Red Tail Shark

Red Tail Shark – Tankmates, Diet, and Care Guide

Red Tail sharks are one of the most popular freshwater fish that is easy to take care of. Their mesmerizing colors and entertaining natures make them one of the best aquarium fish.

Red tail sharks were considered extinct a while ago, the aquarium trade is responsible for the species remaining. Thus, right now red-tailed sharks are endangered species.

It is advised to anyone keeping a Red tail shark or planning on keeping one to keep only one and take complete care of them. This care guide will help you raise your Red tail shark in the best possible habitat and to take good care of them.

Let’s learn more about Red tail sharks in detail.


A red-tailed black shark was first seen in Thailand at Bueng Boraphet (a freshwater lake) around the 1930s. It was found around the same time at Chao Phraya River of Bangkok in progression to their discovery in Thailand.

Scientific NameEpalzeorhynchos bicolor

Red tail shark biologically named “Epalzeorhynchos bicolor” is also known by a variety of names such as “Red-tailed Black Sharks” or “Red tail Shark Minnow”.

Fire Tail Shark:

About its red-colored tail, it is often called a “Fire Tail Shark”. As it is already said that Red tail sharks are highly endangered species, all thanks to the aquarist for their increased interest in keeping this fish that keeps them alive.


The name Red-tailed black sharks correctly describe the appearance of this fish. The lean shark-like body with just two colors distinctly complements each other. One of the key features of this fish is a distinctly marked line from which the red color begins.

There is a pair of whiskers or barbels around their mouth that help in the detection of food. Their mouth is shaped such that the upper lip is overhanging that gives an advantage while scraping off algae from various surfaces.


Their whole body is pitch black with all the fins reflecting the same color, but the caudal or anal fins are where everything changes.

At the beginning of the caudal peduncle, there is a fine line without any gradient formation where a bright red fiery color begins. The red color is uniform throughout the tail.

Moreover, the eyes of this shark have a deep red color.

Red tail Shark image credit: Aquadiction

The shape of the fins:

Red-tailed sharks have slim, elongated bodies with a marked curve in their back. From the curve of the back, midway through their body arises the dorsal fin with a characteristic curved shape. The anterior border is markedly elevated with a pointed edge.

Furthermore, there is a pair of pectoral fins, a pair of pelvic fins, a single dorsal, anal, and caudal fin.

Difference Between Red Tail Shark and Rainbow Shark:

Red tail sharks are often mistaken for rainbow sharks as the two species display similar shapes and somewhat similar colors. These are two different species with distinguishable features and traits.

Both of these sharks belong to the same family that is Cyprinidae family, but both are separate species. The rainbow sharks have a more linear and elongated body with a slightly lighter color than that of the Red tail shark.

The greatest difference lies in their fins, all the fins of the rainbow shark are bright red whereas in the case of the Red tail shark only the caudal fin is red.

Rainbow Shark Image Credit: Wikipedia


The average life span of a Red tail shark is 5-7 years at most. The lifespan of a fish is usually dependent on many factors such as appropriate living conditions, suitable diet, compatible tankmates, and efficient disease management and prevention.

A better lifestyle and disease prevention can increase the life expectancy to a few more years. Similarly, if not taken care of properly their lifespan can reduce drastically.

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Size of Red Tail Shark:

5 inches

Red tail sharks can reach a size of 5-6 inches at most. Given the care and the appropriate living conditions, they can grow a little longer but that’s it.

Fishes that are under stress or suffer from any ailment during their lifetime may not be able to reach this size.

Behavior and Temperament:

Generally, Red tail sharks are quite aggressive and territorial if paired with the wrong tankmates. This shark species usually inhabits the bottom of the fish tank and any other tank mate that remains at the bottom will annoy your shark and they will become hostile toward others.

They usually tend to wander a lot and thus require lots of space, they will scare away other fishes by chasing them. They are good as long as they have their personal space for swimming and eating.

Red Tail Shark Diet:

Red tail sharks are omnivores which means that they consume both plants based and meat-based diets. The major component of their diet is algae and dead organic matter in the aquarium.

