Chinese High Fin Banded Shark: A Complete Guide (2022)

There’s a certain appeal that comes with owning a shark, even if they don’t actually share a relationship with the saltwater sharks in the ocean. And when you’re looking for a freshwater shark nothing beats the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark.

Their massive size, high dorsal fins, and docile nature make them an excellent choice for aquarium keepers who have a bit of extra space. But is a Chinese High Fin Banded Shark right for your aquarium, and how much space do they actually need?

We’ll break it all down for you here so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you head out and purchase a Chinese High Fin Banded Shark.

Quick Facts

Name Chinese High Fin Banded Shark
Size 4.5 feet
Lifespan 10 to 15 years
Minimum Tank Size 300 gallons (800 gallons recommended)
Water Temperature 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Typical Place in the Tank Bottom


While the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark may not have the most distinct coloring of all the aquarium fish out there, they do have a distinct appearance that many people love.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shar Appearance

Typically, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark has a dark body, with three dark slanted bands. These bands can be a darker shade of brown, or they can be completely black. On females they can be a dark purple, and females often have red hues throughout their body too.

All Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks have extremely large dorsal fins, and these can have flecks of the same color in their bands.


While they might have a shark in the name, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more peaceful fish. Not only are they extremely peaceful, but they’re also pretty lazy. When they aren’t searching for food, you’ll find them sleeping at the bottom of the tank.

And because they’re so peaceful and lazy, as long as the other fish they’re with aren’t small enough to become food, there’s no reason you can’t mix and match them!


The most impressive part of the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is their size. Under the right conditions they can grow to an impressive 4.5 feet, so ensure you give them plenty of space to grow and thrive.

Because of their larger size and relatively easy-to-meet care requirements, you can house them in either a pond or an extremely large aquarium.


While the average lifespan of a captive Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is 10 to 15 years, wild varieties of this fish can live up to 25 years. The reason for this difference in large part comes down to the quality of life you’re giving your fish.

By giving them a larger space, you can give your fish a longer and happier life. Because of this, we recommend at least an 800-gallon tank or pond for your fish. The more space you can give them, the longer life they’ll likely have, and the happier they’ll be.

How to Care for a Chinese High Fin Banded Shark

Just because they’re laid-back fish that can handle a large array of conditions doesn’t mean that you can simply plop them in the tank and expect everything to go well. Below we’ve highlighted a few things you need to do to ensure that your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark doesn’t just survive but thrive.

Recommended Tank Size

While a 300-gallon tank might be the bare minimum to keep your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark alive, we highly recommend something a little larger. While the 1 gallon per 1 inch of fish rule is good advice to follow for most fish, when you’re dealing with much larger fish it doesn’t work as well.

That’s because the tank needs to be at least twice the length of the fish to give them plenty of space to turn around. For a Chinese High Fin Banded Shark, that means a 550-gallon tank is really a much better way to go.

And if you’re looking to keep your fish even happier, then an 800-gallon tank is a better choice. When it comes to space for your fish, more is always better. It’s also why so many people keep Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks as pond fish, as this gives them more space to grow and thrive.

Also, keep in mind that these are the recommended tank size requirements for a single Chinese High Fin Banded Shark, and since they do better with more than one, you need even more space to really let them thrive.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark tank size

Setting Up Your Tank

Getting a large enough tank is definitely the hardest part of setting up the tank for your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark, but just because it’s the most challenging part doesn’t mean it’s the only one.

Whether you’re using a traditional tank or a pond, there are a few water parameters you need to meet to keep your Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks swimming happily. Below we’ve highlighted three specific requirements you’ll need to meet before even adding any fish to the water.

Water Temperature

While the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark has a wide range of acceptable water temperatures, it’s not infinite. You need to keep the overall water temperature between 55- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. For an indoor tank this means you shouldn’t have to worry about monitoring the water levels at all.

But for outdoor ponds, this can present a little bit of a concern in extremely warm or extremely cold climates. The best way to get around this is simply to dig down further. The farther down you dig, the more stable the water temperature will be.

To monitor the temperature in your pond we recommend keeping two thermometers. First is your surface thermometer, which will let you know what the temperature is at the surface. While this reading is important, it’s just as important to have a submersible thermometer that will tell you the temperature at the bottom of your pond.

As long as your pond has somewhere comfortable for the fish to go you should be alright without any additional features. However, if you do live in a warmer climate you might want to invest in a filter that oxygenates the water as well, as warmer temperatures can cause the water to lose oxygen to the atmosphere right when your fish need it the most.

PH Levels

In addition to the water temperature you also need to keep an eye on the pH level of the water. Once again, the pH level has a range that makes them pretty hardy fish, but that range has its limit as well.

To keep your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark happy and healthy, you need to keep the pH level between 6.8 and 7.5. That’s typically pretty easy to do if you stay on top of all the other conditions in your tank, but there are also products that can help you raise and lower the pH as needed.

