Types of South American, Australian and African Arowana

Whatfishthinks -Types of South American, Australian and African Arowana

There are 3 types of Arowana base on the regions they originate from: Asian, Australian and South American Arowana. We got the topic of colorful Asian Arowana here. This time, we’re gonna dig deeper about types of Australian and South American Arowana.

South American Arowana has two main types:

  • Silver Arowana
  • Black Arowana

Australian Arowana also has two main types:

  • Jardini (Pearl) Arowana
  • Leichardti (Spotted) Arowana

Till now, there’s just one type of African Arowana


Recognize South American Arowana, Australian Arowana and African Arowana

There’s no need to be an expert to know which one is South American and which one is Australian and there’s no need to go into details either. If the Arowana has solid tail fin from dorsal to anal and elongate body, it’s South American Arowana. And if the Arowana has more than 5 side scale rows (7), it’s Australian Arowana. Of course, the one without those two factors is Asian Arowana.

African Arowana is related to Aparaimas, that’s why some people don’t recognize them as one of Arowana fish. The African has arc-shape head and has no barbelss. Yes, look at the barbelss and you’ll know it’s an African or not. However, some of other type fish may lose their barbelss, not that they don’t have barbelss.


South American Arowana: Silver and Black

Silver Arowana:

Silver Arowana is one of the biggest, cheapest. They can reach to 120 cm (4 feet) big and grow fast so they’re not a choice for those who can’t afford big aquarium (at least 200 gallons). They also love jumping, in the wild, they can jump to 6 feet above to snatch insect, so prepare tight, fitting aquarium hood or you will come back home with a dead pet on the floor.

Even though the Silver is hardy and easy to have one on the market, remember its size. Small enclosure won’t make a happy one. Moreover, one factor should be considered before buying a silver, this type of Arowana (captivity breed) is the easiest to have “drop eye” and it is permanent unless get surgery involved. There are some theories but we don’t have resolution for either theories so just notice whether they’re looking down when you’re out to get one which is captivity breed.

Water: pH: 5.8 – 7.0

Temperature: 24-30°C (75-86°F)

Whatfishthinks Silver Arowana (1)

Whatfishthinks Silver Arowana (2)

Black Arowana (Blue Arowana):

Black Arowana is more expensive and less common than Silver Arowana, still they’re not rare. Like silver they also have jumping interest and “drop eye” condition. However, they may easier to take care than the Silver because they’re less aggressive and smaller as well as grow slower (reach up to 90 cm). They’re also harder to breed, so the chance you have wild caught one is higher.

 Water: pH: 5.8 – 7.0

Temperature: 24-30°C

Whatfishthinks Black Arowana (1)

Tell the Silver and the Black apart?

It may seem a ridiculous question since silver is silver and black is black. But loses its dark color when it gets older and may look similar to a Silver Aro. So what makes we tell them apart? Beside some features such as smaller size, grow slower, a Black has narrow ending tail like an arrow compared to a Silver.


Australian Arowana: Jardini (Pearl) and Lechardti (Spot)

Australian Arowana looks like Green Arowana (Asian Arowana) when they’re small so they are often claimed to be Asian Arowana on the market to sell with higher price. So, how to avoid being tricked? Like I mentioned above, Australian Aro has 7 scale rows while Asian has 5, so count.

Australian Arowana average size is 60 cm, smaller than their South American relative. They have three clear separate fin: dorsa, caudal and anal unlike their South American brother and they have shorter than the Asian.

Unlike Asian Arowana but like South American Arowana, Australian Arowana can be easily found and bought, Leichardti is a little bit more expensive than Jardini.

Water: slightly acidic water, pH 6.5 – 7)

Temperature: 28 – 32o C

whatfishthinks Lechardti arowana Jardini arowana (2)

whatfishthinks Lechardti arowana Jardini arowana (1)

Difference between Jardini and Lechardti:



A straight dorsal, head in line with back


The dorsal profile has a slight curve and head is sloped down


The barbelss point straight


Barbelss points downward


Small red spots are on the fins (Hence the name “spot)


Fins have around 2-3 large red spots (Hence the name “Pearl”)


There are no patterns on their gill cover


Gill covers have a pattern


Color is silver


Color is dark bronze


Less aggressive


whatfishthinks Lechardti arowana Jardini arowana (3)

African Arowana – Heterotis Niloticus

African Arowana is not really Arowana to some but the name sticks. They are the least colorful Arowana in the family and the hardest to feed because they’re filter-feeders, detritivore. The resolution is to feed them constantly with food source (small and high protein foods) until they get bigger (8 inches) so that they can keep up with scheduled feeding like other fish.

The problems with African Arowana is they’re big (just a little bit smaller than the Silver) and they’re picky (or we don’t understand their food interest). Therefore, big tank is required and try all small foods you can find or make to figure out your fish favorite. And since they’re fed continuously (they love that), they’ll produce waste constantly. As a result, 30 – 35 % water changing needs to be done 2 – 3 days.

If you like to challenge yourself and can afford, any Arowanas you like are available (Asian is prohibited in most states though). If not, the African, Australian and South American are all affordable and easy to find (though there are less and less wild caught and captivity is still a trivial problem). However, Silver is a big baby and aggressive while African is a picky one. Due to all the factors mentioned, Jardini, Leichardti and Black Aro are all nice start.

Leave a Reply