Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticus   Chinese High Fin
Banded Shark
Myxocyprinus asiaticus Bleeker. Myxocyprinus asiaticus sinensis, Myxocyprinus asiaticus asiaticus,
胭脂鱼, 中华胭脂鱼, Chinese High Fin Sucker, Sailfin Sucker, Topsail Sucker, Asian Sucker, Chinese Sucker, Wimple Carp, Wimpelkarpfen (German) Freshwater Batfish, Hilsa Herring, Rough Fish, Entsuyui (Japanese).

Family: Catostomidae (true suckers; 胭脂鱼科)

    This page is intended to provide aquarium keeping information for the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark, Myxocyprinus asiaticus. This fish that is often sold to aquarists who are not informed of the possible problems involved with keeping this fish. I myself do not have any of these fish, though I find their appearance of the juvenile form in dealers' tanks undeniably appealing.
  Images at right from:

The "Shark" appellation is a fanciful trade name due to some slight resemblance Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticusto a shark. A temperate (not tropical) water bottom feeder native to the Yangtze river in China. Mature length up to a meter (39 inches), but it is not known if aquarium kept individuals will survive long enough to reach this size. Omnivore (but strongly herbivorous). Hunziker states that "They feed on benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates and also rasp algae from rocks and logs." Described as "peaceful" (Mills), so I would not expect any predatory tendencies. Not recommended for casual aquarium keepers due to large size at maturity. Difficult to raise to maturity in captive conditions. Thought to be incompatible with tropical tank mates due to water temperature needs. Body shape and coloration changes radically with maturity (see quote from Castro, and series of drawings, below). Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticusNative to moving, cool water streams and rivers, so provide some water movement and well oxygenated water. Feed with sinking algae and plant matter containing foods (algae wafers and pellets, sinking Goldfish pellets). Appear to be schooling fish, therefore it would be best to keep them in groups (likelihood of survival without a school not known). 

Temperate origin, diet and size suggest care similar to Goldfish. Possibly suited to sharing tanks with Goldfish. Stocking levels for Goldfish (10-30 gallons per fish for juvenile forms) might apply. Possibly suited to outdoor ponds in milder temperate climates, but may be difficult to see due to coloration. 

An endangered species in China due to human development. Source of specimens for the aquarium trade not known.


Drawings from Fang, P.W.

Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Juvenile, approx. 4 inches long

Subadult Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Sub adult, approx. 20 inches long

Adult Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Adult, approx. 40 inches long

"The truely unfortunate thing about this species is that by the time it reaches a year in age, it has changed its basic shape from a deep bodied species with a high dorsal fin to a long, slender cylindrical species with a low dorsal fin. Its marvelous contrasting colors fade into a dull blackish brown, and, if properly housed, it continues to its potential length of about 3 feet in length. So ironically, the highly desirable Chinese highfin shark, if it is fortunate enough to survive, turns into a fish that would hardly anyone would give a second look to - a sort of ugly duckling in reverse."

-Alfred D. Castro

It is of dubious ethical value to keep a fish which may outgrow its tank; keeping fish is too small a tank is inhumane. Few (if any) aquarists have the tank space to house this fish at its adult size. If it is unlikely that the fish will reach adult size in an aquarium, this is a moot point. It is also of note that the fish is an endangered species. Since the fish is not really "captive bred" in the aquarium trade, keeping the fish in an aquarium does not contribute to its survival as a species. Aquarist demand for this fish may contribute to its extinction, since juveniles must be taken from its breeding habitat and out of any pool of individuals that are likely to reproduce.

I could not, in good conscience, keep this fish in an aquarium.

  Juvenile Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Image from: fish capsule report

  Young Subadult Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Young subadult: note different shape 
from juveniles on this page 

