Red Tail Shark Care, Food, Tank Mates, & More

Red Tail Shark Care, Food, Tank Mates, & More

Red Tail Sharks are fascinating freshwater fish that has piqued our interest for a long time. They have a simple but striking appearance that you don’t find in many other species.

This fish has piqued the curiosity of the aquarium community over the years due to its aesthetic appeal. Despite the fact that the species’ survival is in jeopardy, this is the case.

These fish, however, are more than just attractive. If you put them in the correct environment, they’re actually fairly easy to care for and can be low-maintenance (more on that later).

This manual will teach you all you need to know about taking care of a Red Tail Shark. You’ll discover the best tank mates, as well as what food they eat, how large they grow, and much more!


Thailand is home to the Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor), a freshwater fish. The Red-Tailed Shark, Red-Tailed Black Shark, Fire Tail Shark, and Red Rail Shark Minnow are some of the other names given to it.

When you encounter one of these names, you can tell where it came from. The majority of their body is black, with the exception of their red caudal fin.

In Bueng Boraphet, the largest freshwater lake and swamp area in the middle of Thailand, there existed a densely packed population of Red Tail Sharks. There are a number of streams that flow out of this body of water where this species can be found.

Because this species is now classified as Critically Endangered, we use the word “could find.” In fact, as late as 2011, the Red Tail Shark was thought to be extinct. Even though this fish has been confirmed to exist in the wild, its numbers are a fraction of what they formerly were.

This is something that many individuals in the aquarium industry are unaware of. These freshwater aquarium sharks can be found in tanks all over the world and are frequently discussed on forums. As a result, it may appear that everything is good and wonderful (when it most certainly isn’t).

Note: Although there is no concrete evidence that the aquarium industry is responsible for the population decline, we like to handle this species with additional care. This means we only advocate purchasing one if you’re very certain you’ll be able to take care of it.

While this should be your approach regardless of what fish you keep, we advocate taking the time to be absolutely certain before getting an endangered species.


The average lifespan of a Red Tail Shark is between 5 and 8 years. While there is always a chance that they will die, there are a few things you can do to help them live as long as possible.

Buying your fish from a reliable seller, keeping them in a fantastic habitat, and lowering stress by keeping them with the right tank mates are just a few of them. Don’t worry, we’ve covered everything in this guide.


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The Red Tail Shark has a rather basic appearance. There are only two colors to mention in terms of color (black and red), and their bodies have a characteristic shark-like aspect.

The abrupt change in color from black to red is one of the reasons why this fish is so remarkable. The majority of their body is entirely black, with no patterning or deviations (even on the fins).

When you reach the caudal fin, though, everything changes.

The hue changes from black to bright crimson exactly near the end of the caudal peduncle. It also does not change gradually. There’s really a vertical line where the color changes completely!

This crimson hue is consistent throughout their caudal tail. Some specimens may exhibit a hint of translucent red towards the fin’s edge, but this isn’t always the case.

Their bodies resemble a shark’s (despite the fact that they aren’t). The body of the Red Tail Black Shark is long and slender, resembling a torpedo.

Their dorsal fin starts about halfway back on their body, and it resembles the fearsome fish we’ve grown to fear in movies. Except for the caudal fin, the remainder of their fins is substantially smaller.

Note that these fish are frequently mistaken for Rainbow Sharks. It’s critical to distinguish these two fish because they’re not compatible tank mates and will fight if kept together.

Size of a Red Tail Shark

When fully mature, the average Red Tail Shark is between 4 and 6 inches long. This is presumptively based on proper care and genetic conditions.

In our experience, if you give this species good care, it will often finish up on the higher end of that spectrum. We don’t know many aquarists that have a Red Tail that is less than 5 inches long.


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Many aquarists have misconceptions about Red Tail Shark care. They’ve heard that these fish can be violent in certain conditions (which can be avoided) and assume they’re difficult to care for.

That, however, is not the case.

As long as you know the essentials, these fish are simple to care for and maintain. They’re tough and can endure a wide range of water conditions, which makes life a lot easier for the owner.

That said, if you put them up with an insufficient tank, you will undoubtedly run into issues. Read this section to discover everything you need to know to get started.

Tank Size

For Red Tail Sharks, a 55-gallon tank is suggested. Even though these fish aren’t particularly large, they’re quite active and require a lot of space to swim.

This area is also useful for minimizing the likelihood of aggressive conduct. They can be territorial, which is exacerbated when they’re directly next to each other.

Note: While many aquarists have successfully kept two of these in the same tank (more on that later), if you’re going to attempt this, it’s highly recommended that you raise the tank size greatly.

Water Parameters

You won’t have to bother much about water parameters when it comes to Red Tail Shark care. These fish are resilient and can withstand a wide variety of temperatures:

  • Water temperature: 72°F to 79°F (we prefer the upper half of that range)
  • pH levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water hardness: 10-15 KH

Even though these aren’t the most delicate fish on the planet, you should always keep an eye on the water parameters. This will keep anything from moving outside of the recommended windows and harming your fish’s health.

To ensure that the readings you’re obtaining are reliable, invest in a good aquarium testing kit. As a result of a mistaken reading, we’ve met aquarists who have caused major harm to their tanks!

What To Put In Their Tank

Once you understand the Red Tail Shark’s natural surroundings, it’s rather simple to set up a decent habitat for them. As previously stated, this fish originates from central Thailand’s largest lake and swamp area. There is a lot of greenery, wood, and pebbles in these waterways.

