Red Arowana Care Guide: Tank Setup and much more – 2021

Red Arowana


Are you eager to house some colorful fishes in your tank? Then Red Arowana is the perfect one for you.

This large fish comes with its unique feature and temperament, which sets it apart from any other fish in the world aquarium trade. So, in this article, we will provide you with adequate knowledge about Red Asian Arowana.

Red Arowanas are large in size and reach up to 35-inches in length. They are usually hardy and live for 20+ years. However, these fishes are pretty territorial; hence, they do not do well in a community tank. Also, these fishes are sold at high prices and too difficult to care for.


Category Rating
Level of care Difficult
Appearance They come with bright red rims with a golden base color and large black eyes.
Temperament Aggressive and territorial
Life expectancy 20+ years
Size 35-inches
Diet Carnivores
Family Osteoglossidae
Tank Size 250-gallon
Tank Environment Soft acidic water with minimal decoration
Tankmates Large and aggressive

About Red Arowana


Red Arowana or Scleropages Formosus is a trendy aquarium fish that hails from the Osteoglossidae family. They are easily found across South East Asia in the slow-moving streams and rivers.

Red Arowana is also much famous in the Chinese trade. So, you can also find them with the common name Dragonfish.

These exotic fishes usually come in a large size and dazzling color. They even share a very similar look to the Silver Arowana that is an inhabitant of South America.

These fish species usually come with a nice jawline, which is a distinctive feature of their appearance. They have a drawbridge, which comes as a unique trait about their mouth. Since Red Asian Arowana possess many bones and teeth in their mouth, they are also known as bony tongue fishes.

The bodies of Scleropages formosus are covered with large scales arranged in 5 horizontal rows. Each of the rows of their scales comes in three different colors. There is a base gold color and two other red-colored rims, which renders them a unique look.

Another distinctive feature in Red Arowanas is their large and black eyes, which can be spotted just next to their mouth.

Their long pectoral fins typically join behind their head. Also, these fishes have broad anal and tail fins. There is even a dorsal fin near the rear part of their body. Their fins usually work in sync with their muscular body to create more powerful movements in the water.

Red Arowanas are a very popular variety of the Asian Arowana, which comes with other varieties, like gold, green, and different colored tails.

Various Types of Arowanas


Red Asian Arowana is not the only type in the large group of Arowanas. Some other Arowanas are as exotic as these Red Arowanas.

So, here’s the list of other varieties of Arowanas.

Chili Red Arowana


Chili Red Arowanas are one of the most exotic variants, which are found in the Kapuas River. The adult fishes usually have more depth of color on their body than usual Red Arowanas, which enhance their overall beauty.

Their base color ranges within orange, purple, or green, along with orange or red-colored rims, which makes them a great addition to the aquarium.


Super Grade Red Splendor Cross Back Arowana


This type of Arowana is a hybrid of Red and CrossBack Golden Arowana. Owing to its cross-bred origin, this fish acquires a stunning look showcasing mixed colors of both Red and Golden Arowana breeds.

These Arowana species come with a more prominent scale, brighter colors, and a magnificent body.

Violet Fusion Super Red Arowana


Violet Fusion Arowanas are brighter in appearance with their purple base color in their scales and a great shape. Also, they have a larger tail, along with a pair of longer pectoral fins, which adds to their beauty and style while swimming in the water.

If provided with optimum growing conditions, the perfect shape and color of this fish can be easily accomplished. The adults of this Scleropages formosus variant are predominantly available in the fish trade.

Banjar Red (Grade 2 Red Arowana)


Grade 2 Red Arowanas are the inhabitants of the Banjarmasin river areas. This fish comes with greyish-green base color and lighter red hues on its fins in the juvenile phase.

Nevertheless, the appearance of an adult specimen of this species is immensely changed from that of their young ones. The adults come with a grayish-green body base, along with light reddish or yellowish fin colors.

Red Arowana Temperament


Scleropages formosus come with a typical behavior. They usually tend to swim around the middle area of the aquarium. However, they strive to venture through the lower and higher area of the tank from time to time.

Basically, these Scleropages formosus fishes are highly territorial. They usually tend to fight with any other nearby fishes. However, they can be occasionally found with a placid personality.

Red Asian Arowanas are best kept in a species-specific aquarium, which prevents them from indulging in any type of fighting.


Red Arowana

Red Arowana Tank Requirement


Though Red Asian Arowanas are not much sensitive, they need to be taken proper care of in the aquarium.

