• My Red Arowana Journey

    Miss those days when I kept red arowanas. Therefore I have decided to pen down my experiences and share my story with fellow forumers here in AFT.
    I am no guru and the keeping methods which I will be sharing are solely my own practise and findings. Please do not blame me if the methods do not work.
    I will relate my experiences here to share with everyone.
    Also sad to add that I have lost the photos which I have taken over the years as the old desktop died on me. So I will only have to use words to describe. So please bear with me.


    The beginning
    I bought my first red arowana on Dec 1999. That was almost 12 years ago. At that time, I knew nuts about keeping arowana. So what I did was just to fill up a old 4ft tank which was not in use and went to search for a red. Buying the red, i went home and just dump the aro into the tank. Never do anything much. Just an Otto internal filter and the red survived well. Fed the red frogs and feeder fish. Water change was 30% weekly. Sometimes when i was lazy i changed water only once a month. This red stayed with me for almost 2 years before i sold it to a breeder/trader. End result, i have to say i didn't really do well. Colour of the red was only yellowish at best. Fish was about 18-19'' when i sold it. So I have to say that i did not really take good care of the red. And also during that time, there wasn't much information like now. Just a simple search on the internet will yield you tons of information.

    Second Trial
    It was during that time, the lou han craz set in. Prices of aros dropped and it allowed me to have the chance buy another red at a good price. It was also then i started to visit more LFS/farms and also got know more friends who kept arowanas. From that, i learned a lot.
    By the time i bought my second red, i was more prepared.
    I had gotten myself a 4x2x2 tank. Cycled the tank for almost a month before i started to go aro hunting with my arowana kakis. It was also from my kakis, i learn that keeping red arowanas is not that simple. By just having a tank and feeding, it is difficult to bring out the best of the red arowana. Points like pH, diet, other water parameters played important roles on how the red arowana will develop.

    The setup
    I will share my setup of the 4x2x2 tank.
    The tank was running on OHF. With glass rings and bio mat as medias. I had also a 2ft to age water. Back then, i would go collect ketapang leaves and make black water myself to use. Water change was done every 3 days with the aged water from the 2ft tank. I would also add the blackwater which i prepare myself. This second red which i had developed quite well. But i faced a problem with this particular red that taught me a good lesson.......
    The Problem
    Every now and then, the red will have gill curl. And advises which i gotten from my friends was that water parameters are 'not good'. I would do water change daily and the gill curl will go away after a few days. Once i relaxed on the water change, the gill curl would come back. This went on for a few times, before another friend told me that maybe there was not enough oxygen content in the water. So i went to buy an airpump and used it on the tank. It worked! The gill curl went away. All these while i reacted quick enough and the damaged was little. The gill flaps never harden so it was easy to remedy. It was until i had to attend an overseas ICT. The airpump died when i was away for 3 weeks. When i returned from my ict, i realised that my red had bad gill curl. The gill flaps had completely folded and the red was breathing heavily. I quickly called one of my friend and he came over to have a look. After a short discussion, we decided to operate on the gill cover. Went to consult an arowana guru before we did the operation and got some pointers. it was throught the guru that i realised that what the problem was. My water in the tank was too hot. Went back to measure with a thermometer proved so. My tank water was 33deg. Higher water temperature will mean lesser dissolved oxygen. Meaning that the red had to breath harder to get enough oxygen. Over long period of time, the gill flaps will curl. My tank was tightly covered. With thick glass covers and also i stuffed all the hole and opennings in the fear that my aro would jump out. The tank was also exposed to afternoon sun and right after when i knock off from work i would turn on the lights to view the arowana. All these contributed to the rise in water temperature, which in turn caused the problem.
    Solution
    Now that i have spotted the problem, i proceed to solve it. I bought pvc pipes and netting. DIY-ed a cover which would allow hot air to escape from the tank. Also did an operation on the gill cover. I was lucky to have a more experienced friend with me while i was doing the ops. And i would say it was a pretty successful ops. After abt 3 months or so, the gill flaps grew back and recovered.

