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High Fin Banded Shark: Your Ultimate Care Guide

In this article, we are going to talk about an extremely curious fish. The common name given to this fish is the Chinese High Finned Banded Shark (we will do a little spoiler, it is as incredible as its name). This species is little known to many aquarists. We could say that it is one of those rare species to see but amazing in all aspects. Let’s get to know it a little more!

We have to give a little warning to aquarists who decide to keep this fish in their tanks. And it is that this animal is not recommended for people with little experience. Anyway, in this Chinese High Finned Shark guide, you will find everything that this species needs to be happy in our homes.

Species Summary

The scientific name for the Chinese high-fin shark is Mtyxocyprinus Asiaticus. It belongs to the Catostomidae family, which is suckerfish. This means that it is also known by other names, such as Chinese sailfin sucker, or freshwater batfish (due to its morphology and colors).

We must clarify that despite its common name, this species does not belong to the shark family. They simply acquire that name since their morphology is reminiscent of that of these animals. This fish is an Asian origin, endemic to the Yangtze River basin.

It inhabits waters of a certain current, although it seems that it is possible to find it in calmer waters. There are even people who claim to have seen them in certain lakes in Japan. This fish fulfills a crucial function in the ecosystem, in addition to serving as a food source for the local populations that are found there.

In recent years, a large part of its environment has been reduced by the hand of man. Due to this, it is of great importance that we take special care when acquiring this fish, trying that it comes from sustainable fishing (since there are no records of reproduction in captivity).

We must also mention that to alleviate the effects of the degradation of the habitat of this species, restoration work is being carried out on the species to increase their number.

High Fin Banded Shark Lifespan
High Fin Banded Shark Lifespan


This fish is relatively long-lived reaching an average life span of between 10 and 15 years. There are people who have been able to keep it alive up to 20 years of life. For this to happen, the fish must live in optimal conditions throughout its life.

We can observe that this species can reach an older age if it is found in nature. In their natural habitat, they can even live up to 25 years. Although there are records of some that have reached up to about 40 years. This does not mean that by acquiring and keeping the Chinese high-fin shark it will live that long.

Any disease can always appear and seriously affect our fish. For this reason, we must be alert to any sign of disease, although we will see this below.

High Fin Banded Shark Appearance
High Fin Banded Shark Appearance


It is characterized by its high and extremely long triangular dorsal fin in the shape of a banner (which in the juvenile stage can be as large as the fish itself, even opposing the back of the anal fin). The resemblance of this fin to that of a shark has given this fish some of the nicknames by which it is known.

Interestingly, the size of this fin is reduced as the fish ages, so that this little laterally compressed fish in the juvenile stage becomes a rather cylindrical fish in the adult stage. Its scales are very small. The fins, very rigid and not very mobile but even so, they allow the fish to make quick and precise movements in rough waters, aided by their powerful basal muscles.

The tail fin is fork-shaped. Their lips are thick and they are provided with many small papillae. It has no barbels, but if a row of pharyngeal teeth arranged like a comb. The mouth is small and is in a terminal position, oriented downwards since it is a fish that feeds on the bottom.

The belly is flattened and the back is raised, which gives the whole the appearance of a hump. The eyes are relatively large.

High Fin Banded Shark Coloration
High Fin Banded Shark Coloration


Its coloration varies with age, but the intensity of it can also do so depending on your mood. In the juvenile period, the color of its body is pink, with three dark bands (dotted by small white specks distributed irregularly), sometimes not too well defined, arranged diagonally on the sides. Between these bands are interspersed several white stripes.

They have another brown band on the head and the pectoral, ventral, caudal and anal fins are also dark brown or alternating brown dots and stripes on a white background. Sometimes dark brown spots also appear on the body or the fins, on the light areas of the body, although these will disappear as the animal approaches adulthood.

In fact, as the black stripes grow, they disappear and the whole body takes on a much less attractive brownish color. Adult males tend to be more reddish, while females have a dark purple color and a large vertical reddish zone along the side of the body.

In adult specimens that are stressed or in a state of alert the brown background turns to a very bright orange hue and a thick cherry-red band appears, bordering the lateral line. This coloration is maintained when the fish dies. The striped pattern of the sub-adults begins to break down when the fish are between 30 and 35cm long and are several years old.

Sexual dimorphism

Juvenile specimens are almost impossible to sex due to external characteristics, but adult males develop an intense red coloration on the sides when they are in breeding conditions. As in other cyprinids, males have the typical tubercles on their heads (white dots the size of the head of a pin) during spawning and courtship. The ventral bulge of females is also evident in this same stage.

Average Size

Here we reach one of the points where we find it most difficult to maintain this species, this is due to the large size they reach as adults. Although they look like small fish when you see them in the store, they can grow up to 8 inches in a few years. When they are 5 or 6 years old, they reach the point of maturity, being able to measure up to 24 inches at this stage.

The fact that they reach maturity does not mean that they have stopped growing, as this species is capable of reaching 4.5 feet in length! Although this does not mean that all fish of this species can achieve it.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark Care

As we have just said, one of the things that we must take into account the most when caring for this species is the size that they can reach. To solve this, we will have to have enough space to be able to provide a stress-free life for our animals. In addition, we will have to have certain equipment to cover its needs.

In this section, we will see all the aspects that we need to have controlled to ensure that our fish will be in perfect condition. We have to take into account that it is a living being and not an object. So it is not simply a matter of keeping it alive, but that it is in the best conditions that guarantee a dignified life.

Tank Size

Although an excessively large aquarium is not needed to keep juvenile specimens, we must not forget the size that these can reach in their adult stage, so that he would be to think of about 55 gallons by the time the fish is in its juvenile stage. From its first year of life, this aquarium will outgrow our sharks.

