Chinese High Fin Banded Shark: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

The Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is a special freshwater fish that doesn’t seem to get enough attention in the fishkeeping community.

While seasoned aquarists can exclusively talk about these fish’s long lifespan, simple care requirements, and shark-like profile, beginner-level hobbyists may never see them as a viable option in the long run.

Whether you want to keep these fish in a home aquarium or learn new information about this beautiful fish species, this comprehensive guide will cover everything there is to know about the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark.

Specifically, it will cover the fish’s general appearance, size, tank mates, feeding habits, breeding, and more. If you are up for the exciting challenge of keeping these fish together with compatible tank mates, let’s begin!

Species Overview

The Chinese High Fin Banded Shark deserves more attention than what they’ve had in recent years. They are fascinating freshwater fish with many names.

You may hear them identified as Chinese Sailfin Suckers, Banded Loaches, Asian Suckers, Wimple Carps, Chinese Suckers, or Topsail Suckers in local pet stores.

ColorBlack and white
Lifespan10-15 years
Care LevelIntermediate
Behavior & TemperamentDocile
CompatibilityLoaches, koi fish, goldfish
Food and DietOmnivores
Size50 inches
Tank SetupFreshwater
Tank Size (Minimum)300 gallons and above

They are natives of China’s Yangtze River basin region and go by the scientific name Myxocyprinus asiaticus. These fish belong to the Catostomidae family and are kept as a vital food source throughout the mentioned region.

Unfortunately, their edibility has only reduced their population over the years. Today, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is rated among endangered fish species, with many aquarists working tirelessly to maintain their already dwindling population.


Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years in captivity. You can prolong their lives by giving them sustainable conditions in the tank. This entails providing a suitable meal, designing the right tank, and pairing these fish with compatible tank mates.

In their original habitat in China, these fish enjoy a long lifespan of up to 25 years. Even though reaching the same levels in captivity can be challenging, it is never impossible.

All it takes is commitment from the aquarist to maintain sustainable water conditions while keeping an eye on common freshwater fish diseases.

It’s worth reminding that even the mentioned 10 to 15-year lifespan in captivity is not guaranteed. These sharks’ actual lifespan will depend on how you manage their basic care requirements every day.


One of the most interesting things about the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is the visible change in complexion with increasing age. Young sharks are simply electrifying. And it is easy to spot them in local pet stores from their characteristic striped pattern that’s just exquisite.

Usually, the whole body is covered with attractive shades of black and white. The dorsal fin is semitransparent, and its pointed configuration when the fish is swimming associates these species to the dreaded marine sharks.

The famous bottom-dwelling Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks have flat bellies with pointed pectoral and pelvic fins to complete their shark-like configuration.

Also, these sharks have small papillae in place of barbels, with thick, fleshy mouths. If you manage to keep one at home, you will see a neat row of teeth in the pharyngeal arch.

As they approach full maturation, the one-time sparkly black and white shades will begin to fade. The male sharks will now have a solid red color as the females settle for purple shades.

Also, in adulthood, the fish’s bodies tend to elongate, almost eliminating the iconic shark-like configuration that’s dominant in the young fish. The final change you will notice in adulthood is on the dorsal fin.

As the fish continue to age, the dorsal fin will appear smaller than ordinary. It turns out the dorsal fin never grows at the same rate as the fish’s entire body. So, in adulthood, it will look smaller than what you would expect in an ordinary young shark.


Despite their captivating appearance in many aquariums, many aquarists will always struggle to keep pace with these sharks’ high growth rate over time.

Like many fish species, you will purchase your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark as a young fish, measuring only a few inches, but everything changes in just a few years. They will have reached around 24 inches by 5-6 years before extending to about 4.5ft in full maturity.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark Care

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark care focuses on two essential aspects; their growth rate and size. Can you keep pace with their fast growth rate? And do you have enough resources to keep a 24-inch fish in captivity?

Such questions will help you understand if the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is the right option for your aquarium.

Beginner-level aquarists always make the obvious mistake of going for a juvenile fish and assuming they will be young forever. Only to later realize that they won’t keep up with the fish’s extremely demanding tank requirements from puberty through to adulthood.

Keep reading to understand most of the vital aspects of keeping healthy Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks at home.

Tank Size

Yes! Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks require large tanks to thrive at home. The young fish will be fine inside a 55-gallon tank, but they won’t stay that way forever.

So, even if you start with a small tank, you should plan early and set up a larger tank within the first or second year of keeping your new pets at home.

For adult sharks, we recommend a minimum tank size of 300 gallons for every fish. If you want to keep multiple fish of the same species at home, a backyard pond would be the most suitable option.

Many aquarists have successfully kept these fish in outdoor ponds to ease their transition from youth to adulthood.

