10 Red Tail Shark Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species

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Red Tail Sharks are quite popular thanks to their interesting appearance and non-demanding nature. However, this fish is probably best known for its feisty personality. Red Tails can be very territorial and unfriendly, even to other members of their species. This becomes a problem when you’re thinking about creating a community tank.

Obviously, you can’t keep Red Tails together with just about any species. You’ll have to think carefully before you make the selection. And there are a few things you should consider when looking for the perfect tank mates:

Temperament and behavior: The tank mates you choose must have compatible personalities. You should ideally choose peaceful shoaling species. You need tank mates that won’t provoke the Red Tails. Also know that Red Tail Sharks are less likely to bully fish that swim around in groups.

Semi-aggressive tank mates might also work if you have enough space. It also helps if the tank mates you choose are energetic and quick swimmers. That way, they can easily get away from a cranky shark.

Body size: Red Tails grow up to 6 inches, so their tank mates should be of a similar size. Fish that are too small will get eaten. Fish that are much larger should be peaceful. A large semi-aggressive fish might hurt the Red Tail Sharks. Larger fish will also require more aquarium space. Something worth considering if you have a small tank.

Appearance: Avoid fish that look similar to the Red Tails. This species gets competitive and hostile towards its conspecifics. Also avoid fish with long, flowing fins. The Red Tail Shark is an infamous nipper.

Tank level: Red Tails are mostly bottom swimmers. Ideally, you’ll want to choose tank mates that occupy the middle and top layers of the water column. This will help you minimize aggressive and territorial behavior.

Water parameters: Don’t forget! The fish must also thrive in the same water parameters. Luckily, Red Tail Sharks have a wide range of tolerable values, including 72°–79°F temperature, 6.0–8.0 pH, and 5–15 dGH.

Taking all of this into consideration, it might seem like you’re constrained to a very small number of options. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! There are still many colorful fish you can add to a community aquarium. Here are just a few of the best Red Tail Shark mates to choose from:

1. Bala Sharks

Generally, Red Tails don’t get along well with other Sharks. But the humble Bala Shark is an exception. This fish is different enough in terms of temperament, size, and appearance. So, Red Tails won’t view them as competition. Here’s a closer look at how these species compare:

  • Temperament and behavior: This fish is calm and peaceful. Bala Sharks are also a sociable, shoaling species, unlike their Red Tail counterparts. In the community tank, Balas get along well with other peaceful fish. They get easily scared, so they feel most comfortable in groups of at least four fish.

They’re unlikely to bother the Red Tails or any other tank mates for that matter. Despite their mellow personalities, Balas are full of energy. They’re constantly active and they’re very quick swimmers. If their tank mates ever get pissed, they can easily dart off into hiding.

  • Size: This fish grows up to 14 inches long. So, they’re more than twice the size of Red Tails. This gives them an advantage. Their feisty tank mates might feel intimidated due to the size difference. 
  • That’s good because the Bala Shark isn’t confrontational. The only disadvantage is their space requirements. These large, active fish need lots of room. You should have roughly 125 gallons for one small group.
  • Appearance: This fish has a simple appearance. It’s got a shimmery grey body with dark, short fins.
  • Tank Level: Unlike their bottom-dwelling counterparts, Balas prefer to spend most of their time in the middle regions of the tank. This means the two species won’t have to compete for territory, which is great.
  • Water Parameters: The two have very similar requirements. Balas thrive in 72–82°F temperature, 6.0–8.0 pH, and 5–12 dGH.

2. Tiger Barbs

Tiger Barbs are great for so many reasons. These fish don’t need lots of space. They’re also cheap, easy to find, and easy to care for. If you want a low-effort option for your community tank, Barbs should be high on your list. And of course, these colorful and energetic fish are also suitable tank mates for your Red Tail Sharks. Here’s why:

  • Temperament and behavior: This fish is a flaming ball of energy. It spends most of its time playing and being a show-off. Expect to see the Barbs out in the open, right in the center of the aquarium. Barbs are a sociable, shoaling species and are happiest in groups of 5-8 fish.