When this happens we must transfer it to a minimum 300-gallon aquarium. We might even consider having them in a garden pond. They will live happily there and have plenty of room to swim. Besides that they will adapt quickly they will be happier than in a smaller aquarium.

Water Parameters

With regard to water, one of the things we have to watch the most is the temperature. The Chinese high-fin shark is a cold-water fish. We must reproduce the temperature conditions of the water as in its natural habitat. The optimal temperature for this fish is between 55 F to 75 F.

We will also have to maintain a pH level between 6.8 to 7.5. The hardness of the water should also be controlled and kept between 4 to 20 dGH.

Setting Up Their Tank Or Pond

This fish needs two main things when it comes to the distribution of space in the aquarium or pond. One of them is to provide them with places to hide and the other is space to swim. When choosing the decoration we will try to make it as natural as possible for two reasons; it will increase the quality of life of our fish and it will be more beautiful.

We can create a few hiding places by placing the rocks, using natural plants. We must be careful not to overload the space since they need clear areas also to be able to swim. The bottom can be composed of gravel, with large stones that protect the roots of the plants so that they cannot be uprooted easily (in case we put plants).

The gravel or substrate that covers the bottom must not have edges or sharp parts that could damage the belly of the fish. They appreciate the presence of plants, logs, and stones that provide hiding places and places of refuge. They require a certain movement of water and good oxygenation, as already mentioned.

Being a large species, this fish generates a large amount of waste. For this same reason, we must have a good filter that allows us to keep the level of nitrates and ammonia under control.

Common Possible Diseases

This fish is susceptible to contracting most of the most common diseases that affect fish in captivity, such as ich, swim bladder disease, and dropsy. Bacterial and fungal infections are pretty common, too.

In most cases, these diseases appear due to poor water conditions. To avoid this we must follow certain tips:

  1. Perform tests regularly to know the level of the water parameters.
  2. Keep the water as clean as possible.
  3. Pay special attention to the water temperature. As we have mentioned before, the Chinese high-fin shark is especially sensitive in this regard.

Following these tips will drastically reduce the risk of our fish being affected by any disease.
In addition to this, something that we must avoid in our fish is stressful situations. A fish that is under constant stress is much more likely to fall ill than one that is not.

High Fin Banded Shark Food
High Fin Banded Shark Food

Food and Diet

Omnivorous, although with a certain herbivorous tendency. They accept a wide variety of live food (mosquito larvae Daphnia, Artemia, etc.), as well as dry food of all kinds (flakes, granules, or pellets). It is necessary to include an important part of plant food in your diet (spirulina, bottom pills for herbivorous fish, etc.) since otherwise, it is easy for you to start considering the different plants that you find in the aquarium as food.

A varied and balanced diet will provide us with healthier, more vital, and colorful specimens. Although during their feeding we will see how they are able to adopt any position to reach the food, and for this, they can swim in the middle or upper zone of the water commune.

The truth is that they are animals linked to the substrate and we will facilitate their life with food it sinks easily and reaches the bottom of the aquarium.

Behavior and Temperament

In nature, it is a potamodrome fish, which during its life cycle migrates between different areas of the same river in which it lives, but without ever leaving the freshwater.

They will occupy the middle and lower area of the aquarium, where they will spend much of their time browsing the plants, foraging for food among the stones at the bottom, or scraping the algae that grow on the rocks. They are of nocturnal customs.

They are fish suitable for a community aquarium, but we have to take into account the size they reach. For the rest, they are very peaceful, and they spend the day walking from one side of the aquarium to the other without disturbing the rest of the inhabitants of the same.

Tank Mates

As we have said before, they are quite peaceful fish, so we will only have to worry about their size when choosing their aquarium companions. They will be good companions for other cold-water fish such as carp, goldfish, or catfish. Taking care not to combine them with fish that are too small, since they would always run the risk of being seen as food.

Although it is normal that they ignore them. In the same way, we have to ensure that the aquarium companions of our Chinese shark are not aggressive with it. This could put them in a stressful situation, making them more vulnerable to certain diseases.

In the case of wanting to keep several copies of this same species, we will not have any problem. They will even appreciate it. since being in a shoal will increase their sense of security.


They are not known to have been reproduced in aquariums or ponds, although it appears that some of the commercially available young fish are artificially produced and reared using hormones. It is known that in nature they make seasonal migrations to the upper courses of rivers to spawn once they reach 6 years of age (sexual maturity).

This species lays its eggs in open waters. For this reason, it is almost impossible to imitate the conditions necessary for their reproduction in captivity. It is useless to try to reproduce this species, it can even be harmful to them. This is due to the amount of stress that can be put on trying. In our aquarium, the most we can achieve is to see how a female leaves her eggs without fertilizing.

High Fin Banded Shark a fascinating and easy-to-love species of fish
High Fin Banded Shark is a fascinating and easy-to-love species of fish


There is no doubt that we are facing a fascinating and easy-to-love species of fish. But it is just as beautiful as it is delicate. As we have mentioned in this guide, we must pay special attention to the water temperature and the size of the aquarium or pond in which we are going to keep our animals.

As long as we have these two aspects under control we can know with certainty that we will be able to keep them with us.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about this species, do not hesitate to leave a comment and we will answer it without any problem!

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About Ava Wellington

Hi, my name is Ava and I am a editor for GuideYourPet. I love pets, and am the owner of 2 horses and 2 dogs! I have loved pets all my life, and have owned everything from bearded dragons to snakes! I am excited to help you take the best care of your pet!