The Arowana Osteoglossum bicirrhosum is also known as forkbeard, silver forkbeard, aruanã or arahuana. This impressive ornamental fish is not for small aquariums and is not called the king of the aquarium for nothing. It can not only grow over 120 cm in size but also jump up to two metres out of the water. This is not for weak nerves and certainly not for a small hobby tank. Today we will give you all the information about the fish, explain how to keep it and which special features you have to pay attention to.

Arowana profile

Size: up to 120 cm
Weight: up to 12 kg
Age: up to 20 years
Subclass: Genuine Bony Fish (Teleostei)
Cohort: Bone Tongue-like (Osteoglossomorpha)
Order: Bone Tongue-like (Osteoglossiformes)
Family: Bone Tongue (Osteoglossidae)
Genus: Osteoglossum
Art: Arowana
Scientific name: Osteoglossum bicirrhosum
German name: Silver Fork Beard
pH value: 6,0-7,5
Water hardness: 2-15° dGH
Water temperature: 24-30° C
Swimming area: top, middle
Pelvic size: very large, from 4500 litres
Food: Fish, insects, shrimps, crayfish

Origin and home

The Arowana is a predatory fish that lives in the freshwater of South America. More precisely, it can be found in the Amazon river system, the Araguaia, the Rupununi (south of Guyana) and in the Oyapock (border between French Guyana and Brazil). Especially in the oxbow lakes of the rivers, which have a strong vegetation, they prefer to settle.

Appearance and physique

User:Qwertzy2, Osteoglossum bicirrhosum, CC BY-SA 3.0

Characteristic is not only the enormous body height of more than 120 cm in adult animals, but also the band-shaped elongated body with the large scale dress. The still young Arowanas have a yellow-greenish colour and become more and more silvery in the course of their life. At the sides the body shape is very strongly compressed and the upper mouth is also impressively large. The lower jaw points steeply upwards. Two bluish or thorough barbels are found at the end of the lower jaw. Males and females can be recognized by the belly and lower jaw. The female has a rounder belly and a more massive body, the male a longer lower jaw. Typical for bone-tongue species are teeth on the tongue. The lower lip is very bulging. Its dorsal fin starts far back and extends to the caudal fin, as does the anal fin which starts further forward. The anal fin of adult males is usually longer than that of females.

Food and feed

In nature, the big fish finds food through insects, frogs and also various lizards. Because it can jump up to 2 meters out of the water, it can also reach prey sitting on branches or stones. It is able to do this because it can take in atmospheric air with its swim bladder, which makes hunting outside the water possible. You can feed the predator with small fish, crabs, shrimps, insects and fresh meat. The large quantities of food require a good filter system and regular partial water changes.

Reproduction and breeding

The Arowana is a mouth-breeder. As soon as the eggs are laid by the female, the male Arowana takes them into his mouth (throat sac). Also the eggs are to be looked at according to the body measurements of the fish with a size of 1.5 cm impress. When the young fish can leave the mouth after 50 to 60 days, they are already around 8-10 cm long. The young fish eat everything that is offered. The Arowana needs a lot of rest after the reproduction and breeding period, as it does not eat anything during this time and is very weak. It takes two to three months to recover.

In a normal aquarium, the breeding of the Arowana is more than difficult.

Keeping and care

Arowana are really only suitable for large aquaria. Dealers recommend a minimum size of 2000 litres with a length of three metres. Much more appropriate are probably 5000 litres and a minimum length of four metres. The aquarium inevitably needs a cover, otherwise the Arowana will end up in the living room at the next jump. If the cover is not tight, it must be weighted down additionally. A free area above the tank would be appropriate for the species, so that the fish can also jump for prey in the tank. Unfortunately this is not always possible in practice. If you have a large show aquarium, you will enjoy the agile manoeuvres, because the fish can turn almost on the spot.

The planting must not only be lush but also robust. Here you should make sure that the plants are arranged in such a way that there is enough room to swim. Although the Arowana swims mainly in the upper part of the pool, it likes sandy ground.


The Arowana is not only extremely lively and agile, but also very aggressive. A socialization is actually only possible with quiet big fishes, such as catfish or big cichlids. You can also keep the Arowana alone or as a pair. You shouldn’t be surprised when the fish fly, they can be quite biting.


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