Sarcocheilichthys parvus

20. December 2023

The genus Sarcocheilichthys from China has the potential to become a new star in the ornamental fish sky. There is a complex of small (6-7 cm) species within the genus in southern China, which are characterized by a broad longitudinal band. The males of all three species develop very pretty vermilion fins at spawning time. The females, on the other hand, develop a long egg-laying tube, as we know from bitterlings. It is not known whether Sarcocheilichthys also spawns in mussels. The fish of this genus inhabit smaller rivers and do not require additional heating if the aquarium is kept indoors. 

One of the three species is Sarcocheilichtys parvus. Even if it is not spawning season, the males give an idea of how pretty they will be. Our current import also includes some specimens of a sibling species that was only scientifically described as a new species in 2020: Sarcocheilichthys vittatus. This species is slightly more elongated than S. parvus, but otherwise very similar. In S. vittatus, the males also develop a blood-red throat during the spawning season. The third species of the complex, Sarcocheilichthys caobangensis, has also been brought to Europe in isolated cases, albeit misidentified as S. parvus. S. caobangensis can be recognized by the deep black spots at the base of the dorsal fin, which are present in both sexes.

Sarcocheilichthys parvus are a pure joy in the aquarium. They are peaceful, sociable animals that adapt well to aquarium life. Any common ornamental fish food is readily accepted, but it should not be too coarse, as the mouth of Sarcocheilichthys parvus is small and made for pecking. From a scientific point of view, Sarcocheilichthys belong to the gudgeon family (Gobioninae) and not to the bitterling family (Acheilognathidae).

For our customers: the animals have code 433753 on our stocklist. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.


An, C.-T., E Zhang & J.-Z. Shen (2020): Sarcocheilichthys vittatus, a new species of gudgeon (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from the Poyang lake basin in Jiangxi Province, South China. Zootaxa 4768 (no. 2): 201-220.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer