Banded Leporinus

Black-Banded Leporinus

Family: Anostomidae Black-Banded Leporinus, Leporinus fasciatus, Banded LeporinusLeporinus fasciatusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Contrary to what most forums say about Leporinus fasciatus, I have had much success with this fish but at a higher temperature (81 degrees). At lower temperatures... (more)  Robert Frederick

Count the stripes in its pattern and you can guess how old the Black-Banded Leporinus is!

The Banded Leporinus Leporinus fasciatus is undoubtibly the most popular and brightly colored of this group of fish. The alternating bands of black and yellow are very striking and really stand out. It is also a very large fish reaching 12 inches (30 cm) in the length in the wild, though in captivity they generally reach only about about 8 inches (20 cm). With its size and bold banded pattern, this is a very attractive fish in the aquarium.

The scientific name of this characin is curious yet descriptive, with Leporinus meaning "rabbit snout" and fasciatus meaning "banded". The common names Black-Banded Leporinus and Banded Leporinus also describe its body pattern. The most interesting thing about the patterning of this fish is that as a youngster it only has 5 black bands. Starting at one year of age, the first of these bands splits, dividing into two bands. Then every six months another band will split into two. By the time this characin is 3 years old, it will have ten bands with the yellow colored band turning orangish. You can actually determine the approximate age of this fish by the number of bands it has.

The Black-Banded Leporinus is a good community fish, but is very active and should be kept in a large aquarium. Keep the aquarium covered as they will jump, and can jump long distances. Even though they are usually peaceful they can be a fin nibbler, so keep an eye on what you put in with it. We have kept them with a wide variety of community fish as well as small cichlids.

An aquarium well suited for this fish has a sandy bottom with pieces of wood and rocks. As long as there is algae growing on the wood and rocks, they will swim in a head down position constantly grazing. If there is no algae, they will nibble on the shoots and leaves of plants.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Freshwater Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Leporinus fasciatus
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Characiformes
  • Family: Anostomidae
  • Genus: Leporinus
  • Species: fasciatus
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Nice video of a well stocked aquarium including two Banded Leporinus.

Banded Leporinus - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Size of fish - inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Banded Leporinus Leporinus fasciatus was described by Bloch in 1794. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. They are found in Central South America in Amazon tributaries from Guianas to the La Plata. Another common name they are known by is Black Banded Leporinus.

These fish inhabit fast moving rocky waters and will migrates into flooded forest areas during the rainy season.  When the water recedes some of the fish in the left over ponds and lakes. They feed on algae, plant matter, worms, crustacteans, and occasionally fish.

  • Scientific Name: Leporinus fasciatus
  • Social Grouping: Varies - Solitary or in groups.
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Banded Leporinus is an elongated heaily bodied fish with an arched back and narrowing towards the tail. This fish reaches 12 inches (30 cm) in the length in the wild, though in captivity grows to about 8 inches (20 cm) and has a life span of 7 - 10 years.

It has a series of dark and light bands running along the entire length of the body from the snout to the caudal penduncle. Its fins are transparent, sometimes with a black hue. Juveniles have 5 black bands, and at one year of agethe first of these bands splits, and divides into two bands. Then every six months another band will split into two. By the time this characin is 3 years old, it will have ten bands with the yellow colored band turning orangish.

  • Size of fish - inches: 12.0 inches (30.48 cm) - These fish get up to about 8 inches (20 cm) in captivity, though they have been know to reach 12 inches (30 cm) in their natural habitat.
  • Lifespan: 10 years - They have a lifespan of 7 - 10 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Black-Banded Leporinus is a fairly hardy fish, and well suited for an aquarist with some fish keeping experience.  That adapt well to slight water condition changes and easy to feed.  They can be destructive in aquariums and because of their size are not great choices for beginners. It is advisable to keep these characins in a tank at least 60 inches long and ideally 50 or more gallons for a single fish. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

In the wild the Banded Leporinus feed on algae, plant matter, worms, crustacteans, and occasionally fish. These fish are omnivores but they prefer vegetables to all else. They will generally eat a vegetable flake when they are small, but as adults they will appreciate plant matter. Feed a good spirulina formula fish food or algae wafers and other vegetable matter such as chickweed, watercress, crushed lettuce leaves and spinach leaves. They will also nibble on the aquarium plants soft shoots and leaves.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore - Although omnivorous, they prefer plant based foods and will nibble upon most aquarium plants.
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day

Aquarium Care

Banded Leporinus are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced  every other week, especially if the tank is densely stocked. Take great care not to clean too much algae from the tank as it is a food source for this fish.