Water Parameters

Be sure to get it right here. Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks thrive in cold water conditions, just like in their natural habitat.

It’s easy to ignore this fact when setting up the tank and treating these sharks like ordinary tropical freshwater fish. The Yangtze River Basin region is dominated by cold waters all year round, and you should target the same conditions when setting up the home aquarium.

In a nutshell, here’s what you should target in terms of the key water parameters:

  • Water hardness: 4-20 dGH
  • pH level: 6.8-7.5
  • Water temperature: 55°F-75°F

What to Put in Their Tank?

Whether you will be keeping them in a backyard pond or a home aquarium, Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks love natural environments. That means you should include fine gravel as the most suitable substrate.

These fish are natural bottom dwellers, so what goes at the bottom of the tank should be of the best possible quality. Of course, you can choose to add sand or rock particles in the right quantities to create a natural environment. But be sure to get the right quality.

The next step will be to create nice hiding spots using rocks, driftwood, and different plants that thrive in cold water. Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks will enjoy plenty of hiding spaces in a home aquarium, but you should always prioritize swimming space.

So, as you decorate the entire tank with new hiding spots, be sure to give them enough room for swimming. With their activity levels, you should invest in a solid filtration system to reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrates and eliminate other harmful waste that would otherwise lower tank water quality.

If they live in a backyard pond, you will want the most powerful pond filters in the market to perform the same functions. Because these sharks thrive in moderately flowing rivers, the chosen filter should facilitate effective water flow inside the tank.

Common Diseases

Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks are hardy fish but can be vulnerable to many diseases affecting the freshwater fish community. Whether in a home aquarium or a large pond, you will want to monitor the water status to prevent common ailments such as dropsy, swim bladder disease, and Ich.

That aside, a range of fungal and bacterial infections may also affect your favorite sharks at home. Typically, almost all the diseases affecting Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks are linked to poor water quality.

When you first notice a disease outbreak in your fish community, the first suspect will be poor water quality. And as a precautionary measure, be sure to measure the water parameters to ensure everything’s perfect for the fish’s survival.

For Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks, water temperature is the most significant aspect of their daily living. While they will naturally thrive under cold conditions, the water temperature should never go below 55°F.

You may want to invest in a high-quality water heater to be safe when the temperatures drop below the recommended levels in winter. By this, we mean anything lower than 40°F that risks creating dormancy inside your tank.

What Do Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks Eat?

Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks have a large appetite for algae, but they are not herbivores. These fish are omnivores and will have a variety of food choices in their ordinary diet.

It’s vital to provide high-quality food that covers all their nutritional needs in the home aquarium. Here, we are talking about protein-rich foods, vitamins, and other nutrients.

These fish will gladly eat frozen snacks and protein-rich live foods like tubifex worms, crustaceans, brine shrimps, bloodworms, and earthworms.

Adult fish will also eat shrimps, mollusks, and insects. For vitamin sources, seaweed and zucchini are some of the best options in the market.

Behavior & Temperament

Forget their shark-given name. Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks are peaceful fish species that will want to rest at the bottom of the tank if not searching for food. In captivity, their peaceful behavior enables them to live freely with most other species and even larger fish without causing problems.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark Tank Mates

Choosing new tank mates for your Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks will significantly impact their life and well-being.

Unfortunately, this is never easy because an aquarist has to understand the newcomer’s temperament and ability to withstand cold water conditions.

If you don’t find a suitable tank mate, it will help to keep several Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks together to increase the level of comfort and security at the home aquarium.

Over the years, many aquarists have successfully kept Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks together with several types of goldfish, Dojo Loaches, Hillstream Loaches, and the Koi fish.

Other excellent options would be fellow cold water pond fish.


Unfortunately, breeding the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark in captivity is almost impossible. And most of the aquarists who perform it in commercial settings rely on hormones.

During spawning, these fish have to first migrate to fast-flowing shallow waters in the wild. After this, they return to the deep river waters. And these conditions can be challenging to recreate in a home setting.

There is little to no chance of successful fertilization in home aquariums, even if the female fish manages to lay eggs.

If you want to keep healthy Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks at home, there’s no point in attempting the breeding process because it exerts unnecessary stress on the fish. Just keep them in the right tanks and enjoy their beautiful sight when you can.

Final Thoughts

Despite their special appearance and peaceful temperament in confined settings, the Chinese High Fin banded Shark may not be the best pet choice for every aquarist. By now, you will already know the reasons why.

Think about their large size, breeding difficulties, and dwindling population in the wild, and you will only commit to keeping these fish if you have enough experience and adequate resources at home.

We might see them as one of the most underrated species in the fishkeeping community but we are only happy to recommend them to you if you have what it takes to keep them safely at home.

In that regard, if you have successfully kept the Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks in a home aquarium before, we would love to hear your story. We bet it’s a good one!