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Dying Arowana

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Mostly New Member
Sep 11, 2014
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I have a red tail gold arowana and i think it is dying. I noticed that its appetite has not been good the last few days and that there seemed to be something wrong with its eye yesterday. But today, one of its eyes has gone red. The liquid, that should be clear, in its right eye has become a reddish-orangish colour (internal bleeding? Stroke?). It is gasping and has lost most of its control over its body. It has sunken to the bottom of the tank, curved with its red-eyed side inwards in a sort of a rainbow shape. Once in a while it gets up to swim, but its tail moves spastically and it twitches from side to side more than swims. It will swim to the top of the tank, stop moving, flip over, and sink, thus going back into its 'rainbow shape' rest position, like an arch on the bottom of the tank. Sometimes it just spazzes and squirms at the bottom of the tank, trying to swim, but it just cant get up. Its getting weaker and weaker. Any idea what is wrong with it? Can i save it?


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Poor thing! I'm sorry I'm not sure how to help except maybe water changes. Can you please answer these questions to help give a better idea of your tank and what may be causing it?
What is your tank size? Water parameters? (pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) Type of test kit you're using? Temperature? How long has the tank been set up?
Tank mates? What are you feeding? Water change schedule? How long has your arowana been like this? Was there anything (chemicals, fish, etc) added recently? What does his poo look like?
Where is this tank located? I ask since arowana can be very jumpy..I'm wondering if he smashed into the tank glass or lid and hurt his eye and bent his back.
Unfortunately, i do not maintain the tank myself, so i do not have the test kits with me... The tank is about 1.5mx0.6mx0.6m, has been around fir many years, but was set up to house this arowana for about 1.5 to 2 years now. The only tank mates were some sucker fish to clean the tank up. I feed him freeze dried shrimps. Poo is normal. Nothing has been added recently.

My fish was fine yesterday, only found him like that this morning. So possibly 12 hours?

There is a rather heavy plastic lid on top that i have been wanting to change. Once in a long while, he will jump and hit his head and go dizzy for a little while. But then you can see the marks/wounds on his head. I dont really see any.

(Btw i am not sure if the image got flipped, but the picture is of the fish upside down on the bottom of the tank.)
It really doesnt look too good. You could try a large water change and lower the water level in the tank so he does not have to come up so far for air.
That doesnt look good at all im sorry :/
I would agree in doing a large water change, aros are pretty hardy fish so there must be something drastically wrong, you have air gaps yes? 
If this proceeds for some time and it is suffering, then i would suggest euthanization :( i forgot the ratios but clove oil is a very good way of doing this as its painless and quite quick.
I will try the water change, though i am not sure if it will work... It looks more like it has some sort of injury since it has a problem controlling its body.

For the water change, will adding some black water help? And would moving it to a smaller tank be better?

Also, though the fish seems to be surviving, i am now worried that it may starve to death even if it starts to recover... How long can a 7-8 inch arowana survive without food?
I wouldn't move it to a smaller tank, at least from what I've read, as it seems they're prone to more problems in them.
I think these guys can go quite a while without food but not 100% as I havn't owned one just tried to read everything I could when I saw your post. Have you tried anything besides the freeze dried shrimp? Maybe bloodworms?
Arowanas are predators and as predators they can last weeks with out food if its nice healthy specimen before hand. If your aro did break its back then i would see little chance of recovery for the poor guy :( I think all you can do is keep the water excellent, try to feed him to the best of yours ability and hope that he pulls through :)
Can I just throw this out there. You were using meters so I will use meters. That particular species grows to 0.9 meters. The tank you have him in is 1.5mx0.6mx0.6m. If you put that right he is supposed to grow to almost double the width of the tank. I know that these rules are different in Singapore but his issue may simply be that he has been living in a tank that far too small for him.
O i was under the impression it was being upgraded later my aplogies yes if it comes through it will need a bigger tank as it is 9" right now that tank ok for now.
Oh no no my fish is only about 15-20cm right now. He's still small. Plus this sort of arowana only grows to about 0.5-0.6m in length. So the issue is not the tank size.

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