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Asian arowana

Scleropages formosus

Fast Facts

  • Arowana are known to use their thin, powerful body to jump out of the water to capture aerial prey.
  • Because of its large scales and red coloration, it is given the nickname “dragonfish.”
  • Despite their endangered status in the wild, the captive breeding of this species for the aquarium hobby trade has increased exponentially with more individuals in captivity than in the wild.



Southeast Asia and Indonesia


Forest-covered streams and adjacent peatlands


Up to 35 inches


Insects at water surface, fishes, and small vertebrates


Arowana are Osteoglossiformes, or bony-tongued fish. Most of their teeth are located on their tongue and the roof of their mouth. Their specialized mouth opens like a trapdoor, perfectly designed for surface feeding. At the bottom of their mouth they have a pair of tiny barbels which act as sensors. They possess very large scales to shield their body from predators. The scale color varies from silver to deep red and their back is often black.


Arowana are known to use their thin, powerful body to jump out of the water to capture aerial prey. Asian arowana are often found as solitary animals and in small groups. Males of this species tend to be highly territorial and regularly exhibit territorial displays and aggression toward other male Arowana.


Asian arowana are mouth-brooders. After fertilizing a batch of eggs laid by a female, a male Asian arowana will carry up to 58 eggs in his mouth for about a week until they hatch. The male will further shelter and guard the fry for seven to eight more weeks until the yolk sac is totally absorbed.

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