In 1990, I got my first arowana. (I know you are smiling now, as most of you had not yet been born.) I am a true blue fish lover. I bought a silver arowana from a pet store along Recto and Abad Santos Street in Manila, as I recall. Its size was around 6 inches. I can fully remember how happy I was every time I came home from school.

It took only a few months before the silver arowana outgrew its tank. I asked my mother’s help to upgrade my tank to seventy-five gallons. After much persuasion, she gave in and bought me the tank.

When we were setting up the new one, I had to be content with getting information from local pet shops on ow
to transfer a large arowana from one tank to another as no internet access and fish groups were available then. I made all the preparations such as having two plastic tubs to catch the fish. I nervously let the
arowana swim in the transparent plastic bag where I put it, confident that it would hold the fish since I already had doubled it. As I lifted the plastic, I felt the fish begin to rampage.

The tank was just a foot away. As I swung the plastic towards the other tank, suddenly, there was a loud burst and before I knew it, the plastic broke and the silver arowana fell to the floor. I panicked and cannot anymore remember how I was able to bring it back it to the new tank. The silver arowana recovered but lost many scales.

The fish stayed with me for years. Silver arowana are prone to droopy eyes. A way to prevent this is to place colored pingpong balls or any floating items that will let the fish focus on the water surface. Some swear that this works while others say it does not.

The internet leveled up the ante when local and international forums were created. The amount of information available about the arowana grew quickly. As fish farms developed more strains of arowana, it became easier for them to spread the news through local and international fish shows, especially since the internet quickly spread fish show news. When the internet era came, popular fish forums were created, one of which was the group PALHS (Philippine Arowana and Lou Han Society). The Philippine fish group focuses heavily on arowanas and flowerhorns. I became amazed by the large number of arowana lovers. I met so many forumers who unselfishly shared their knowledge and experiences. This was when the red tail gold (RTG) arowana caught my interest. I upgraded my silver arowana to a green, but it was the red tail arowana which I looked forward to acquiring. By then, I was already working professionally and fortunately, I could save for and invest in my hobby. A single fish setup can become a conversation piece. Standard aquariums need a full setup, including sand, plants, decorations, backgrounds, and an assortment of fish with different colors. But for an arowana tank, a bare tank with efficient filtration system is enough to create a masterpiece. No need for substrate, backgrounds and other tank decor. My living room does not have any entertainment gadgets such as a television. The presence of my RTG arowana is enough.


1.) A broad body

2.) Looks healthy

3.) Barbells are straight

4.) Tail is broad

5.) Scales shine


Provide a wide selection of food as arowanas tend to be picky if accustomed to a particular food. You can
offer the following:

MARKET SHRIMP – Hygienic and have a good protein content. Also helps develop red coloration.

SUPER WORMS – These are priced low and arowanas love them. Feed your super worms a variety of food so it can transfer the nutrients it gains to your fish.

FEEDER FISH – Be careful for the can contain parasites and diseases it can transfer to your arowana.

DUBIA ROACH – My son Aaron introduced the dubia roach to my RTG. It’s a great food for them.

COMMERCIAL FEEDS – If you can train your arowana to eat commercially available feeds, it will ease the effort you invest in feeding them.


1 Barbel loss

2 Droopy eyes

3 Gill curl

4 Scale loss

Looking forward

Jardini, Banjar, and the black arowana used to be on my wish list but now, my eyes are fixed on the crossback and super reds. Where to get the best free information? From who else but with my good friend (and fellow Animal Scene contributor) Johnny Filart. My current RTG was acquired from him, and it has been with me for almost 12 years and counting.

He shared to me that if I was starting on juvenile arowana—either the super red or crossback—patience is necessary. It will take 6-8 years to achieve the full coloration of the fish. Arowana with a well-maintained set up can live to 20 years. Buying an 8-year-old arowana is a good idea because you can almost see its true potential.

Buying an adult arowana comes with a higher price. Sometimes you can find a good deal by checking on online sellers who want to either upgrade the fish or completely change their existing tank setup.

They normally sell their adult fish almost at the same price of a juvenile. Johnny was generous in sharing with me his current arowana collections.

Having an RTG arowana is a wonderful experience. What I like about my RTG is its sheer confidence. I enjoy having it as a single tank specie rather than in a community for me to enjoy its majestic swimming movements. The RTG is classic with an artistic blend of its brown base, red tail, and solid gold scale color. My friends visiting me at home always stare and ask me about the fish. My family sits and enjoys talks with coffee in front of our tank. My nephew Cedric, who is into photography, takes beautiful pictures of my RTG that make me appreciate its beauty on a new level. I fully encourage every fish hobbyist to discover the art of keeping arowanas. Happy keeping!

All of my articles are based on my research and personal experiences. For questions, please email“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalms 62:1-2)

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s December 2017 issue.