Red Tail Shark, also known as Redtail Sharkminnow or Red-tailed Black Shark, is an authentic freshwater fish hailing from Thailand. It’s an indigenous member of the Chao Phraya basin, dwelling in perennial rivers, rivulets, and creeks scattered across the Chao Phraya wetlands. This fish naturally prefers lowland streams or rivers and creeks lined with either sandy or rocky substrate. You’d also locate them nestled within Thailand’s vast lake and swamp areas.
Red Tail Sharks inhabit the swiftly flowing waters and regions plentiful with lush vegetation and rocky bottoms. These species are predominantly bottom dwellers and are found amidst waters rich in oxygen. Most of this oxygen originates from the decaying vegetation that conveniently becomes their primary food source.
Red Tail Sharks’ habitat changed significantly in Thailand in the 1970s. It came with the onslaught of widespread environmental modifications notably due to the creation of numerous dams. This led to a significant decline in the wild population of the Red Tail Sharks rendering them critically endangered in their native habitat.
Although their population has decreased in the wild currently, these fish are commonly found in aquariums. Aquarium enthusiasts passionately breed them captively primarily for their distinctive deep black body adorned by either a vivid red or vivid orange tail.
Despite the menacing name, Red Tail Sharks aren’t actual sharks. Rather, they’re close to the carp and belong to the Cyprinidae family, which includes the likes of Carp, Koi, and Goldfish.
Red Tail Shark Appearance and Physical Characteristics
Red Tail Shark is popular among aquarists for its striking coloration. It has a jet-black body with a vibrant red forked tail. This glaring contrast makes it look attractive. Also, its whole body sports a uniform black color including its fins, with no deviation or patterning.
Another distinguishing feature is its pointed snout and triangular-shaped dorsal fin. Male Red Tail Sharks show a more vibrant coloration, slender bodies, and pointed dorsal fins compared to their female counterparts. These differences become more noticeable as the fish reach maturity, usually around 15 months of age.
Red Tail Sharks can reach a sizable length of up to 6 inches (15 centimeters). Interestingly, they’re often mistaken for Rainbow Sharks primarily due to the resemblance in tail color. The distinguishing factor here is the fin color. Rainbow Sharks have red fins, while Red Tail Sharks have black fins.
Although vibrant, Red Tail Sharks may experience a loss of color in their tail under unfavorable conditions such as stress, illness, or poor water quality.
Behavioral Characteristics of Red Tail Shark
One of the key characteristics of the Red Tail Shark is its lively nature. Known to be a very active species, this fish is often found exploring its surroundings. You will often find your fish swimming near the bottom of the tank while also darting away to inspect other areas of interest.
Red Tail Sharks are labeled as aggressive and territorial. They don’t mesh well with other members of their species. They’ve been identified to show hostility toward other fish with a similar size and appearance.
This aggression tends to increase in smaller tanks. Red Tail Sharks relentlessly chase and stress out other fish until they become their prey. Their relentless chasing can sometimes prevent other species from feeding ultimately leading to malnutrition.
Red Tail Sharks are solitary and don’t school with other fish. They become aggressive when their personal space is invaded or during feeding time.
Red Tail Shark Diet and Lifespan
Red Tail Sharks are omnivorous, devouring a wide range of foods in their natural habitat. They primarily feed on insects, worms, crustaceans, and small fish in their natural environment. So it’s crucial you replicate this diversity when you’re feeding them in captivity.
Red Tail Sharks’ staple diet in captivity should include flakes, pellets, and live and frozen foods. Foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and larvae are excellent sources of protein.
Similarly, vegetables play a crucial part in their diet. Adding zucchini, cucumber, and peas to their diet can provide essential nutrients. Another good option is algae wafers.
If we talk about lifespan, Red Tail Sharks generally survive up to a decade. However, the average lifespan in captivity is 6 to 8 years.
Setting up Your Aquarium for A Red Tail Shark
Setting up a Red Tail Shark aquarium is more than just filling a tank with water. Consideration of several factors ensures the environment mimics its natural habitat.
