CHINESE HIGH-FIN BANDED SHARK - A Complete Guide to Shark Keepers

CHINESE HIGH-FIN BANDED SHARK – A Complete Guide to Shark Keepers

The Chinese High-Fin Banded shark is a popular fish in the aquarium trade. These species belong to the family Castomidae.

The appearance of this freshwater aquarium fish makes it a great keep for an aquarium. More so, it is peaceful and may not cause trouble in captivity.

However, this pet shark is not suitable for most home aquariums. Of course, its trait such as the adult size makes it unsuitable for confined spaces.

The sellers may not mention this. However, as an intending shark keeper or in need of expansion, there is a lot you need to know about this particular shark species. At least before committing to keeping it.

Common Names

There are many other common names the Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark is known under. These include Chinese sailfin sucker, Asian sucker, high-fin Banded loach, high-fin loach, Chinese banded shark, high-fin shark, Chinese sucker, wimple, topsail sucker, rough fish, wimple carp, Chinese/Asian Zebra high-fin shark, Hilsa herring, Siamese sucker, Freshwater batfish, Chinese emperor, and Chinese/Asian Zebra high-fin sucker.

Note that you can also spell the “High-fin” as “Hi-fin”.

In Japanese, its common name is Entsuyui.

This shark species is not a true shark. Instead, it belongs to the group of freshwater fish species that looks like sharks. Thus, can be substituted for aquarium purposes.

Chinese High-fin Banded Shark Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Cypriniformes

Family: Catostomidae

Sub-family: Myxocyprininae

Genus: Myxocyprinus

Species: M. asiaticus

Binomial Nomenclature: Myxocyprinus asiaticus

Distribution of Myxocyprinus asiaticus in Nature

These species of fish are endemic to the Yangtze River basin of China. During breeding, these species go to the shallow headwaters with a relatively fast flow rate. Here, they spawn and bring forth the young sharks.

However, when they are not breeding, these shark species prefer to stay within the main section of the river.

There is a belief that the Chinese high-fin banded shark existing in the Min River (a popular tributary of the Yangtze) may have undergone extirpation

Locally in China, the High-fin banded shark is widely cultured to supply the food industry. This and other factors such as collection for the aquarium trade and pollution placed this fish locally on the list of Endangered species. Thus, the Chinese government placed it under state protection policy.

The Appearance of the High-fin Banded Shark

This shark species is really an oddball. Thus, what you see as a juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticus will turn to look very different as an adult.

As a young fish, this species will normally have contrasting white and black colors circling its body just in the form of bands. Also, they have a characteristic high and triangular dorsal finnage. And. this extends toward the rear part of the anal fin.

The pale bands and high fin makes this shark species look stunning at the juvenile stage. However, as the Chinese High-fin Banded shark grows to a length of 12 – 14 inches (30 – 36 cm) they lose their bands. In fact, their color changes entirely.

Thus, after attaining the sexual maturity age at about 5 to 6 years, you can differentiate the males and females through their coloration during the breeding season. As such, the males will have a distinguished red color. While the females will be of dark purple color and with a wide area along their body usually red in color.

Another thing about the appearance of the adult Chinese High-fin Banded shark is that they no longer possess the very high dorsal fin. And, they have typically long body shape.

The lips are fleshy and thick bearing small papillae and no barbels. Further, their mouth contains a single row of pharyngeal teeth with an arrangement looking like a comb.

This shark species will become darker in appearance through adulthood.

I would say the juvenile Chinese High-fin Banded shark looks especially stunning than the rather cylindrical adult fish. Of course, the reason it attracts many aquarists. However, it is a thing of choice as some other person may think otherwise.

Growth Rate

The High-fin Banded shark grows really big and at a moderately fast rate. Typically, this shark will grow to a length of 8 inches (20 cm) in the first year.

It will further increase to about 20 inches (50 cm) by the age of 3 years. This shark species attain sexual maturity at a length of at least 24 inches (60 cm) which they will reach between 5 and 6 years.

The maximum recorded growth size of the Chinese High-fin Banded shark is 4ft 5inches (1.35 m). And, they weigh up to 88lb (40 kg).

