Flying fox fish

Flying Fox Fish | How to Care for this Freshwater Species

The flying fox fish, commonly mistaken for the Siamese flying fox due to its algae eating diet, is a famous and easily available fish. It is commonly spotted in freshwater lakes. You could also find it in tropical aquariums.

It is important to note that not all species of fish co-exist with others in an aquarium setting. Therefore, is a flying fox fish a good tank mate for your fish, and should you get one?

In this article, we have highlighted the most vital facts you need to be aware of before purchasing one.

What is the Flying Fox fish?

Flying fox fish

The Flying Fox is a freshwater fish from the family of Cyprinidae. Its scientific name is Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus.


The flying fox fish has a long body, its abdominal areas are flat, and its color ranges from dark brown to olive around the dorsal area and shades of yellow or white on the lower part of the body.

A black line is visible, running from the fish’s eye through the caudal fins, and dorsal region to the anus.

The anal, ventral, and dorsal fins appear to have a black band and a white edge. A red iris may be seen sometimes. All these features make this fish very attractive.


At a young age, both sexes look identical. It may be tough to distinguish them. However, as they mature, the females tend to have thicker bodies than the male ones.

How long does Flying Fox grow?

In an aquarium, this fish grows up to 6 inches long and can live up to eight years when properly taken care of. In a natural habitat, the Flying fox grows a little bit more than in an aquarium setting.

Origins and natural habitat

This fish is particularly seen in the lakes and rivers of Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Java, and Sumatra. These are migratory types of fish.

In the wild, they are usually seen migrating into forested regions and floodplains. However, in recent times, due to urbanization and man encroachment, migration of this fish is only to a small extent.

Wild Flying Fox feeds on algae that grow on the rocks and substrates in their natural habitat. They also supplement insects, insect larvae, and even tiny crustaceans.

In many pet stores, the fish you’ll find there are commercially bred. Although it’s hard to come across a wild-caught one, this is not an endangered fish in the wild.

The Correct Variety of Flying Fox Fish (What is NOT a Flying Fox fish?)

It is easy to mistake this variety of fish for other fish in the same species with similar characteristics. Luckily, most fish stores usually have labels to identify them.

However, others do this labeling incorrectly. This is why you need to have some basic differences to purchase the right variety.

Siamese Algae Eater

This Siamese algae eater is so similar to the Flying Fox. It is often mistaken for it. The only way you will distinguish the two is by looking out for flaps at the corners of the said fish’s mouth.

Flying Fox will have these flaps whereas Algae eaters won’t. This is however tough to note as these fish are so small and such tiny details may not be so clear to the eye.

Fortunately, you can use these fish-distinguished colors to make an informed guess.

While the Flying Fox’s black stripe is smooth and will only run up to where the tail fin starts, the Algae Eater’s black stripe will run to the end of the tail fin and tends to be less smooth.

Siamese Flying Fox

Siamese flying

The Siamese Flying Fox is an aggressive fish that tends to lone and control the bottom of the aquarium.

This fish will have a black stripe that tends to decrease in thickness as the stripe approaches the fin. In the Flying Fox, the thickness of this stripe is constant.

False Flying Fox (Garra Cambodgiensis)

These are much easier to distinguish as they do not have the black stripe as in the above two cases. They also only eat green algae and not the red species.

These fish are natural loners and aggressive to other similar sizes of fish, except during mating, making them a terrible tank mate choice.

Flying Fox fish Care Guide

Flying Fox fish are easy to take care of; just make sure you have suitable water conditions and a nutrient-dense diet for them and they will serve very well in an aquarium setting.

It is important to get the correct variety of this fish to have the correct diet for your fish.

Tank size

An aquarium of 100 gallons would be suitable for this fish. You might be wondering why big size yet the fish are small in size. Well, the Flying Fox loves swimming, therefore plenty of space is needed.

Water conditions

Since these are freshwater fish species, a water temperature of 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. The water PH is perfect at 6 to 7.5.

Species originating from rivers and places where water is free-flowing are very poor at keeping up with accumulated organic waste in the water.

The Flying Fox is not an exception. It best thrives in well fast-flowing oxygenated water. Therefore, ensure you equip your tank with a quality filter.

You should also partially change the water (about 25% of it) every week.

See also: Are Panda Garra good algae eaters?

Tank decoration

The trick here is to try and replicate the fish’s natural habitat. Therefore, the tank should have a gravel substrate, a few pebbles, driftwood, and driftwood roots.

Also, the tank should be planted well with fresh plants. A good amount of light should penetrate to ensure that algae can grow on which the Flying Fox will be able to graze.

Diet and nutrition

The main nutrition for this beautiful fish comes mainly from algae and plant matter. They fancy algae just like the Chinese algae eater. They however also eat larvae, small crustaceans, insects, and white and tubifex worms.

If you want to improve this fish’s color, you will need to take their nutrition a notch higher. Occasionally feed them high-quality flakes, algae wafers, freeze-dried bloodworms, and frozen foods.

You can also put in some leftover spinach, lettuce, zucchini, and cucumber from your kitchen. Fluval bug Bites are also a great choice.

You will notice that the fish will often shift to the midwater range to enjoy the biofilm that forms on the rock and solid surfaces in your aquarium.

See also: Are Chinese algae eaters good?


In a mixed species tank that has plenty of swimming space, Flying Fox will make a great addition.

It is however a good decision not to keep a similar species to the Flying Fox in the same tank. All mature foxes tend to be territorial and aggressive to their kind.

It will also be wise not to keep bottom dwellers in the same tank as the Flying Fox as they may get bullied or even killed by the Flying Fox.


Breeding is mostly done in hatcheries. It is quite uncommon for breeding to be done in an aquarium setting.

See also: Is Tomini Tang reef Safe?

Although these species don’t make a great choice for a shoal, it will be awesome to add one Flying Fox fish to a community tank.

Flying foxes are omnivorous. They mainly graze on algae. You could however beef up their nutrition by adding vegetable matter from your kitchen, frozen food with some meat content, and also flakes.

Under suitable conditions, this fish will brighten up your tank for even up to eight years. Just ensure that you are indeed acquiring the Flying Fox from the pet store and not a similar fish.


Aquarium Industries: Siamese Flying Fox Crossocheilus siamensis

Encyclopedia of Life (EOL): Siamese Flying Fox

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