The size of the tank plays a crucial role. You’d need a minimum of a 55-gallon tank. Red Tail Shark needs ample swimming space to explore its surroundings.
Stable water parameter is another vital factor when it comes to keeping your Red Tail Sharks healthy. Rapid and drastic changes in water conditions can be fatal for their overall health.
The ideal water parameters for Red Tail Sharks are:
Water Temperature: 75°F to 81°F (24°C to 27°C)
Water pH: 6.5 to 7.5
Water Hardness (dGH): 5 to 15 dGH.
Choosing the substrate is another important decision. The best options are rocky or sandy substrates to reflect the Red Tail Shark’s native lowland streams, rivers, and creeks. It’s necessary to ensure a sturdy water current in the tank since Red Tail Sharks love fast water flow.
To create a comfortable and recognizable environment, include well-vegetated areas with rocky bottoms. Red Tail Sharks also like hiding spots like caves, driftwood, and plants. Incorporating floating plants can help maintain low to moderate light intensity as they provide shade.
Red Tail Sharks are territorial and aggressive. So, you need to carefully choose their tank mates. Fish that are of similar size and temperament are excellent choices for your fish.
Finally, Red Tail Sharks need adequate filtration and aeration to thrive in a captive environment. A clean, well-filtered tank is recommended. An air pump or air stones can help you ensure well-oxygenated water conditions.
Ideal Tank Mates for Red Tail Shark
Understanding the temperament of Red Tail Sharks is necessary when it comes to selecting their tank mates. Known for their territorial behavior, Red Tail Sharks’ comfort and peace in an aquarium heavily rely on their tank mates.
Some of the ideal tank mates for Red Tail Sharks are:
- Tiger Barbs: These fish hold their own and are unlikely to harm each other, making them apt companions for Red Tail Sharks.
- Dwarf Gourami: Primarily swimming in the middle and top levels, they seldom intrude on the Red Tail Sharks dwellings at the bottom.
- Clown Loach: Being highly non-aggressive, they get along well with virtually any fish, including a Red Tail Shark.
- Mollies: They travel in groups and are less likely to be singled out by Red Tail Sharks.
- Danios: These are well-suited for small tanks and generally don’t interfere with the Red Tail Sharks.
- Neon Tetras: Their small size doesn’t intrude on other fishes’ spaces. They’re perfect for community tanks with Red Tail Sharks and other small fish varieties.
- Tinfoil Barbs: Noted for their peaceful demeanor, they cohabit peacefully with Red Tail Sharks.
- Bala Sharks: Big, compelling, and hearty, these fish are low-maintenance companions often valued by aquarium owners.
It’s crucial to remember Red Tail Sharks are aggressive toward other fish sharing space, appearance, or color. So, make sure you select tank mates that don’t resemble Red Tail Sharks and don’t invade their territory.
How to Breed Red Tail Sharks?
Breeding Red Tail Sharks (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor) at home is known to be challenging, and successful instances are rare. These fish have a complex breeding behavior that’s difficult to replicate in captivity due to their aggressive and territorial nature.
Red Tail Sharks adopt a specific breeding technique in their natural habitat where eggs are laid in sandy or rocky substrates. Following this, male Red Tail Sharks perform the act of fertilizing these eggs. Consequently, your efforts to replicate these conditions in a home aquarium setting can be considerable.
You’ll need to provide an adequate environment for your Red Tail Sharks to breed in home tanks. Some of the most vital factors include the following:
- A large tank: A minimum of 40 gallons is recommended. Breeding Red Tail Sharks need plenty of space for comfort.
- Hiding spots: Red Tail Sharks need areas for retreat like caves, rocks, and driftwood in their environment.
- A higher ratio of females to males: Distinguishing between male and female Red Tail Sharks can be daunting, owing to their similar appearance. Typically, females may turn out to be larger and have a wider and fuller stomach than their male counterparts.
You may consider using breeding hormones to encourage the process. However, only seasoned aquarium hobbyists should undertake such tasks due to the risks and complexity involved. Remember, breeding Red Tail Sharks is a mammoth task, and achieving success can prove uncertain even with the most meticulous preparations.