The majestic freshwater dragon

Known in parts of Asia as the dragonfish, this majestic, rare fish even has a scientific name relating to the mythical dragon.

‘Scleropages’ describes its large, hard, leaf-like scales, while ‘formosus’ means beautiful or handsome.

Leaping above the rest

The Asian arowana is a freshwater carnivorous fish native to Southeast Asia, and these apex fish predators are known for their spectacular jumping ability.

This carnivorous hunter of lowland swamps and rivers dines mostly on smaller fish and invertebrates but occasionally amphibians and even small birds and reptiles.

Asian arowana courtship behaviours involve the male and female circling one another and engaging in gentle body-rubbing. Once the female deposits her eggs on the habitat floor, the male fertilises them before scooping them up in his mouth and keeps them safe there through incubation, hatching and even for 1-2 months afterwards while they are tiny vulnerable fry – and never eats a single one!

At the Zoo

Meet our Asian arowana:

The Zoo’s Indonesian swamp forest habitat within the South East Asia Jungle Track is home to several adult Asian arowana, born in 2019. Visitors can see these majestic adults, but the offspring born at Auckland Zoo in December 2023 live in a separate fish rearing area in the aquarium support facility.

In the wild, this carnivorous hunter of lowland swamps and rivers dines mostly on smaller fish and invertebrates, but occasionally amphibians and even small birds and reptiles. In the zoo environment, this species eats live invertebrates such as crickets and locusts and is given shrimp and nutritionally complete supplementary pellets.


Asian Arowana have been bred at Auckland Zoo

Watch as they swim around within the Swamp Forest's specialist aquarist room.

In the Wild 

Origin: Southeast Asia, including countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Habitat: It inhabits slow-moving waters, blackwater rivers, forested swamps, and wetlands habitats.

Conservation status: Endangered and decreasing in population. The key threats to the arowana are loss and damage of its native freshwater ecosystems and the illegal pet trade. All of the Zoo’s fish species are sourced from certified suppliers.


Meet our new dragon-fish!

Ectotherm keeper Seth discusses what makes this fish so unique and endangered

How you can help 

As a not-for-profit, we rely on our amazing supporters like you to be able to continue our conservation Wild Work for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk animal species. Help our wildlife in need by making a donation.


The Science of Animal Care - The Swamp Forest

How do you create the perfect hot and humid habitat for Southeast Asian crocodiles and fish? Using the best in science and habitat design, experts from Aotearoa and around the world have been brought together to create our Swamp Forest habitat.

Other South East Asian Species