Aquarium Specifications for the Chinese Sucker

At a Glance

  • Max. Size: 50 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 300 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Koi fish, Loaches, Goldfish
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 55 to 75 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.8 to 7.5
  • Water Salinity: Freshwater
  • Temperament: Docile
  • Diet Requirements: Omnivorous
  • Minimum Required Aquarist level: Intermediate

Note that while this shark species is peaceful and quite easy to care for, it is not recommended for a home aquarium. Of course, they grow really big and will outgrow your home tank soon enough.

Hence, they are only suitable for a community aquarium or a pond where they will get the space they require.

And, if heedlessly kept in a home aquarium, they will experience stunted growth and eventually die out of stress. More so, you will likely need to keep them in a group of up to five members. This is to reduce their stress level and make them feel more comfortable.

Now, you see the need for a very large tank size

Size of Tank Required to Keep a Chinese High-fin Banded Shark

Choosing a tank size for this fish species can be a quite challenging task. This is because the small size of the juvenile shark might mislead an uninformed shark keeper.

But, now you know that these fish grow very large, there is a need to prepare adequately before purchasing them. Therefore, to help you prepare, we recommend a tank size of not less than 300 gallons for a juvenile Chinese High-fin Banded shark.

This tank size is not the final, it is just to help you enjoy the beauty of your juvenile pet shark. Then, prepare a koi pond for the final transfer of this shark.

Hence, make sure to transfer this fish once you notice it growing very big. The only painful thing is that you will need to do this transfer as soon as possible. This is because of the relatively fast growth and metamorphosis rate of this shark species.

Preparing Tank Water for the High-fin Banded Shark

Just like every other fish kept in captivity as a pet, the Chinese High-fin Banded shark requires specific water conditions for its survival and good health.

The Myxocyprinus asiaticus is a temperate freshwater bottom-dwelling fish species. It is a native of cool rivers and streams with a significant flow of water.

Therefore, it will survive in freshwater with the following conditions:


The High-fin Banded shark prefers cool water for survival. As such, maintain a temperature between 55 and 75F.

Somewhere midpoint of the range will be optimal. Although, your pet shark will be fine in case of fluctuations that might shift the temperature so long it is still within range.

Note that the temperature below the recommended range will cause your shark to be dormant. Expect this during cold weather especially when you keep the High-fin Banded shark in a koi pond.

Also, watch out for temperatures below 40F as this will increase the stress level of your shark.

A basic thermometer will help you keep track of your tank temperature changes. Endeavor to keep one.

Tank pH Level

A water pH level between 6.8 to 7.5 is good for the High-fin Banded shark. This range is very important for the good health of your pet shark. Therefore, make sure to keep this recommendation.

Just like most other freshwater shark species, a sudden change in the pH level will cause health complications for your Chinese sucker.

Hence, there is a need to be vigilant and avoid activities that can cause a change in pH levels.

Hardness of Water

Keep this shark species in water with hardness levels between 4 – 20 dGH. This means somewhere between soft and medium-hard water according to the water hardness chart.

Water Movement

Introducing a moderately moving water will make your High-fin banded shark happy. More so, ensure adequate water filtration and well-oxygenated water.

This shark species is highly susceptible to increasing nitrate levels in the water. Therefore, regular partial water changes are necessary to keep your pet shark healthy.


The Chinese High-fin banded shark is not suitable for tropical water aquarium. This is a cold-water shark species.

And, they are affected by abrupt changes in water quality. Therefore, keep a basic water testing kit around while caring for this freshwater shark species.

Aquarium Decoration

While setting up an aquarium for your Chinese High-fin Banded shark, use a substrate of sand or fine gravels. Add enough plants and some driftwood or bogwood. You can also introduce rocks if you desire.

While the tank d├ęcor is necessary to provide the sharks with hiding places, do not overcrowd the tank. Hence, leave enough open spaces for your sharks to swim around.

Avoid introducing any object that would tamper with the oxygen level of the tank water. Or, that is capable of altering the pH condition of the water. They may lead to unexpected harm to your pet fish.

Typical Tank Behavior of the High-fin Banded Shark

Myxocyprinus asiaticus not minding the size is a peaceful fish even in captivity. They are not active swimmers. As such, expect them to rest most of the time. In other words, they will not swim around regularly.

When they swim, they move quite slowly in the bottom part of the tank where stay all the time. And, due to their low level of activity, they live very long with an expected lifespan of up to 25 years.