If you want your fish to be comfortable, you should include these items. They will not only provide enrichment and something familiar to these fish, but they will also lessen their aggressive inclinations.

Plants like hornwort or water wisteria, which are both hardy and small, will work nicely. Many owners have stated that their Red Tail Shark has chosen to live in plants rather than caves.

Driftwood is a fantastic addition since it adds variety and places for fish to hide. After you’ve added everything, double-check that there’s enough room to swim. When it comes to tank decoration, it’s easy to go overboard!

Note: Red Tail Sharks prefer medium-sized gravel or pebbles as a substrate. Because Red Tail Sharks are mostly bottom-dwellers, choosing the correct substrate is crucial.

Possibility of Disease

Red Tail Black Sharks do not have a specific disease that affects them, but they are susceptible to any of the usual freshwater diseases.

Ich and fin rot are the most prevalent. The chances of this happening are reduced substantially if you offer them excellent care and high-quality water, but it is always a risk.

Instead of becoming concerned about therapy, we propose focusing on prevention. If your fish become ill, there are a number of excellent resources available online (some of which we will be adding to our site shortly).

Until then, do your best to feed your Red Tail Shark high-quality food and give a suitable environment. Keep track of metrics and perform partial water changes on a regular basis (this is the most common cause of illness).

Note: You should also inspect your fish every day for a few minutes. Take a good look over their body to see if you can spot anything unusual (or in their behavior). The sooner you notice there’s a problem, the better.

Guideline for Food and Diet

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When it comes to Red Tail Shark food, you have a number of possibilities. These fish are omnivores, meaning they don’t care what they eat!

They eat plants, insects, and crustaceans in their natural habitat. Obviously, it’s difficult to recreate their natural diet in captivity, but it’s not impossible!

As a primary source of nutrition, most owners feed this species flakes or pellets. There’s nothing fancy about this; simply choose your favorite high-quality provider.

You can also include some additional items for variety and enrichment. We’re convinced that doing so will not only make your Red Tail Shark happier but will also help them live longer.

Some of our favorites include brine shrimp, bloodworms, and tubifex. These are not only high in protein and nutrition, but they also encourage your fish to engage in a variety of energetic activities.

Various aquarists suggest including some veggies, such as zucchini or cucumber, for variety’s sake. Make sure the portions are tiny enough to be readily consumed!

Because Red Tail Sharks aren’t picky eaters, it’s critical that you don’t overfeed them. You’re probably feeding them too much food if they can’t finish what you fed them in a few minutes.

Keep track of how much food is really consumed versus how much falls to the substrate. Uneaten food can quickly degrade the water’s quality, increasing the risk of sickness.

Temperament & Behaviour

Red Tail Sharks are a fast-moving species that are fascinating to watch. They’ll frequently be seen swimming towards the tank’s bottom while darting away to study other locations that pique their attention.

Because of their high activity level, it’s critical to provide them with a large enough tank and properly set up their habitat. They require space to move about!

Inadequate space or the incorrect tank mates will accentuate any aggressive tendencies they show (more details on that in the section below). This species is quite territorial, and it requires its own space in the aquarium to feel at ease.

Red Tail Shark Tank Mates

Because Red Tail Sharks have the potential to be aggressive, it’s critical that you choose the correct tank mates for them.

They aren’t a suitable match for fish that are highly curious, aggressive, or bottom-dwellers. Either they’ll venture into Red Tail area or they’ll start a battle.

Compatible fish are those that will mind their own business and spend more time in the upper half of the tank. There’s no assurance that you won’t see aggressive behavior, but if you want to maintain them in a community tank, they are the fish to get.

Here are a few Red Tail Shark tank mates to consider:

  • Neon Tetra
  • Bala Shark
  • Honey Gourami
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Congo Tetra
  • Pearl Gourami
  • Angelfish
  • Dwarf Gourami

While keeping more than one Red Tail Shark in the same tank is doable, it is not without risk. Because of their territorial nature, these fish are likely to fight unless they have a substantial amount of space.

To get around this, it’s best to keep a bunch of them in the same tank rather than just two. However, this will necessitate the purchase of a very large tank. As a result, we strongly advise you to avoid doing so and instead hang out with your tank mates.

Note that fish with similar appearances should not be maintained in the same aquarium. The Rainbow Shark is an excellent illustration of this. Something about the red color encourages territorial and aggressive behavior.


When it comes to Red Tail Shark breeding, there isn’t much to say. These fish are notoriously difficult to breed in a standard home aquarium, with only a few instances of success.

This section will be expanded if the situation changes and someone cracks the code. We don’t want to encourage aquarists to try unless they can see a clear route to success, thus this section will be left blank for now.

Breeding attempts, whether successful or unsuccessful, have an impact on your fish’s health and come with hazards. It’s best to avoid breeding if you want your Red Tail Shark to live as long as possible.


The Red Tail Shark is an incredibly beautiful freshwater fish that will surely remain popular in aquariums for a long time.

Their distinct appearance and simple maintenance requirements make them suitable for people of all skill levels. The only semi-complicated aspect of owning one is dealing with their aggressiveness (which is only a concern if you intend to maintain them in a community tank).

We hope that this guide has helped you prepare for Red Tail Shark care and has inspired you to give this species a try. Nothing beats the sight of bright red dots streaking around your tank!

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