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Family: Cyprinidae

Common Name: Red Tailed Shark

Origin and Habitat: Originally widespread over the Chao Phraya basin and possibly the Mekong system. Now extinct according to the 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.

Red Tailed Shark Diet

Extant fish of other species 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, and chopped fruit for variance.


Attains 5 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48 inches in length.

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.


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 can be in the form of "guarding" some kind of object in the tank--this could be an ornament, filter, plant bunch or simply an area of the tank--and attacking fish that come near it.

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 epithet 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). The genus name derives from the Greek epalzes [= curative] and rhyngchos [= snout].

Some ichthyologists consider this genus to be in the subfamily Labeoninae, others in Cyprininae; this is still unresolved. 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.

Contributing Members

The following members have contributed to this profile: pretzelsz, Byron, masterofthesea


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