December 1999
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Myxocyprinus asiaticus
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Myxocyprinus asiaticus - Freshwater Batfish
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"Myxocyprinus asiaticus is one of the two surviving cotostomids (suckers) found in Asia, the other being the Siberian Cotostomus rotratus, and originates from mountain streams in the Yangtze River, China. Consequently Myxocyprinus asiaticus enjoy plenty of aeration and can tolerate wide temperature variations (65 - 82°F). I am told they may even be kept outdoors in summer although prolonged low temperatures should be avoided. My fish seem comfortable at around 78°F.

Water quality is not critical but, as with many fish, Myxocyprinus asiaticus are sensitive to any abrupt changes and are particularly susceptible to nitrates. Good, powerful filtration and regular partial water changes are essential. Don't become overly concerned if the fish frequently changes colour. Batfish will lighten and darken as their mood takes them.

Myxocyprinus asiaticus are an ideal community fish. They can be kept as individuals but are at their most impressive in a shoal. Additionally they are placid in nature and continually on the move in the search for food stopping to rest only occasionally. The fish generally remain on the substrate swimming in an almost a clownish manner, along the edges and contours of the aquarium. They will on occasion, swim along long-leafed plants or up the sides of the tank until they are inverted and drift back down to the bottom. Interestingly, their active nature ceases at night. Almost immediately after lights out Myxocyprinus asiaticus will stop in situ and rest.

The fish are easily startled when first introduced to a new aquarium so take care when approaching the tank. Aside from this the only draw back to this fascinating fish is its potential adult size. In nature Myxocyprinus asiaticus can reach an amazing three feet in length! As can be seen in the photograph the fish has a high body profile in relation to its length and the tip of the dorsal fin can reach to over two feet in height. Fortunately, Batfish are slow growing. In my experience they grow around 2 inches per year and it is thought that the fish can survive over 25 years. The fish also loose their white "stripes" with age. The adult fish take on an overall darker appearance although this is somewhat dependent on their diet. Feeding brine shrimp brings out pink rather than orange flecks in the fish's colouration.

Batfish enjoy a variety of foods and can be fed flake and vegetable matter, although this must be supplemented with either live or frozen foods such as bloodworm and the aforementioned brine shrimp. Always observe the fish when feeding as they can stop eating. If this happens check the aquarium for nitrate, perform a water change if necessary and begin feeding live food only.

Almost nothing is known about the breeding of Myxocyprinus asiaticus. In fact the distinct lack of success by experts in this area was once attributed to the rumour that only males were exported in an attempt by the Chinese to corner the Myxo market! Personally I doubt this on the basis that it is very difficult to sex young Batfish (see data table below) and the hence it is unlikely that the Chinese would have been able to control the export.

It is however thought that breeding is similar to that of Cotostomus cotostomus, the American counterpart to the Myxo's Siberian relation, Cotostomus rotratus. Cotostomus sp. spawn in groups after a migration to quieter waters in the summer and depending on the size and species, some American cotostomids lay upto 50,000 eggs which, are guarded by the male."

Common Name(s) (Chinese/Asian) Hi Fin Banded shark/sucker, Freshwater Batfish (My favourite), (Chinese/Asian) zebra hifin shark/sucker, Entsuyui, Rough fish
Latin Name Myxocyprinus asiaticus
Synonyms None, but there are 3 sub-species which are possibly regional colour variations; M. a. asiaticus, M. a. fukiensis and M. a. bleekeri.
Order Cypriniformes
Sub-Order Cyprinoidei
Family Cyprinidae
Water pH of 6 to 7.5. Very susceptible to high nitrates, will darken and go off food. Water should be clear and fast flowing. User power filtration.
Origin The mountainous upper and also middle streams of the Yangtze River, China
Temperature (°F) 65-82
Size Up to 3ft in nature. An adult fish however looks nothing like its juvenile form. The fish is a slow grower in the aquarium, a 7" fish is probably around 5 years old.
Sexing Like other suckers the males develope breeding tubercles on their head and fins during maturation of the gonads. The picture below is another carp-like Cyprinid, but it does show the aforementioned tubercles as they appear on a Myxocyrpinus.
Breeding Unknown
Feeding In nature the fish continually searches for food. It will sift a sandy substrate for morsels, but will equally happily "suck" food from in between gravel particles. Bloodworm seems to be best, but brine shrimp is also appreciated. Will accept dried foods, but these must be supplemented with frozen/live foods. Vegetation is also chewed at, but your plants are safe!
Swimming Zone Lower and middle areas of the aquarium.
Compatibility Peaceful, almost clownish in manner.
Suggested Group Size Can be kept singly but will shoal if kept in groups of three or more.
Suggested Tankmates Most community fish, avoid "nippy" barbs and loaches. Rasboras and Danios are ideal. Siamese Algae Eaters will happily fill in the "algae eater" niche in a successful Myxo tank.
"Furniture" Lots of swimming space with over-hanging vegetation. Is very inquisitive and can get stuck in narrow spaces. The fish posses fleshy lips and due to their feeding nature a soft, smooth substrate is recommended.
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