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Search Results for: Chinese hi fin shark

Keeping the Chinese Sailfin Sucker (Shark) in Outdoor Goldfish and Koi Ponds

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. 

Known by as many as twenty common names, including rough fish and Chinese high-finned banded shark (Myxocyprinus asiaticus), this unusual Chinese import is the subject of much confusion…both as to its natural history and care in captivity.  One thing is certain – this often over-looked oddity is among the hardiest and most interesting fishes that one might add to an outdoor goldfish or koi pond. Check out a picture here.

Natural History

Chinese sailfin suckers are believed to be endemic (found nowhere else) to the Yangtze and Minjiang River Basins in China.  Yet rumors persist that the fish is native to Japan as well, and for a time the populations there were considered to be a distinct subspecies.  Most authorities now consider the subspecies status to be invalid, but there is no consensus as to the origin of the animals living in Japanese waters (I imagine they are feral, introduced from China).

Recent studies indicate that this fish makes extensive breeding migrations, and that its continued survival in China is threatened by dam building and over-harvesting for the food trade.

Care in Captivity

The confusion as to the care of the Chinese sailfin arises from the lack of basic information concerning its natural history.  Fueled perhaps by its “exotic” appearance, this fish is generally sold as a tropical species for inclusion in home aquariums.  In truth it favors water of 62-70 F (although it is tolerant of higher temperatures), may reach 24 inches in length (39 inches by some accounts) and can over-winter under ice in water of sufficient depth.

Chinese sailfins are, therefore, much better suited to an outdoor pond than an aquarium.  Clad in tones ranging from golden-brown to rusty-pink (breeding males are red, females dark purple) and with 3 broad, dark vertical bands, an enormous triangular dorsal fin and comically small head, this bottom-dweller is quite a sight! 

It does best in groups, is peaceful in the extreme, and fares well on a diet of Koi or Goldfish Pellets and Algae Wafers  (they are decidedly vegetarian in their food preferences).

Other Unusual Pond Fishes

Cutlips MinnowChinese sailfin suckers present no difficulties over and above what you might encounter in keeping koi or goldfish outdoors, and will add a great deal of character and interest to your pond. 

Native fishes also present fine opportunities to expand upon your collection of “outdoor fishes”…some mix well with typical pond fish, and without exception all are very interesting.  The cutlips minnows and burbots pictured here, while not very colorful, are fascinating to keep and very hardy.  Please look for my articles on keeping native fishes in the Burbotsfuture.

Further Reading

A synopsis of what little field research has been done with this fish is presented in Current Zoology.


Please write in with your questions and comments.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

Algae in Freshwater Aquariums and Ponds: a Primer (Part II)

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Please see Part I of this article for information on using plants and bacteria to control algae. Today I’d like to take a look at some algae-eating fishes, snails and shrimps.

Sucker Catfishes (Plecostomus, Hypostomus, Loricarichthys spp.)
An incredible array of fishes consume algae, with these interesting beauties being among the best known. Larger sucker cats and Chinese sailfin sharks (see article below) can also be kept in outdoor ponds.

Thailand Flying Fox, Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus
This nicely marked fish consumes all types of algae, and is also fond of the flatworms that sometimes arrive in aquariums along with live plants.

Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis
This fish is similar in appearance to other, less-effective species, and is sometimes sold as the “True Siamese Algae Eater”. It does well in schools, and consumes even the coarser varieties of hair and beard algae.

Chinese Hillstream Loach, Beaufortia kweichowensis
This small loach is one of my favorites. It has been compared to a flounder in appearance, but reminds me of the oddly-shaped torpedo rays.

This active loach is adapted to fast-flowing waters, and fares best in high oxygen environments. It is well-suited for removing algae from glass and plant leaves, and is rarely if ever bred in captivity…definitely a fish worth working with for those interested in breaking new ground.

Garra pingi pingi or Pingi Log Sucker, Discognathus pingi
Formerly rare in the trade, this stout East Asian bottom dweller has a huge appetite for algae of all types. Many aquarists find they must supplement its diet with algae wafers; those I have kept took pre-soaked kale as well.

This is another species which would make a nice breeding project, as only wild-caught animals are available at this point.

Algae Eater, Gyrinocheilus aymonieri
The “standard” algae control fish in smaller aquariums, the taxonomy of this interesting species is somewhat of a mystery. While typically reaching 4 inches in length, I recall receiving shipments of individuals that topped 11 inches. I hope to keep some in an outdoor pond in the future, to see if the increased water volume might spur additional growth.

Algae eaters relentlessly comb rocks, glass and plant leaves for algae, and will take leftover fish flakes as well.

Freshwater Shrimp
Almost all of the dozen or so species currently available favor algae as food. Particularly attractive is the cherry shrimp, Neocaridina denticulata sinensis. Given proper care (please see article below) they will breed prolifically, with a large group making for a spectacular display.

Freshwater shrimp will co-exist with the fish mentioned above, but will, however, be harassed or eaten by fishes with carnivorous tendencies.

A number of snails live almost entirely upon algae, but many consume plants as well. Apple snails can eat a surprising number of plants overnight, while olive Nerites (please see article below) take only algae and do not reproduce in fresh water. The Japanese trapdoor snail is also a good choice, but needs warm, well-filtered water.

Further Reading
To learn more about some of the creatures mentioned above, please see the following articles:
Freshwater Shrimp

The Chinese Sailfin Shark

The Olive Nerite

Please write in with your questions and comments. Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.