Red-tailed black sharks are not picky-eaters and usually enjoy plant materials a lot so there is always a risk of overfeeding. Make sure to give them enough food that they can consume in a couple of minutes.

In the wild environment, they mostly survive on algae, small insects, planktons, crustaceans, and other organic matters. Now we will discuss every component of their diet in detail.

Plant-based Food:

It mainly includes green vegetables such as peas, cucumber, zucchini, or spinach as well. Make sure to dice the vegetables into small pieces for the fish to grab and swallow easily.

To avoid waste buildup in the aquarium, make sure to remove uneaten food at the earliest. Especially the plant materials need to be eradicated to prevent them from rotting inside the tank.

Meat-based Diet:

To fulfill nutritional requirements and for the sake of variety meaty stuff should be a part of their diet.

As for meat following, items can provide sufficient proteins and other nutrition to meet their needs.

  • Bloodworms
  • Ghost shrimps
  • Brine shrimps
  • Insects
  • Daphnia
  • Tubifex
  • Krill

This proteinaceous material is responsible for the vibrant pigmentation of your fish and it quickly enhances it.

Store-made Food:

Although, any diet we provide can never match their original diet in the wild ecosystem there are various formulations available that provide significant nutrients.

Fish flakes and pellets are usually given priority as they contain all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for your fish. For Red tail sharks, you should prefer heavier pellets, so they sink to the bottom f the tank where this shark usually resides.

Ideal Tankmates for Red Tail Shark:

For a peaceful environment in an aquarium choice of the tankmates matters. As for Red-tailed black sharks they are quite aggressive when it comes to someone invading their space.

Moreover, these sharks are bottom dwellers so you should avoid keeping any other bottom dweller or else they will fight for territory. Such fights are never good and mostly end up injuring each other.

The best tankmates for Red tail sharks are shy, least curious fishes and those who remain in the upper half of the tank. Following are the best possible tankmates for Red tail sharks.

  • Honey Gourami
  • Sparkling Gourami
  • Angelfish
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Bala Shark

The above-mentioned are the tankmates that won’t cause any problem with Red tail sharks.

Worst Tankmates for Red Tail Shark:

Any aggressive, overly curious, or overly active fish can cause a problem with Red tail sharks. Interesting Enough any fish with the vibrant red coloration is a potential enemy for your fish and it will become hostile.

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As long as these above-mentioned fishes are not in a tank with Red tail sharks you are good to go.

Can I keep Two Red Tail Sharks Together?

Well, if you want a huge fight in the aquarium sure keep two Red tail sharks together. Red tail sharks are extremely aggressive and territorial, and they especially bully fishes with red colors. This means two Red tail sharks will fight endlessly for dominance.

Thus, it’s best if you keep a single fish at a time or if you want you can keep a few of them together. never keep two Red tail sharks together in an aquarium.

Plus, if you’re keeping a few of them together make sure to have a huge tank with enough space to accommodate all of them without initiating a fight.

Can I keep Red Tail Shark with Rainbow Shark?

The same goes with rainbow sharks, they have bright red fins and inhabit the bottom of the tank so a fight between these two is a must.

No, you should never keep a Red tail shark with a rainbow shark in the same tank.

Red Tail Shark Aquarium Care Guide:

For the better growth and development of your fish and to protect them from stress and diseases, their tank environment should be close to their natural habitat. Following are important guidelines for you to build a perfect aquarium for your Red tail shark.

Aquarium Size:

The tank size for a Red tail shark is 55-60 gallons at most. Tank size is one of the first things you should consider opting to get a fish. Red tail sharks need plenty of space to wander around and make a territory.

Lack of available space for invasion of their privacy can put unnecessary stress on your fish.

Water Parameters:

Suitable water parameters are key to the healthy living of your fish and the prevention of diseases. Thus, it is important to maintain the below-mentioned water conditions and keep testing them regularly.

There are various kits available in the market that can measure various parameters at once for the convenience of fish keepers.

Tank Size55 gallons
Water Temperature72–80-degree Fahrenheit
Levels of ammoniaLess Than 5ppm
Water Hardness8-15 dH

Essential Equipment:

For the maintenance of the above-mentioned water parameters following equipment are necessary.