They’re notorious for being pushy and dominant, so keep them away from timid fish. Overall, their aggressive behavior is inoffensive. They might chase, bite, or bump into other fish in the tank, but they rarely wound their tank mates.

They can intimidate others and stand their ground when necessary, so they do well with both peaceful and semi-aggressive tank mates. It’s a matter of when, not if they’ll get into trouble with your sharks. Luckily, barbs are also quick swimmers. Should anything happen, they can easily escape.

  • Size: This fish grows up to 3 inches long. They’re roughly half the size of Red Tails. Big enough not to get eaten, small enough that you can keep lots of them! You can fit 5 fish in just 20 gallons worth of space. That’s roughly one Barb per 4 gallons.
  • Appearance: This fish comes in a variety of colors. Most commonly, it comes in a pale golden color with black horizontal stripes, hence the name. This fish has very short and small fins. That makes them safe around fin-nippers like Red Tails.
  • Tank Level: They usually occupy the middle layers of the water column. They like being out in the open. For the most part, they’re unlikely to trespass into shark territory.
  • Water Parameters: Barbs are pretty adaptable to various water parameters. Their ideal values include 75-82°F, 6.0-8.0 pH, and 5–19 dGH.

3. Mollies

Mollies are very hardy and adaptable. They can thrive in both hard and very hard water. And they can live in both freshwater and brackish aquariums. Combine this with the fact that they come in lots of colors and patterns, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular.

This low-maintenance, beginner-friendly fish would make a nice addition to any community tank. And they wouldn’t be on this list if they weren’t compatible with Red Tail Sharks. Just take a look at their species profile:

  • Temperament and behavior: Mollies are mostly peaceful. They get along well with other non-aggressive tank mates. They don’t go out of their way to interact with other fish and prefer to keep to themselves. So, they’re unlikely to bother their Red Tail tank mates.

In high-stress conditions or when threatened, Mollies can become aggressive. If they ever needed to defend themselves, they could. So, while they won’t challenge their shark tank mates, they can make them back off when the sharks get feisty.

It’s unlikely that Red Tail sharks will try anything though. Mollies are highly sociable and spend most of their time swimming in groups of 4 or more fish. Red Tail Sharks rarely go after groups. Instead, they bully the more vulnerable fish.

  • Size: Mollies grow up to 4.5 inches in length. However, they commonly measure closer to 3.5 inches. This is still a decent size. You’ll be happy to learn that despite this, they don’t need a lot of room. You can keep four Mollies in around 12 gallons.
  • Appearance: It varies a lot. You can get a variety of colors, including purple, blue, orange, red, silver, and even black. All Mollies have short, small fins.
  • Tank Level: This species lives in shallow waters in the wild. In the tank, they’ll occupy the top layers closest to the surface. They won’t interact with the bottom-dwelling sharks very often.
  • Water Parameters: You get more leeway than with other species. Mollies’ ideal water values include 72–78°F, 7.5–8.5 pH, and 15–30 dGH.

4. Swordtails

Swordtails get their name from their distinctive tail shape. Male fish have a thin elongated lower tailfin, hence the name “Swordtail”. It’s a unique look that draws attention in any aquarium. But that’s not the only good thing about this fish!

Besides its appearance, the Swordtail also has a decent size yet requires very little space. This fish is also extremely hardy and low-maintenance. And of course, they make excellent tank mates for Red Tail Sharks thanks to their traits:

  • Temperament and behavior: Swordtails are extremely peaceful. They aren’t timid, but they prefer keeping to themselves. They don’t interact with other fish but aren’t bothered by them either. They act sociable around other Swordtails and they prefer swimming in groups.

They’re pretty active and curious, so you’ll see lots of movement from them. As for swimming speed, Swordtails are decent. They’re quick enough to avoid getting hurt by larger, more aggressive tank mates. Overall, they’re unlikely to bother the Red Tails or any other fish in the tank.

