Last update: November 29, 2022

15 Best Red Tail Shark Tank Mates

Fast, lively, and about as much fun to watch navigate your aquarium as any fish can be, red tail sharks are always a popular option for folks that want to have their own little underwater world in their home.

Eventually, though, most folks want to fill out their tank with different species of fish – and that’s when things start to get a little tricky.

You see, zeroing in on the best red tail shark tank mates is often more challenging than most expect.

Some of that has to do with the fact that red tail sharks can be a little on the aggressive side of things, or even a little territorial, and when the wrong fish are added into the mix fights can break out almost immediately.

But that’s why we’ve put together this detailed guide.

Below we share with you a couple of things to look for in the top red tail shark tankmates as well as run through our top 15 options you want to think about filling your aquarium with.

Shall we get started?

Red Tail Shark Tank Mates – What You Need to Know

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A freshwater shark (natively found in Thailand), these fish have beautiful black and red bodies that look a lot like traditional sharks – and they have a personality to match, too.

Always on the move and sometimes a little aggressive, if you are serious about adding other fish to your red tail shark aquarium you need to be sure that they are going to be a perfect match straight out of the gate.


For starters, it’s important to look for red tail shark tank mates that are going to have the right temperament.

We are talking about fish that are going to be very peaceful, very docile, and the kind of fish that are more than happy to defer to red tail sharks whenever they “bump up” against one another in the aquarium.


While red tail sharks aren’t necessarily the biggest freshwater fish you can keep at home, they do lead very active lifestyles and get super territorial when they feel like they are being penned in.

It’s a good idea to choose fish that are on the smaller side of things when adding new tank mates. You don’t want to go too extreme, though. Add incredibly small fish to your red tail shark tank and they might end up victims of bullying (or worse).


The number one thing to remember when you are looking for red tail shark tankmates is that these fish are very territorial and not afraid to fight to protect space that they feel is their own.

They can also get competitive when mating season rolls around or even just when feeding time hits. Once again, find fish that are a little more relaxed and a little more passive and you won’t have a whole lot to worry about.

Water Parameters and Tank Setup

One thing you don’t have to worry too much about with red tail sharks and their tank mates, though, is hitting very specific water conditions.

These sharks are very hardy. They can tolerate water temperatures between 72° and 79°F (the warmer the better, though), water pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5, and don’t necessarily need their tanks to be cleaned every other day, either.

Red Tail Shark Tank Mates

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1. Tiger Barbs

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  • Scientific Name:  Puntigrus tetrazona
  • Adult Size:  4 inches
  • Compatible with:  Barbs, Platys, Clown loach
  • Water Temperature:  77-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

There are definitely some people in the aquarium world that think it’s crazy to add Tiger Barbs in with your red tail sharks, just because they have the same kind of tendency to be territorial and slightly aggressive.

Interestingly enough, though, because these fish have the same kind of personality they sort of balance each other out. Give both of these pieces of fish plenty of structure and lots of underwater caves to call their own – as well as a bit of extra room to swim around in – and you won’t have anything at all to worry about.

2. Molly Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Poecilia sphenops
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Guppy Fish, Endlers, Platy, Swordtail, Neon Tetras
  • Water Temperature:  75°-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

You can add all different kinds of mollies into an aquarium with a red tail shark, but black mollies (natives of Central America) work the best.

These fish grow to be anywhere between 2 and 3 inches long (sometimes up to 6 inches), are pretty peaceful, and have enough of a personality not to get pushed around or bullied by red tail sharks.

You’re not going to find these fish chilling out near the bottom of the water column all the time, though. They do like to roam around inside of the aquarium, but because of their happy-go-lucky personality, red tail sharks don’t really bother them all that much.

3. Zebra Danios

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  • Scientific Name:  Danio rerio
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, guppies, platys, mollies, swordtails
  • Water Temperature:  64 – 75 °F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These beautiful and fun zebra colored fish are found natively in the eastern parts of India, are very hardy and resilient, and aren’t going to cause your red tail shark any frustration or anxiety – even if they do prefer to be kept in larger schools of 10 or more fish.