    The Upgrade and Trade-off
    Eversince i started keeping my second red arowana, i started to meet more arowana keepers and also visited quite a few farms. Those days to visit farms were not so easy for a novice hobbyist like me. One would have to know farm owners to have access to arowana farms. Unlike today where most farms open up to walk in visitors. I got to know a few friends who knew farm owners and in turn they brought me along when they pay the arowana farms visit.
    By then, my red had grown well. It was about 22'', broad and colour developement was 'pretty' good. I had improved from the 'yellowish at best red arowana' owner to a owner of an orangy red arowana.
    It was then i realised that my 4x2x2 tank had limited space. When the red arowana grows, you will realise that tanks of 2ft width is not enough. I knew i had to upgrade my tankset. Time was right as i was just about to move to my own place after getting married. So i began to plan for my new tankset.

    Dimension Decision
    When it comes to arowana tanks, i would recommand getting the biggest possible tank size you can afford. This way we can give our pet arowana the best we can. But being flat dwellers, there is a limit to what i can afford in terms of space constraint. With careful planning and advices i received from my friends, I decided on a tank of 6x2.5x2.5 with a sump of 5ft.
    With the width of 2.5ft, the tank would accomodate arowanas of lenght up to 25-26''. Any bigger i would consider it too tight a squeeze. If not for space constraint, i would definately go for a tank with a width of 3ft. Although i know that reds would grow big, seldom it will reach 28'' or bigger when kept in tanks. The biggest red arowana i have seen in photo was about 33-34'' in lenght. The photo was shown to me by a well known arowana guru after his visit to Indonesia. And with his estimation the red was in the region of slightly smaller than 1 meter! That was the biggest red he had ever seen too.
    I decided to go for a bigger than normal sump tank to have the luxury of space to jam in more media. Those days i didn't know so much of upmarket expensive media like biohomme+, Mr Aqua ceramic rings. My trusted media was the glass ring which i bought in sacks from C328. Those did fine for me throughout. But that was before i discovered high-end media. (Will be covered in later chapter)

    Decision to Trade
    It was bad planning and luck on my side that i had problems moving my red arowana. The handover of my new place was delayed and i couldn't have my new tankset moved in time. It was a problem. I didn't have a place to house my red and to find temporary housing for it was a problem. I also didn't want to move the red too many times. Also i didn't have the option to house it anywhere else.
    During a farm visit, i discussed this problem of mine with my friend over tea. When the farm owner heard my problem, he graciously offered to house my red for me. But also gave me a counter-offer. As the red was from his farm, he offered to do a trade off with me. To trade my big red for a trio of juvenile reds with a token top-up from my side. It was a painful decision on my side, but also too good an offer to resist. Had quite a few sleepless nights before i had a decision to the offer.

    The day came and with the help of my friend, we bagged my red arowana to brought it to the farm. And there i was informed that there will be a new batch of specially selected red arriving from Indonesia in a couple of weeks time. Time frame just nice as my new tank would be ready just in time to collect the new reds. Finally it would be a dream come true. And a new chapter of my arowana keeping experience.

    The Palace
    The new tankset arrived on time. A 6x2.5x2.5 main tank with 5ft sump tank. Sump tank was packed with japanese mat for the first column followed by glass rings for the rest of the sump tank. Main tank had black oyama pasted all round. Lights were simple T8 lightset with 4 nos. of 3ft lighttube. Also with a 5ft nanlight to help illuminate the tank. Such was a setup which i had 8 years ago.
    Water was cycled with some tin foil barbs which also will act as dither fishes to prevent fights in future. I couldn't wait for the day to come when the newly arrived indonesian red would be out of quarrentine.

    You, You and You
    The day came when my friend called me the night before. Told me that the newly arrival reds would be ready for selection. And if i wanted to be the first to select, i would have to go down to the farm the next day, before some of the reds would be sorted for export. Having no choice i decided to take leave the next day. Without to say. i had another sleepless night.

    Next morning, i was at the farm even before the boss of the farm. The workers showed me the tanks of reds which were ready for selection. Never had i have to select arowanas from such a huge number. Frankly to say, i was pretty lost and didn't know what to look out for. Afterall, i was still a noob in selection of reds. I looked hard and tried to shortlist those that i felt were nice but to be frank, i couldn't keep track of those i like as there were simply too many of them. I there had to have a plan. Decided to choose 5 pieces of reds with different features. Then to grow them out and see the differences. This is the only way to learn how to select juvenile reds in future.

