Before going specifically into some color varieties, we recommend the following guidelines for a basic selection of the Asian Arowana. All criteria are important.

(1) Swimming posture is amongst some of the important features when selecting an Arowana. Good swimming posture, coupled with stunning colors is the main reason why so many people are attracted to Arowana. It is the only mode of channel that the Dragon Fish can exhibit its grand and majestic beauty with. A good swimming posture is one with ease and effortless; turning should be smooth, graceful and at a moderately slow speed. At all times, its body should be straight, horizontal and at the top portion of the waters. When swimming, the front portion (including the head) of the body should remain stable and only the back portion (including the tail) demonstrates a wavy motion and in a gliding manner. Overall, swimming postures should be smooth and flexible as opposed to one that is stiff and jerky. A fish that swims with its head moving is probably a sick fish. A fish that swims with its body at an angle probably has a swimming bladder problem and such.  

(2) Body Shape is another important area. A nice body shape refers to one that is broad, and proportionate with large fins and a pointed mouth. Apart from Chili Red, generally select an arowana with a little slope between its head and its back. A broad body shape is an important aspect to the overall beauty of this fish, since it enhances the value of the fish with its massive appearance and great body. Compared to its Red counterpart, the Cross Back Golden's body shape is generally less proportionate. The Cross Back have bigger head and eye, shorter body and smaller fins as compared to the Red Arowana. As for Chili Red,  spoon-headed shape with a very wide body is preferred since it gives a prosperous and forceful look.  

(3) Tail / Fins should be big and proportionate to the body shape of the fish. Fins must be fully wide open when swimming and both pectoral fins must be widespread. Avoid choosing any fish with prolonged clamped fins. Fins color must be dark and strong with smooth even hard fin rays. The Cross Back Golden finnage is generally smaller as compared to the other species. Take note of this when making a selection.

superreds2.jpg (119557 bytes)(4) Barbels should be strong, straight, of equal length, pointing upwards and opens up like a Chinese Character Eight. Most importantly, the barbels should not be crooked and damaged anywhere near the root. The ideal  color of the barbels is of the same color as its body and  this is especially true for the Super Red arowana. Strong and long barbels indicate good conditions of the fish.  

(5) Eyes should be proportionate to the overall size and shape of the body with each eye completely clear and of the same size and shape as the other. The black portion of the eyes should be just right in size, relative to the overall size of the eyes and avoid choosing a fish with overly protruding eyes. Generally, the Cross Back Golden will have bigger eyes. 

(6) Mouth / Lips of arowana should be closed tightly without any kind of gap. Any kind of protruding of upper lip or lower lip is disastrous if too obvious. As a feature of Dragon Fish, the mouth should be considerably large, up-pointing, proud and arrogant looking. 

(7) Scales should be bright, distinctive from one another, as large as possible, neatly arranged and not crooked.  

(8) Gill Cover should be smooth and flat to its body. It should be radiant looking. Edge of gill should be circular in shape and gill motions should not be too obvious when the fish is breathing.


Generally, a good quality Cross Back Golden will have scales that are reflective, glittering, large, neat and distinctive. This is especially obvious when compared to a Red Tail Golden. A good Cross-Back arowana should have its golden color reaching its fifth row of scales. (6 inches or slightly smaller). The distinct neatness of its scales must be prominent even at first sight.

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For a good Blue Based Cross-Back, apart from the above mentioned, it is important  for a Cross-Back Golden to have a deep and prominent blue shine that appears on the whole of the scales rather than just on the rims of the scales.  Also, the darker the overall colors, the better the chance of getting a Blue Based type. As for the other Golden-Based type, it is usually lighter in overall color and has clear golden rims when young.

Another area of concern among hobbyists is the frame thickness (rims of the scales). There is no definite answer to whether a thin or thick frame is better; it is up to individual preference. Blue-based variety generally possesses thin frames while golden-based variety have thick frame. On the whole, thin frames are more popular, especially in Japan and thus cost more.  

A good quality Cross-Back should also have gill-plates and scales that are both bright and smooth with hints of potential gold color at the mouth and lines near the eyes. Best quality Cross-Backs will also see its scales “touching” the top row as early as 6 inches and it can be seen especially at the region near the dorsal fins of the fish and with clearly defined scales near the tail portions. 

