How to Keep Your New Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark

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Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark Factoids

Origin

Upper Yangtze River in China

Maximum Size

Three feet -- unlikely in an aquarium

Housing

Bigger the better with moving water
Water Needs clean water
Food Omnivore but prefers vegetation -- like a goldfish

Security

None needed
Longevity 20 to 25 years
Growth Rate Slow grower -- one to two inches per year

Temperature

Prefers cooler water -- like a goldfish

Attitude

Bottom dweller and feeder.  Travels in shoals.
Sexing Males develop breeding tubercles -- like goldfish
Breeding comments Unlikely.  Reputed to lay tens of thousands of eggs

LA
1.5-inch hi-fin banded Chinese shark.

LA
Close up of a two incher.

LA
Same two incher.

LA
Three-incher in tank with one partner.  They would rather live in schools

LA
Get those fins up.

LA
Different three-incher.

Origin:  Chinese high-fin banded sharks originate from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River where the locals consider them a tasty food fish.  Due to recent dam-building in that area, Chinese High-fin banded sharks are now on the endangered species list.  Still, they keep showing up on our wholesale lists (at higher and higher prices, of course).  They also disappear from these lists from time to time.

LA
Look like a shark?

 

Whats in a Name?  In various areas people call these guys wimple carp, Hilsing herring, freshwater batfish, Chinese sucker fish (which they really are), but seem to sell best as Chinese high-fin banded sharks (because everyone loves sharks).  Except for the shark part, the latter name fits them fairly well.  They look nothing like a shark.  Maybe its that high dorsal fin?  If a group of those high fins were circling you in your local swimming hole, youd maybe get a little nervous.

LA Pic
These guys get awfully large -- up to three feet in the wild

Maximum Size:  Supposedly these rascals grow over three feet long.  Ive never seen an adult, so we cant vouch for this fact from personal experience. 
 

Dawn deValk, Rochester, NY, August 8, 2007
Per our phone conversation.  Here's my
Chinese high fin banded shark -- over a foot long in a 50 high tank.

DV

 
A:  Nice pic.  I've never seen a large one.  I understood that their top fin shrank as they grew larger.  Guess not.  You didn't say how old he is.  I'll add your report to my hi-fin shark page.  LA
 
Dawn deValk, Rochester, NY, August 9, 2007
I bought him about a year and a half ago. He was only about 2 maybe 2 1/2 inches when I bought him. I don't think he's that old. His top fin has never shrunk though. He does school with my other shark breeds . They stay under him when he's swimming. It's really cool to watch. I will send you a better picture soon. I'm going to go get a ruler. Have A great day!!

A:  Thanks.  LA

Housing:  Because they grow so huge, you really need a large tank to keep your Chinese high-fin banded sharks in -- especially since they do better when kept in groups.  Luckily they are very slow growers, so you may never grow one to its potential full size.

LA
This guy is living in a discus tank.

Water Conditions:  Coming from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, you’d expect these rascals to fare best in cool, unpolluted waters.  Right you are.  You won’t need a heater for your Chinese high-fin banded sharks.  If you keep them like goldfish, you and they will both be happier.  Like goldfish, most suckers can adapt to stretches of warm weather but are happiest when kept cool.

Foods and Feeding:  Very good eaters of most foods, Chinese high-fin banded sharks fare best when fed plenty of vegetable matter.  They accept algae wafers and never turn up their noses at live or frozen foods.  They also enjoy flakes, pellets, and food sticks.   They will sift through their substrate for bits of food, dislodging and eating plants (as they grow in size), and re-arranging your aquascaping to their own personal “tastes.”  If you’ve ever housed a koi in an aquarium, you know exactly how these suckers act.

Security:  Like goldfish and koi, Chinese high-fin banded sharks don’t pester other fishes.  And they don’t feel like they need to hide.  They like to cruise your tank all day then go into suspended animation when you turn off their lights.

LA
Came in without the dorsal.

LA
Dorsal was trimmed on both these guys.

Longevity:  Like goldfish and koi, think in terms of decades.  These fish will live a long time.  So, it’s no wonder they grow so large -- over a yard (just like koi).  However, Chinese high-fin banded sharks grow much more slowly -- only an inch or two per year.

 

Attitude:  Mellow lunkers.  Chinese high-fin sharks act like big fish from the beginning.  They come out front.  Sure you can scare them with sudden moves but they readily adapt to you.  They like to travel in groups (shoals) as they patrol their tank floor.

LA
In 85 degree planted 55-gallon aquarium.

LA
1.5-inch hi-fin banded shark fresh out of the bag.

LA
Same guy five hours later.  He'll darken up more.  Note bent dorsal.

LA
Same guy the next day.

LA
The day after.

Color:  These little rascals can change their colors (within limits, of course) from light to dark apparently at will.  They lose their bars and their high top fin as they mature.  Adults wind up looking very much like a dull brown carp.

Sexing:  Males develop tubercles on their cheeks and side fins when they come into breeding condition (like goldfish and koi).  The females probably get lumpier when they fill with eggs.  I can’t locate any spawning reports so you can’t have the details.  I would expect them to breed like koi, but no one reports any success.  Still, although next to extinct in their original home, young Chinese high-fin banded sharks continue to hit the market every year.  Apparently, somewhere in the upper reaches of the Yangtze, some canny Chinese fish farmer is cranking out enough of these guys to make them available in Des Moines (at ever-increasing prices).  Probably they’d spawn in outdoor ponds in temperate climates.  I await your personal breeding reports.

LA
Chinese hi-fin sharks have almost doubled in price lately.

Last Words:  Price and size will keep these guys out of most people’s clutches.  LA
 

John Schieffler, August 24, 2007
Link of tons of pictures and discussion:
http://bbs.cnfish.com/viewthread.php?tid=320146&extra=page%3D1&page=1

A:  Since the discussion was in Mandarin Chinese, I had a difficult time with it.  However, the pictures were excellent.  LA

Outtakes:

LA

LA Pic
Even the little two inchers are expensive.

LA
Did not fare well with two-inch oscars.

LA
Are these guys coming in still smaller?

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA

LA

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