    After many hours in the hot stuffy holding room, i finally selected 5 reds. below are the description of the individuals.

    Red 1: This piece was the first piece to be selected. It wasn't difficult to know why. Dark based with very obvious colouration cracks on the gill plate. Some say the A-frame lines on the gill plate. Stump of the tail was huge and muscular. The first bone of the pectoral fins was thicker than most of the reds in the same tank. I had a feeling that this piece will grow to a huge size.

    Red 2: This piece also easy to spot among the rest. Like the first red which i selected, it had very good body structure and features. But very light base colour. The rims of the scales had very distinct shine.

    Red 3: Very light base colour with very shiny look. But very red fins and lips.

    Red 4: I would say among the 5 which i choose to bring home, this piece will lose out in terms of colour and sheen. But the swimming posture was fantastic. very proud looking and steady. Good enough a reason to bring home.

    Red 5: Decided by the farm boss. He selected this piece for me. Very pale but stout looking fish.

    I took almost half a day to select 4 pieces while the farm boss took less than 2 minutes to select the last one for me. Went home that day a very happy man. Though i missed the red which i traded in. i was very excited to keep my very first comm.

    As the aros were only tagged after i selected them, i didn't feed them for 2 days after releasing them in my own tank. Fights were scarce and i was thankful for that. Only minor squabbles were during feeding time. I came to realise that feeding a comm was pretty heavy on the pocket and that when in a comm, i had little problems with poor appetite or refusing the particular type of food offered. Be it market prawn or bullfrogs, dump it into the tank and it will be gone before you can blink your eyes. Growth rate was very fast. i brought the reds home when they were about 7''. By the first month, all 5 reds were doing a stout 9'' or slightly more.

    But due to the heavy feeding, i had to change more water. Instead of the normal weekly water change which i practised in the past for my 4x2x2 tank, i had to change a bigger volume of water every 3 days to maintain the water. I do not have the habit of measuring water parameters so i am unable to provide any readings.

    Why Like That?!
    Was almost a couple of months later before i headed down to the farm to collect the certs for my 5 reds. Went down to the farm with my friend and realised that there was a new batch of reds. Colour was good and promising. While collecting the cert, i enquired about the reds. To my surprise, boss told me it was the same batch which i have chosen my reds from. It was a big difference from the 5 i had at home. Though mine at home were slightly bigger in size but the colour was nowhere near the developement of those that remained in the farm.
    Water change was done daily in the farm. But the biggest differences would be the water used for water change. At home, we have to rely on tap water supply. Whereas in the farm they were using pond water to do water change. this alone made a very big difference. Another factor which i thought of would be the amount of food given. In the farm or LFS, they have to limit the amount of food intake to prevent the aro from growing too fast. Therefore the theory of arowana size growing too fast for the colour to catch up was proven. The 5 reds which i had at home had grown almost 4-5'' when i went back to collect the certs after 2 months. But those which i see in the farm had grown roughly 2'' or 3'' max. But the colour developement was significantly better. I would not say that the 5 reds at home had not improvement colour wise. But it could be better if more control was practised. Also not forgetting the water used for water changes and many other factors.
    It actually affected me to know that the reds which i bought were not developing to the best of potential. And i have to admit that my red keeping skills were not up to standard. With this in mind i decided to do some readup and do some fine tuning to my methods of keeping reds.

    Adopting New Methods While Retaining Good Habits.
    Looking back at how i kept my 2 red previously, I took note of the good habits which i had already practised. In the past, when i changed water for the 4x2x2 tank, i would not change more than the amount of aged water which i had in my 2ft water storage tank. This ensured that the water chemistry would not be changed drastically after the water change. So i would only remove the waste products and introduce new water in a very stable manner. But now with such a big tank, i didn't have the resources to store so much water to do water change. So i identified my first and most important flaw.
    During free time at work, i drove around to find a container which will allow me to store the water which i will need for water change. And i found those water drums. with much luck, i bought a pre-owned 400L water drum to age my water with. This would solve much of the problem i faced. Prior to that, i was doing water change straight from the tap. I washed the water drum clean and filled it up with water. Added water conditioner and connected an airstone to circulate the water. Also added some ketapang leaves to adjust the softness of the water.

