

This fish has relatively large scales, a long body, and a tapered tail, with the dorsal and anal fins extending all the way to the small caudal fin, with which they are nearly fused. It can grow to a maximum size of 90 centimetres (35 in). Unlike the black arowana, silver arowanas have the same coloring throughout their lifespan.

The species is also called monkey fish because of its ability to jump out of the water and capture its prey. It usually swims near the water surface waiting for potential prey. Although specimens have been found with the remains of birds, bats, and snakes in their stomachs, its main diet consists of crustaceans, insects, smaller fishes and other animals that float on the water surface, for which its drawbridge-like mouth is exclusively adapted for feeding.

Arowana are sometimes called dragon fish by aquarists because their shiny armor-like scales and double barbels are reminiscent of descriptions of dragons in Asian folklore.

Conservation status[edit]

The silver arowana is currently not listed on any CITES appendix nor on the 2004 IUCN Red List. It is one of the most popular ornamental fish from South America, however, and therefore its conservation status merits attention.

As reported by Environment News Service in August 2005, shared use of the silver arowana population was a cause for a dispute between Brazilian and Colombian authorities. Juvenile silver arowanas are caught in Colombia for sale as aquarium fish, while the people of Brazilian Amazonia catch adult fish for food. A sharp drop in the number of arowanas had caused Brazilian authorities to prohibit fishing of them between September 1 and November 15; the Colombians would prohibit capturing them between November 1 and March 15.

Aquarium fish[edit]

Silver arowana are primarily surface dwellers.
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