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Asian Arowana


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I have been thinking about this for a few hours and figured what the heck *lol*

I want to know more about these fish, how they ended up CITES listed, how many are in the country etc etc etc.

I went to look up illegal imports/noxious fish for NSW, and found that arowanas aren't on it. I always thought that they were illegal. I suppose because i figured they'd be competition of the saratogas, but apparently not.

Noxious fish in NSW list

So c'mon, what do you know about these fish?

Why are they so prized?

How many are there?

Can you import the chipped ones for breeding?

Do they breed in aquaria?

More info!

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Far as I can find out, they've been CITES listed since 1975, and classed as endangered on the 2000 Red List. I assume they're not declared noxious since they can't be legally imported, and there aren't enough of them in the country to pose a known threat. Breeding seems to be a challenge, as they require a pond to spawn in. They are a mouthbrooding species: the fry are carried by the male for 2 months.

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Lets see... I know that it isnt allowed for import because its a threat to native aquatic life. Its also eats small frogs, worms, fish, insects and basically anything that can fit into it's mouth. As far as the numbers in Australia...in Sydney along there is an increase number of "Silver Arowans - approx. 400 on the market" and some Chilli Reds and Super Reds poppin up this week. Silver Arowanas are not locally bred in NT and North QLD. Thats why they can be purchased at $150-$350. But the Asian version is more expensive in Asia, thus the increase in prices in Australia. Since, I have never heard of locally bred Asian Arowanas in Australia, thus all of them must be smuggled into Aus. When a fish is smuggled into Aus, the prices of it skyrocket! Because people will pay endless amounts of money to obtain an illegal fish. I.e Plecos are the same...you get tiny ones for a few hundred! Or sometimes even a few thousand. Snakehead...Gars...Carnivious Catfish and other illegal fish are highly priced! The only way to get them is to smuggle them...thus again the high pricing of them. They may be worth chips in Asia, but if a country doesnt allow them for import, people smuggle them in to make a massive profit. Having an Arowana "Dragon Fish" to the Asian Community means wealth and Goodluck. Since the Arowana represents the Dragon, most people buy them for their business or homes to bring wealth and goodluck into their family and business. To many people, these fish just eat live foods, BUT! Most eat dry foods and frozen foods. They do preferr live, but will accept any other meaty based foods. Some people fed frogs, centipeds, worms, crickets, feeder fish, tadpoles, pellets, and flakes. Breeding can be done, but first you must obtain a large amount of them. Which means $$. They also need huge ponds...so land is requires...they are tropical fish...so must be breed up north. Thus its basically restricted to a small part of Australia. I wouldnt mind breeding them, but what happens if they dont breed? Its basically 50/50. Can you take the risk? Also depending on the grade of the fish will also determine the price of the fish. The top graded are AAA grades...these fish are basically worth a few grand (US) in asia. Also the types of arowana can determine the prices as well. There are many types of arowanas...some include: RTG = Red Tail Golden XBACK = Cross Back YT = Yellow Tail SR = Super Red ( Grade 1 Red ) CR = Chilli Red ER = Emperor Red BMB XB = Bukit Merah Blue Crossback PG = Panda Gold PHG = Pahang Gold PR = Purple Red EBXB = Electric Blue Crossback VFSR = Violet Fusion Super Red There are also types of scale height in grading an arowana... "Crossbacks" are so called because they typically have scales that cross or shine over the 5th/6th row. Some crossbacks with very good potential cross very early (e.g. 12 inches). They are valued not only for it's crossing which gives it a complete look when viewed from the side, but also usually better shines than any of the other asian varieties. "Highbacks" are so called because they typically have scales that shine over the 4th/5th row. Some highbacks have chances to develop colour onto their 6th row of scales. Highbacks are basically higher in value than a normal arowana, but is not as expensive as a crossback. Mango~ *lol*

Edited by Mango4Jade
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I know that it isnt allowed for import because its a threat to native aquatic life. Its also eats small frogs, worms, fish, insects and basically anything that can fit into it's mouth.


