March 24

Red Tail Sharks: A Step-by-Step Guide to Keep Them Happy and Healthy


Red Tail Sharks (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) are freshwater fish native to Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. They are famous aquarium occupants thanks to their eye-catching red tails, which are more pronounced in males. Remember that Red Tail Sharks are very different from other marine sharks as they have bones, not a cartilaginous skeleton.

Red Tail Sharks are distinguished by their sleek, torpedo-like bodies, which are colored blackish blue on top and a creamy white below. Additionally, they are somewhat aggressive and capable of being violent towards other fish, particularly those with the same body size and shape. Because of this, it is preferable to keep them by themselves or with other large, powerful fish who are able to compete with them.

Let’s move to discuss all the fact sheets about Red Tail Sharks

Red Tail Shark Facts & Overview

Red Tail Black Shark

Here are some quick facts about Red Tail Sharks in a table format:

Common Name Red Tail Shark
Scientific Name Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
Origin Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia)
Lifespan 6 to 8 years (up to 10 years with good care)
Size Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
Red Tail Shark Tank Size 55 gallons
Water Temperature 72°F to 80°F
Water pH 6.5 to 7.5
Red Tail Shark Price Red Tail Shark price is usually $35 to $55 a fish.
Diet Omnivorous
Temperament Can be aggressive toward other fish, especially those with a similar body shape and size



The Red Tail Shark is endemic to Southeast Asia. They may be found in the waterways that flow into the Mekong River and other rivers and streams spread out over Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Red tail Sharks are only found in their native environment in swift-moving streams and rivers with rocky bottoms and abundant aquatic vegetation.


If they are given the proper care and kept in an environment that is good for them, the typical lifespan of a Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) kept in an aquarium is between 6 and 8 years.

On the other hand, if they are given exceptional care, they have the potential to survive for 10 years or even longer. Their well-being and lifespan depend on factors like nutrition, water quality, and the absence of stressful conditions in their surroundings. It is of the utmost importance to keep a close eye on their attitude, appetite, and general health consistently and to respond promptly if any symptoms of illness or disease are spotted.

An individual fish’s lifetime can vary significantly based on factors such as its genetics, the conditions of its surroundings, and other aspects.


Red Tail Sharks must be given the appropriate care in order to flourish properly. To properly care for them, you must provide these fish with a healthy diet with optimal water temperature (72°F to 80°F) and a 55-gallon aquarium.

Food & Diet Recommendations

The Red Tail Shark consumes various foods due to its omnivorous nature. The vegetation, insects, larvae, crustaceans, zooplankton, and fish larvae that make up their food are all modest in size. It is advised that while they are kept in captivity, they be given a balanced diet consisting of both plant and animal-based items.

Because Red Tail Sharks do not have particular dietary preferences and will consume a wide range of items, it is simple for owners to supply their pets with a diversified diet. For the sake of their continued physical and mental well-being, it is essential to give them high-quality food that satisfies all of their specific dietary needs.

Appearance & Behavior

Colors, Patterns, Fins, and Sex Differences

The Red Tail Sharks are recognizable by their distinctive look, consisting of a sleek and black body with a brilliant red tail. Despite their seeming simplicity at first appearance, Red Tail Sharks really occur in a wide range of colors and patterns, and there are also important distinctions to be made between the sexes in terms of their fins.

In addition, some red tail sharks may have markings on their bodies or fins that are white, orange (in the case of an albino red tail shark), or yellowish in color. There is also a wide variety of patterns; some of them have a solid color, while others have striped or spotted designs.

In terms of their fins, redtail sharks have a strong dorsal fin that runs along their back and a tiny anal fin on their bottom.

    Both fins are located on the same side of the body. The caudal fin, often known as the tail fin, is the main distinguishing characteristic of these fish and the origin of their name. In most cases, it is brilliant red in color, and its shape can vary from that of a crescent to that of a forked look.

    While red tail shark male or female is difficult to distinguish, male often have a dorsal fin that is slightly longer and more pointed than female. Males are known to be more hostile and possessive of their territories, particularly during the mating season.

    In general, red tail sharks are an excellent addition to any aquarium since they are so intriguing and beautiful.

    Typical Behavior

    It is common knowledge that Red Tail Shark fish may be hostile and possessive against other species of fish, particularly those that live on the ocean floor. Also, they are known to be energetic swimmers who take great pleasure in having many hiding spots within their tanks.

    Red Tail Shark Sizes

    These fish may reach a maximum length of up to 6 inches, with females being considerably more extended and broader than their male counterparts.

    Most individuals only grow to a length of around 5 inches, even though it is not rare for some red tail shark full grown individuals to reach 7 or even 8 inches in length.

    Red Tail Shark Care & Tank Requirements

    Habitat and Tank Requirements

    If you are considering keeping a Red Tail Shark as a pet, you must provide it with the appropriate environment and tank for it to live in.

    To begin, you will need a tank with at least 50 gallons capacity. This will provide sufficient room for your Red Tail Shark to swim and investigate without feeling confined. Because of the potential sensitivity of these fish to low water quality, the aquarium ought to be outfitted with a filter of the highest grade.

    Regarding their habitat, Red Tail Sharks choose a densely vegetated tank with various hiding places. Caves, rocks, and driftwood are all beautiful choices to take into consideration. Due to the fact that these fish are prone to jump, the tank must have a lid that can be securely closed.

    Because of their inherently territorial character, it is best to keep Red Tail Sharks alone or in groups of at least five individuals while keeping them as pets. When adding new fish to the tank, it is vital to do so slowly and carefully and observe how the new fish behave.

    If you want your Red Tail Shark to have a long, happy, and healthy life in captivity, you must provide an environment that meets its habitat and tank requirements.

    Remember, always try to buy Red Tail Sharks from any reputable breeders, not from any local shop that puts Red Tail Shark for sale.

    Tank Conditions

    Maintaining precise tank conditions is vital to keep a red tail shark in good health and ensure its continued growth. The optimal temperature range for a red tail shark is between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and it should be kept at such a level that there are no abrupt decreases or rises.

    Red tail sharks enjoy fast-moving water with dense vegetation and rocky bottom; thus, aquariums should have high flow rates and lots of hiding spots. They can adjust their needs to meet various water conditions, but they do not go beyond their limits. It is advised that they keep their pH at a neutral level for their overall health and well-being.

    What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

    A full-grown red tail shark may reach a length of up to 15 centimeters or 6 inches in size and require a tank volume of at least 50 to 55 gallons in order to survive.


    Some illnesses, such as fin rot and ich, are common in red tail sharks and can be fatal in some cases.

    Fish infected with these diseases have an excessive itch and develop white patches on their bodies, both of which can be lethal. In addition, the rapid appearance of multiple conditions may result from a failing immune system. It is essential to do routine checks on the health of black red tail sharks and provide them with a healthy habitat to protect them from these diseases.

    Thankfully, if these diseases are detected in their early stages, they are able to be treated with medicine as well as other suitable measures. If you observe any disease indications in your red tail shark, you may want to consider speaking with a fish specialist or a veterinarian to identify the best way to treat the problem.

    Red Tail Shark Tank Mates 

    Tiger Barbs

    Tiger Barbs Care Guide

    Even while it’s not impossible, keeping both these fish in the same aquarium simultaneously can be rather dangerous.

    Tiger barbs are notorious for their energetic and aggressive nature, particularly towards fish with long fins. The red tail shark, which has a long, flowing tail fin, may find itself in a difficult situation because the tail fin may trigger the tiger barbs’ hostility.

    In addition, red tail shark aggressiveness is very well known. They are known to be territorial and hostile against other fish that are of comparable size and form, which may cause tension between them and tiger barbs when kept together in the same tank.

    It is crucial to offer lots of hiding spaces and visible obstacles inside the tank in order to aid in lessening hostility between these two species if you still choose to keep them together after considering this option. In addition to this, be sure to keep a close check on their conduct and be ready to split them up if it turns out to be necessary.

    Molly Fish

    Molly Fish

    It is possible to house molly fish and red tail sharks in the same community aquarium.

    Molly fish are known to be calm and active in the water, making them ideal swimming buddies for a red tail shark.

    Zebra Danios

    Zebra Danios

    Several well-liked freshwater fish species, like the Zebra Danio and the Red Tail Shark, are suitable for keeping in aquariums.

