What Do Red Tailed Sharks Eat? (FIVE OF THE BEST FOODS)

image of feed my Red Tail Shark

Before bringing home a new fish, you need to research basic care for that fish. If you don’t, you likely won’t have your fish around very long.

One of the most important things to research is what to feed your new fish. Not all species are the same, so you’ll have to research the specific type of fish you’re getting and make sure you’re prepared with all of their favorite foods.

If you’re looking to get a new freshwater fish, you may have considered the red tail shark. But what do red tail sharks eat, anyways?

Some foods red tail sharks enjoy include:

To provide your red tail shark with a happy, healthy life, you should plan to incorporate a combination of these foods into its diet.

Below, we’ll talk more about these foods and how to best care for your red tail shark. 

To learn more about feeding and caring for your red tail shark, read on!

What Are Red Tail Sharks?

Red tail sharks are mid-sized freshwater fish that are originally from Thailand. This fish is distinctive in appearance thanks to its sleek black body and bright red tail fins. 

Because of their unique appearance and feisty personality, red tail sharks are one of the most common freshwater “sharks” in the fish trade. However, this fish often does best with experienced aquarium hobbyists, as it can be aggressive at times and needs specific care. 

Red tail sharks can reach six inches in length and often live anywhere between five and eight years. This means you could be caring for your fish for quite a long time as long as you keep them healthy!

We recommend getting a tank size of at least 55 gallons for a red tail shark, as they need lots of space to swim and graze along the bottom of your tank.

You may need an even larger setup if you plan to get large tank mates to go with it. 

What Are Red Tail Sharks’ Favorite Foods?

Red tail sharks are known omnivores, so they eat both plant matter and animal matter to get all the nutrients they need. Look below at some of the best foods for your red tail shark to grow and thrive.

1. Plant Matter

Red tail sharks love eating different types of plant matter. The most common plant matter your red tail shark will eat is algae from your tank. 

Since algae grows naturally in your tank, this can provide a quick snack for your red tail shark between meals. They will often find and eat this in your substrate, which can also help keep your tank clean between water changes.

Strong filters may reduce algae buildup, so we recommend algae wafers as a nice treat for your red tail shark. 

Though algae is good for your red tail shark, you may also have to supplement their diet with additional vegetables. Red tail sharks particularly enjoy spinach, peas, and zucchini as long as you blanch them first.

Remember to remove any excess vegetable matter from your tank once your red tail shark is done eating. If you leave it in there, it could make your water dirty and even make your shark sick. 

2. Insects

Red tail sharks love eating insects for animal protein. Though most of their animal protein comes from worms and crustaceans, red tail sharks also enjoy eating larvae, such as maggots.

Gross, we know.

Larvae have lots of protein and nutrients that your red tail shark will love. You can often find these freeze-dried or frozen for easy feeding.

Luckily, there are other animal protein options if you find larvae just too gross to deal with.  

3. Worms

Worms are some of the red tail shark’s favorite foods. Typically, red tail sharks enjoy a combination of bloodworms and earthworms, which you can find at your local pet store.

You can feed bloodworms and earthworms in one of three ways:

  • Live
  • Frozen
  • Freeze-dried

Though your red tail shark might like the thrill of the hunt with live food, we recommend avoiding this option. Live food can sometimes introduce parasites and other diseases into your tank, which make your fish sick.

You want to keep your red tail shark healthy as much as possible, so live feeding is often not worth the risk!

Instead, we recommend either frozen or freeze-dried worms to feed your red tail shark.

Freeze-dried worms are some of the most common as they have a longer shelf life. You also don’t have to store them in your freezer next to tomorrow’s dinner. 

However, they also have significantly fewer nutrients compared to the frozen variety. 

To give your red tail shark as many nutrients as possible, we recommend feeding them frozen worms. Though it can be a little ickier, it does provide the best nutritional value for your fish outside of live feeding. 

4. Crustaceans

When red tail sharks can’t find worms, they’ll find crustaceans. Red tail sharks love to eat small crustaceans such as:

  • Daphnia
  • Brine shrimp

Daphnia, also called water fleas, are planktonic crustaceans barely visible to the naked eye. Though it may be hard for us to see them, it isn’t too difficult for your red tail shark to see them!

Though we don’t recommend lots of live feed for fish, daphnia is an exception. This crustacean is so small it usually doesn’t carry any diseases. 

It can also be a challenge finding frozen daphnia depending on where you look. You may find that introducing a live culture to your tank is much easier than breaking off chunks of frozen daphnia for your red tail shark.

Brine shrimp also make great treats for red tail sharks. As long as they’re small enough to fit in your red tail shark’s mouth they can be eaten. 

Brine shrimp can be easily found in frozen and freeze-dried varieties, though frozen still carries more nutrients than freeze-dried. 

5. Fish Food Pellets

When you’re in a “pinch” (get it?), fish food pellets can make a fine meal for your red tail shark. Most fish food pellets are specifically made for omnivores and will have a combination of plant and animal matter in them.

Since your red tail shark spends most of its day along the bottom of your tank, we recommend pellets instead of flakes. Pellets will sink easier so your red tail shark can chow down in its favorite place. 


Red tail sharks make great freshwater pets for the right person. Before bringing one home, we highly recommend considering the setup size needed and their aggressive personalities so you can make an educated decision about your red tail shark.

Remember that red tail sharks are omnivores, so they’ll need a combination of plant and animal matter to eat throughout the week.

To keep your red tail shark healthy, you should plan on providing them with worms, vegetables, and sometimes fish flakes to maintain a well-balanced diet. 

If you own red tail sharks, let us know what foods they like the best. Feel free to ask us any other aquarium questions you have in the comments below, and we may pick yours to write about next!

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