Max Size: 16cm

Red Tailed Black Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)

The Red-Tailed Black Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) has become extremely popular in the aquarium due to its stunning appearance and exciting behaviours. Unfortunately, these fish are not suitable for the general community aquarium; however, as long as you carefully choose your tankmates, they are generally peaceful towards other species. That said, these fish can become increasingly territorial as they mature and can display exceptionally high levels of aggression towards similar-looking species.

Ideal tankmates for the Red-Tailed Black Shark would be active, larger, robust schooling Cyprinids such as Mascara Barbs, Denison Barbs, Odessa Barbs and Clown Barbs. These fish do not seem to bother loaches. It would be best if you avoided most other bottom-dwelling species such as Catfish and similur fish in aperance and shape such as the Rainbow Shark and True Flying Fox.

It would be best if you kept these fish alone in a community aquarium or a group of 5 or more individuals in a large tank with lots of cover. A cohabitation attempt might be possible; however, each individual will need their territory with at least a metre diameter, so keeping them alone is probably your best option.

Red-Tailed Black Shark are not fussy when it comes to decor in the aquarium. However, the ideal aquarium setup for the Red-Tailed Black Shark would imitate a flowing stream or river with differently sized rocks, small pebbles, sand or fine gravel, and perhaps some boulders as a substrate. Adding driftwood and hardy aquatic plants such as Anubias or Microsorum would benefit your fish and give them places to hide if need be.

Like most Cyprinids, these fish live in pristine water in the wild, so they are therefore intolerant to the build-up of organic waste, so good filtration and frequent water changes are a must. It is also advisable to have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium as these fish are known to jump out if startled.

The Red-Tailed Black Shark has a long and chunky body shaped very much like a torpedo. As juveniles, their bodies are a deep black colour, and their caudal fin is bright red; however, the black fades to a dark grey as they mature. Their dorsal fin sits roughly halfway back on their body, giving them a shark-like appearance.

Tank Mates for the Red Tailed Black Shark

1 ideal tank mate ideas for the Red Tailed Black Shark include:

Mascara Barb(Dawkinsia Assimilis)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameEpalzeorhynchos bicolor
Year Described1931
Other NamesRed Tail Shark, Fire Tail, Red Tailed Labeo, Red Tailed Shark
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
Best kept asLoners
Lifespan5 - 8
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 7.5
GH10 - 16
KH10 - 1
73 - 79℉
22.8 - 26.1℃

Photos of the Red Tailed Black Shark

Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark Juvenile
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark
Red-Tailed Black Shark

Natural Habitat

The Red-Tailed Black Shark originally came from Thailand in Southeast Asia. There is only one known population of Red-Tailed Black Sharks in the wild, in the Chao Phraya Basin's clear waters and floodplains as far South as Bangkok. These fish inhabit streams, rivers, and waterways with rocky substrate and vegetation to feed, shelter, rest, and hide.

Currently, the Red-Tailed Black Shark is classed as critically endangered on the IIUCN Red List, and from 1996 until 2011, they were believed to be extinct in the wild.

Chao Phraya River

What to feed the Red Tailed Black Shark

The Red-Tailed Black Shark is unfussy and will happily accept high-quality dried food such as flakes, granules or pellets, as well as good quality plant-based food. These fish will also graze on algae and appreciate the occasional treat of green vegetables. However, for your fish's best colour and condition, you should also provide them with live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, daphnia, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp.

How to sex the Red Tailed Black Shark

It is pretty difficult to differentiate between the male and female Red-Tailed Black Shark; however, the male's caudal fin is usually much brighter than the females and is generally a slightly slimmer fish. In contrast, females are narrowly larger and plumper than males, and their overall colour is marginally duller. In addition, the female's dorsal fin is more curved than the male's.

How to breed the Red Tailed Black Shark

There are no records on the successful breeding of the Red-Tailed Black Shark in the home aquarium. However, these fish are mass bred with hormone treatment in commercial farms.

The Red Tailed Black Shark has been featured on the following stamps

Vietnam - 1988

Frquently asked questions about the Red Tailed Black Shark

Are Red Tail Sharks aggressive?

The Red Tail Shark is very territorial and can be overly aggressive, especially to their species and fish of a similar appearance, such as the Rainbow Shark, Sliver Flying Fox and some algae eating loaches.

It is recommended to house these fish with other semi-aggressive fish or ensure the aquarium is large enough for the other fish to escape harassment. In keeping with other shark type species ensure there is a group, so the aggression is more distributed instead of focused on a single fish.

Are Red Tail Sharks okay with Amano and other shrimp?

The red tail shark is an omnivore, so it could predate on smaller shrimp, so if you plan to breed your shrimp, you should avoid Red Tail sharks and, in general, avoid the addition of all fish to your aquarium for the highest yield. Because Amano shrimp does not reproduce in freshwater and is more significant than most other aquarium shrimp types, these are your safest option.

We have maintained Red Tail Sharks with adult cherry and Amano shrimp in the past without problems.

Can red tail shark live with guppies?

While red tail sharks can be aggressive to their tank mates, they will rarely bite or damage the other fish. However, because guppies sleep on the bottom during nighttime, you may find their fins nipped occasionally. It may be best to avoid housing guppies with more extended fined types of guppies with red-tailed sharks, especially if you value pristine tails.

Is the Red Tail Shark a real shark?

No, the Red Tail Shark is not related to real sharks in any way, the name shark was obtained due to its triangular dorsal fin and similar overall shape in comparison to real sharks.

Other Sharks of interest

Bala Shark(Balantiocheilos Melanopterus)
Black Sharkminnow(Labeo chrysophekadion)
Chinese High Fin Banded Shark(Myxocyprinus Asiaticus)
Rainbow Shark(Epalzeorhynchos Frenatum)
Siamese Algae Eater(Crossocheilus oblongus)
Silver Flying Fox(Crossocheilus reticulatus)
View all Sharks
Date Added: 20/05/2020 - Updated: 25/02/2022 12:17:38