Black arowana

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Black Arowana
Osteoglossum ferreira - Zoo Frankfurt 1.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae
Subfamily: Osteoglossinae
Genus: Osteoglossum
Species: O. ferreirai
Binomial name
Osteoglossum ferreirai
Kanazawa, 1966

The black arowana, Osteoglossum ferreirai, is a freshwater bony fish of the family Osteoglossidae, commonly kept in aquaria.


Its natural habitat are the still waters of the Negro River basin (Brazil and Colombia) and the upper Essequibo River basin (Guyana) in South America.

It has an elongated body, a tapered tail, and can grow to a maximum size of 90 centimetres (35 in).[1] The juveniles are black with yellow markings down the length of the body, head and the tail. Once it reaches about 15 cm, the markings disappear and the fish will develop a dark iridescent steel grey to blue coloration, hence its common name. Additionally, there are yellow and red outlining or the dorsal, caudal and tail fins.

The species is also called water monkey or the monkey fish, because it can jump out of the water to capture its prey. It usually swims near the water surface looking for food. Although it has been known to eat larger prey like small bats[2] and birds and even small monkeys, their main diets consist of shrimps, insects, smaller fishes and other animals that float on the water surface, on which its draw-bridge-like mouth is exclusively adapted for feeding.

Some Asian aquarists occasionally refer to arowana as dragonfish due to their unique appearance and believe they bring good luck.

In the aquarium[edit]

Tank size[edit]

It is important to have a large enough tank to keep these large fishes. The minimum tank size for one arowana for life is a 96"L x 48"Wx 24"H or 1000 gallon aquarium. As it grows, a larger tank will be necessary to ensure the maximum length and life span of the arowana. The tank must have a sturdy lid, as these fish are active jumpers and will otherwise jump out of the tank to their demise.

Water conditions[edit]

Water conditions are important for arowanas. Some black water additives can help simulate the arowana’s natural habit.

  • Black arowanas can adapt to most water supply and thrive
  • Temperature: 24 °C to 28 °C, but best at 26 °C

Also a 25-30% water change is necessary 1-2 times every week to maintain excellent water conditions. Arowana and other carnivorous fish place a larger bio-load on their environment and will require greater attention to filtration and water changes.


Arowanas will eat insects, shrimp, frozen tilapia, frogs, etc. The best diet for arowanas is pellets, live crickets, and shrimp. Small feeder fish are often raised in poor conditions and can carry many diseases transmittable to predatory fishes.

Tank mates[edit]

Any fish will do as long as it does not fit in the arowana’s mouth.


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Osteoglossum ferreirai" in FishBase. November 2005 version.
  2. ^ Mikula, P. 2015: Fish and amphibians as bat predators. European Journal of Ecology 1 (1): 71-80. doi: 10.1515/eje-2015-0010

See also[edit]