Silver arowana

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Silver arowana
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum.JPG
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Osteoglossiformes
Family: Osteoglossidae
Subfamily: Osteoglossinae
Genus: Osteoglossum
Species: O. bicirrhosum
Binomial name
Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
Cuvier (ex Vandelli), 1829

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


This South American species is found in the Amazon Basin and in the Rupununi and Oyapock Rivers, as well as in still waters in the Guianas.

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 cm (35 in).[1] Unlike the black arowana, the silver arowana has the same coloring throughout its 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,[2] and snakes in their stomachs, its main diet consists of crustaceans, insects, smaller fish, and other animals that float on the water surface, which its drawbridge-like mouth is exclusively adapted for feeding on.

Arowanas 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 [3] nor on the 2004 IUCN Red List.[4] It is one of the most popular ornamental fish from South America, however, and therefore its conservation status merits attention.[5]

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. [6]

The silver arowana is often kept as a pet by experienced aquarists, being considered an accessible substitute for the Asian arowana, which is listed on CITES Appendix I and is therefore difficult and expensive to obtain legally.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Osteoglossum bicirrhosum" in FishBase. 3 2006 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
  3. ^ CITES Appendices
  4. ^ IUCN Red List
  5. ^ International meeting on ornamental fish boosts regional conservation and sustainable resource management initiatives (WWF)
  6. ^ Brazil, Colombia at Odds Over Silver Amazon Fish. A meeting between the representatives of the Amazon Basin countries in August 2005 was meant to discuss the dispute.

See also[edit]