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Red Tail Shark Tank Mates (The Best and Worst Combinations)

Red Tail Shark Tank Mates (The Best and Worst Combinations)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Red Tail Shark is one of the most attractive fish species to keep in a freshwater aquarium. Yet, the fish have a rightfully-earned reputation of being somewhat hostile towards other fish that wanders into its territory.

Luckily, with precautions, some fish species could co-exist with Red Tail Sharks without any problems, such as Angelfish, Tiger Barbs, Gouramis, Mollies, and More.

In today’s guide, we’ll walk you through some of the best and worst red tail shark tank mates, so you can establish a successful freshwater aquarium community. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Best Tank Mates for Red Tail Sharks

Red Tail Sharks spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank where they can forage and hide in caves.

Since they mainly feed on plant matter, they don’t have a natural tendency to attack other fish in the tank.

However, they don’t like it when other fish get in their territory and will lash out by chasing them to exhaustion all over the tank, especially those who are too slow to escape them.

For that reason, the ideal tank mate is a fast specimen that typically doesn’t wander at the bottom of a tank.

Here are some fish species that can live in peace with Red Tail Sharks and what makes them suitable candidates:

1 – Angelfish

  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum
  • Size: 4 to 6 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: High

At first glance, it’s easy to assume that Angelfish and Red Tail Sharks can’t coexist. However, many fish breeders found the combination somewhat successful.

Angelfish are typically peaceful but they’re also very territorial. However, since they like to swim in the mid-levels of the aquarium, they rarely clash with Red Tail Sharks.

With that said, you still need to keep the two fish in a relatively wide and tall tank so that their territories don’t overlap (Angelfish are somewhat slow, so confrontational chasing will heavily exhaust them).

2 – Tiger Barbs

  • Scientific Name: Puntius tetrazona
  • Size: 2.8 to 3.9 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: High

Tiger Barbs are beautiful tropical fish that are characterized by their vertical black stripes that make them instantly stand out in a fish tank.

Although these fish are also known for being somewhat aggressive, many aquarium owners who tried the combination found that they can easily co-exist with Red Tail Sharks.

Tiger Barbs swim everywhere in the tank, but they typically prefer hanging out in the middle, which keeps them out of the Red Tail Shark’s Territory and maintains peace in the tank.

They’re also highly energetic and can swim very fast, which helps them escape Red Tail Sharks if they’re chased around.

While Tiger Barbs are relatively small, you’ll still need a large aquarium to make this work because they’re shoaling fish that need to be in groups of at least 6.

3 – Tetras

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi, Phenacogrammus interruptus
  • Size: 1.0 to 3.0 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: Medium (species-dependent)

Tetras include a wide variety of species that vary in behaviors and temperament, and therefore, some Red Tail Shark-Tetra combinations may not work well.

However, two popular species that work very well with Red Tail Sharks are Congo Tetras and Neon Tetras.

Both of these shoaling species swim almost exclusively in the upper mid-layer of the tank, so they’re rarely in the way of Red Tail Sharks.

Not only that, but they’re also fairly skittish and will typically avoid getting too close to where Red Tail Sharks are.

4 – Gouramis

  • Scientific Name: Osphronemidae Sp.
  • Size: 5 to 10 inches long or more
  • Compatibility Level: High

Gouramis come in a variety of species but they typically share many characteristics that make them excellent tank mates for Red Tail Sharks.

For starters, Gourami species typically live at the higher portions of the tank and near the surface, especially Pearl, Dwarf, and Sparkling Gouramis.

In other words, they’re usually as far as it gets from the Red Tail Shark’s territory and will avoid getting too close to where it swims.

They’re also small in size, which makes it easier to keep them in groups of one male plus 3 females, which helps in keeping them peaceful.

5 – Bala Sharks

  • Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Size: up to 14 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: High

Like Red Tail Sharks, Bala Sharks also get the name due to structural similarities to real sharks. However, this species is quite docile and peaceful when raised in the right conditions.

Since Bala Sharks are typically larger than Red Tail Sharks, the latter typically avoids bothering them, especially since Bala Sharks typically swim in the middle section of the tank.

However, you’ll need to keep full-sized Bala Sharks adults because Red Tail Sharks can bully smaller ones. Also, maintain the Bala Sharks in groups of 4 to 6 to keep them peaceful.

6 – Mollies

  • Scientific Name: Poecilia Sp.
  • Size: 3.5 to 6 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: Medium

Mollies are a remarkable addition to aquariums because they’re energetic and like to show off their beautiful colors and patterns.

Although Mollies are relatively small in size, they’re still big enough to not qualify as food for Red Tail Sharks.

Mollies like to wander around the aquarium, but they typically stay in the middle layers, so they typically leave each other alone.

