Due to their unique look, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of people who keep fish looking to add arowana to their collection recently. Due to their large size, we have noticed a number of people specifically asking for advice on the smallest arowana species that you are able to legally keep as pets so we have decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible.
Now, before we go any further, we just want to quickly say that we don’t really recommend that beginners or anyone on a limited budget keep arowana because even a small arowana will still need a large tank. This pumps your prices up often pushing even the smallest arowana out of the price brackets for most beginners unless they have a budget of around $1000 or more just for a decent tank.
Ideally, you will be using a 180 gallon tank for a small arowana as a minimum but in all honesty, you really should be going with a decent 250 gallon tank or larger for all arowana species. In addition to this, keeping arowana can be a minefield due to laws changing on a regular basis so always check your local laws prior to purchasing your arowana. For example, one of the smallest arowana, the red arowana could be kept as a pet in most of Europe and North America until it was added to the endangered species list in 1975 and anyone keeping a red arowana but unable to prove that they had it prior to 1975 can face fines of up to $130,000 per fish.
Small Arowana Spicies
There are two smaller arowana species that can legally be kept as pets with the Australian arowana being the most popular followed by the Asian arowana. Both tend to come in at a maximum length of 36 inches once fully grown making them smaller than the 47 inches of the black or silver arowana.
Please note that the term “Asian arowna” includes a number of different species including the red arowana and a few other smaller arowana species that are illegal in North America and most of Europe. Be sure to take steps to ensure that you are getting a species that can be legally kept in your country if you do opt to go with an Asian arowana. Even at the time of writing, there is legislation proposed to add additional variants of Asian arowna to the endangered species list.
This is why so many people who are set on having a small arowana in a suitable aquarium as a pet simply go with the Australian arowana that is also known as the jardinI. There are various larger arowana species that are legal too but these usually need an aquarium of at least 300 gallons making their tanks very expensive. We have made the graphic below going over the various species of arowana that are legal in the USA at the time of writing but as we mentioned above, there is proposed legislation in place so this may end up changing soon.
The majority of people who opt to keep a small arowana will go with an Australian arowana also known as a Jardinl Arowana. They are one of the smallest arowana species with a fully grown adult usually being around 36 inches making them over 10 inches smaller than the black or silver arowana that are also commonly kept as pets.
Due to their smaller size, you can often get away with an aquarium tank as small as 180 gallons for an Australian arowana but most people will opt to go with a 250 gallon tank to ensure that their fish is as comfortable as possible. Most people will also try to ensure that their aquarium for a smaller arowana is at least 25 inches wide so allow the fish to comfortably and easily turn around in its tank but most people opt for a 30 inch wide tank.
Although rare, some australlian arowana can grow to be longer than 36 inches but it is extremely rare that they will make it over 40 inches in length. This means that even if your Australian arowana grows to a larger than average size, it is still going to be smaller than the black or silver arowana by around 8 inches.
The various types of Asian Arowana usually max out at around 36 inches in length for fully grown adults making them small by arowana standards but some of the Asian arowana variants are illegal in North America and Europe. It can be a minefield to correctly navigate the legal species of Asian arowana for your country or state and then find a registered importer to source the fish so most people go with the Australian arowana instead.
As you can probably guess, the more colorful Asian arowana are the ones that are illegal due to having such a high demand for such a beautiful looking fish. At the time of writing, the red Asian arowana is the only species that is illegal in all of North America and Europe but the golden Asian arowana is currently illegal in a number of states within the USA with a full ban currently being proposed.
Due to the maximum potential fine for owning one of the smaller Asian arowana being $130,000 per fish, it is often a better idea to just come to terms with the fact that you will have to go with a different arowana species. Please note that there is currently a common scam of people who held red Asian arowana before they were made illegal in 1975 trying to sell their offspring and using their official paperwork for the parent arowana as proof of their fish being ok to purchase. Although the red arowna that were owned prior to 1975 are classed as a legal fish, sale of their fry or babies is still illegal so don’t fall for this scam.
The African arowana is still considered a small arowana coming in at 40 inches when fully grown putting it in between the smallest arowana species such as Australian or Asian arowana but smaller than black or silver arowana. Although African arowana are legal to be kept as pets in North America and Europe, they tend to look bland compared to Australian arowana so they don’t tend to be very popular.
The slightly larger size of African arowana means that you should only be using tanks of 250 gallons and above if you do want to keep one as a pet. This is large enough for a fully grown, 40 inch African arowana adult but try to make sure the tank is at least 30 inches wide so the fish is able to turn in the tank with ease as it swims around.
African arowna tend to be the easiest species of arowana to care for helping them score some points over the various other arowana variants too. That said though, they really are a bland looking fish so their looks often put most potential buys off them with the various other arowana species being preferred due to their more striking looks.
Black Or Silver Arowana
The black arowana and the silver arowana species are very popular as pets with the silver arowana usually being the most popular with the black arowana coming in at a close second. Both species are legal in North America and Europe but they are not a particularly small variant of arowana with both coming in at around 47 inches when fully grown.
This means that the black or silver arowana need larger tanks pushing costs up higher meaning that you will have to have a larger budget to keep them. On top of this, most of the people that we have seen reaching out about arowana species have been specifically asking about a small arowana so any of the other variants featured in this article can be a better option.
That said though, you can often pick up a large preowned tank on eBay for much cheaper than most people think often bringing the black or silver arowana into most peoples budgets even though they are a larger fish. This can often make it much easier to source your arowana too due to the popularity of the black or silver arowana being so much higher than the Australian and African arowana variants.
That brings our article going over the smallest arowana species to an end. We hope that we have been able to help you and we know that there is usually a large amount of confusion over what arowana are legal so avoiding the smaller Asian arowana is very popular. This makes the Australian arowana the default option for anyone wanting a small arowana with the African arowana being a few inches longer than the Australian arowana but not being anywhere near as popular.