Why Are Asian Arowana Illegal? What You Should Know

Lauren Kiekbusch
Why Are Asian Arowana Illegal

The Asian Arowana fish is also known as the dragon fish because it is almost similar to the Chinese dragon. It is amongst the world’s most endangered species, and thus it is usually illegal to keep it.

They have long, slender bodies and they also have colored scales that make them very appealing. These types of fish have different colors. They live for about ten to fifteen years if care is taken properly. Just like other species of Arowanas, they require a large swimming space.

This variety of fish can reach three feet in the wild. Unfortunately, Asian Arowanas have become very expensive as they are growing scarce day by day.

They come in different colors, for example, the red variety, which is usually considered the most sought type. In addition, the gold variety, green, blue, tan silver, and others are usually multi-colored. The rarest type of Asian Arowana is the albino variety.

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Asian Arowana’s Natural Habitat

They are mostly located in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. They are usually freshwater fish, and they mostly inhabit blackwater rivers.

You will find them in the waters that move slowly through forested swamps and wetlands. They feed mostly at night. During the day, they will hang among roots and other sub-surface water structures.

They have large coin-like scales, and they also have two whiskers extending from their chin. It has a color that shows it is a terrestrial habitat. The most common variety is the green-colored one.

It is mostly found in Sumatra, Vietnam, and Kalimantan, in Indonesia, and found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia. Next, the red variety, red on the tail, is found in northern Sumatra, and finally, the silver one is found in the Borneo islands.

Reasons Why Asian Arowana Is Mostly Illegal

The Asian Arowana is an endangered species which makes it illegal in most countries. This has made the international trading of the Asian Arowana tightly controlled to protect the lives of these species.

Before the Asian Arowana was listed as an endangered species, it was a popular food around its habitat and worldwide. All along, it was just an ordinary meal until the 1960s when the Asian countries started seeing it as a symbol of prosperity.

The main reason why this Asian Arowana was added to the list of endangered species is that its reproduction rate is very slow compared to the rate at which it was in demand.

In addition, there were many cases of overharvesting and habitat destruction to meet the demand in the aquarium trade. The harvesting methods used are very inhumane, also leading to it being illegalized.

Possible Penalties When Illegally Caught With The Asian Arowana

If one is a first-time offender, one might be probated, but in cases where one is found with many Asian Arowanas, huge fines work best for that instead of jail imprisonment.

The penalties can range up to twenty thousand dollars to fifty thousand dollars or even more. So if you need an Asian Arowana in your aquarium, you will have to legally pay ten thousand dollars in exchange for an Asian Arowana. Anyone involved in the trafficking of the crime will be charged differently.

For instance, if one is caught using the internet to advertise the sale of the Asian Arowana fish even without selling, they will be charged with some fines or even five to ten years imprisonment.

Furthermore, when one is found with many Asian Arowana fish, the fish are usually confiscated, and the person illegally possessing the fish will still be charged. These types of fish can cost the holder over one hundred dollars and even more.

Reasons For The Declining Numbers Of Asian Arowana

The main reason why the Asian Arowanas are reducing is that the demand is way too higher than the rate of reproduction of the Asian Arowana.

The Asian Arowana takes a long before they are sexually mature. For instance, a female Arowana will start to wait for three to four years to start breeding, and it will only produce thirty to one hundred eggs after fertilization. The eggs are among the favorite foods of the big fish because they are large.

Ways People Try To Bring Back Asian Arowana Fish

The most common way of bringing Asian Arowana fish back is by fish farming. Unfortunately, the current fish farming is way too different from traditional fish farming since the new method of fish farming mostly resembles a high-security prison.

Concrete walls usually surround the fish farms with barbed wires at their top, and foot patrol is conducted severally. In addition, many of the fish farms are guarded by dogs for tighter security. This is a clear image of how the Asian Arowana is valuable.

The fish farmed in these fish farms can be sold in the market as long as the required specifications are met. For example, the fish must have the name of the firm in which it has been raised, date of birth, and place of birth; each fish should hold a certificate of all the above details to be sold.

In addition, most fish farms insert microchips into the bodies of the fish to help identify them with ease. This is why the Asian Arowana can be sold for up to ten thousand dollars when traded openly.


It is always advisable to leave the endangered species and instead take care of them. You should report anyone handling an endangered species illegally to save the lives of the rare species and help in increasing their reproduction to increase their numbers.

An Asian Arowana is the most expensive variety of Arowanas due to its value-added time and because it is not readily available. If you find an Arowana fish locally, it is advisable not to rush into action as it could be a different type of Arowana fish.

There are several species of Arowanas, and thus you need to closely examine the Arowana you find to make sure it is an Asian Arowana fish. The different types of arowanas are, silver arowana, black arowana, African arowana, leichardti arowana and the jardini arowana. All these Arowanas are legalized in all countries.

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