Is Black Water safe for your arowana?

As the title indicates, this post is about black water.. If you don’t know what it is, please read my post here which I have published sometime back.. All about black water

A) Below here is the feedback I got from a reader.
I recently purchased your online book which was very informative.

I was interested in keeping arowana and wanted to be prepared the best I could.

I followed everything your book mentioned down to the slightest detail and purchesed an Austrailian arowana.

This was no common Australian arowana,he must have been a hybrid between a pearl and a spotted because he had beautiful red spots along with green scaling.

(I have attached a photo which dose him no justice).

He was a very beautiful (and expensive for me) fish.

The shop keeper had raised him since he was 1-2 inches and was going to keep him but sold him to me at 4 inches.(I have been buying other fish from this gentalman for 2 years and have established a good relationship with him,I own a 210 gallon tank).

The hospital tank’s previous inhabitant was a Datnoid (which is a relatively delicate fish when young but fared just fine for the 3 months I kept him there) so the tank was well established, well planted (plastic) and well aireted.

The PH was 7.0,Temp 80 F.

So, I floated the arowana for twenty minutes, then acclimated him further by dripping water from an airline tube into his bag for another 20 min and then finally put him in the tank.

He was doing just great!

That night I fed him frozen krill and he ate vigorously and did so the following 2 days.

On that day while going over your book again I noticed had I failed to pick up the “black water extract”. So I purchased this, read the instructions,and added to the tank.(This is my first time using this product but I wanted to follow all your instructions).

The following day I woke up to feed the arowana, He wouldn’t eat and was darting around the tank. It was obvious he was stressed.

Everything was fine except the PH.

It had gone from a steady 7.0 to below 6.0 (my PH test kit ranges from 6.0-9.0)

I immediately did a 25% water change, waited an hour, then tested the water, and repeated this in total 3 times till the PH went back up to 7.0

He did not eat that day and the next morning I found him dead.

I felt that the black water was to blame and I believe this stuff is very powerful.

So, my suggestion to you would be if at all possible to edit your book a bit by adding that “the adding of Black Water should be done cautiously and added to the tank prior to adding fish to ensure proper PH being that this product has the ability to drop PH levels drastically.” Or something along those lines.

I thank you for your time in reading this and hope you can pass this information along so that other arowana keepers don’t make the same mistake that I have made.

This is my answer …
John Doe

B) The following is my reply to him.

Thanks for your very concise email. However, your case is the first one that I have heard about black water extract being the culprit. I personally do not think that this is the problem as I have used it extensively in my years of arowana care. In fact, my farm and many hobbyists we know also uses it extensively without problems. In fact I always put more of the black water into my tank when I change water as it help to calm my arowanas. As you know I have 5 xback golden arowanas which cost me quite a bit of money and I would not use something that I have not tested before myself. But I thank you again for sharing your story with me.

Because you have been so concise, I am able to offer some possibilities on why your arowana could have lost it’s appetite and later died. Again I must emphasize that this are only my observations based on what you have said below.. (but for why it died, I am pretty certain of my point 3 unless I interpreted your wordings wrongly)

1) If your datnoid (or tiger fish ) is larger than your arowana, they will attack arowanas smaller than them. In fact I had one Siamese tiger which was very aggressive. They stalk their preys and will usually not hunt when we’re around. It could have attacked your arowana over the few days which made it become agitated eventually.

2) Arowanas will not eat when they are full. In fact I know of some that will lay off food for a few days because they over ate.. So if you arowana is not eating for a day or two, it is ok. If you see it behaving strangely, (out of the norm) the first thing to do is to change the water.

3) If I interpreted your process of changing your water correctly, this is the most probably cause of death of your fish. (In fact I’m 99% sure) You cannot change so much water in one day. You changed it 3 times over a period of a few hours I believe. ( Eventhough it is 25% each time but this is almost like changing 75% of the water at a go) You should have changed only once and wait for the next day before changing another time.


So now… to answer my own question about whether black water is safe to use…? Well… I will have to say yes for now as I’ve yet to personally encounter any issues with it. I never had problems with it before and it does help to de-stress my arowanas after a water change. If any of you have differing opinions about this topic, feel free to add your comments below. To me, there is truly no right or wrong answers….


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