The only problem is that they consume the same type of food, which can be a problem due to size differences, so make sure that there’s enough food for both species.

7 – Platies

  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus
  • Size: 2 to 3 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: Medium

Platies are small livebearer fish that are related to guppies and mollies, so they share a lot of similarities with them. They’re relatively docile and calm, especially when kept in large groups.

Platies don’t have a particular preference when it comes to swimming in the tank, so they can dive to the bottom sometimes.

For that reason, Red Tail Sharks may occasionally chase them, but they’re fast enough to avoid them eventually, especially if you keep them in a large tank.

8 – Danios

  • Scientific Name: Danio Sp.
  • Size: around 1 to 1.5 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: High

Danios are small fish species that are known for their beautiful colors and nice temperament, which makes them suitable tank mates for many species, including Red Tail Sharks.

The fish typically prefers swimming in the upper portion of the fish tank, so they rarely enter the Red Tail Shark’s territory.

Additionally, the fish is fairly quick and lives in small groups, which makes it harder for Red Tail Sharks to chase them around.

Danios come in a variety of species, but Zebra and Slender Danios seem to be the best species for a Red Tail Shark Tank.

Since Danios are quite small and can survive as single fish, they’re an ideal Red Tail Shark tank mate if you have a relatively small aquarium.

9 – Bettas

  • Scientific Name: Betta sp.
  • Size: 1.0 to 3.0 inches long
  • Compatibility Level: Medium

Bettas are among the most beautiful fish species to have in your aquarium, so it’s no wonder why many people want to keep them together with other species like Red Tail Sharks.

These fish are also known as “Siamese Fighting Fish”, and as the name suggests, this fish can also be quite aggressive and territorial and will throw a fight if Red Tail Sharks chase them.

However, since these fish typically live between the middle and upper sections of the tank, they rarely cross paths.

Yet, you still need to provide this combination with a large tank to encourage them to establish territories away from each other.

It’s also a good idea to have them both from a young age at the same time so they can learn to adapt and co-exist in the same tank.

10 – Guppies

  • Scientific Name: Poecilia Sp.
  • Size: 0.5 to 1.6 inches long (males) – 1.2 to 2.5 inches long (females)
  • Compatibility Level: Medium

Lastly, you can also pair your Red Tail Shark with guppies, although you’ll need to take some precautions in mind to make this combination work.

Guppies are relatively peaceful fish. However, they can resort to aggression when there aren’t enough females in the tank to keep the balance. This means that you’ll need a relatively large tank to make this work.

They’re also fast swimmers, which allows them to escape Red Tail Sharks if they start chasing them.

With that being said, Guppies typically swim near the top portion of the tank, so they rarely come in direct contact with each other.

Worst Tank Mates for Red Tail Sharks

Now that you know more about the best tank mate, let’s have a quick look at the worst combinations to consider.

1 – Cichlids

A lot of aquarium owners are tempted to put Cichlids with Red Tail Sharks in the same tank.

Yet, this combination rarely works because both species are highly territorial and prefer swimming at the bottom of the tank.

This makes a clash between the two almost inevitable, especially if you have a small tank where their territories overlap.

2 – Goldfish

There are many reasons Goldfish/Red Tail Shark combinations often fail. For starters, both fish are bottom dwellers, so they’re easily chased around the tank.

The problem here is that goldfish get exhausted very easily and will die of nutrition in that case.

This is also why goldfish are better suited for smaller aquariums, which isn’t suitable for the Red Tail Shark.

3 – Rainbow Shark

Similar to Red Tailed Sharks, Rainbow Sharks also like to swim in the bottom and can be extremely territorial. This results in a lot of fighting and bullying between the two.

4 – Other Red Tail Sharks

Red Tail Sharks become extremely aggressive when they’re paired with their kind in the same fish tank.

This also applies to all kinds of fish that look or behave like them, so you should generally avoid all kinds of bottom-dwelling aquarium sharks.

5 – Plecos

Plecos also swim in the bottom, which makes it impossible for them to get a break from chasing, even in large groups.

Not only that, but they’re also too docile and peaceful to handle Red Tail Sharks’ consistent bullying.

6 – Crustaceans and Bottom Feeders

Although Red Tail Sharks typically feed on plant matter, they’re omnivorous and can eat insects, small fish, and crustaceans.

For that reason, you should never keep them in an aquarium with species of shrimp, such as shrimp and snails.

Final Thoughts

This marks the end of this guide that walks you through some of the best and worst Red Tail Shark tank mates.

As you can see, Red Tail Sharks are highly territorial and aggressive, so the list of their unwelcome neighbors includes almost all fish that live in the bottom of the tank or are too small/slow to handle the Shark’s consistent bullying and chasing.

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