Top Ten Red Tailed Shark Tankmates (UPDATED)!

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Ever wanted a shark but worried about the size? Consider a red-tailed shark!

The red-tailed shark, also called the red-tailed sharkminnow, is a freshwater shark that looks like an edgy catfish. The species is a sleek black with whiskers and a bright red tail. 

They’re quite unique looking, but you may be wondering if you can get some friends to put with your red-tailed shark. The answer is yes, you actually can get your red-tailed shark some tank mates!

So, what do Red Tail Sharks get along with? Our top recommendations for best tank mates for your red tailed shark include:

Caring For Red-Tailed Sharks

Red-tailed sharks are a unique, eye-catching addition to any tank. The stark contrast between their solid black bodies and their neon red tails is certainly enough to grab anyone’s attention. (*)

Like all fish, however, red-tailed sharks have specific care needs. They also have bold personalities that need to be considered when it comes to getting tank mates. 

This species of freshwater shark is known for its feisty, territorial nature. It can become aggressive if it feels a fish is invading its space.

Because of this, you need to choose your tank mates carefully, as you don’t want your red-tailed shark attacking any of its tank mates.

Red-tailed sharks do well enough on their own, so don’t feel obligated to get them any “friends.” 

However, tank mates are still an option as long as you plan strategically. If you plan to get tank mates for your red-tailed shark, you should make sure you have an extremely large tank for all of them. Nobody likes feeling cramped, even fish!

Ideal tank mates for your red-tailed shark are quick swimmers who occupy spaces outside of your red-tailed shark’s normal range. These small sharks like to inhabit your tank’s middle and bottom levels, so look for fish that inhabit the upper half instead. 

As long as you keep these things in mind, you shouldn’t have too many issues having some tank mates for your red-tailed shark. If you do happen to have issues, be sure to separate your fish into different tanks.

Not all red-tailed sharks welcome new “friends” with open fins. 

Learn more: What Do Red Tail Sharks Eat? (FIVE OF THE BEST FOODS)

Best Tank Mates for Red-Tailed Sharks

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1. Bala Shark

  • Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 12 – 14 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, active

If you’re looking to have a shark tank, consider getting a bala shark as a tank mate! Bala sharks are large, peaceful fish that can get along well with red-tailed sharks.

Bala sharks are schooling fish, so it is recommended that you get at least 4 of them together. Keeping in mind that they can grow up to 14 inches long, that means a massive tank to keep everyone happy!

If you’re willing to commit to a large setup, bala sharks can be a great addition to your red-tailed shark tank. 

2. Tiger Barb

  • Scientific Name: Puntigrus tetrazona
  • Origin: Malaysia, Indonesia
  • Size: 3 – 4 inches
  • Temperament: semi-aggressive

If you want a fish that is tough in appearance and similar in size to your red-tailed shark, you may want to consider a tiger barb. Tiger barbs can grow anywhere between 3 and 4 inches and have shimmery stripes of black and white down their sides.

Though smaller fish can sometimes run the risk of being bullied by your red-tailed shark, tiger barbs know how to hold their own. Their semi-aggressive nature means they’ll be able to protect their own territory without disturbing your shark. 

They’re also quick swimmers, so they can escape easily in the event of a fight. With any luck, though, both species will stay in their own territories and not have any issues. 

3. Rosy Barb

  • Scientific Name: Pethia conchonius
  • Origin: Southern Asia
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, aggressive as needed

Rosy barbs can be great companions to your red-tailed shark. Because their bodies are similar in color to the tail of your red-tailed shark, they can look quite attractive together.

Rosy barbs are known to be peaceful mid-sized aquarium fish. They are slightly territorial but will typically not start fights unless other fish attempt to fight them first.

They will also be able to protect themselves from your red-tailed shark in the event of a fight thanks to their size and defense abilities. Generally, you shouldn’t have any issues with this tank mate as long as your tank is big enough for both species!

4. Zebra Danios

  • Scientific Name: Danio rerio
  • Origin: South Asia
  • Size: 2 – 2 ½ inches long
  • Temperament: active, social

Zebra danios may be small, but that doesn’t make them weak! In fact, this little fish is known for its active, social personality that helps to protect it in times of danger.