These fishes are easily found in the riverine habitat of Southeast Asia. They swim around in slow-moving rivers or streams. Thus, you need to keep them in a tropical freshwater aquarium to maintain their good health.

For better care of Scleropages formosus, it is suggested to keep them in a similar tank environment where they can get the proper set-up as their natural habitat.

Red Asian Arowana prefers to dwell in warm and acidic water conditions. However, at some places, you need to keep the chemistry of the aquarium slightly alkaline.

Besides, if you are thinking of petting Red Arowanas, you need to keep them in a large aquarium. You must provide them plenty of space in the aquarium to let them swim and jump around at ease.

Also, the substrate bed of the aquarium needs to be laid with a fine substrate, with a few plants, rocks, and tank decors.

Red Arowana Tank Set-Up


For taking the best care of your Scleropages formosus, you need to keep them in a proper tank set-up, which can render them the best environment for living. You can include appropriate assortments in the aquarium for taking good care of your fishes to keep them happy.

So, here is how you can ensure a proper tank set-up for your Red Asian Arowana.

  • For a fully grown Scleropages formosus, you will need a 250-gallon aquarium. In case the tank is too small, Scleropages formosus will not grow properly. Also, it can affect their lifespan. For adding each new Red Asian Arowana, you will require additional 100 gallons of capacity in the aquarium.
  • To start taking proper care of your Scleropages formosus, you need to use a fine-grained substrate in the aquarium. A fine-grained substrate will be pretty safe for these fishes.
  • Scleropages formosus do not require many hiding places. Thus, you can keep them in a lowly decorated aquarium. There is no need for adding many number of plants as they will do fine with minimal adornments.
  • While adding plants to your aquarium, make sure it is deeply rooted on the substrate as Red Arowanas sometimes tend to dislodge plants and decors.
  • Scleropages formosus prefer slightly acidic water in the fish aquarium. So, try to maintain the pH level near 6.
  • Arowanas love to dwell in a bit of warm water. Thus, you can maintain the tank temperature within the range of 75-86℉.
  • You will also need a powerful filter for the aquarium, as Scleropages formosus fishes are bigger specimens and can produce much debris.
  • To maintain proper warmth in the water, you can install a heater in the aquarium to keep your fishes healthy.
  • At the same time, make sure to add a proper lid to the aquarium to prevent your Red Arowanas from jumping out.

Red Arowana Tank Mates


Since Scleropages formosus are territorial and aggressive by nature, they cannot be housed with all fishes.

Finding a suitable tank mate is quite challenging for Red Asian Arowana, as these fishes need to have the right companion, which comes with a similar temperament.

Do not keep them with peaceful or smaller fishes like Guppies or Tetras, as they are easily going to fit into your Arowana’s mouth. Most of the freshwater invertebrates are small enough to become a snack for your large Scleropages formosus.

Thus, house them with other larger fishes that will not become a victim of their aggression easily. So, here’s a list of suitable tank mates that you can house with your Red Asian Arowana.

  • Knife fish
  • Oscars
  • Blood Parrot Cichlids
  • Discus
  • Large Plecostomus
  • Catfish
  • Convict Cichlids
  • Stingrays
  • Green Terrors

What Does Red Arowanas Eat?


Scleropages formosus fishes are highly carnivorous. Thus, they prefer a meat-based diet as their regular food. Offering them a meaty diet will serve them with a proper level of nutrition, which is much needed for their proper care and growth.

When it comes to feeding Red Arowana fish, it is not at all problematic, as you can easily offer them any type of protein-rich foods.

You can offer Scleropages formosus foods like crickets, bloodworms, shrimp, flies, tiny frogs, or mealworms for better care. Red Arowanas also readily accept any other small fishes as their meal.

However, do you know what the most exciting part about Red Arowana is? Each specimen has its own preference for food. So, you need to try a variety of foods when you first time opt for keeping them in your aquarium. Also, giving them only one type of food can make them lack the essential nutritional content.

Foods that come with higher carotenoid levels will be great for feeding your Red Arowana. At the same time, serving this kind of food will help you offer them an appropriate diet for showcasing vibrant colors.

Most importantly, always ensure that their food floats on the upper water column, as Arowanas do not swim to the bottom level for collecting their food. If you keep small Scleropages formosus fishes, you have to feed them at least 1-2 times a day. As Scleropages formosus grow longer, it is better to offer them a large feeding once in 2 days.