  • Water Changes: Bi-weekly

Aquarium Setup

These fish can be kept singly or in groups of 6 or more fish. The do get pretty big and will need at least a 50 gallon aquarium for a single specimen, larger for a group. Ideally provide a tank at least 60 inches long or more. They like some planted areas but may tend to snack on them once they've eaten any algae they can find.  Algae growth should be encouraged.   A decor with twisted roots and drift wood will be easier to keep.  The substrate should consist of just sand with some large smooth rocks for algae to grow. Ensure that the tank is fitted with a tightly covering lid or else this fish will jump out.

Water flow should be fairly strong and this can be accomplished with a river manifold system or multiple powerheads.  Large canister filters will work best to keep the tank clean and well oxygenated.  The canister filter will also aid in keeping a strong current.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 50 gal (189 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: No
  • Substrate Type: Sand/Gravel Mix
  • Lighting Needs: Low - subdued lighting
  • Temperature: 72.0 to 82.0° F (22.2 to 27.8° C)
  • Range ph: 5.5-7.5
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 20 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Strong
  • Water Region: Bottom

Social Behaviors

Pictures of a Black-Banded Leporinus, Banded Leporinus
Picture of a Black-Banded Leporinus, Banded Leporinus, Eight-banded Leporinus
Photos © Animal-World

They are a good community fish but may nibble on the fins of others occasionally. They can be destructive to plants in the aquarium, especially if they are not well fed.

The Black-Banded Leporinus is generally peaceful with other fish that is its same size or larger, but has been known to nibble on the fins of others occasionally. It will snack on smaller fish. It can also be aggressive with its own species and is best kept as a single species or in a group of 6 individuals or more.

The best choices for tank mates for this fish are similiar sized characins, Loricariids, Doradids, peaceful Cichlids and Knifefish.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor - This fish is considered a community fish but may be a fin nipper so keep an eye out for fish that may become stressed or picked upon. It may also eat smaller fish
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - They have been known to nibble on the fins of others occasionally.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor - They will eat algae from surfaces, but if it becomes exhausted then they will start nibbling on soft plants. Providing a crushed lettuce substitute can help.

Sex: Sexual differences

Adult females are rounder-bellied than males.

Breeding / Reproduction

In nature, they are reported to construct some form of nest which the male guards until the eggs hatch. Breeding the Black-Banded Leporinus has not been accomplished in captivity. For a description of breeding characin fish, see Breeding Freshwater Fish: Characins.

  • Ease of Breeding: Unknown - Instances of breeding are unknown in the home aquarium.

Fish Diseases

As with most fish, Banded Leporinus are prone to skin flukes, parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.), bacterial infections (general), and bacterial disease.  Banded Leporinus are extremely hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. That being said there is no guarantee that you won't have to deal with health problems or disease. Remember anything you add to your tank can bring disease to your tank. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance.

A good thing about the Banded Leporinus is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. When keeping more sensitive types of fish, it is common for all fishes to be infected even before the first warning signs can be noticed. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Banded Leporinus the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. Stressed fish are more likely to acquire disease.

For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments. This is a great source for information on disease and treatments. It is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference.


The Banded Leporinus or Black-Banded Leporinus is readily available in pet stores and online.


Author: David Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
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Lastest Animal Stories on Banded Leporinus

Robert Frederick - 2003-09-01
Contrary to what most forums say about Leporinus fasciatus, I have had much success with this fish but at a higher temperature (81 degrees). At lower temperatures Ive noticed they are sluggish and seem like they lack energy. They are not an "individual" fish, so I recommend buying at least 2 at a time. If introduced into the aquarium with other fish, I have not had any aggressive behaviour at all excluding the occasional "nipping" if another gets too close. They are an awesome sight and actually like to swim the length of the tank with my Tiger Barbs as if in a race (and are amazingly fast). They like to wander into tight spaces so I recommend getting something with some hideaways (hollow stump, porous rock etc). In the aquarium I also have Convicts, Blue Dwarf Gourami, Tiger Barbs and my childs adopted Goldfish. Believe it or not, they all get along great despite the aggressive ratings that each are given.