Though, in captivity, these fish species would rarely get up to such age, expect them to live up to 15 years or more. That is still quite a time to spend with your High-fin banded shark.

This fish species is not aggressive in any way. As a result, they would make perfect residents of community tanks.

Some aquarists decide to keep a single species of the Chinese sucker, well, it may survive for however long it could bear the stress. They better survive in captivity when kept in small shoals.

About 3 to 5 of these sharks in an aquarium will make them feel safer and thrive for long.

Once provided with a tank large enough, your pet sharks will be happy. And, grow without feeling confined.

Recommended Tank Mates

The Chinese High-fin Banded shark can stay in the same tank with various fish species as it is a peaceful fish. As a result, it can make a great tank mate with loaches, goldfish, and Koi fish.

Due to the cold water requirements of these fish species, the range of tank mates you can keep them with will decrease. This is because most shark species prefer warm water instead of a cold pond.

This fish also tolerates its kind and shoal with them.

Feeding Recommendations

The Chinese High-fin Banded shark is an omnivore. Though, it appears to be more of a herbivore.

They will usually rasp algae growing on logs and rocks placed within their pond. Apart from being an active algae grazer, they also feed on benthic invertebrates.

If you own this species of freshwater shark, you need not stress to feed it. Hence, your shark will eat almost anything placed within the thank so long it sinks to the bottom of the thank.

To keep them happy, provide your sharks with a variety of foods which include live, fresh or frozen food materials. For example, give them crustaceans, earthworms, bloodworms, insects, annelids, prawn, tubifex, small mollusks, and algae.

You can also add quality pellet or flake foods that can sink to the bottom of the tank.

For juveniles, they enjoy a frozen bloodworm diet. Do them good by adding it more in their food.

Naturally, the High-fin Banded shark would move around the bottom of the tank searching for food. Should you notice that your shark is no longer eating well or should stop eating, most times it is due to decreased water quality.

Then, immediately perform a water change. Afterward, feed them with only live foods until they resume eating as expected.

Sexing and Reproduction

We know that in the wild the Chinese High-fin Banded shark swims to shallow headwaters with fast water flow to spawn.

However, in captivity, there have been no recorded successful breeding of this shark species. Of course, aquarists keeping this fish species struggle to keep them alive till maturity then talk of breeding.

Due to the decline in the natural population of this shark species and the protection law placed on them, there is a belief that the aquarium specimens originate from captive breeding in commercial fish farms.

There is no clear process on the breeding of this fish species. However, if there are captive bred, it must be through hormonal injection to induce spawning.

The Myxocyprinus asiaticus is not commonly available in the aquarium trade. Instead, they come occasionally to specialty fish stores or online retail trade where you can purchase juveniles at a moderate cost.

Threats to Human

The Chinese High-fin Banded shark is generally peaceful even toward human beings. As such, they would not attack anyone even in contact.

Moreover, they do not have true teeth. Instead, they only possess a single row of comb-like pharyngeal teeth. So, they won’t bite either.

The only reason indoor aquarium shark keepers are being advised to stay away from this species is mainly due to their large growth size. And also their lengthy lifespan.

Thus, not many hobbyists can cater for this shark kind till adulthood. And, if they can, the next question is, ‘for how long?’

If the tank conditions are met then every other thing is relatively easier. The bottom line is to provide a pond for this shark. Then, both you and the shark would be happy.

The Difference between the Chinese High-fin Banded Shark and Other so-called “sharks” (faux sharks)

We know that all of the freshwater sharks kept in the home aquarium are not true sharks. For example the Rainbow sharks, Bala sharks, Denison barbs, etc.

The same goes for the Chinese sucker. However, while the other so-called sharks are more like glorified minnows, the High-fin Banded shark belongs to entirely different family Catostomidae. This group of fishes is known as Suckers.

Final Note

The Chinese High-fin Banded shark is undeniably an attractive fish as a juvenile. As a result, any hobbyist would love to keep one.

This page detailed the facts you must know about this shark species. Even more, we pointed out the caution and requirements in case you cannot help keeping one of these fish species.

Therefore, follow the recommendations provided here and you will be safe while keeping the Chinese sucker.

If you have a smaller tank, take a look at these Freshwater sharks that you can keep in your home aquarium.