Arowanas, which may also be referred to as aruanas or arwanas or “water monkeys”, are large freshwater fish. These bony fish are specially adapted to be top water predators. The term bony refers to the structure of their head. Sometimes these fish are called “bony tongues.” This nickname is derived from the bony structure affixed to the lower portion of their jaw structure. This structure is actually a toothed bone or a “tongue” that can be used to compress prey against the roof of its mouth, which is lined with teeth. Arowanas breath by sucking air into their swim bladder. This is lined with a lung like tissue that allows them to absorb oxygen.
Arowanas are carnivorous. The location of their mouth allows them to be specialized at feeding on surface prey. In South America arowanas have been recorded to leap almost 2 meters. That’s more than 6 feet. These specialized fish prey on insects and birds that rest on overhanging trees. This is where the nickname “water monkeys” comes from. In other parts of the world it is though that arowanas may prey on small birds and bats flying close to the water. In captivity arowanas can grow up to 3-4 feed or around 48 inches.
The arowana is unique because of the extensive care which they provide their young. In many cases it is rare to see parents of other species protecting their young after their eggs are laid. Some arowanas build nests to protect their young while others are mouth brooders. These fish can hold large amounts of eggs inside their mouths. What a great form of protection! As the eggs mature the small fish emerge with the yoke sac still attached. As they age the small fish will being to venture outside the parents mouth, before leaving permanently.
Fully grown arowanas can easily attain 2 feet in length. Arowanas will reach their full length in about two years.
Arowanas are highly regarded by many Asian cultures to be lucky. This comes from their unique appearance. Asians cultures regard them as under water dragons, as they display many traits of the Chinese Dragon. These “Dragon Fish” are thought to bring good luck to their owner.