Red Tail Shark Care Guide – Diet, Breeding & More

Red Tail Shark in a tank

The Red Tail Shark is a very interesting fish that will be sure to add a unique facet to your aquatic habitat. 

If you want to put in a unique fish with a big personality, this is an amazing option to consider.

Red Tail Shark Appearance

The Red Tail Shark is mostly black with a reddish orange tail. This fish gets its name from its shark-like dorsal fin. It also features a slender body with flat sides. The second half of its body has a slight curve to it.

This fish also has a mouth that is perfect for getting algae off rocks and other surfaces in the wild. One of the reasons that so many people keep them in their aquariums is because they are so good at keeping them clean.

The average Red Tail grows up to around five inches, though some of them grow to be six inches. The reddish coloration on the tail can fade a bit when this fish becomes stressed.

There is no real observable physical difference between the males and females when they are born. As they start to develop, however, you’ll see that the female has a larger and more rounded abdomen than the male.


Despite the fact that this fish has “shark” in the name, it is actually a rather shy creature. It tends to spend a lot of its time in crevices and dark spots where it can be alone. As these fish begin to mature, they develop a strong territorial streak, which can lead to aggressive behavior.

  Do Aquariums Need Special Lights?

It is very uncommon for Red Tail Sharks to bite other fish they are kept with, but they will certainly chase them around quite a bit.

albino Red Tail Shark e1580752975358

Natural Habitat

The natural habitat of the Red Tail Shark is mostly made up of freshwater ponds in Thailand with lots of algae. They are also found in fast-moving streams in dense woodland areas.

Red Tail Shark Care Guide

1. Tank Setup

You’ll want to keep these fish in a tank that has a minimum 55-gallon capacity. It is very important for them to have lots of rocks, caves and vegetation to hide out in when they are feeling solitary, which is much of the time.

You also need to make a point of getting a powerful filter that can produce a strong current in the tank. These fish are used to being in fast-moving water in their natural habitat, so this is absolutely crucial.

Small pebbles and gravel make for an excellent substrate. You should at least consider getting a heavy lid for your tank, as these fish have amazing jumping capabilities.

2. Water Conditions

The water in your Red Tail Shark’s aquarium should be anywhere from 72 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH of 6.8 to 7.5. It is also important that you maintain a water hardness of 5 to 15 dH.

3. Red Tail Shark Tank Mates

When you are looking for fish to put in with your Red Tail Shark, you’ll need to make sure they are fairly small and swim fast. Some of the best tank mates for this fish include angelfish, Danios, Barbs, and Tetras. Emperor and Glowlight Tetras are particularly good choices.

  How to Nitrogen Cycle your Aquarium

You’ll want to avoid putting in any fish that are much larger or smaller. They should ideally be around the same size as this one.

Red Tail Shark swimming in an aquarium

4. Red Tail Shark Food

You will be able to give these fish frozen foods, pellets, flakes and live food. Some of the best food to give them when it comes to meat includes brine shrimp, bloodworms and daphnia. It is also a good idea to provide them with vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini. This will ensure that your fish has a balanced diet and remains healthy for years to come.

Make sure that you thoroughly wash any fruits or vegetables before plopping them into the fish tank. You’ll want to spend a decent amount of time looking for a high-quality pellet fish food so they get the nutrients their body needs.

Common Health Problems

There aren’t really any specific diseases that Red Tail Sharks are more prone to than any other freshwater fish. You can reduce the chances of these fish becoming ill by maintaining a stress-free habitat for them. This involves regularly changing their water on a weekly basis (at least one-quarter of the tank).

Make sure that you also check the ammonia levels in the tank, as freshwater fish like these can die if they become too high. Ammonia poisoning is a real concern and something you should be aware of if you keep this type of fish.

Red Tail Shark Breeding

Once a female Red Tail Shark is primed for reproduction, you will notice their belly expanding quite a bit. It is very difficult to get these fish to breed in captivity, but it’s not necessarily impossible.

  Freshwater Aquarium Eels Species - Types & Guide

It can take up to sixty hours for the eggs of this fish to finally hatch. New born juveniles come out looking silver with a little brown coloration. You will start to see the red hue in their tail once they are about 10 weeks old.


  • The Red Tail Shark is characterized by its slender black body with a reddish-orange tail at the end.
  • These fish definitely have a reputation for being intensely territorial and aggressive.
  • While Red Tails won’t necessarily attack or nip at other fish in the tank, they will chase them around a lot.
  • Make sure that you have at least a 55-gallon tank for keeping these sharks.
  • The temperature of the water in the tank should be kept at 72 to 79 degrees at all times.
  • You’ll want to have a powerful filter in your tank that produces a strong water flow, as it is what these fish are used to in the wild.
  • You can give these fish any high-quality flake or pellet food, though they also enjoy live food like Bloodworms and brine shrimp.
  • The occasional fruits and vegetables will help to supplement this fish’s diet.
  • Breeding Red Tail Sharks is very difficult for most people to do at home, but not impossible.