Do Arowana Need Air Pump? {Will They Suffocate Without It?}

Are you wondering if you need to place an air pump in your Arowana tank? Will your Arowana lack oxygen and possibly suffocate without it? In this article, we’ll discover whether or not an air pump is essential for Arowana.

Do Arowana Need Air Pump? No. Unless your Arowana is constantly gasping for air at the surface or the tank is not big enough, the added aeration of an air pump is not a necessity. More oxygen through surface agitation and bubbles for your arowana to enjoy makes it a good choice to use an air pump. 

Is Arowana An Air Breather?

Arowana is a special species that has adapted to transfer air from the surface into its swim bladder. They are referred to as facultative air breathers.

The air will be gulped and sent down to the capillaries that line the swim bladder. It’s compared to our lung tissue as their method of breathing.

Can Arowana Survive In Low Oxygen Water?

Hypoxic water refers to the conditions in a body of water that is routinely low in oxygen. If the water contains less than 2mg of oxygen per liter, it’s hypoxic. Many organisms will not be able to survive.

These are the natural conditions of many arowana in the wild. The act of gliding smoothly at the surface while gulping air from above the water line makes it possible for arowana to survive in low oxygen water.

Although they can still breathe from their gills, the ability to transfer surface air to their swim bladder makes it possible to arowana to breathe without air pumps added into our tanks.

If we want these fish to enjoy longer, healthier lives or would like to resist the need for them to continuously gulp air at the surface, then an air pump would be helpful.

Why Should I Get An Air Pump For My Arowana?

The larger the surface area, the more water agitation will allow for oxygen to dissolve into the water. If we can’t provide massive amount of surface area for our arowana to swim up and gulp the air, we should compensate for it with an air pump.

Low oxygen water may stunt the growth of your arowana or cause other health problems. The oxygen helps to create more red blood cells.

An air pump::

  • dissolves more oxygen
  • increases water agitation
  • provides more water circulation 
  • allows beneficial bacteria to “breathe”
  • promotes the healthy growth of arowana
  • encourages playful arowana behavior
YouTube video

Should I Get Air Stones For My Arowana?

The extra bubbles from air stones provides more oxygen. There is no issue with having too much oxygen.

A 50mm air stone for example, can direct bubbles across the tank or push them upwards. You can observe your arowana spending time above it and allowing it to push it up to the top. Sometimes they swim through and play around in the area.

A 3cm air stone will surely push your arowana up to the surface where it enjoys looking for food and gulping air from time to time. Arowana can jump, so be mindful of that.

What Are The Drawbacks Of An Air Pump for Arowana?

Your arowana may not enjoy the bubbles. Fish have unique behavioral differences between them, even if they belong to the same species. Allow your arowana to let you know if it wants an air pump. If this fish is constantly gasping for air at the surface, place an air pump.

The drawbacks include:

  • Your arowana avoids the area with bubbles.
  • Air pumps can be noisy.
  • Air pumps for large tanks are expensive.

If you have a large and long tank, but your arowana only likes to swim in a confined space to avoid the bubbles, then the air pump or air stones may do more harm than good.

Many fish keepers complain about the noise from air pumps, but newer or more costly models tend to be quieter. Budgeting the cost of an efficient air pump is likely to cause many people to avoid the expense.

Which Air Pump is the Best For Arowana?

Although we do not get paid to endorse a particular model of air pump available on the market, we tend to lean towards the popular consensus in our group and the community of arowana keepers at large.

The HiBlow 20 or HP-20 delivers 20 liters of air per minute. This air pump is recommended for a longer lifespan of 8-10 years. It’s also quieter than most models. The internal air filter only needs replacing every 3 years.

The price is high, but you must consider that many of us go through air pumps every few years. Cancel out the purchase of your next two cheaper air pumps with this model that should last about a decade.

Does Arowana Need A Filter?

Arowana in captivity are going to require a long tank to enjoy their natural swimming habits. 150 gallon tanks are usually the minimum size for these elegant fish.

The water must certainly be filtered and a heater should be used to maintain optimal temperatures. Stable water quality in such a large tank won’t be possible without a filter.

Arowana may struggle for air and their lifespan will be shortened without a filter. The can live for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years depending on the conditions you provide for them.


Arowana should enjoy the option of a air pump, but we cannot say that it’s a necessity. A large tank with filtration is crucial. Increasing water agitation and allowing for more dissolved air to make it into the tank will be beneficial for a facultative air breather like an arowana.

You will allow this large fish to enjoy a peaceful life without having to constantly gulp air at the surface. Air stones can become a fun activity for your arowana to play with or swim above. The choice is always yours and we’re glad to offer suggestions.


Thanks for visiting and we hope to see you again for another article on Arowana or any other marine life that interests you. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.