Redtail Black Shark, Redtailed Black Shark, Fire Tail, Red Tailed Labeo
Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchus (Labeo) bicolor
The Red Tail Shark has a dark black body, and bright red tail. There is a clear dividing line between the red and dark colors, which is quite striking. At maturity, these fish usually reach lengths between three and four inches (seven to ten centimeters). The lips of the Red Tail Shark are equipped with two barbs, which aid them in consuming algae. They are not true sharks; rather, they belong to a family of algae eating fish. Juvenile Red Tail Sharks tend to be paler in color than adults, who become very dark with age. Juveniles may have white dorsal spots or white edged fins, coloring they lose as they mature.
A lid is essential on an aquarium housing Red Tail Sharks. An aquarium of more than 50 gallons in volume is often used. Water temperature should be maintained between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22and 26 degrees Celsius). A pH level of 7.5 and 10 degrees of hardness are recommended. Decorations should be provided for your Red Tail Shark to allow it territorial markers and hiding places, although it is preferred that these are placed about the sides of the enclosure, leaving the center for swimming activity. A smooth substrate, perhaps with a few smooth stones to harbor algal growth, is recommended. Cleanliness is of particular importance, as these fish are sensitive to nitrites. Red Tail Sharks will not tolerate conspecifics and may eat small fish. They should only be kept with fish of roughly equal size and temperament, and may become more intolerant of other fish as they age. The Red Tail Shark's diet should consist of much vegetative matter, since it is of the family of algae eaters. Juveniles lacking plant material in their diets are often stunted in growth or poorly colored. Zucchini, spinach, lettuce, and algae should all be staples. Live or frozen bloodworms, glassworms, earthworms, fruit flies, and brine shrimp should all be offered. Frozen plankton and vegetable diet or live tubifex worms can also be offered. Red Tail Sharks that are pale in color may be unhealthy or suffering from chronic stress.
Male Red Tail Sharks have pointed dorsal fins, whereas the dorsal fins of females end at right angles. Although it is possible to breed Red Tail Sharks in captivity, it is rather difficult due to the level of intolerance these fish show for conspecifics. It is usually a bit easier to achieve breeding in large, heavily planted, outdoor ponds. Between 30 and 40 eggs will be deposited, usually in rocky crevices or cracks, where the male Red Tail Shark guards them. Normally, Red Tail Shark eggs hatch within two to three days, and by the time they are about two days old, the fry are able to swim freely. At one half inch in length, the fry will begin to acquire adult coloration, which develops more fully by the time they are about eight weeks old.
Fresh water fish - Their preferred habitats were those of overgrown waterways with rocky bottoms and strong currents.
Although most Red Tail Sharks are kept alone, some people have had success introducing these fish into communities where other more peaceful fish would not thrive. The strikingly beautiful Red Tail Shark is thus able to fill a niche in certain community tanks, but is also brilliant when given a tank to itself.
The Red Tail Shark usually remains in the middle to bottom regions of its enclosure. In these areas, it stakes out a territory using decorations as landmarks. Often, several territories will be established and invading fish may be attacked. Red Tail Sharks do not tolerate other fish of their species in their enclosures. They may even go after fish larger than they are, stressing these tank mates. Fish with red markings are persecuted most frequently. For such reasons, most people keep Red Tail Sharks with large equally aggressive fish, or they keep solitary Red Tailed Sharks. These fish spend long periods of time in hiding, following these hiatuses with periods of frenetic activity, and have been known to repeatedly leap out of water into the air.
Red Tail Sharks are native to Thailand, though they are thought to be extinct in the wild due to their heavy demand in the pet trade.