This striped species is known to be speedy, so it should have no problems escaping your red-tail shark as needed. It also tends to linger toward the upper half of the tank, so it’ll likely swim out of your red-tailed shark’s territory anyways. 

Because they are schooling, we recommend getting at least 5-6 zebra danios at once. For them, the more the merrier!

5. Blue Gouramis

  • Scientific Name: Trichopodus trichopterus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 5 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, semi-aggressive

Blue gouramis are beautiful blue fish that look great in any tank. Their bodies are covered in shimmering blue color that will catch the eye of any guest you bring home.

Generally, blue gouramis are peaceful and will not go out of their way to start a fight with other fish. However, they can become aggressive if provoked enough.

Sense it is large in size, you shouldn’t have much to worry about with blue gouramis. This species minds its business but is big and strong enough to stand up for itself, so it makes a good tank mate for the red-tailed shark. 

6. Neon Tetras

  • Scientific Name: Paracheirodon innesi
  • Origin: The Amazon, South America
  • Size: 1.5 inches 
  • Temperament: Peaceful, timid

Wanting to keep your tank size down? You’ll have to consider getting a few smaller fish, such as neon tetras!

Neon tetras are only 1 – 2 inches in length, so you won’t need that much of a bigger tank with your red-tailed shark. However, you should still keep in mind that neon tetras are schooling fish, so you’ll need at least six of them to keep them comfortable.

This species is peaceful and should avoid your red-tailed shark, but is fast enough while swimming to escape your shark as needed. Phew!

7. Freshwater Angelfish

  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, semi-aggressive

Freshwater angelfish are beautiful fish fit to spruce up any tank. This species is known for its tall fins and triangle-shaped body. 

With such long fins, the species appears graceful in the water. Though it is technically a cichlid, it is actually much more peaceful than other cichlid species, so it shouldn’t cause any issues with your red-tailed shark.

Keep in mind that since it is a cichlid, its response to an aggressive red-tailed shark may be more intense than other species of fish. If you have major issues, we recommend separating them into different tanks so they can argue with each other from a distance. 

8. Dwarf Gourami

  • Scientific Name: Trichogaster lalius
  • Origin: India
  • Size: 3 – 4 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, shy

If you want a tank mate that’s really going to steal the show, you’ll be interested in a dwarf gourami. Dwarf gouramis are beautiful fish with bright blue, red, and orange hues shimmering along their round bodies. 

Known to be peaceful, the dwarf gourami will stay away from any potential fights. It is also quite shy, so it won’t necessarily even try to interact with your red-tailed shark.

However, they do like socializing with their own. You should plan to get at least four dwarf gouramis so they won’t feel too lonely in your tank. 

9. Silver Dollar Fish

  • Scientific Name: Metynnis argenteus
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful, timid

The silver dollar fish can make a great addition to your red-tailed shark tank! This shiny silver fish can grow up to six inches in length, so you’ll need a large tank to house everyone together comfortably.

Silver dollars are peaceful but can be a bit timid. Because of this, you’ll want to get at least five of them at once so they can socialize well. 

10. Congo Tetras

  • Scientific Name: Phenacogrammus interruptus
  • Origin: Africa
  • Size: 2.5 – 3.5 inches
  • Temperament: peaceful, skittish

Though on the smaller side, congo tetras are a cute little addition to any tank. Their bodies shimmer with blue, silver, and orange as they swim by, so they’ll fit well with your red-tailed shark.

Congo tetras are peaceful, though they can be skittish at times. They’ll likely avoid your red-tailed shark with no issues.

Since they’re schooling fish, be sure to get at least six of them to start. They love friends!

Now You’re Ready

Now, you know a bit more about the temperament of the red-tailed shark and just what makes a good tank mate for them. 

Remember to look for species that can swim quickly and hide if needed. Species that are peaceful and like to linger in the upper half of the tank should pose no issues for you.

The best fish go well with Red Tail Sharks include:

  • Bala Shark
  • Tiger Barb
  • Rosy Barb
  • Zebra Danios
  • Blue Gouramis
  • Neon Tetras
  • Freshwater Angelfish
  • Dwarf Gourami
  • Silver Dollar Fish
  • Congo Tetras
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Do you have a red-tailed shark? Let us know in the comments about your experience, and ask us any questions you may have. We may pick yours to write about next! 

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