Aquarium Fish

Red Tail Shark

The Red Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchus bicolor) has a black body with a red tail and sort of resembles a shark (hence the name). Unless your aquarium is quite large, it is best to keep only one of them in your tank because they will become very aggressive and territorial towards each other when kept in multiples. Avoid the temptation to keep them with a Rainbow Shark or other Red Tailed Sharks.

Many hobbyists mistakenly add multiples to a small tank only to find out that one of them will soon become the dominant "shark". The dominant one will chase and pester the others relentlessly. Any time the submissive sharks try to get to food the dominant one will chase it away. They really can become quite obnoxious which is why we recommend keeping only one unless you have a much larger tank.

Provide them with many hiding places to help make them feel secure and have a tight fitting hood because they are also known to be excellent jumpers.

They love to scavenge all over the tank looking for food and will accept most fish foods including flakes, frozen, freeze dried and live foods.

Red Tail Shark


Care Info

Scientific Name : Epalzeorhynchus bicolor

Common Names : Red Tailed Shark, Red Tail Black Shark, Red Tailed Labeo, Fire Tail, Labeo bicolor

Care Level : Easy, good for freshwater beginners

Size : Up to 6 inches (15 cm)

pH : 6.5 - 7.5

Temperature : 73°F - 79°F (23°C - 26°C)

Water Hardness : 10° to 16° dH,

Lifespan : 5 - 8 years

Origin / Habitat : Thailand

Temperament / Behavior : These fish can be hostile and are not recommended for community fish tanks with smaller tropical fish. They seem to behave when kept with larger fish.

Breeding : Very difficult to breed in the home fish tank.

Aquarium Size : 55 gallon

Tank Mates : Larger tropical fish given their aggressive nature but none large enough to eat them. It is not recommended to keep them with the Rainbow Shark unless your tank is sufficiently larger.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Food : Omnivore and primarily a scavenger. They will go after most of what you put in the tank including flakes, live and freeze dried foods.

Tank Region : Middle and bottom

Gender : Hard to determine, but the female may have a grayer stomach whereas the males are solid black.

Fish Forum : Red Tail Shark Forum

References :

Forum Avatar :
Red Tail Shark


From: Roger
I made the mistake of getting two redtail sharks. The dominant one just chased the weaker one around the tank until it eventually died. Live and learn.

From: Jared
OK, I did the dumb thing and bought 2 red tails. Is there anyway to prevent them from fighting with each other? Also, what are some other good fish to put with them?
Unless you have a very large tank, at this point about the best you can do (short of taking it back to the store) is to provide them with many hiding places. If one chases the other around most of the time, you will have to separate them. They can get along well with a few larger species. Some good tank mates include Silver Dollars, Angelfish, Bala Sharks, Plecos, Cory Cats, Swordtails and more.

From: Adz
I had one of these, it lasted not even a day because as it says above they are excellent jumpers. I put the bag in the tank and had opend the bag to add the tank water to it. I looked back half an hour later and the bag was empty and he wasn't in the tank but on the floor, there was this red tail flipping about. I put it straight in the tank but it died pretty much straight away.

From: Bee
I had a Redtail a few years back that would chase any fish that came to close to its own personal cave. It would chase them away then hide in its cave again. It was quite entertaining.

From: Ike
I had a redtail with a rainbow and they follow each other around and didn't seem to bother each other. Keep them in a big tank because I moved the rainbow down to my ten gallon because my cichlids were eating its fins and he seemed to like it, but in the morning he was nowhere to be found. Eventually I found him dried to the floor.

From: Gunter
I have 2 redtail sharks in a communal tank. Another 10 or so fish in a 2 foot tank, and they seem to get on quite well, I'm positive one is a male and the other is a female.

From: Josh
I've had a redtail for six years, this particular shark has survived in tanks with african cichlids and even given them hell as far as tormenting goes. Currently i have him/her in a four footer with a full grown gold gourami. Sounds silly I know but the gourami actually follows it around as if he appreciates the occasional chase, seems to be some strange sort of friendship. All they ask for is a place to call home with no intruders.

From: Jenn
I have a red tail in a 10 gallon tank with 2 tiger barbs and one tin foil barb. The red tail relentlessly chases and agitates the other 3 fish. It IS quite entertaining to watch but I worry that he/she will injure them or kill them. Should I get another shark to divert his attention or would that be bad?
Tiger Barbs are fairly tough fish and so is the tin foil barb. Watch them closely and if it looks like they're not going to get along better you may want to remove it. The tin foil barb can grow to be 10 inches (25 cm) or larger and your 10 gallon is way too small for it. You'll have to return it or get a much bigger tank (55 gallons at least) to support a tin foil barb.

From: Steve
I have a red tail and 6 clown loaches in a 4 ft tank and he gets on so well with them that he even stays in the same cave when they are resting.

From: Bev
They are strong jumpers for sure. After reading here about the reason my 2 two year old red tails stayed hidden all the time in my 55 gallon tank, I moved the smaller one to a ten gallon tank with plastic net taped over the filer & heater holes on the lid. The third day I came home to find him on the floor dead. So when they say tight fitting lid they mean it.

From: Wayne
I have a red tail in with a variety of fish, it pesters my silver shark a little bit. I recently added 2 dwarf gouramis and the red tail has become like a tank buddy to one of them, they follow each other around and it doesn't pester the silver shark as much now. Very amusing.

From: Bob B.
Mine is at the end of his lifespan, hanging listless in the tank with most of his bulk lost. He is at least 10 years old (I have had him for 8 and another had him for two years before that). 55 Gallon suited him fine. Great fish, feisty, ran my big cichlids around whenever he felt like it and know that he killed at least one by ramming it back in the day. Will get another - great fish!

More: Redtail Shark Tips 1 | Redtail Shark Tips 2 | Redtail Shark Tips 3

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