Cross-Back Golden Arowanas also have a larger head and a shorter body as compared to all other Asian Arowanas. In fact, it is due to this difference in shape that some Cross-Back Golden Arowanas appear to be more stiff and rigid when swimming around the tank. 

As a basic rule of thumb, the redder the finnage, the higher the chance that the fish is a good Super Red. The fins should be deep red in color and distributed evenly on all fins. Despite this, some young red arowanas that have very red fins initially will see its redness fading progressively to light brownish and its scales to light yellow color once the fish reaches 12 inches. Therefore, choosing a good Red based on red fins does not always guarantee that the fish will turn up red in color eventually. It is thus important to look at other selection criteria like the overall body color and the shines at the scales. Red arowanas that have a stronger overall coloration and darker top are also better choices as it is a sign of a foundation of a good red arowana. From experience, higher grade red also tends to have metallic shine that is more outstanding and prominent as compared to a lower grade red arowana. This is especially obvious when both fish are taken out of water and viewed under direct sunlight.

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Within the Super Reds, young Chili Reds have more metallic shines while the Blood Reds are glittering. The scales of Chili Reds have more prominent green core than the latter. Young Blood Reds are rounder and fuller in shape while Chili Red appear higher, spoonhead and not as round. Both Blood Reds and Chili Reds have sharper looking head and pointed mouth.

Being one of the leading ornamental fish importers and exporters, one of the philosophy of our farm is to provide hobbyists with the best quality arowanas. We are able to achieve this through very stringent selection criteria, basing on parentage, for instance. The bloodlines of our fish are the results of 2-3 generations of selective breeding technique of the best desired red-colored arowanas. Through generations of reproduction, the red genetics of these fishes are further enhanced and stabilized. Hobbyists can thus be assured of what they are getting. High quality Super Reds normally develop patches of rusty color, pinkish brown color or pinkish color around the gill cover and the rim of scales when reaching 12" - 14". If the gill cover shows only pale yellow or golden color, such fish will have limited potential to turn red and it is mostly orange or golden red type. 

2ndgrade2.jpg (72809 bytes)It is very common for an inexperienced hobbyist to get cheated and ended up with a 1.5 grade or 2 grade red instead of a genuine red arowana. The important point here is that never be tempted by the cheaper price as “good things never come cheap”. The differences between these fish are in terms of the color of the finage, shine and the base color of the scales. 1.5 grade red normally has more prominent yellow, green colored scales, coupled with a very plain and silverish shine. Some may even have pinkish scales due to excessive feeding of high carotenoid food or hormones that make the fish look redder in color.  Another very good way to distinguish a genuine red arowana from a 1.5 grade red is that most genuine red arowanas have prominent dark vertical patterns on all three back fins. Note that this is not to be confused with the dark hardrays of some 1.5 grade red whereby these dark hardrays appear on the outer areas of the tail as well.  

 

Choosing a Red Tail Golden is similar to that of Cross-Back Golden. Red Tail Golden may appear in blue-based, gold-based and greenish-based; in our opinion, the best Red Tail Golden is one that have a deep golden color that reaches the fifth row eventually. Such Red Tail Goldens, when young normally have a moderately strong overall color that is nether too dark or too light. Hints of golden color are obvious at the gill-plates and rims of the scales even as young as 6 inches. This golden color will certainly flourish as the fish grows older and will be clearly evident once the fish is between 12 to 14 inches. All the fins of a good quality Red Tail Golden should be dark red in color.

Despite many similarities between Red Tail Golden and Cross-Back Golden, there are still some differences. Red Tail Golden has a smaller head, longer body and generally bigger in size when matured.

Widely dispersed among South East Asian countries. Thus Greens from various regions may appear quite different, but on the whole,  the shape of the head is rounder and mouth not as pointed. Good young Green Arowana is one that exhibits green color throughout the body with nice bluish shine at the 4th and 5th level scales. The best quality Green Arowanas are those with purplish tinge at the core of scales.

 

 

 

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