The reason they aren't allowed into Australia is because there is an international ban on trade, ie. the CITES listing.

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Asian arowanas are endangered in the wild. Scleropages formosus is listed in Appendix 1 of the CITES Agreement, which means it has been classified as 'threatened with extinction'. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

According to the CITES website:

Appendix-I specimens

An import permit issued by the Management Authority of the State of import is required. This may be issued only if the specimen is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes and if the import will be for purposes that are not detrimental to the survival of the species. In the case of a live animal or plant, the Scientific Authority must be satisfied that the proposed recipient is suitably equipped to house and care for it.

An export permit or re-export certificate issued by the Management Authority of the State of export or re-export is also required.

An export permit may be issued only if the specimen was legally obtained; the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species; and an import permit has already been issued.

A re-export certificate may be issued only if the specimen was imported in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and, in the case of a live animal or plant, if an import permit has been issued.

In the case of a live animal or plant, it must be prepared and shipped to minimize any risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.

Effectively this means that only captive-bred specimens can be traded in, and any trading is strictly controlled through a licencing system.

A query on the CITES trade database showed that 4 Asian arowanas were imported into Australia from Singapore in 2004, and none in 2005.

The IUCN Redlist 200 classifies Scleropages formosus as EN A1cd+2cd, which means it is 'Endangered' (at very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future), based on:

1) An observed, estimated, inferred or suspected reduction of at least 50% over the last 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on (and specifying) any of the following:

a) direct observation

B ) an index of abundance appropriate for the taxon

c) a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat

d) actual or potential levels of exploitation

e) the effects of introduced taxa, hybridisation, pathogens, pollutants, competitors or parasites.

2) A reduction of at least 50%, projected or suspected to be met within the next 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on (and specifying) any of (B ), ©, (d), or (e) above

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A few more interesting facts from the CITES site: -- If a commercial breeder of a CITES Appendix-I species fulfils certain conditions and is registered with the CITES Secretariat, specimens from the breeding operation may be treated as if they are of Appendix-II species, meaning that they can be traded commercially (permit requirement is not waived). If the animals were not bred for commercial purposes they may be traded simply with a certificate of captive breeding. -- There are a total of only 41 registered breeders of Asian arowanas for commercial trading -- 22 in Indonesia, 10 in Malaysia and 9 in Singapore. All captive-bred specimens from these legally registered operations are individually microchipped. -- Scleropages formosus is one of only 9 fish species included in Appendix 1 of the CITES Agreement. (Appendix 1 includes the most vulnerable taxa of flora and fauna). The other fish are the shortnose sturgeon, common sturgeon, seven-striped barb, cui-ui, giant Mekong catfish, totoaba and coelocanths. -- The Indonesian population of Scleropages formosus was in appendix II of the CITES Agreement from January 1990 until February 1995, when all populations were moved back to Appendix 1. --The net commercial export of arowanas for 2004 was approx. 25,000 specimens. Singapore was the largest importer, with approx. 13,000 net specimens imported (gross import over 20,000). Malaysia was the largest gross and net exporter.

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no, bristlenoses are not illegal, it is just illegal to import them. People breed them here, those ones are not illegal. I suppose it is possible that an accessory charge might be laid against you if you bought an fish that was smuggled here. I am not a criminal lawyer :goodo:

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The Dept of Environment and Heritage has an information sheet about this:

How do I know if an exotic animal is illegally imported?

According to this fact sheet, any fish not listed in Part I or II of the List of specimens suitable for live import (Live Import List) :

have never been imported legally into Australia for the purpose of being kept by individuals for private purposes.

No CITES-listed species are on the live import list. According to DEH:

The possession of illegally imported animals (or their offspring) is an offence under Section 303GN of the EPBC Act...The penalty for illegal possession under the EPBC Act is imprisonment of up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $110,000.

I guess than bristlenoses slip under the bar because they've been here and have been bred here since before the legislation was enacted (just a guess).

So there you have it.

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