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Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Labeoninae

Common Name: Black Shark

Origin and Habitat: Asia: Mekong and Chao Phraya Basins (Malaysia, Java, Sumatra and Borneo). Occurs in rivers, streams, canals and floodplains.

Compatibility/Temperament: Very territorial and aggressive, cannot be kept with anything smaller as it matures. Intolerant of its own species or any similarly-shaped fish.

Black Shark Diet

This fish is an omnivore with a huge appetite. Standard foods like bloodworms, live worms and sinking prepared foods must be upgraded to live earthworms, crustaceans, flesh of fish and vegetables as the fish grows. It requires a sizable proportion of vegetable foods. Care must be taken not to overfeed.


Sources vary as to the maximum size at maturity. Fishbase gives 90cm (36 inches) for wild fish, and some authors suggest 24 inches is normal in captivity (aquaria).

Minimum Tank Suggestion

2,500 gallons

Water parameters for Black Shark

Soft to medium hard (< 15d GH), acidic to basic (pH 6.5 to 7.5), temperature 24-27C/75-80F.


Although this fish may sometimes be encountered as attractive juveniles in aquarium stores, it is not a fish for the home aquarium given its mature size and temperament. A common food fish in SE Asia, it grows fairly rapidly and has a captive lifespan of 10 to 20 years.

The aquarium must have hiding places large enough for the fish as it grows, and it will select one as it's "cave." Some water current will be appreciated. Unlike other freshwater "sharks," this species will eat plants, and it is a fairly good jumper so the aquarium must be covered. It has apparently not been spawned in the aquarium.

The species was originally described as Rohita chrysophekadion by P. Bleeker in 1850. In 1989, T.R. Roberts moved it to Morulius, then a subgenus of Cyprinus, although Bohlke (1984), Reid (1985) and later Kottelat (2000) all deem Morulius as a synonym of Labeo and thus invalid. Kottelat assigned it to Labeo in 1993 and this is now deemed valid. This species appeared under five names (as distinct species) assigned by various ichthyologists mainly pre-1900, but these are now considered conspecifics and the names are thus synonyms for Labeo chrysophekadion.

The genus Labeo was erected by G. Cuvier in 1816 and currently contains 103 valid species [source: Fishbase]. The name is Latin, meaning one who has large lips.


Kottelat, Maurice, A. J. Whitten, S. N. Kartikasari and S. Wirjoatmodjo (1993), Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi, Periplus Editions, Hong Kong.

Roberts, T.R. (1989), "The freshwater fishes of Western Borneo (Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia)," Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences, 14.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: Byron


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