What It Is Like To Own An Arowana(s)
This is my response to Mark's new factual article writing challenge for February 2012.
- First Things First: Facts About Arowana And Its Varieties
- My Brazilian Silver Arowana
- My Australian Arowana
- My Malaysian Arowana
- The Three Of Them Together, In My Home
First Things First: Facts About Arowana And Its Varieties
Arowanas have become an aquarium domestic pets where before tropical fishes (the little ones) like gold fish, the black molly, sword fish, guppy, etc. adorned our homes and we do our best to make them live as comfortably in an aquarium as we can possibly simulate their natural habitat.
Until recently, I'd had arowanas as pets (including a mynah bird which I taught how to talk, but that's another story) and it had been my niece who sparked my interest in this beautiful exotic creature: the silver arowana which came from Brazil but might have since been locally-bred.
A bit later, while beginning to feast my eyes on the graceful movement of this new find in my newly bought aquarium, I learned that there were actually different varieties of arowanas when I visited pet shops in our vicinity and even far off. To cut the long story short, I bought an Australian arowana, then a Malaysian arowana. within a month or so of each other.
And so I got 3 different species. Brazilian, Australian and Malaysian. Facts, facts, what are they?
Let's consult sources that know better. Wikipedia describes arowanas as "freshwater bony fish of the family Osteoglossidae, also known as bonytongues. In this family of fish, the head is bony and the elongate body is covered by large, heavy scales, with a mosaic pattern of canals. The dorsal and the anal fins have soft rays and are long based, while the pectoral and ventral fins are small. The name "bonytongues" is derived from a toothed bone on the floor of the mouth, the "tongue", equipped with teeth that bite against teeth on the roof of the mouth. The fish can obtain oxygen from air by sucking it into the swim bladder, which is lined with
capillaries. like lung tissue. The arowana is an 'obligatory air breather.'"
They are also called dragon fish.
There are other varieties (more pricey ones because of their coloration) but I'll limit this article to the above mentioned 3 I had the privilege of owning.
My Brazilian Silver Arowana
This silver variety I bought from a Chinese pet shop, only 6 inches long then, and about 2 months old, I was told. He was in perfect shape and once he was in a tank, I noticed he stayed fixedly in a corner, which I thought was normal and natural. Even we humans would feel the same way if kidnapped by terrorists and put in a room to be observed at gunpoint.
Also, I observed in the beginning that whenever I came into his view, he would easily get startled and look as if he would go berserk, which in turn got me more startled than him because his "nervousness" or what seemed like it would prove too much for him - and me!
Don't let that queer behavior fool anyone, though. Arowanas, in general, are feisty, aggressive and territorial. They don't want any similar species as companion in captivity (in their own tank/aquarium) and, being solitary fish, they just want to be left alone, unless they get used to being brought up together as babies in the same tank.
This silver arowana was, and still is, the largest variety It can grow to a full length of 46 inches, and much more in the wilds or natural habitat, that is, in South America.
For the purpose of identification, I named my Silver "Moe"...lol. Oh, beware of the silver kind, for being the giant of their kind, they have the propensity of jumping out of your aquarium when they are in a foul mood. So make sure the top glass cover is thick enough or heavily covered for them to somersault.:)
Now let's go to his smaller Australian cousin.
My Australian Arowana
This variety was quite naughty, too. Of the food that was fed him, he liked house lizards the most, and what occupied my time as soon as I got home from work in the evening was to scour the nook and cranny of the house for lizards which I would catch with my bare hand, though, I must admit, I was/am afraid of creepy crawleys myself..lol
His scales were shiny and quite golden, this darn fish. I named him Larry. :D
There was one instance in the peace and comfort of our home-life when Larry got into a brawl with his Malaysian cousin, which I will relate later.
So much for Larry. Now let's go to my Malaysian arowana.
My Malaysian Arowana
This Asian arowana was, no doubt, the most vicious of the 3 I had, let alone my unforgettable variety: Don't mess with him.
Even when still juvenile, he could very well sink his "fangs" into your meddlesome limb, like mine was when I cleaned the tank, his bite mark on my right forearm visible for an entire week! (I cleaned their tanks weekly by suctioning their waste at the bottom of the tank, while draining 1/4 of water from my each of my 75-gallon tank into a big pail.)
Before I forget, his name was Curly...haha (you get it now, don't you?)
The Three Of Them Together, In My Home
So here they are, in the pic I taken one Christmas night 2002, barely a year after I bought them 3 in early 2001.
In contrast to the Brazilian arowana, the Australian and Malaysian varieties, which were similar in size but different in body texture, were smaller.
One time, these two gave me the fright of my life when the live lizard I dropped into "Larry's" west side of their "Berlin Wall" (as you see the partition that divide them in the picture) crossed to the east side of "Curly's" territory and the Berlin Wall collapsed. A brawl ensued, leaving the poor Aussie Larry shorn of his beautiful fins (which fortunate grew back after they were kept apart again).
Arowanas eat live guppies (little fish and frogs), lizards, worms, insects including roaches, little mice and even baby rats!
At any rate, as pets to their master, they happily got tamer as all 3 grew up in my care, the love- (and food-) giver that I was to them. They died one after the other of a mysterious water and skin disease, coincidentally in 2009 after having lived with me for almost 8 years. They're all in Heaven now, I'm sure.:)
(Note: Most arowanas are now endangered species!)
Images credited to Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons, except the preview
and the last which is mine.
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