Red Tail Shark Care Guide: Simple Tips for a Happy Aquarium

Caring for a Red Tail Shark can be a rewarding experience for any aquarist, as these striking freshwater fish bring an unmatched ambiance to your aquarium. Their unique mix of simplicity and vibrancy makes them stand out from other species, leaving a lasting impression on all who witness their beauty.

In this guide, we will provide you with essential information on keeping Red Tail Sharks happy and healthy. With some attention to their specific needs, you’ll find that these hardy yet territorial fish can become the focal point of your aquarium.

Creating the perfect environment for a Red Tail Shark is key. We will be exploring the ins and outs of proper care, including the right size tank, suitable tank mates, and their preferred diet. Get ready to welcome your new aquatic companion and give them the best care they deserve!

Species Profile

Friendly and fascinating, Red Tail Sharks are popular freshwater fish that can steal the show in your aquarium. To ensure a healthy environment for these charming creatures, it’s crucial to understand their specific requirements.

Scientific nameEpalzeorhynchos bicolor
Common namesRed Tail Shark Minnow, Fire Tail Shark, Red-Tailed Black Shark
DistributionSouth Asia and Thailand
SizeUp to 6 inches
Lifespan8-12 years
Minimum tank size50 gallons
Water Hardness5-15 dGH
Care levelModerate
Filtration/Water FlowModerate to high
Water typeFreshwater
BreedingEgg Layers
Breeding DifficultyExtremely difficult
CompatibilityWith non-aggressive, medium-sized fish

Red Tail Shark Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Red Tail Sharks, scientifically known as Epalzeorhynchos bicolor, are native to freshwater habitats in Thailand. These fish are critically endangered in the wild, making it essential for you to provide proper care for them in your home aquarium. They typically thrive in streams and rivers with moderate to fast water flow, surrounded by lush vegetation and rocky substrates.

Size and Shape

As an aquarium enthusiast, it’s crucial for you to be aware of the size and shape of your Red Tail Shark. These fish are known to grow up to 6 inches in length, with females being larger and wider than their male counterparts. Though they may appear small, Red Tail Sharks are quite agile and require ample space to swim and explore.

Color and Markings

The Red Tail Shark boasts an eye-catching appearance, primarily due to its vivid black and red coloration. Their bodies are mostly black, while their caudal fins have a bright red hue – giving them their iconic namesake. This striking contrast not only makes them stand out in your aquarium but also captivates fish enthusiasts around the globe.


It’s essential to keep in mind that Red Tail Sharks generally have a lifespan of five to eight years in captivity. Providing consistent water parameters, a spacious tank, and a well-balanced diet will help ensure your aquatic friend enjoys a long and fulfilling life. A properly cared-for Red Tail Shark can be a friendly addition to your home aquarium for years to come.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Red Tail Shark a well-balanced diet is essential for its overall health and well-being. As omnivorous freshwater fish, they benefit from a mixture of plant-based and protein-rich foods. Let’s explore the best options for your fish.

High-quality flake and pellet foods make for a great foundation in their daily diet. These provide essential nutrients and cater to their natural food preferences. Make sure to supplement with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms, which add variety and keep your Red Tail Shark healthy and vibrant.

Incorporating vegetables into their diet is also essential, as they mimic their natural habitat. Try adding blanched zucchini or other leafy greens for some extra nutrients, and observe if your fish enjoys them. Don’t forget, insects and crustaceans are also part of their natural diet, so including them occasionally would be beneficial.

One important aspect when feeding your Red Tail Shark is to avoid overfeeding. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and an unhealthy fish. Monitor the feeding habits of your fish and adjust the food amount accordingly.

  • Use high-quality flake and pellet foods as a base for their daily diet.
  • Supplement with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms.
  • Introduce vegetables like blanched zucchini or leafy greens.
  • Be mindful of overfeeding to maintain optimal water quality and fish health.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your Red Tail Shark thrives in its aquarium home, and you can enjoy a happy and healthy fish.

Behavior and Temperament

Red Tail Sharks have an active and hardy personality, which makes them delightful additions to your aquarium. Though these fish are playful and energetic during the daytime, they also exhibit somewhat nocturnal behaviors, meaning you may see them actively exploring during the night as well.

However, it’s essential to keep in mind their territorial nature and aggressive temperament. Red-tail sharks can become quite aggressive, especially towards other fish with similar appearances or those encroaching on their territory. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide them with an appropriate habitat that includes ample hiding spaces so they can establish their own territories. Make use of rocks, caves, and other decor elements to create these spaces.

While setting up your tank, also be mindful of your red-tail shark’s cohabitants. Choosing tank mates wisely can significantly affect the overall temperament and harmony in your aquarium. Opt for species that can hold their own against the red-tail shark’s aggression and avoid any that resemble the shark aesthetically. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to introduce the red-tail shark into the tank after the other fish, allowing them to settle in without feeling threatened.

Keep an eye on your red-tail shark’s behavior to ensure they’re comfortable and stress-free in their environment. With the right balance of tank mates, space, and hiding spots, you can enjoy your red-tail shark’s fascinating personality while maintaining a harmonious and visually captivating aquarium.

