What do Red Tail Shark Eat? – Food and Diet

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The Red Tail Shark is a highly popular tank species thanks to its temperament, looks, and overall personality. The shark is relatively easy to care for, although it’s not quite fitting for beginners.

This fish requires a more careful approach when it comes to setting up its environment, crafting its diet and feeding schedule, and keeping it healthy and peaceful.

The fish’s diet makes up most of its well-being, which is why the Red Tail Shark is a bit difficult to keep in good health.

You need to optimize its diet according to its natural feeding habits, which can be easier said than done.

Today, we will discuss the shark’s optimal diet and feeding schedule in captivity.

What do Red Tail Sharks Eat in the Wild?

The Red Tail Shark is an omnivorous fish that will eat a variety of foods, including plants, insects, worms, crustaceans, and even small fish. They are also opportunistic predators.

This means they won’t display typical predatorial behavior, but they won’t pass on the opportunity that presents itself.

When it comes to accommodating your shark in a domestic setup, managing its diet and feeding schedule is paramount for its health.

Ideally, the shark’s diet should mimic its natural one, but that’s easier said than done. You have no access to the shark’s natural diet so that you can know precisely what it prefers to eat.

Instead, you need to improvise a bit and hope you get it right. Fortunately, I’m here to assist you.

Today, we will discuss how to provide your Red Tail Shark with the best diet to boost its health, growth rate, and life quality.

Best Food for Red Tail Shark

There is one thing that your Red Tail Shark needs more than anything when it comes to food, and that’s diversity.

The shark requires an optimal intake of nutrients which can be found in multiple food sources.

Fortunately, commercial shark food is quite effective at providing your fish with all the vitamins and minerals it requires to remain healthy.

Some good commercial fish food options include:

Aqueon Tropical Granules Fish Food

This product is great for several fish species, not only the Red Tail. We include here tank fish like tetras, angelfish, guppies, loaches, swordtails, danios, etc.

All will benefit from these slow-sinking granules containing various ingredients and vitamins.

Some of the ingredients present in these granules include whole fish meal, garlic powder, wheat gluten, fish oil, spirulina, spinach, vitamin complex (E, B12, D3, folic acid, thiamine, etc.)

The ingredient list is vast and pretty much comprehensive when it comes to providing the fish with optimal nutrients.

These granules will sink in slowly, allowing the shark to track them through the water and scratching their hunting itch a bit.

They are also environmentally friendly since they won’t cloud the water and are more easily absorbed. So, your fish will utilize more of its food, minimizing the residues that could turn into waste.

Tetra TetraMin Tropical Granules

This is another well-balanced and portioned fish food product that will fit right into your shark’s diet.

The formula comprises numerous high-quality ingredients meant to provide the Red Tail Shark with the necessary vitamins and minerals.

These include oatmeal, corn gluten, potato protein, fish meal, lecithin, manganese sulfate, cobalt nitrate, ascorbic acid, etc.

These granules are easy to consume, very palatable for the fish, and minimize fish waste thanks to being easily digestible. You should feed these to your shark 2-3 times per day at most, depending on its appetite.

And keep the portions small, enough for your shark to consume them within 1-3 minutes tops.

API Tropical Pellets

These pellets are great for a wide range of tropical fish, including goldfish, bettas, Discus fish, angelfish, tetras, and, of course, the Red Tail.

This product is mostly for omnivorous fish but will pack more protein than the previous 2.

Among the top ingredients, we include fish, squid, and shrimp meal, pea protein, whole wheat, garlic powder, calcium iodate, and a variety of minerals and vitamins.

You can find the full ingredient list on the product’s Amazon page.

These pellets are easily digestible, reducing the waste the fish will produce and keeping their environment cleaner.

Now, all in all, these are great products that will provide your Red Tail with optimal nutrient intake. However, these shouldn’t form your fish’s entire diet. I advise mixing things up a bit and offering your shark additional foods several times per week.

While they rank as omnivorous fish, Red Tail Sharks also need a protein boost occasionally.

Consider giving them some live food 2-3 times per week and maybe some protein-and-veggie homemade paste to vary things a bit. This will keep your sharks full and content with their diet.

When it comes to feeding frequency, 1 meal per day should suffice. It all comes down to your shark’s size and appetite, but, generally, they don’t need to eat more than 1 time per day.

Some shark owners feed the Red Tail once every other day, especially if they have a larger tank with several fish species.

That’s because the Red Tail displays scavenging behavior, so it always looks for food, especially residues that other fish will miss.

If the shark doesn’t have sufficient food opportunities in its environment, feel free to increase its feeding frequency.

Also, keep the meals smaller to prevent overfeeding and minimize residues, and the sharks should be fine.

Can Red Tail Shark Eat Vegetables?

Yes, Red Tail Sharks eat veggies since they’re an important part of their omnivorous diet.

Consider feeding them zucchini, algae wafers, spinach, and peas, either as a cooked paste or boiled individually. Peas are especially important since it contains a lot of fibers.

These will aid in the shark’s digestion and will prevent issues like indigestion, constipation, swim bladder disease, and other dangerous conditions.

Can Red Tail Shark Eat Betta Food?

Yes, they can. Actually, all of the food options I’ve mentioned so far are fitting for a variety of tropical fish, including bettas and Red Tails.

However, there’s an important point that may not be that obvious.

Bettas are carnivorous fish, whereas Red Tails are omnivorous. The shark cannot thrive on betta-food only since it contains too much animal protein.

So, avoid betta-specific foods and, instead, go for mixed products. The granules I’ve mentioned contain concentrated nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, and are not as high in protein.

But they shouldn’t make up your shark’s entire diet. Make sure your shark has a variety of food sources available, providing them with both animal protein and vegetables for a well-rounded diet.

Too much protein will constipate the Red Tail, and this will degenerate into a variety of other issues.

Do Red Tail Sharks Eat Aquarium Plants?

Apparently, there is sufficient contradictory information on this topic on the internet if you’re looking to get confused.

Some sources claim that Red Tails are herbivorous fish, so they will eat plants. Others claim that it will do the same in captivity because the Red Tail eats plants in the wild.

And finally, a bunch say that the Red Tail will never eat plants, but it will resume grazing algae.

The truth is obviously somewhere in the middle. The Red Tail shark is definitely an omnivorous fish, so it will consume animal protein and plant-based nutrients.

But where exactly does the latter come from? The shark will meet its plant-sourced vitamins and minerals via grazing algae and eating mostly dead plant matter.

They won’t directly attack plants as other fish species do.

That being said, all Red Tails are different. Some will nip on plants occasionally if they’re hungry and have nothing else to eat.

How to Feed Red Tail Shark?

You should feed your Red Tail shark every other day, depending on its appetite and food availability in its environment.

This fish showcases scavenging behavior and will consume a variety of foods from its environment, including algae, dead plant matter, worms, etc.

That being said, not all circumstances are identical.

If the tank is rather small, poorly planted, and decorated, and the Red Tail lives alone, there might not be enough scavenging food around.

In that case, you should feed the shark more frequent to make sure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs.


The Red Tail Shark isn’t too difficult to keep. Just keep an eye on its water parameters and provide the fish with a balanced feeding schedule.

Generally speaking, the Red Tail shark requires more plants in its diet than animal protein, but the latter is important as well.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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