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.

Blondie - 2005-04-20
The first Leporinus I brought home is snow white w/blk. bars. I took a second one home the following night and the two swam side by side with mouths open before going at it with scales flying. I brought a third home the next night, and neither showed this behavior towards it. I suspect the first two are males. They still spar, but no out and out fighting. These two seem to have a bit more black edging on dorsal and rear of anal fins. They also have a bit more color on their pelvic fins. They pay attention only to each other, not their tankmates, which are gouramis, headstanders, bleeding hearts, kissers. They are in a 125. They need their own kind to interact with, and lots of room. They love meaty foods, but also love halved cucumber and zucchini held with an elastic on a rock, and spinach and romaine lettuce on a veggie clip, and algae wafers.

Chris S - 2004-10-03
I have kept Leporinus fasciatus for about 5-6 yrs. I got a pair of them (2 really), not knowing how to distinguish the gender! ;)
I would strongly suggest that if soomeone purchases leporinus fasciatus, to get more than one. All of the aggression from this fish is between the 2 of them and in 5 yrs they have not harmed each other but seem to quarrel regularly. Many descriptions of this fish describe them as sluggish or lazy. This is strange because they are the most active fish i have kept and they are very long lived from the looks of it. I cannot stress how hardy they are.
My fish are under the care of my sister now, in a one hundred gallon. Almost every time she cleans the tank or vaccuums it, one of them leaps out to incredible distances. I am serious, 12 feet was the last distance last week. It seems impossible, but true!
Varied diet describes what they eat more than herbivoeous. The various descriptions of this fish are very old for reference and do not seem to ever get updated because they have been available in the hobby for decades. Great fish !!! mine are 7 inches each and they seem to do a crazy courtship-type dance that is tough to describe. No breeding here yet though!
But I sure hope they breed! :)

vodies - 2003-12-02
I own a Leporinus fasciatus and he is not aggressive in the least other than if he gets cornered and then he usually just dips his head and shakes his body.

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.

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