  • Bleeker, P. Notices sur quelques genres et espèces de Cyprinoides de Chine. Nederlandsch Tijdschreift voor de Dierkunde.2: 18-29. 1864. 
  • Bruner, John Clay. Bibliography of the family Catostomidae (Cypriniformes). Edmonton, Alta.: Natural History Section, Provincial Museum of Alberta, 1991 OCLC: 24098239 
  • Castro, Alfred D. High Fin. [Freshwater Q & A] Aquarium Fish Magazine. Dec 1997, 16-17. 
  • Fang, P. W. Notes on Myxocyrinus asiaticus (Bleeker) in Chinese Fresh-waters. Sinensia 4: 329-337. 1934. 
  • Gao, Zexia; Li, Yang; Wang, Weimin Threatened fishes of the world: Myxocyprinus asiaticus Bleeker 1864 (Catostomidae) Environmental Biology of Fishes, Vol. 83 (3). NOV 2008. 345-346  DOI: 10.1007/s10641-008-9347-5
  • Hunziker, Ray.  The Mountains of China [The Aquarium   Beautiful] Tropical Fish Hobbyist  September 1994 pp 148 - 155. Review of the "Tranquil Entsuyui" aquarium setup on pages 82-83 of Takashi Amano's book Nature Aquarium World (TFH, 1993). Photo of a subadult form is on page 155 of the TFH article.
  • Jackson, L. Notes on the Chinese highfin sucker Myxocyprinus asiaticus. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium. 14(10) 1991: 48, 50.
  • Liu, J; Chen, J; Yu, Z; Liu, L. Controlled reproduction and broodstock rearing of the Chinese sucker Myxocyprinus asiaticus.  Asian Fisheries Science  8 (3/4): 223-227, 1995
  • Mancini, A. The hi-fin China sucker C. myxocyprinus asiaticus Bleeker. Freshwater and Marine Aquarium 14(4) 1991: 40-41.
  • Mills, Dick.  Aquarium Fish. [Eyewitness Handbooks] NY:   Dorling Kendersly, 1993. p. 230. 
  • Nelson, Edward M. Some Notes on the Chinese Sucker Myxocyprinus Copia, Vol. 1976, No. 3 (Aug. 20, 1976), pp. 594-595
  • Robson, M. Up and coming cats. Practical Fishkeeping. April 1992: 16-18.
  • YUAN, Y.C.,  S.Y. GONG, Z. LUO , H.J. YANG , G.B. ZHANG  & Z.J. CHU. Effects of dietary protein to energy ratios on growth and body composition of juvenile Chinese sucker, Myxocyprinus asiaticus Aquaculture Nutrition 2009 (page numbers not available on early view copy). DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2095.2009.00652.x
  • Zhang Chun-Guang; Zhao Ya-Hui  Early development of Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) Acta Zoologica Sinica, Vol. 46 (4). 2000. 438-447.
  • Zhang Chun-Guang; Zhao Ya-Hui  Migration of the Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) in Yangtze river basin with a discussion on the potential effects of the dams on fishActa Zoologica Sinica, Vol. 47 (5). Oct., 2001. 518-521.
Adult coloration: rarely achieved in an aquarium

Articles in Chinese:
  • Cai M;Deng Z;Yu Z;Deng X;Ma J Observation on the early development of Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus). Freshwater Fisheries 1992(1) No. 165 1992: 8-12, illustr.
  • Liu L;Wu G;Wang Z;Yang D. An effect of the Gezhou Dam key water control project on sexual gland development and natural spawning of Chinese sucker Myxocyprinus asiaticus n the downstream below the dam. Journal of the Fisheries of China. 16(4), Dec 1992: 346-356, illustr
  • Wu G x;et al. The age and growth of Myxocyprinus asiaticus at Yichang reaches of Changjiang River below Gezhou Dam. Freshwater Fisheries No. 154 1990: 3-8, illustr. 
  • Xu, S. Catostomidae. in: Mao, J. & Xu, S. [Eds]. Fauna of Zhejiang: fresh water fishes.  Zhejiang Science and Technology Publishing House, Hangzhou, Zhejiang   Province. 1989: 41-43, illustr. 
  • Yu Z;Deng Z;Cai M;Deng X;Jiang H;Yi J;Tian J. Preliminary report on reproductive biology and artificial propagation of the Chinese sucker (Myxocyprinus asiaticus) in the downstreams of Gezhouba hydroelectric project. Acta Hydrobiologica Sinica 12(1) 1988: 87-89, illustr. 
  • Zhou, L. Study on the techniques of artificial propagation of Myxocyprinus asiaticus. Freshwater Fisheries 25(1) No 183 1995: 31-32, illustr. 

Additional Articles in Chinese from airitiweb


James S. Koga
Last Updated:
February 20, 2015

Articles in German:
  • Ott, Gerhard. Myxicyprinus [Myxocyprinus] asiaticus. Ein Catostomide aus China. [Myxocyprinus asiaticus. A catostomid from China.]. Ti 31(1) Nr 145, Februar-Marz, 1999: 37-39, illustr ISSN: 1437-4854 
  • van den Nieuwenhuizen, A. Myxocyprinus asiaticus, eine Raritat aus China. Aquarien- und Terrarien-zeitschrift. 43(5) 1990: 294-295, illustr. 

Additional items from the Hathi Trust Library


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