  • Efficient water Filtration System
  • Water Heater
  • Water Aeration System
  • A water pump
  • Water Testing Kits
  • Siphon and vacuum cleaner

The efficient water filtration system will ensure clean water that mimics your fish’s natural environment. moreover, water filter removes waste buildup from the aquarium resulting in disease prevention in fish.

Water heater to maintain the temperature in cold climate areas.

An aeration system is optional, but it mainly ensures accurate levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the aquarium. Thus, it eventually helps in reducing stress and ensuring better living conditions for your Red tail shark.

A water pump to replicate natural water currents in the aquarium. It also improves the aesthetics of your aquarium.

Water testing kit to monitor water parameters at regular intervals. Siphon and vacuum cleaner to perform regular water changes and remove waste from aquarium gravel.

Plants and Decorations:

This tropical freshwater fish will love a planted aquarium that will mimic their natural environment. Small plants such as hornwort, java fern, or Vallisneria are better options for your planted aquarium.

To enhance the aesthetics of your aquarium you can always add some driftwood to it. Make sure to leave enough space for your fish to wander.

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Medium-sized gravel covering at least 2 inches of the bottom of the aquarium is highly recommended by many aquarists. As Red tail sharks are bottom residents so you should avoid any hard object at the bottom of the tank.

Difference Between Male and Female Red Tail Shark:

There is not much to talk about when it comes to the difference between the two genders. Males are usually slimmer as compared to females. Females are more vibrant in color and better pigmented.

It is usually better to distinguish them once they reach maturity. Females become fatter, plumper, and more pigmented.

How to Breed a Red Tail Shark:

Breeding a Red tail shark is not something we hear every day; it is very rare. Many aquarists have given it a try but all in vain. So, as long as we hear something productive to tell you this section won’t help to get anywhere.

The reason behind these fish getting endangered or extinct is that they can’t be bred easily which is leading to a drastic reduction in their numbers.

In the wild a red-tailed black shark usually lays eggs and hides them until they hatch. It takes 2-3 days (40-65 hours approx.) for eggs to hatch. The newborns are silver in a color that gradually changes to black color till they get to adulthood.

Disease Affecting Red Tail Shark:

Although Red tail sharks are quite hardy, they can tolerate starvation for a few days, can deal with fluctuations in water parameters but it is not ethical to push your pet to its limits. So, taking good care of your fish is your moral obligation especially those that are close to extinction.

There are not any specific diseases that can affect Red tail sharks, those common conditions that affect many other fishes such

Ich disease

Hole in the head disease

Fin Rot disease

These are some common infectious diseases that can put stress on your fish and weaken their immunity.

Moreover, small aquarium space, drastic changes in water parameters, incompatible tank mates, or overcrowding can cause your fish to stress out.

Overfeeding is one of the major problems you can face with this shark as it can eat almost anything, and you can go overboard. To treat overfed fish stop feeding them for the next few days and your fish will be alright.

How Much Does a Red Tail Shark Cost?

One Red tail shark = 5-10 $

A Red tail shark can cost up to 5-10 dollars maximum. These are small fishes that can reach a maximum length of 5-6 inches.


How big do Red tail sharks get?

“6 inches”
Red tail sharks can reach a maximum size of 6 inches if taken care of in the best way possible.

What do Red tail sharks eat?

Red tail shark feeds on plants such as peas, cucumber, and zucchini. Meat such as bloodworms, brine shrimps, daphnia, krill, and insects. Moreover, in wild, they eat algae, plankton, insects, and dead organic matter.

Are Red tail sharks aggressive?

Yes, Red tail sharks are very aggressive if someone invades their personal space. They won’t physically harm other fish but can chase them until the other fishes are exhausted.


Red tail Sharks are quite easy to take care of and they are hardy fishes thus it’s pretty suitable for beginners as well. Regarding the current circumstances when their population is drastically decreasing it is important to keep them safe.

Red-tailed black sharks or fire tail sharks are very active and agile, they can enhance your aquarium aesthetic with their presence. I hope this article provided you all the information you needed to keep this fish at home.

Best of luck with your aquarium!!! 

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