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Red Tailed Shark

Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
Family: Cyprinidae

About the Red Tailed Shark

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Cyprinids

Care Level: Easy. Does well in a slightly more narrow range of water parameters and shouldn't be used to cycle an aquarium. Will eat most prepared foods. May have some specific care requirements in terms of particular water parameters, social behaviors, food items etc.

Origin: Originally widespread over the Chao Phraya basin and possibly the Mekong system. Now extinct [IUCN].

Compatibility/Temperament: Not a general community fish especially for beginners. Very aggressive with its own species (it probably lived in solitude except when breeding) and as it matures is often aggressive with other fish especially those resembling it and those with vertical stripes. Should be kept solitary (one fish per tank) with carefully-selected tankmates like the larger barbs and rasbora. Bottom fish (loaches and most catfish) should not be included with this species.


A strikingly attractive fish, though one usually with a tenacious attitude. It requires a large aquarium with several good hiding spots. A good water flow from the filter will be appreciated by this fish. It is intolerant of poor water conditions and high nitrates. In a large tank with good water conditions, it will live for 15 years.

It is well known for being territorial in some way, this could be like "guarding" some kind of object in the tank and will attack fish that come near it, this could be an ornament, filter, plant bunch or simply an area of the tank.

Females are thicker than males; otherwise there are no reliable external sex differences.

Originally described in 1931 by H.M. Smith and placed in the genus Labeo [= "one who has large lips"] under the species name bicolor ["two colour"]. In 1998 [Yang & Winterbottom] it was moved to the present genus Epalzeorhynchos [erected by Bleeker, 1855] which contains five species, two of which are the rainbow shark (E. frenatum) and the Flying Fox (E. kalopterus).

Some ichthyologists consider this genus to be in the subfamily Labeoninae, others in Cyprininae; this is still disputed. There are three tribes (if in Labeoninae) or three subtribes under the tribe Labeonini (if in Cyprininae).


Yang, J.-X. and R. Winterbottom (1998), "Phylogeny and zoogeography of the cyprinid genus Epalzeorhynchos Bleeker (Cyprinidae: Ostariophysi)," Copeia (1), pp. 48-63.

Red Tailed Shark Diet

Extant fish in this genus primarily graze on aufwuchs--algae, small insects, crustaceans, worms, small invertebrates and detritus. Omnivorous, they should be fed greens along with the standard aquarium flakes, worms, etc. They have inferior mouths (downward facing) so sinking tablets and pellets containing vegetable matter (algae, spirulina) will be appreciated, with feedings of blanched greens, peas (shelled), cucumber, chopped fruit for variance.


Attains 5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48 inches in length.

Ideal water parameters for Red Tailed Shark

Soft to moderately hard (< 15 dGH), slightly soft to slightly basic (pH 6.5 - 7.5) water, temperature 22-26C/72-78F.

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