This South American species is found in the Amazon Basin and in the Rupununi and Oyapock Rivers, as well as in still waters in the Guianas. This fish has relatively large scales, a long body, and a tapered tail, with the dorsal and anal fins extending all the way to the small caudal fin, with which they are nearly fused. It can grow to a maximum size of 90 cm (35 in). Unlike the black arowana, the silver arowana has the same coloring throughout its lifespan.
The species is also called 'monkey fish' because of its ability to jump out of the water and capture its prey. It usually swims near the water surface waiting for potential prey. Although specimens have been found with the remains of birds, bats, and snakes in their stomachs, its main diet consists of crustaceans, insects, smaller fish, and other animals that float on the water surface, which its drawbridge-like mouth is exclusively adapted for feeding on. Arowanas are sometimes called 'dragon fish' by aquarists because their shiny, armor-like scales and double barbels are reminiscent of descriptions of dragons in Asian folklore.