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Elopichthys bambusa (RICHARDSON, 1845)

SynonymsTop ↑

Leuciscus bambusa Richardson, 1845; Nasus dauricus Basilewsky, 1855; Gymnognathus harmandi Sauvage, 1884; Scombrocypris styani Günther, 1889


Elopichthys: from the generic name Elops, a group of marine fishes commonly known as ladyfishes in english, and the Ancient Greek ἰχθύς (ikhthús), meaning ‘fish’, in reference to this species’ superficial resemblance to Elops species.

bambusa: from the generic name Bambusa, a large group of bamboos, in allusion to the translation of the Chinese vernacular name Chǔh nuy yu given as “bamboo spoilt fish” by John Reeves, who painted fish while working as a tea inspector in China (1812-1831).


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Widely-distributed in eastern Asia, between the Amur River in the Russian Federation and Lam drainage in northern Vietnam, and thus occurs in several major river systems of China.

Type locality is given simply as ‘Canton, China’.


Tends to occur in main river channels and avoids cooler upper basins and headwater streams.

In the Amur system, adults are known to spawn in the middle section of the river in spring, before moving into floodplain areas to feed during summer, and spending winter in major tributaries. Juveniles and sub-adults spend the initial portion of their lives in the lower part of the drainage.

Maximum Standard Length

1000 mm – 2000 mm and up to 40 kg in weight.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

Suitable only for public installations or the very largest, highly-specialised private aquaria.


A large, mature filter system, rigorous maintenance regime comprising weekly water changes of 50-70% tank volume, and provision of highly-oxygenated water with a degree of movement should be considered mandatory.


An obligate piscivore feeding mostly on smaller fishes in nature.

Young fish can be offered chironomid larvae (bloodworm), small earthworms, chopped prawn and suchlike while adults will accept strips of fish flesh, whole prawns/shrimp, mussels, live river shrimp, larger earthworms, etc., as well as dried pellets although the latter should not form the staple diet.

This species should not be fed mammalian or avian meat such as beef heart or chicken since some of the lipids contained in these cannot be properly metabolised by the fish and may cause excess fat deposits and even organ degeneration.

Similarly there is no benefit in the use of ‘feeder’ fish such as livebearers or small goldfish which carry with them the risk of parasite or disease introduction and at any rate tend not have a high nutritional value unless properly conditioned beforehand.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Relatively peaceful with fishes too large to be considered prey.

NotesTop ↑

The adult size and power of this impressive predator preclude it from consideration as an aquarium species, but young individuals are nevertheless available in the ornamental trade on an irregular basis therefore it is included here.

It is an entirely unsuitable choice for the home aquarium and the majority of zoos and public aquaria would probably struggle to maintain it in adequate conditions.

E. bambusa is the only species in the genus Elopichthys and is an important food fish over much of its natural range, as well as being a popular target for ports anglers.



  1. Richardson, J., 1845 - London: Smith, Elder & Co.: 99-150
    Ichthyology. Part 3. In R. B. Hinds (ed.) The zoology of the voyage of H. M. S. Sulphur, under the command of Captain Sir Edward Belcher, R. N., C. B., F. R. G. S., etc., during the years 1836-42, No. 10.
  2. Bogutskaya, N. G., A. M. Naseka, S. V. Shedko, E. D. Vasil'eva and I. A. Chereshnev , 2008 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 19(4): 301-366
    The fishes of the Amur River: updated check-list and zoogeography.
  3. Kottelat, M., 2013 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663
    The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibiography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries.
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