    If you wish to have Zebra Danios and Red Tail Sharks in the same tank, you must ensure the tank is large enough to accommodate both species. Make sure there are lots of plants and places to hide so that the two species may establish their territories without being able to see each other. When the Zebra Danios have established themselves as the dominant fish in the tank, it is also advisable to introduce the Red Tail Shark.

    Congo Tetra 

    Congo Tetra 

    It is not advisable to house Congo Tetras and Red Tail Sharks in the same aquarium because the sharks can see the tetras as a danger and try to consume them. In addition to this, the presence of the sharks may cause the tetras to become nervous and frightened of their surroundings.


    freshwater angelfish

    When kept together in an aquarium, a red tail shark can feel threatened by an Angelfish and become hostile against it. This might cause both fish to feel scared and possibly sustain injuries. It is strongly recommended that you should not house any of these species in the same aquarium.

    Sparkling Gourami

    sparkling gourami

    Because of their different personalities and habitat preferences, Sparkling Gouramis and Red Tail Sharks might not make the greatest tankmates for one another. The territorial nature of red tail sharks is well-known, and these sharks can turn hostile against other species of fish, particularly those with colors or body forms that are similar to their own.

    On the other hand, Dazzling Gouramis are calm and timid fish that like to keep to themselves and stay close to the tank’s top layer.

    Neon Tetras

    Neon Tetras

    Neon Tetras have the potential to be suitable tank mates for Red Tail Sharks so long as the two species are maintained together in an aquarium of an appropriate size and have similar requirements for the temperature and acidity of the water.

    The Neon Tetra is a docile fish species compatible with other community docile members.

    However, Red Tail Sharks are known to be territorial and aggressive towards other fish, particularly those of similar coloration. Because of this, it is essential to keep a close eye on their behavior and give all of the fish in the tank plenty of places to hide and room to swim.

    Also, to secure the health and well-being of all of the tank’s occupants, it is essential to ensure that the tank is cycled and maintained appropriately.

    Pearl Gourami

    Pearl Gourami

    It is typically not advised to have Pearl Gouramis and Red Tail Sharks in the same aquarium at the same time for a variety of reasons.

    Both species are capable of being hostile against one another, and this tendency is more pronounced during the mating season and when they are competing for territory. Pearl Gouramis may be stressed by the presence of Red Tail Sharks, who are known to be territorial and have the ability to turn aggressive against other fish.

    This may put the Pearl Gouramis in danger.

    Honey Gourami

    Honey Gourami

    Honey Gourami and Red Tail Sharks may get along well in a tank together, but verifying that the environment will be large enough for both species to feel comfortable is essential.

    Because of the Red Tail Shark’s notoriously territorial nature, both species must have access to suitable hiding places and areas to call their own.

    The Honey Gourami is a friendly kind of fish that may coexist well with other species of calm fish. In order to keep both fish healthy, it is essential to keep the water in the tank in excellent condition and to use a filtration system that works well.

    Honey Gourami, provided they are given the appropriate amount of care and attention, have the potential to be excellent tankmates for Red Tail Shark.

    Bala Shark

    Bala Shark

    Likely, Bala Sharks and Red Tail Sharks wouldn’t make the greatest tankmates for one another.

    The more aggressive Red Tail Shark may scare away the more peaceful Bala Sharks, mainly when the two species compete for food.

    Furthermore, territorial Red Tail Sharks can display violent behavior towards other species who go too close to their domain. If you still intend to keep them together, you should ensure the aquarium has many hiding places and enough space to call their own. It is advised that the tank be at least 100 gallons in size to offer sufficient area for both species to swim freely and mark their territories.

    Constantly keep a close eye on their conduct to ensure that they are not causing any harm to one another.

    Platy Fish

    Platy Fish

    It is not suggested to simultaneously house Platy fish and Red Tail Sharks in the same aquarium. The Platy fish is a calm species; therefore, accommodating it with a Red Tail Shark might cause it to get anxious or perhaps injured.

    In addition, the Red Tail Shark is a territorial shark that can potentially turn hostile against any other fish that enters its region. It is advisable to house Red Tail Sharks with other fish species known to be more aggressive and capable of withstanding the shark’s hostile nature.

    Clown Loach (Loach)

    Clown Loach

    It is typically not a good idea to house clown loaches and redtail sharks in the same aquarium for several reasons.

