Black Banded Leporinus Fish Species Profile

Characteristics, Origin, and Helpful Information for Hobbyists

Black Banded Leporinus - Leporinus fasciatus
Rusty Clark

The black banded leporinus has the appearance of a torpedo-shaped bumblebee. Its thick, verticle black and yellow stripes help individuals blend into the school in wide-open water much like zebra camouflage together on the open plains. They require a very large aquarium as the fish quickly grow to over a foot in length and are avid jumpers given any opportunity. As yet, the status of the species has not been evaluated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature.) Although this species does not breed in captivity, it's wild range is large; fish in this genus are considered likely not at risk of overfishing for the aquarium trade.

Species Overview

COMMON NAMES: Black banded leporinus, many banded leporinus, banded leporinus, striped leporinus, eight-banded leporinus

SCIENTIFIC NAME:  Leporinus fasciatus

ADULT SIZE: 12 inches (30 cm)



Family Anostomidae
Origin Central and South America
Social Large, can be aggressive
Tank Level Mid to bottom dweller
Minimum Tank Size 70 gallons
Diet Herbivorous omnivore
Breeding Egglayer
Care Difficult
pH 5.5 to 7.5
Hardness to 20 dGH
Temperature 72 to 79 F (22 to 26 C)

Origin and Distribution

Native to the Amazon River basin in South America, this fish was also accidentally introduced into the states of Florida and Hawaii, probably by the illegal release of specimens that had grown too large for home aquariums. Although a few members of this family are regularly seen for sale in the aquarium market, there is still little scientific information available about the various leporinus species. Leporinus are small members of the Anostomidae family. The Anostomaide are predominately herbivorous omnivores that inhabit swiftly moving rivers.

Colors and Markings

The name "leporinus" is of French origin, meaning "little hare." Close examination of the fish will explain the name, as they have two prominent front teeth much like a hare or rabbit. Fish species that develop crushing front teeth are usually snail eaters.

All leporinus have only five black bands as juveniles. As they grow, only one band will split in two every year, with the lighter mustard or golden yellow color in between. By counting these bands, you can age the specimen. Not all fish in the genus Leporinus carry these distinctive yellow and black stripes, but only the striped varieties, Leporinus fasciatus and Leporinus affinis, are offered for sale in the aquarium trade.

Closely resembling each other, the primary difference between these two species is the shape of the caudal (tail) fin and the number of stripes. Leporinus affinis has a rounded caudal fin and has nine stripes. Leporinus fasciatus has pointed caudal fins and displays ten vertical stripes. Some specimens (possibly the males) of Leporinus fasicatus will display a dusty red color on their throat, which is specific only to this species. Fins on all Leporinus are transparent or dusky with a hint of black.


Tolerant of other large fish in a community tank, Leporinus fasicatus lives in large schools; fish are known to quarrel among themselves from time to time. This is particularly true when they are kept in smaller groups rather than larger schools. Smaller fish in a community tank are easy prey for the black banded leporinus, so only select other large and rugged fish as tankmates.

Non-aggressive cichlids species make good co-inhabitants. Other possible tankmates for this fish would be similarly sized characins, Loricariids, Doradids, and the Knifefish. Keep leporinus with larger or same-sized, semi-aggressive fish as it is also notorious for nipping at fins. Do not keep it with slower-moving, long-finned species such as angelfish.

Leporinus Fasciatus
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Black Banded Leporinus Habitat and Care

In nature, black banded leporinus live in rocky river beds and are accustomed to strong currents. To create the appropriate constant flow, the use of a powerhead is recommended. Sand or fine gravel can be used as a bottom substrate.​

Like other Anostomidae, all leporinus position themselves head-down in rocky clefts and fissures; provided similar furnishings in their aquarium. In strong current environments, this habitual positioning may allow for better grazing opportunities or better camouflage among river plants, but the reason for the behavior has not been identified.

The black banded leporinus is also capable of jumping to great heights. Care should be taken to use a tight, locking cover to prevent the fish from jumping out of the tank with force. All live plants will be eaten with zeal, so use plastic plants or keep to the sturdier live plants such as java fern. The water should be kept soft and acidic. Keep in mind that when fully grown, this fish reaches nearly a foot in length, which means it requires a large aquarium of 70 gallons or larger.

Black Banded Leporinus Diet and Feeding

Their preferred diet consists of mostly plant material, such as leaves and algae. Chickweed, lettuce, watercress, and even cooked peas are good food sources. Vegetable flakes are also suitable if the fish will accept them. These fish may become territorial when feeding and may harass others in the school.

Some small larvae, small worms, and even fruits are also eaten in nature. These may be used as an augment to their regular vegetarian diet. Besides biting into wild fruits, the sharp, rabbit-like front teeth of the species make it able to crack the shells of snails. Do not house these fish with tank cleaning invertebrates, but do offer pond snails as a good source of nutritional live food.

Gender Differences

No sexual differences are discernible until they are mature adults. Females will grow large and have rounder abdomens. Males may be the individuals who develop a red throat, but this is not known.

Breeding the Black Banded Leporinus

Rumors circulate that this fish has been successfully bred in captivity, but there is very little, if any, documentation of such reports. It is known that the black banded leporinus is an egg layer.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

If black banded leporinus appeal to you, and you are interested in a compatible fish for your aquarium, read up on:

Check out additional fish species profiles for more information on other freshwater fish.