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Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus

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Family: Cyprinidae

Common Name: Flying Fox

Origin and Habitat: Indonesia, Malayasia, Singapore and Thailand. Occurs in moderate-flow streams and rivers having a substrate of gravel and/or sand and with marginal vegetation; migrates into the flooded forest during the wet season.

Compatibility/Temperament: The Flying Fox is solitary in its habitat and thus should be kept singly in the aquarium; it is very territorial with its own kind and should be kept as a solitary specimen as it will attack its own kind, and will get more aggressive with age. Otherwise, it is a relatively peaceful fish that can be kept in a community of barbs, danios, gouramis, rasbora, and larger tetras. Substrate fish must be very carefully chosen, and even then the individual temperament of the subject fish may or may not tolerate them; catfish and any species in the related genera must be avoided. Near-substrate fish such as cichlids should not be housed with this species.

Flying Fox Diet

In its habitat it grazes aufwuchs (algae mats encrusted with insect larvae, minute crustaceans, rotifers and protozoans). In the aquarium, the Flying Fox is an omnivore who will eat many types of prepared foods, especially Spirulina. Meaty foods as an occasional treat is recommended as well. Vegetable foods should be prominent. This is not a particularly good algae eater in aquaria and should not be acquired as such.


As a juvenile they are about 3 to 5 inches but as adults, will attain sizes of about 6.2 inches at most.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48-inches in length.

Water parameters for Flying Fox

Temperature should be from 22-26C/72F-78F, pH should be between 6 and 7.5, soft to moderately hard (5 to 12 dGH). Intolerant of nitrates.


Although it looks like a catfish, the Flying Fox is actually classified with the barbs and sports two pairs of short barbels on the upper lip. It is not an algae eater and has been reported to eat some aquarium plants. As it is a bottom dweller, sand or round gravel is best, and a moderate to strong current. Hiding places must be provided especially for young fish. You may see it resting on plants, but this is perfectly normal. Regular water changes are best. Distinguishing male and female externally is difficult, though mature females are rounder-bodied; the fish is not known to have been bred in the aquarium.

This species appears to be declining in the wild, due to disruptions to its habitat. Wild caught fish are very rare in the hobby; aquarium fish are commercially raised in the Far East, likely with the use of hormones. It has a lifespan of 8-10 years.

Confusion abounds with this fish. This species is frequently confused with the true Siamese Algae Eater and sometimes the False Siamese Algae Eater; more info on the latter two species may be obtained in the profile of Crossocheilus langei. The Flying Fox has white-edged red and black coloured fins, not clear fins as in the subject species. With respect to being useful in controlling algae, the Flying Fox is not the fish to acquire.

As noted under Origin, this fish occurs in flowing waters and is intolerant of high nitrates and any build-up of organic waste, requiring clean, well-oxygenated water; it is an active swimmer and thus needs space. It will therefore be best in a river or stream aquascape having a reasonable current from the filter along with a substrate of gravel, sand and pebbles, with larger rocks simulating boulders and some bogwood added.

The species was initially described as Barbus kalopterus by P. Bleeker in 1850. In 1868, A. Gunther used the name Epalzeorhynchus callopterus for a specimen in the British Museum, but Banarescu (1986) sorted this out and established the correct name. For a time following however, the species epithet was spelled kalopterum, but the correct spelling (gender) is kalopterus. The genus name derives from the Greek epalzes [= curative] and rhyngchos [= snout].


Banarescu, P. (1986), "A review of the species of Crossocheilus, Epalzeorhynchos and Paracrossochilus (Pisces, Cyprinidae)," Travaux du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle "Grigore Antipa," v. 28, pp. 141-161.

Rainboth, W.J. (1996), "Fishes of the Cambodian Mekong." FAO Species Identification Field Guide for Fishery Purposes.

Tan, H.H. and Maurice Kottelat (2009), "The fishes of the Batang Hari drainage, Sumatra, with description of six new species," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters v. 20 (no. 1), pp. 13-69.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: jack26707, Byron


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