    Next, i had to address the problem of overfeeding the aros. I have to admit that i like to see my aros fat and bulky. But i understand that there would be some complications of overfeeding over long period of time. Also in a comm, i am very sure that if the aros were not fed enough, chances are they will start to fight. For this, i started to feed them more meals a day in smaller quantity. Instead of just 1 heavy meal a day.

    The next finding which i realised was my filter media. Although my water seems fine to the naked eye, i knew it wasn't at tip top condition. My filtration system also didn't perform to the optimium. Reason being having a high bioload but the media i was using wasn't quality ones. Though i had a lot of media inside my sump tank. But i wasn't sure if the BB is at a healty population. After doing much reading online, i decided to invest in up market filter media. Read through forums and articles online. And also asking around my circle of arowana keeping friends, i decided on 2 brands. I decided to change the media i had in my sump tank gradually.

    Went to LFS and bought a lot of biohomme+ and Mr Aqua ceramic rings. I planned to change the media over a period of time and also take note of my water to see if there is any improvement on the well being of the reds.

    Over a period of time, i have to conclude that the above 3 changes which i made did result in some improvements. I still do water change every 3 days. But with the aged water. With the increased and spaced out feeding regiment, my reds grew faster. And also they did not exhibit the unnatural bulge in the stomach. Instead they grew to be stout and brood. Water wise, as i said i didn't do any test. But i could see that my aros are more hungry and with bigger appetite. Water clarity and the time taken for water to clear up in between feedings also shorten.
    In short, i have adopted a method which i can maintain water stability and quality.

    Good and better. Can we achieve best?
    With proper water management and stability, i could see that my reds were doing well. Both in terms of growth and colouration. But i knew it wasn't the best. From the discussions from my friends, we came to understand that reds need very stable water to develop to the fullest. Therefore reds are deemed difficult to groom. And i have to mention that, over the years i have seen very few red arowana which i will consider red. Most were dark orangy in colour. It was until a special visit to an arowana breeder in indonesia, i see really red fishes. i mean really red as in fire engine red! I will touch on that at a later date.
    My friend also purchased a red from the same batch. Only difference is that he is keeping his red solo in a 5x2x2 tank, without any tankmates. Set up of the tank was also very simple. Running on a 3ft sump. But i discovered that he used a very small pump for his sump. I have forgotten the brand of the pump. But i clearly remember that the turn-over rate was very low. Normally we would go for a 5-6 times turn-over per hour pump for our aquarium. But the pump which my friend used was doing a turn over of 2 to 2.5 times at most, considering the head which the pump had to work from the sump. I could see from the water that there was very little agitation and water movement. The tank looks very still and calm. With only the red in the tank, i would say that the filtration system was an over kill. I have to comment that colour developement for that particular red was excellent. Might be one of the best i have seen in person. Other than this thing about the flowrate of the system, everything would be normal. Water change with aged water and diet consisting solely of market prawn.
    According to my friend. The natural habitat of red arowana has a very slow flow. And water is very still and calm. Therefore he tried to minmic the natural living conditions of the arowana. When i compare those reds which i had at home and the solo piece my friend is keeping, i have to agree that his belief might be quite true and proven. My thoughts are that when the tank has got slower flow, it might actually enable the media to work better as the water passes through the media at a much slower rate. Thus the BB would have a longer time to work on the waste products. This simply means better water condition. With better water conditions, it is natural that the red will develop well.

    Some updates
    After about 10 months of keeping, i have to say that the 5 reds have grown well. they have achieved a length ranging from 17'' to 19''. when i brought them home, they were just maxing out at about 8''. So to say they have roughly grown about 1'' or so on the average. Below is the detail development report of each individual.

    Red 1: One of the better ones in the spread of colouration. cheeks have turned orange and rims are prominant. Also the one which is biggest in size.