You’ll need to keep a closer eye on the pH for smaller outdoor ponds though, as rainfall and other environmental factors can cause the pH levels to fluctuate drastically.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark setup

Cycling the Water

The final thing you need to do before adding any fish to the tank or pond is to cycle the water. Cycling the water refers to taking care of an aquarium’s natural nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels. Many novice aquarium owners don’t realize that the water in their fish tank needs certain bacteria to keep their fish alive.

That’s because fish naturally produce ammonia, and without bacteria to break down that ammonia it will kill your fish. And while the bacteria will start to grow and eat the ammonia right away, it generally doesn’t do it fast enough for your fish.

Even if your fish is lucky and the bacteria colonies build up fast enough that it doesn’t kill your fish, it’s still going to be incredibly painful for them.

The good news is that there are plenty of products that allow you to complete a fishless tank cycle. This gets all the beneficial bacteria colonies in place before you add your fish. That way, they can have a happy and comfortable experience from day one!

Food & Diet

While the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark have a prototypical algae eater appearance, their larger size means it’s really best to feed them both an algae and a protein-based diet. While there are commercial fish foods that you can purchase for your Chinese High Fin Shark, the truth is that you can give them all the nutrients they need naturally.

Not only will this save you some money, but it will also be a more enjoyable diet for your fish. Start by feeding them nutrient-rich vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, and kale. In addition, add in some protein sources like flash-frozen brine shrimp, bloodworms, prawns, and other crustaceans.

Always get these proteins from a trusted source though, so they won’t pass on any diseases to your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark when they eat them.

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark Care


While they have the term “shark” in their name, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is extremely friendly and laid back by nature. Because of this, you can pair them with other fish without any problems, and when they’re not searching for food, they’re typically hanging out at the bottom of the tank.

But they’re always so hungry that they can look like extremely active fish, since they’re always looking for something to eat!

Great Tank Mates

Any fish that is large enough not to fit in the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark’s mouth will usually make a great tankmate. However, keep in mind that the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is a docile fish by nature, so they won’t appreciate aggressive or even semi-aggressive fish nipping at them.

Of course, always ensure that you have more than enough space for both your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark and all of their tank mates, to alleviate any problems and to give them all enough space.

Finally, keep in mind that Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks do better in schools, so you should keep at least three to five of them together to keep them happy. When you consider this, it’s not uncommon to simply not have enough space to give them any tankmates.

You need at least 1,000 gallons to have enough space for all the necessary Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks and tankmates – and even that is pushing it.

Breeding Your Chinese High Fin Banded Shark

If you think you can just throw a couple of Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks in the same pond and you’ll get more, the truth is that you’re going to be a little disappointed.

Breeding freshwater sharks in captivity is all but impossible, and the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is no different. To breed these sharks you need to stimulate certain hormones and have shallow, fast-moving water. It’s an extremely daunting task.

However, if you’re worried about these fish taking over your pond, that’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about!

Chinese High Fin Banded Shark breeding


If you still have a few questions about Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks after reading through our guide then don’t worry, you’re not alone. That’s why we decided to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark for you here.

How Big Do Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks Get?

As one of the larger freshwater fish out there, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark can reach an impressive length of 4.5 feet long, and weigh up to 88-pounds. They’re extremely massive fish, so if you’re thinking of bringing one home, ensure you have enough space to properly care for them.

How Fast Do Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks Grow?

Not only do Chinese High Fin Banded Sharks get incredibly large, but they grow extremely fast too. After just one year they average 8-inches in length, and by the time they’re three, they’re close to 1-foot 8-inches long!

By the time they’re five or six years old, they’re typically fully mature and have reached their full size. However, keep in mind that if you keep them in enclosures that are too small for them, it will stunt their growth and likely lead to a premature death.

What Do You Feed a High Fin Shark?

High fin sharks thrive off of algae pellets and other plant matter, just ensure that there’s enough around for them to thrive. High fin sharks are notoriously vicarious eaters, so they’ll need plenty of food to keep them happy,

And while they thrive off algae and plants, that doesn’t mean if you throw smaller fish in there that they won’t go after them. But since it’s not a signature part of their diet, it’s best to spare the smaller fish and leave them out of the pond or lake.

Are There Sharks in the Yangtze River?

While there aren’t any real “sharks” in the Yangtze River, there are some freshwater “sharks” that call it home. These “sharks” have no real relation to the more famous saltwater sharks of the ocean, but they share similarities in their appearance.

Chief among the freshwater sharks in the Yangtze River is the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark. These massive fish can grow up to 4.5 feet long, and weigh over 80-pounds!

Final Thoughts

While you certainly need a ton of space to house a Chinese High Fin Banded Shark, if you have the space then they’re super easy to care for, and live a long time too. Both features make them a great choice to add a centerpiece to your indoor tank, or to simply mix things up in your outdoor pond.

They pair extremely well with Koi Fish, even if they don’t have the same eye-popping colors. Still, they’re extremely friendly, and you’ll get to say you own a shark! And how cool is that?