Flying Fox Fish: Characteristics, types, care and more

The Flying Fox Fish or Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus in scientific terms ,belong to the cyprinids family (freshwater fish) and are frequently used in aquariums. It really worth learning everything about them.

Let´s meet them better.


Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Cypriniformes

Family: Cyprinidae

Genus: Epalzeorhynchos

Main Characteristics Of The Flying Fox Fish

The flying fox fish have an elongated body (fusiform), which can reach up to 15 centimeters in length. Their belly is a little flattened, giving them a fairly cylindrical general appearance. As for their  head, the most characteristic feature is the slightly forward mouth, from which hang two pairs of small barbels, while their eyes are located on the sides of their head. We invite you to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn more about this topic

Body Color

Their most outstanding feature and the one that makes them really attractive for domestic aquariums, is the black band that runs throughout their body, which runs from the eye to the end of their caudal fin. Moreover, there is a golden colored line that delimits the previous one. Compared with other species, the flying fox fish are easy to differentiate, because of the white, red and black edges of their fins.

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Distribution and Habitat

The flying foxes are bottom-dwellers that thrive in fast-flowing hillside rivers and streams of the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Java and Sumatra in Southeast Asia.


Their reproductive habits in captivity are unknown.

How to Feed the Flying Fox Fish?

This species is omnivorous and feeds mainly on freeze-dried live food, although they can also be given flakes. It is important to supplement their diet with vegetables such as seaweed, lettuce and even oats. In the wild, besides vegetables, Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus has a predilection for small invertebrates such as worms, insects and crustaceans.

As for the algae, having some of them in your tank is completely normal and natural, and is actually a sign of a healthy aquarium. While some aquarists advocate that your tank be pristine and have no algae growth, this is neither natural nor healthy. You just have to look at any natural environment in which the fish live to see this. However, while it´s   acceptable to have algae in small amounts, they can grow quickly and it´s   important not to let them take over of your tank. That´s why the combination of algae and any species of fish that feed on them is ideal for any aquarium.

Finally, once the flying fox fish diet is established, you should plan a schedule in which you provide them food, and it is advisable twice a day.


Flying Fox Fish and Other Fish Species.

They can share the aquarium with fish of different species, as long as they have enough space to swim comfortably. They usually develop a territorial and aggressive behavior against their congeners, especially in their adulthood.

Aquarium and Water Treatment

The aquarium for flying fox fish should have a minimum capacity of 400 liters with a temperature between 20º and 26ºC, a pH between 6 and 7.5 (value close to neutral), and a water hardness between 5 and 12º GH. It´s important that they have vegetation, as well as shelters such as roots, stones or artificial caves. The substrate must be a mixture of gravel and sand. Weekly partial water changes are very beneficial for this species.

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Types of Flying Fox Fish

There are other two fish of this species with similar morphological characteristics, but they are different. It´s important to learn how to distinguish them because they may be labeled wrongly in stores

Siamese Flying Fox Fish

The Siamese flying fox fish is the least sociable «fox» fish. He likes to swim alone and is much more aggressive and territorial. This species differs from the flying fox fish, by the black strip that runs through it, which decreases its thickness when reaching the caudal fin, while in the flying fox fish the thickness doesn´t  decrease.

Flying Fox Fish: siamese Flying Fox Fish

False Flying Fox Garra Cambodgiensis

The false flying fox does eat algae but not the red ones. It is Territorial and aggressive, (like the rest of flying fox fish), even with females of the same species, except during the mating season. They lack the characteristic black longitudinal band of the other two species, which makes very easy to distinguish them. If we got to mix them in the aquarium, they could fight to death.

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