    Red 2: Slow colour developement in terms of spread. But the intensity of colour was dark. meaning to say the orange colour is much darker than the rest. I had a good mind that this could be one of the best in time to come.

    Red 3: Snake skin like transformation. pale orange with blotches of darker tone. But the spreead was good. Most rims were already orange.

    Red 4: Very normal colouration. Also the smallest in size. But the biggest bully. Always initiate fights. In short trouble-maker of the tank.

    Red 5: Surprise surprise. This piece is pretty odd in developement. The colour spread on the gill plate was fantastic. Very high chance to be a full faced red. Also something odd is that the rims on the body started to develop colouration from the tail-end of the fish. Normally the rims will start to colour up starting from the head of the fish. Which is what i have noticed on the other 4 pieces. But this piece, i noticed that the colour developement started from the tail end moving towards the head.

    Above was the observation which i recorded when the reds are estimated at 1 year of age.

    p.s i will continue with relating this comm on mind from next post onwards until i sold them off. Will then return to share my findings with other reds and experiments i did, so as not to confuse readers.

    To Comm? To Groom? Or to Comm and Groom?
    I was constantly in touch with my friend, paying him visits whenever i could to see how his red was developing. It was then i realised that in a comm, it wasn't the most conducive environment to groom a red. Therefore i had a plan hatching in my head. This plan was to increase the number of tanks at home. So as to groom the red individually. Finally decided on adding on a 2 tier 6x2.5x2 ios tankset. Thankfully i had a very supportive OC which agreed to my request to add more tanks to the already many at home.
    When the preowned tanks arrived, i did a wash-down and immediately setup the IOS filter. Armed with the seeded filter media from my main tank, i could skip the long period of cycling the new tanks. I had also decided on a small pump to run the IOS filter, maxing out the turn-over rate at about 2.5 times. The water was calm and slow moving. Like my friend had said, it is as close to the natral flowrate the red would encounter in the wild. Everything else is the same as it was done in the main tank.
    It was pretty difficult to decide which piece of red to bring out to groom. Should i take out the best piece or the slowest developer. With 2 similiar tanks, i decided to take the risk of disrupting the peaceful comm and bring 2 pieces out to groom. Decided to bring out red 2 and 5. Reason being that the rest were doing fine but these 2 pieces showed the most potential to be outstanding. With this, i started grooming them at the estimated age of 1 year.
    The reds in the comm showed slow development. Although the spread did get better over time but it was slow and gradual.
    Red 2 showed good improvement in colour development after about 4 months of solo grooming. Though the spread wasn't as good as others, but the colour was the darkest among all with a nice blueish core. And also the only piece which was a thin framed red, also it was my very first ever red i dare to call red.
    Red 5 also showed good improvement. The spread on the gill plate was almost covering the whole area. Colouration was dark orangy and the rims were eating into the core of the scale. The skin on the forehead showed a greenish tint.

    It wasn't until when the reds were about 3 years old when they showed a major improvement in development. Also i noticed that the solo reds were eating much lesser than before. Same feeding pattern was observed in the comm. Without a doubt, the 3 reds in the comm were bigger in size than the 2 solo reds.
    Red 2 started to fast when hitting the age of 3. Period of fast ranged from couple of days to a lenghty 6 weeks. During fasting period, the fish turned very aggressive. Sometimes even attacking the rubber hose during water change. It was after the fasting period, i realised that the colour had becomed much more intensed and improved quite a lot. Imagine blue/violet based with red rims. Gill plate was abt 75% covered. Red 2 had becomed my favourite piece.
    Red 5 didn't go through any fasting. Although the quantity of food intake dropped. i decided to switch from daily feeding to alternate days feedings for the 2 solo reds. While maintaining daily feedings for the comm.
    As for the comm, i have only one word to describe. PIGS. Ate like no tomorrow and grow fast. Though colouration was significantly poorer than the other 2, i enjoyed watching them after work everyday. Up to now, the 3 in the comm had attained size of about 26''-28''. Red 1 being the biggest and red 4 smallest.
    Red 2 at 24''. Red 5 at about 25''.