Jeff & Mimi - 2012-04-15
My wife and I had agreed too give our black banded lepor aka ( striper )a new home after my brother gave him up for adoption. He was around a inch and half long and very hungry. He ate pretty much everything we had in the tank with him. We fed him twice a day and he is now around 8 inches long . He is quite an architect .. Always changing the landscaping of the tank. He lives with 5 fancy tail goldfish, 2 silver catfish, several bottom feeders. He is such a character and never a dull moment. We enjoy watching him

  • Max miller - 2013-03-12
    I was thinking to get a black one and one with yellow and black of the leporinus. The only tank i have is 150 gal but has a 10 corys and 2 plecos will they jeust fit in there right and ? Petco said that plecos get up to 40 inches and so now i just have them in that you think i should get a bigger tank or what?
kristyn - 2012-06-12
I have 2 leporinus in my tank.....after 2 months they murdered everything in my tank. 3 balas 2 silver tips 1 dinosaur fish and 2 algae eaters. These fish do not live in harmony with other fish whatsoever. They pecked out the eyes of all the other fish. Also they were both 2 inches long when I got them now one is 6 inches and the other has not grown in size at all....I cannot figure out why. Any help?

  • Drew - 2012-09-17
    How big is the tank? They get big pretty fast! I find Lepos are best kept in tanks where they are not the most aggressive species. If the tank is 55+ they are hearty enough to hang with mild cichlids. Lepos won't pick fights with cichlids. And the cichlids leave them alone as they Lepos a territorial threat. Most cichlids live in the rocks and the lepos hang out in the mid and upper part of the tank most of the time.
Jody - 2010-12-20
I have had my Lepo for about 6 months, and in that time it has grown considerably. I caught him eating one of my neon tetras, with another one missing an eye a few weeks later. Since then, I decided to quit adding fish to the tank and everyone has seemed to live in harmony. But last night, as soon as I turned off the light off I noticed the Lepo came out from inside his statue and started literally attacking my big beautiful Angel fish over and over! I was so outraged I lifted the lid door and slammed it down to scare him off. It worked and by the time I went to bed I hadn't noticed any more attacks. But when I woke up my Angel was near death. ALL of his beautiful flowing fins were chewed off and he was more white than black because either of stress or his scales being eaten off. I pulled him out of the tank to a bucket to try to nurse him back to health but it's still touch and go.
My question is, why would the Lepo suddenly go after another large dominant fish? I've had them about the same length of time and they have never bothered each other.
My tank is a 20 gallon extra high, with 1 Gourami, 1 Angel, 1 Lepo, 1 Neon Tetra, 1 Zebra Danio, and 1 Pleco. It has been a fairly harmonized tank until now so I just can't figure out what to do. I really like the look of my Lepo but not at the expense of the other fish.
Thanks for your help!

  • John Lackner - 2012-06-15
    I have a 55 gal tank and the same thing happened to me . Th Lepo cleaned me out . I'm going to have to see if I can sell him so that I can restart my community tank over. He is a beautiful fish and I will be sorry to let him go, but my tank is empty except for him.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-06-15
    They are recommended with slow swimming long finned fish like angels or gouramis
  • Drew - 2012-09-17
    Fish, like dogs and people, have noticeable attitude changes as they mature. Aggression increases and tolerance decreases. Any aquarium that isn't species specific is likely to have notable conflicts arise 2 to 3 years down the line as the fish mature. I've never kept Lepos in with community fish. Like tiger barbs, I don't really consider them a community fish. They don't have the means to be a big threat, but their attitude warrants suspicion. As long as they have a size advantage they do just fine in with other mild cichlids. I've kept them with oscars.
  • Clarice Brough - 2012-09-17
    That's a great response Drew, really gets to the heart of the issue and helps to understand what the animals need to be healthy pets.
danchou - 2010-11-11
I sell all my fish...they're:
2 leporinus
1 frontosa
2 borneo suckerfish
1 albino algaeeater
4 clown loach
1 yoyo loach
2 kuhli loach
and many more..
just $.35 (include the tank)

  • Ilyas - 2010-12-05
    I'm interested :) Where are you from?
  • Amit Furtado - 2011-02-16
    How to collect and how will you deliver?
  • Cj Carolyn Hitt - 2012-04-25
    u still selling i will buy