    Red Tail Sharks are highly territorial and hostile towards other members of their own species as well as fish that appear to be biologically similar to them. Clown Loaches, on the other hand, are docile and kind fish.

    It is possible that the presence of Clown Loaches could cause Red Tail Sharks to behave aggressively, which will cause stress and might potentially be harmful to both species.

    White Cloud Mountain Minnows

    White Cloud Mountain Minnows

    Keeping White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Red Tail Sharks in the same community tank is possible. 

    White Cloud Mountain Minnows don’t bother other fish and aren’t hostile in any way; however, Red Tail Sharks are pretty territorial and may attack other species of fish if they feel threatened. As a result of this, it is vital to maintain a minimum of six White Cloud Mountain Minnows so that the Red Tail Shark does not concentrate its attention on a single kind of fish.

    In addition, making sure the aquarium has plenty of places to hide and vegetation in it can help reduce aggressive behavior and make the habitat feel more natural for both of the species there.

    Dwarf Gourami

    Keeping Dwarf Gourami

    It is not a good idea to have dwarf gourami and red tail sharks in the same aquarium for various reasons. Red Tail Sharks are known to be hostile against other fish species, particularly those with anatomically similar bodies, such as gouramis.

    On the other hand, the Dwarf Gourami is a calm kind of fish that does not bother other tank inhabitants and loves to swim in the tank’s middle or higher levels.

    Silver Dollars

    Silver Dollar Fish Care

    Because of their distinct personalities and habitat preferences, Silver Dollar and Red Tail Shark might not make the greatest tankmates for one another. Silver Dollars are calm schooling fish that like to live in groups, but Red Tail Sharks can be territorial and aggressive against other fish species. Silver Dollars are schooling fish that prefer to live in groups.

    In addition, in order for Red Tail Sharks to assert their authority, they require territories and hiding spots, yet Silver Dollars may already be present in such locations.

    Consequently, the best way to ensure that the fish are not subjected to tension or stress is to separate them whenever possible.

    Frequently Asked Questions 

    Are there any fish to avoid as red tail shark tank mates?

    There are, in fact, certain fish that should not be kept in the same tank as red tail sharks. Avoiding aggressive fish or fish that nibble on fins with a red tail shark is advised since they may cause the shark to get stressed and have other health problems. In addition, it is recommended that red tail sharks and other species of sharks not be kept together if at all possible because they do not get along very well with one another.

    Is it a good idea to keep breeding pairs of red tail sharks together?

    It is not advisable to house breeding pairs of red tail sharks in the same aquarium since these sharks are known to grow hostile against one another, particularly during the mating season. Male sharks can become aggressively territorial, in which case they might harm the female or any of the other fish in the tank. It is preferable to have only one red tail shark in a tank rather than a group of several sharks unless the tank has plenty of places for the sharks to hide and enough room for them to swim. A wide range of plants and decorations in an aquarium can also assist in lessening the hostility that occurs amongst fish.

    Should red tail shark water be warmer or cooler?

    The red tail shark is a tropical fish that thrives at water temperatures between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Because Red Tail sharks are sensitive to temperature changes, keeping the water in their tank at a constant level is essential. The temperature can be controlled using a submersible aquarium heater, and the temperature may be monitored with a thermometer. In order to maintain a healthy environment for your red tail shark, it is necessary to keep the water clean and guarantee that it has sufficient oxygen.

    Why is my red tail shark turning white? Or why is my red tail shark losing color?

    There is a wide range of potential explanations for why a red-tailed shark could loose a color or become white. This condition may be attributed to a number of factors, some of the most prominent of which include poor water conditions, stress, and infections.

    Closing Thoughts

    Red Tail Sharks are exciting and distinctive fish that would make beautiful additions to an aquarium.

    Even if they could show some aggressive behavior towards other fish, this problem can be addressed to a certain extent by ensuring that their tank is large enough, that they have plenty of places to hide, and that they eat a balanced diet.

    In addition, Red Tail Sharks are also resilient and relatively simple to care for, making them an excellent choice for aquarists of all expertise levels, from novices to seasoned professionals.

    Additionally, Red Tail Sharks will likely bring an exciting new dimension to any aquarium because of their eye-catching looks and energetic temperament.


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