Care for Red Asian Arowana


Though taking care of Red Arowana seems very difficult for beginners, they are not too tough to care for those who have enough experience in fish-keeping. You can provide them the proper care in your aquarium only if you are maintaining all the essential tank parameters and their diet requirements.

Since Scleropages formosus are large and territorial, they will easily defend themselves against any other fishes in the aquarium. Also, these fishes do not pick up any disease so easily.

As Red Arowanas are much hardy, they are much tolerant even in poor water conditions. But you need to ensure that the tank does not have frequent water condition changes.

Any sudden change in the nitrate level or drop in temperature can lead to severe illness or even death. Thus, you have to be very much careful about fulfilling their tank requirements.

Sometimes, even overfeeding turns out to be a much bigger issue for them. In case your aquarium has a weaker filter, then overfeeding can produce excessive waste. So, maintain a steady tank condition, along with regular testing. Keeping the aquatic environment clean will ensure that Scleropages formosus do not suffer from any serious illness.

This freshwater fish can sometimes have eye droop, which is a prevalent health hazard among them. In this condition, both of their eyes start pointing downwards. It may seem like your Scleropages formosus is looking at the bottom of the aquarium. However, that is not the case.

This condition primarily occurs due to fat build-up behind their eyes. To avoid the droop eye disease in Red Arowana, you need to offer them a properly balanced diet and a healthy aquarium environment.

Red Arowana Breeding Guidelines


Breeding Red Arowanas in your home aquarium is not at all easy. You might not be able to breed them, as there are plenty of uncertainties associated with their breeding.

Red Arowanas are usually bred commercially under the supervision of specialized breeders. When a Scleropages formosus reach up to 4-inches in length, they are generally microchipped with suitable equipment.

Interesting Facts About Red Arowana


Before petting Red Arowanas in your aquarium, you need to know some interesting facts about them.

So, here are a few fun facts about these gorgeous fishes, which you must know as a pet owner.

  • Red Arowanas are not at all a suitable fish for any regular multi-species aquarium. Scleropages formosus is either best kept on their own, or they need to be kept in a group of 6 number of specimens in a large enough tank.
  • Scleropages formosus fish can quickly jump over 6 feet of the surface. Hence, never forget to leave the aquarium uncovered.

Where to Buy Red Arowana?


When it comes to the availability of Red Arowanas, they may not be readily available in the regular fish trade. Though the fish is beautiful, they are quite rare to find in the world. Thus, you may not find them in any of the regular aquarist stores.

You can also get them from a hobbyist who cultivates Scleropages formosus in fish farms. If you do not find them anywhere, then look for them in any online pet fish and animal store by their common name, Red Arowana. However, the prices of Scleropages formosus are a bit higher than any other regular fish.

How Big Do Red Arowana Get?


Scleropages formosus come in too large sizes compared to any other tropical freshwater fish. A Red Asian Arowana usually grows up to 35-inches as they become mature. They are too big for any regular aquarium.

How Long Does Red Arowana Live?


When it comes to the lifespan of Red Arowana, they are incredibly hardy. Usually, these fishes live for almost 20 years. Also, there are reports that some specimens can survive up to 60 years, which is too strange but true.

However, with proper care and enough diet, Scleropages formosus of large sizes can easily last for a much longer time, which pays back your investment.

Is Red Arowana Suitable for Aquariums?


Yes, Red Arowanas are pretty suitable for an aquarium. However, you need to ensure that the aquarium is large enough for carrying large Arowanas. Red Arowana won’t do well if you house it at any of the random community aquariums.

You need first to introduce them to the aquarium to tame their aggressive nature. Caring for them is quite difficult, and you need to spend a lot of effort to take good care of this unique fish. Besides, as Scleropages formosus fishes tend to remain hungry all-time, you need to be always ready with meaty food to give them adequate nourishment.

Thus, caring for Red Arowana in a tank is not an easy job for a beginner aquarist. You need to have a proper fish-keeping experience to take appropriate care of your Red Arowana.



  1. Why are Red Arowana illegal in the US?

Ans: These Scleropages formosus fishes are classified as rare species as per the Endangered Species Act in the USA. In 1975, 183 countries signed for banning this fish in the international aquarium market while classifying it as a rare species.

  1. How much is a Red Arowana?

Ans: Scleropages formosus usually cost around $100- $5000. Also, sometimes they are sold for $300000, which is a large whooping amount, unaffordable by many.

  1. Why is Arowana so expensive?

Ans: Since Red Arowanas are much hard to find, known as a rare species in the fish trade, and also banned in many nations, it comes as a very expensive one.