The red tail shark is a member of the Cyprinidae family of freshwater tropical fish. The red tailed black shark falls into the same family as carp and minnows. Contrary to the name, the red tailed shark is actually not a shark. The “shark” name came from the dorsal fin this freshwater tropical fish possesses resembling an actual shark.
Common Name/Origin: The red tail shark is also known as labeo bicolor, fire tail, red tailed black shark, and epalzeorhynchus bicolor. This Cyprinidae originates from the streams and waterways of Thailand.
Size: The red tailed shark averages 6 inches in length.
Temperament: The red tailed black shark can be an aggressive fish. This fish often fights or harasses other red tail sharks. It is highly recommened to house only one of this species unless you have a very large tank. The red-tailed-shark should not be kept with extremely docile or peaceful fish. The red tail shark is a territorial fish that will chase other fish away from their territory or become aggressive during feeding. Some fish-keepers have had great luck with their red tail shark, so it all depends on the individual fish.
Sexing: This species is extremely hard to sex. Female epalzeorhynchus bicolor sharks are usually larger than the males. The female will have a full, wide stomach and the males will be more slender.
Tank: The aquarium tank recommended to keep the red-tail shark is at least 20-gallons. The tanks should be decorated with several places for this fish to hide. The red tail shark will enjoy a well planted tank with caves or driftwood for shelter. The tank should have a tight fitting lid because this freshwater tropical fish species is known to jump out of tanks.
Temperature 72-80 °F
Feeding: The red tailed black shark is an omnivore scavenger. This freshwater tropical fish will eat just about anything that you put into the tank. Like any other fish I keep, I recommend a very high quality pellet or flake food and supplement with brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, small krill, or bloodworms. Like any other freshwater tropical fish, please mix up their diet on a regular basis.
Behavior: As mentioned above, the red tailed black shark can be territorial and chase other fish around the tank. This species of freshwater tropical fish swim back and forth, mainly on the bottom of the tank searching for food. When you feed the tank, you will notice the redtail shark chasing other fish away from the food.
Tankmates: It is highly recommended to keep only one labeo bicolor per tank. Depending on each individual fish, most redtail sharks will harass smaller, more peaceful fish. Many cichlid keepers keep redtail sharks in their tank because they can hold their own with some more aggressive fish. Do not keep red tail black sharks with other bottom dwelling fish such as cory cats. They will compete for the same territory and food.
Key Features: The redtail shark will cruise near the bottom to mid-level of the aquarium tank. This fish is an active fish and is constantly on the move searching for food. The unique look and shape of this fish is what many fish-keepers love. The shark-like dorsal fin and beautiful red tail contrasted with the black body makes this fish very appealing.
Breeding: The red-tailed shark is extremely hard to breed in the home tropical fish aquarium. Most specimens purchased in our local fish stores are bred in commerical fish farms in Thailand. The red-tail shark is an egg layer.
Summary: If this popular freshwater tropical fish is on your list of fish to purchase, please just purchase one of this species unless you have a huge tank. This Cyprinidae is known to be a chaser and will harass other tropical fish in your tank. This specimen often does well with more aggressive fish such as cichlids. Remember to keep a tight lid on your aquarium tank because the epalzeorhynchus bicolor is a jumper!