    I had the honour that the owner of the fish farm decided to drop by to have a look at the 5 pieces of reds which i bought more than 3 years ago. He also commented that the size was good for reds raised in tanks. Particularly he mentioned that red 2 was doing very well in terms of colour developement. Even encouraged me to try sending red 2 for competition. But i guess every arowana owner had different objectives. I for one just hope to raise my reds nicely at home for my personal viewing. As for competition, maybe sometimes further down the road...

    Final Report Card
    There was a visit by a friend whom offered to buy the 5 reds off me. I had to say the price he offered was a price i couldn't resist. Therefore i agreed, knowing that the price could help me go further in the hobby.
    It was 4 years and 3 months when i had to part with the 5 reds. During the 51 months, i learnt a lot from taking care of them. The different methods which were deployed and practised to make their developement better. I alway felt that the reds i had were getting too big for my tanks. By now they have attained sizes of up to 28'' on the average. Below was their final report card.

    Red 1: Biggest and broadest of the lot. Dark orange colour at best. Only defect was that it develop slight PLJ. Not sure why but the PLJ develop really late. The colour developemnt was constant throughout. Last measured size was ~28.5''

    Red 2: My favourite of the lot. Moved this piece to groom individually when it was about 1 year old. Also the only piece which i can say it is red in colour. This red was also a xbelly. Initially had slow developement. But colouration picked up when being groomed solo. ~27'' when new owner came to bag them.

    Red 3: Colour was not as good as the rest. But i have to say that this red is average looking. Orange colour rim developement. ~27.5''

    Red 4: This red attracted me with the good posture. Colour developemnt was very late. Only had very fast colour changes at about 4 years of age. Slow developer. smallest of the lot. ~26''

    Red 5: Full-faced red with xbelly. Selected by farm owner. Also groomed solo at 1 year of age. Odd sequence of colour developement. Colour on the rims started to appear from the tail end of the fish. Also the only fish to have constant colour from head to tail. Other 4 reds had darker colour near the head portion slowly lighten towards the tail end. ~27.5''

    After keeping these 5 reds, i have to say that those darker based reds will show faster developement. While the lighter based reds will have slower developement but better colouration. Keeping reds also need lot's of paitence and discipline. Very stable water and strict water change regiment proved to be the road to a beautiful red for me.

    Above it the method which i have used before using more advanced method to keep reds. So do stay tuned for my later experiences with keeping reds using methods like tannings and additives.

    Wonderful Invitation
    There was a visit by an Indonesian friend. We brought him to the farms and also visited many local hobbyist to view their arowanas. I would have to say that i was a frog in the well. There were many experienced big players out there in the scene. It was an eye opener for a newbie like me. I saw many nice arowanas, but what attracted me most were the big beautiful reds. I also learnt a lot when the other hobbyist shared their experiences and methods to keep their reds.
    When the Indonesian friend was going back, he actually extended an invitation for me and my friend to join him in a visit to an arowana farm in Indonesia. Knowing that it was a very rare opportunity, we accepted the invitation without hesitation. Though the date for the trip was quite sometime away, i was excited and looking forward for the day to come.

    Cold Turkey
    Can you imagine my empty tank symdrome after the 5 reds were collected by the new owner. I had not 1 but 3 empty tanks to handle. Everyday, i would wake up early as usual to feed my aros but only to find my tanks empty when i reached my fish corner. This kind of feeling was lousy. I just have to say that after keeping them for so long, they became part of my life.

    Though i wasn't in a hurry to fill my tanks up, i did keep an open eye for nice reds out in the market. But at that point of time, i couldn't find potential and nice juvenile reds in the market. I decided to look elsewhere, away from farms and LFS. Searching through online ads and forums, i found a particular red which i was rather fond of. When i went to view the sub-adult red, it was about 1.5 year from the date of tagging. But the size was pretty big for a 1.5 year old fish. At a whopping size of almost 20'' and sumo sized. Colour was poor for the fish. Slight orange colouration on the gillplate and that was about all. Body had a slivery matt look. The owner was rather dissappointed with the colour of the fish and therefore decided to sell the red away cheaply. From the little experience i had, i was confident of bring colour out in this red.