Fast-moving, peaceful, and always more interested in avoiding conflict than throwing down, larger red tail sharks are going to leave these fish alone for the most part.

4. Congo Tetra

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  • Scientific Name:  Phenacogrammus interruptus
  • Adult Size:  3 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, Catfish, Guppies
  • Water Temperature:  73-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  40 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

A gorgeous tetra most frequently found in the Congo River of Africa, this is another super peaceful fish that prefers to be left alone more often than not. Your red tail shark population probably won’t even notice these fish as they zip and zoom around. They certainly won’t pay them enough attention to cause any problems.

It is (like most other tetra) a good idea to keep these fish in small schools to keep them happy and healthy. We’re talking anywhere between 6 and 10 fish, provided you have enough space to accommodate them all.

Don’t be surprised if these fish live almost exclusively in the middle of your aquarium water column and zoom away every time your red tail shark starts to get closer.

5. Angelfish

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  • Scientific Name:  Pterophyllum
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, Gourami, Swordtails
  • Water Temperature:  78-84°F
  • Minimum tank size:  55 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

Angelfish can be somewhat problematic to keep in aquariums with fish that have more aggressive tendencies, but for one reason or another red tail shark and angelfish go together like peanut butter and jelly – they don’t have a lot of conflict at all!

Researchers believe that a lot of this has to do with the fact that angelfish and red tail shark (as well as tiger barbs) are just sort of “wired the same” and are naturally inclined to kind of leave one another alone.

These fish require larger tanks as well, meaning there’s always going to be a little more extra real estate for your red tail shark to “stretch out” in – and that’s never a bad thing, either.

6. Sparkling Gourami

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  • Scientific Name: Trichopsis pumila
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Rasboras, Tetras, White Clouds
  • Water Temperature:  75-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  15 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Though these fish are a little on the smaller side of things (with adults growing to be just about 1.5 inches long), because they live in small schools of five or six they can kind of “gang up” and protect one another – keeping your red tail shark from causing them any hassle.

On top of that, these type of fish like to stay up near the higher levels of the aquarium water column and away from the “sweet spot” that your red tail shark will live almost exclusively. Even if they wander into each other’s water these fish are super passive and will dart away from a red tail shark before bad feelings can manifest.

7. Neon Tetras

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  • Scientific Name:  Paracheirodon innesi
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, guppies, tetras, loaches
  • Water Temperature:  75° – 80° F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Medium

Neon tetras are about as unassuming and non-aggressive a fish as it gets, making them a perfect addition to your aquarium with red tail sharks.

Adaptable to a wide variety of water conditions (especially on the temperature side of things, where these fish can tolerate temps as low as 68°F to as high as 79°F without any trouble), you’ll have no difficulty dropping them into your red tail shark tank.

These fish (like most tetras) prefer the middle of the water column. They’ll generally stay out of the way of your red tail sharks.

8. Pearl Gourami

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  • Scientific Name:  Trichopodus leerii
  • Adult Size:  4-5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Gourami, Catfish, Loaches
  • Water Temperature:  77-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

As long as you aren’t adding a bunch of males into your red tail shark enclosure you don’t have anything to worry about with pearl gourami living in harmony with those fish.

One male for every three or four females keeps these fish really docile and peaceful, eliminates competition with red tail sharks almost entirely, and guarantees that these fish stay “schooled up”.

These fish also have a tendency to live higher in the water column than red tail sharks, making it easy for these fish to avoid one another and prevent them from having fights, too.

9. Honey Gourami

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  • Scientific Name:  Trichogaster chuna
  • Adult Size:  2 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, Gourami, Rasbora
  • Water Temperature:  71-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

Very nonaggressive fish that do best when they live in small schools of four or so, these fish are going to spend the majority of their time avoiding your red tail shark – usually by diving into any of the plants or vegetation you’ve built into your substrate.

10. Bala Shark

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  • Scientific Name:  Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Adult Size:  14 inches
  • Compatible with:  Rainbowfish, Angelfish, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  72-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  125 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

The bala shark calls Southeast Asia home, but fans of this fish from all over the world have had a lot of success keeping it side by side with red tail sharks.