Suitable Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your Red Tail Shark, it’s important to choose peaceful shoaling species. These fish won’t provoke the Red Tails, and staying in groups makes them less likely to be bullied. Here are some ideal tank mates for your Red Tail Shark:

  • Mollies
  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Danios
  • Barbs
  • Gouramis
  • Loaches
  • Plecos
  • Rainbowfish
  • Platies

Remember that semi-aggressive tank mates can also work if you have enough space and they are energetic, quick swimmers. Just keep an eye on your Red Tail Shark’s behavior to ensure compatibility. By carefully choosing suitable tank mates, you’ll create a harmonious, stress-free environment for your aquarium inhabitants.

Breeding and Reproduction

Breeding Red Tail Sharks in your home aquarium is an incredibly challenging task. In fact, it’s so difficult that there are minimal reports of successful breeding in home tank setups. Red Tail Sharks are egg-layers, but their aggressive nature towards each other makes it almost impossible to breed them in a typical home aquarium.

Due to these difficulties, most Red Tail Sharks available in the pet trade are bred in commercial farms using hormone stimulation. It’s essential to understand that even attempting to breed these fish in your home aquarium can have negative impacts on the health of your Red Tail Sharks and can involve risks.

As a responsible aquarist, your priority should be the well-being of your fish. That’s why it’s advisable to avoid breeding Red Tail Sharks altogether. Successfully breeding them in a home setting is extremely rare, and their aggressive behavior makes it difficult for them to coexist and reproduce in a confined tank environment.

Commercial breeding facilities have mastered the use of hormone stimulation to encourage successful breeding. However, for hobbyists, breeding attempts could lead to stress, aggression, and health issues for the involved fish. Therefore, it’s best to promote the health and overall well-being of your Red Tail Sharks by refraining from breeding them in your home aquarium.

Common Diseases and Treatments

As a Red Tail Shark owner, it’s essential to be aware of the common diseases that can affect your fish and the necessary treatments. This will ensure that your Red Tail Shark remains healthy and vibrant in your aquarium.

Ich is a parasitic infection that causes white spots on your Red Tail Shark’s fins and gills. If you notice these spots, you’ll need to treat your fish promptly to prevent the infection from becoming fatal. The treatment for Ich typically involves raising the water temperature and using a medication specifically designed for Ich.

Fin rot is a bacterial disease that causes discoloration and deterioration of your Red Tail Shark’s fins. If left untreated, fin rot can lead to severe fin damage and even death. To treat fin rot, you can use a medication specially formulated for this condition, often containing antibiotics. Be sure to follow the directions on the medication carefully.

Other diseases to be mindful of include popeye and cotton fin fungus. Popeye, as the name suggests, causes your Red Tail Shark’s eyes to bulge. This condition can be treated with antibiotic eye drops or by adding an antibiotic medication to the aquarium water.

Meanwhile, cotton fin fungus appears as fuzzy white growths on your Red Tail Shark’s fins. This fungal infection can be treated using an antifungal medication that you add to the water.

Maintaining excellent water conditions and a clean aquarium environment is crucial to keep these diseases at bay. Make sure to monitor water parameters, such as temperature, pH, and ammonia levels regularly. This will improve the overall health of your Red Tail Shark and help to prevent the onset of common diseases.

Remember that if you’re ever in doubt or struggling to treat a particular disease, it’s always best to consult an aquarium professional or veterinarian with experience in fish health. They can provide you with expert advice to ensure the well-being of your Red Tail Shark.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for a Red Tail Shark?

A Red Tail Shark can grow up to 6 inches in length, making them quite active swimmers. For a single Red Tail Shark, it’s recommended to have a tank of at least 55 gallons. This ensures there is plenty of space for them to explore, and it also helps maintain the water quality.

Which tank mates are suitable for Red Tail Sharks?

Red Tail Sharks can be territorial, so it’s imperative to choose tank mates carefully. Peaceful, semi-aggressive fish with similar size and activity level make suitable tank companions. Some examples include Tetras, Barbs, Gouramis, and Rainbowfish. Avoid keeping them with other bottom-dwellers or aggressive fish to prevent conflicts.

How long can a Red Tail Shark live?

In captivity, Red Tail Sharks can live between five and eight years. Maintaining stable water conditions and providing a spacious tank will help support a long and healthy life.

What is the temperament of a Red Tail Shark?

Despite their eye-catching appearance, Red Tail Sharks are known to be territorial, particularly with other bottom-dwelling fish. However, they can coexist with similarly sized and peaceful fish that inhabit different areas of the tank. It’s crucial to provide plenty of hiding spots and decorations to minimize territorial disputes.

What is the best diet for a Red Tail Shark?

As omnivores, Red Tail Sharks require a varied diet, including both plant-based and protein-rich foods. High-quality pellets and flakes should form the foundation, and you can supplement with fruit, vegetables, and occasional protein sources such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia.

Are Red Tail Sharks known to breed in captivity?

Breeding Red Tail Sharks in captivity is extremely rare. They generally spawn in the wild during flooded seasons, which is difficult to replicate in a home aquarium. If you’re interested in breeding fish, you might want to consider other species with more straightforward breeding conditions.