    I felt that the problem with this red was that it was housed with many tankmates. And due to the high bioload, the ex-owner did huge water changes every other day.This i felt this practice greatly affected the development of this red. Also the red was housed in a tank with very high flowrate and agitated water. Diet was also a problem. i could see that the red had grown quickly. Maybe the colour couldn't catch up. Something was telling me that this red was also a late developer. Brought this fellow home and tried my luck on it.

    Setup was the same. I housed this red alone in the 6x2.5x2 IOS tank. What i had planned was to put this fellow through a fast of 1 week and limit the food intake. The size was too sumo for my liking and i would like it to slim down a little.

    New Keeping Methods
    I happened to get to know a few new friends. And through discussion, i learnt a new way to bring out the colour of reds. The method might be in the market for a long time. But new to me. In the past, i keep my reds using a very simple method. I didn't use any fanciful lightings. Only a nanlight for enhanced viewing purpose and that was about all.
    Tanning an arowana was new to me. But i was curious to find out the effects of tanning, so i paid my new found friend a visit at his place. I was pretty impressed by his setup. And i could see how he did his tanning regiment. With high intensity lighting blasting from the top and side of the tanks. Some even had lights on the bottom to encourage colour development on the belly of the arowana. I was told that tanning would help to bring out the colour of the arowana. And also help to improve the colour of not so nicely developed specimens. But i was also warned that tanning could be a two sided sword. If not done correctly, the arowana might not be able to take the blasting of the strong lights.
    I could see from his setup, most of the reds which undergo tanning were reds of at least 1 feet and above. Also i was told that some reds were not suitable to go through the stressful tanning process. Problems like lost of appetite and cloudy eyes were part of parcel of tanning. Therefore i decided to go slow to this new found method. Read through some of the information i gotten over the internet for the different types of light tubes and decided on a few types of them. I mainly used FL T8 tubes for the tanning purpose. Also i went to purchase the tubes from LFS and realised that they were quite costly. And to replace them very 6 months, tanning was indeed an expensive method. But if this method could enhance the coloration of the reds, why not?

    Changed the tubes on my lightset and also prepared another set for side tanning. I was using a double tube lightset for side tanning. With 2 different tubes, the reptile D3 and sera bluesky light tubes was the best combination i tried for side tanning. As for the top, i change the tubes to NEC super white tubes. I started with the top tanning first. Before this, i only on my lights when i was viewing the fishes. Most of the time, the tank would be unlit. I start off with 8 hours of top tanning daily. After one month, i started 2 hours of side tanning together with the top. I could see that the red was not too comfortable when i started side tanning. But soon got used to it. I slowly increased the duration of side tanning until 8 hours. By then, the new red had went throught tanning for 10 weeks. I could see slight improvements. Colour was starting to show on the rims of the scales. And the colour on the gillplate was darkening. Only problem was that eversince i started side tanning, the appetite dropped. Sometimes even fasting for up to a couple of days. As i was using a 4 ft lightset tanning from the front of the tank. I observed that the red would sometimes try to hide away form the source of light, swimming to the side of the tank and parking there.

    Below are the points which i would like to share with fellow hobbyist who wishes to tan their aro.
    • Start slow. Try not to jump into 24hours of intensive tanning straight away. Normally it will cause a lot of stress for the arowana.

    • Before any form of tanning, make sure that your water is in tip top condition. This will ensure that the arowana will not be stressed further with poor water conditions and stress from tanning.

    • Tanning yields best result for me when i maintain clear water instead of water stained with blackwater or ketapang leaves.

    • Try not to tan a young arowana. I feel it is too stressful for them. Wait till they are about 10-12'' onwards to start tanning.

    • Every arowana will react differently to tanning. Some may not be affected. While others would start to fast or develop cloudy eyes. Owner must observe when tanning their arowana.

    • When tanning the arowana. Please to ensure that there is enough ventilation for air exchange. The tanning lights will heat up the tank significantly. Do check on this too.
    There are many other factors to consider when tanning the arowana. I will start a thread in the main arowana forum for the purpose of discussion sometime later.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My Red Arowana Journey started by s204 View original post


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