Definitely one of the larger tank mates for red tails you’ll want to consider, it’s important to be sure that there’s a lot of water for your balas to move around in. This is especially critical, since bala sharks lead the happiest and healthiest lives when they are paired up with at least one more bala in the same aquarium.

Since they grow to be so big you won’t have to worry much about your red tails bothering these fish. They are peaceful, happier sharks that are going to kind of loaf around near the substrate level.

11. Platy Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Xiphophorus maculatus
  • Adult Size:  2.8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, cory catfish, bristlenose, rainbow fish
  • Water Temperature:  70-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Another fish that likes to be paired off (or kept in a small school of three, with one male and two females), you shouldn’t be surprised if these fish join larger schools – especially if your red tail sharks are a little on the more aggressive side of things.

These fish spend the majority of their time in the middle of the water column of your aquarium, often smack dab in the center of the “action”, but will dart away if your red tails start to get a little spooky.

12. Clown Loach

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  • Scientific Name:  Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Adult Size:  6-8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Discus, Rainbowfish, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  70-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  75 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Almost nonaggressive to a fault, these big fish get along with pretty much any and every fish you could keep in an aquarium – including red tail shark.

Growing to be 6 inches to 8 inches in length (on average), these fish do best when they are kept in schools of four or more. That means you’re going to need a relatively large aquarium just to accommodate them.

All that extra space means your red tail shark will have plenty of room to roam to steer clear of these big bottom dwelling fish.

13. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

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  • Scientific Name:  Tanichthys albonubes
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, Danios, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  65-77°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These minnows like to spend a lot of their time in the top half of the water column, which means they are going to (by and large) be away from red tail sharks most of the time.

Happiest in schools of six or more, they have strength in numbers that keep red tail shark from getting frustrated with them, too.

14. Dwarf Gourami

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  • Scientific Name:  Trichogaster lalius
  • Adult Size:  3.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Angelfish, common mollies, platys, swordtails
  • Water Temperature:  75° and 80° F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These fish stay near the middle and top side of your aquarium, steering clear of the natural territory (the middle to bottom of your tank) that red tail sharks like to inhabit.

Best kept in pairs (meeting pairs), you’re not going to get a whole lot of competition or a lot of aggression out of these fish even if your red tail shark likes to play a little more aggressively than you’d like.

15. Silver Dollars

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  • Scientific Name:  Metynnis argenteus
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Bristlenose, Pleco, Oscar fish
  • Water Temperature:  75-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  100 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

If you want to make sure that silver dollars stay happy you want to give them a lot of extra water to call home, with tanks holding at least 100 gallons recommended as a minimum.

Add in the extra water you want to have for your red tail shark population, too, and you’re talking about a bigger aquarium – but one that has a lot of extra space for these fish to exist in peacefully.

It doesn’t hurt that silver dollars like to spend most of their time near the top half of your tank and away from your red tail sharks.

Closing Thoughts

Even though red tail sharks have a bit of a reputation for being on the more aggressive side of things it’s not hard to find peaceful, friendly, and relaxed companions and neighbors that can live happily in a tank alongside them.

Choose from any of the top 15 best red tail shark tankmates we highlighted above and you’ll have no trouble filling out your aquarium with all different kinds of fish, making your tank more lively and more fun to keep – but also helping your fish stay happier and healthier thanks to all that extra diversity, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fish to avoid as red tail shark tank mates?

Fish that look very similar to red tail sharks – like rainbow sharks, for example – should be avoided entirely. That’s a surefire way to spark nasty territorial fights.

Is it a good idea to keep breeding pairs of red tail sharks together?

Honestly, it’s very challenging – if not impossible – to breed a red tail shark naturally at home in your aquarium. You can keep male and female fish together in your enclosure if you like. But the odds of them breeding successfully are pretty low.

Should red tail shark water be warmer or cooler?

While these fish can live in a wide range of water temperatures, warmer water (closer to 78° and 79°F) will really help them thrive.

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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