  • Size: This fish grows up to 5.5-6.3 inches, with females being larger than males. One Swordtail adult requires around 15 gallons worth of aquarium space. For each additional fish, you’ll need 5 extra gallons. Not too bad, since you can keep a pair in just 20 gallons.
  • Appearance: These fish come in a variety of colors and tail shapes. You can choose between varieties like Neon, Tuxedo, Marigold, Pineapple, and more. One thing remains true— this fish has an elongated tail fin. But other than that, Swordtails have short fins. It’s unlikely that the Swordtail will become the victim of fin nippers in the tank.
  • Tank Level: This fish spends most time swimming in the middle and top layers of the aquarium, away from bottom-dwelling fish like Red Tails.
  • Water Parameters: This is a very adaptable fish. Their water parameters are pretty wide. Values include 64–82°F, 7.0–8.4 pH, and 12–30 dGH.

5. Dwarf Gouramis

Dwarf Gouramis are natural-born hunters. Their hunting technique is both fun and interesting. Did you know that this little fish can spit water at various targets? Yeah, you might want to secure your aquarium lid with these guys around. Despite being great hunters and ferocious eaters, Dwarf Gouramis are pretty chill.

They make excellent tank mates for a variety of fish, including Red Tail Sharks. Dwarf Gouramis are also very colorful, hardy, and easy to care for. So, they’re good for beginners and perfect for community tanks! Here’s some more information on this fascinating little fish:

  • Temperament and behavior: Dwarf Gouramis are generally calm and non-aggressive. They can live peacefully alongside fish with similar temperaments. The only exception is other Gouramis and similar-looking fish. When Male Dwarf Gouramis sense there’s mating competition, they become less tolerant.

But even when Gouramis become pushy, their behavior is mostly for intimidation. These fish rarely hurt their tank mates. Dwarf Gouramis are a sociable, schooling species. They feel most secure when in a group. Their grouping behavior will deter semi-aggressive tank mates from bullying them.

  • Size: The Dwarf Gourami grows up to 4.5 inches long. There’s not a huge size difference between these Gouramis and the Red Tail Sharks. Dwarf Gouramis are also a space-efficient addition to a community tank. You can keep up to three Gouramis in just 10 gallons. But ideally, each fish should have around 5 gallons worth of space.
  • Appearance: Dwarf Gouramis come in a variety of beautiful colors including bright blue, neon blue, ember red, and orange. These fish have wide abdominal and dorsal fins that make them appear taller. However, their fins are still short enough not to garner any negative attention from nipping tank mates.
  • Tank Level: These Gouramis swim mostly in the middle and top levels of the aquarium. That’s what makes them such excellent tank mates for bottom-dwelling fish like sharks.
  • Water Parameters: Their ideal values include: 72–82°F, 6.0-8.0 pH, and 4-10 dGH.

6. Zebra Danios

Zebra Danios get their name from the straight horizontal lines on their bodies. These fish come in a variety of colors including earthy tones, green, blue, purple, red, orange, and neon.

If you’re short on space and want a playful, colorful, and hardy fish in your community tank, you should give the Zebrafish a try. As you might have already guessed, this species is also highly compatible with various tank mates, Red Tails included. Here’s some more useful info:

  • Temperament and behavior: Zebrafish have a great reputation. They’re peaceful, playful fish. They’re the least likely to cause trouble in the community tank. However, they might nip at the fins of large, slow-moving fish, so keep that in mind!

Other than that, this species won’t bother anyone. Zebrafish keep active most of the time by swimming in shoals and playing with other Danios. They aren’t easily scared, but they’re also not able to defend themselves against bullies.

Luckily, they’re excellent swimmers. Zebrafish can quickly dart around the aquarium to escape danger. Given their social behavior, they should be kept in groups of at least 5 fish.

  • Size: These fish grow up to 1.5-2.5 inches long. Be cautious when choosing what fish to add to the community tank! Fish closer to 1.5 inches are too small and could get easily hurt. Full-grown adults that reach 2+ inches in length are best as Red Tail Tankmates. As for space requirements, each Zebrafish requires at least 2 gallons of space. So, you can keep 5 fish in a 10-gallon aquarium!
  • Appearance: Zebrafish have a similar body shape to Red Tail Sharks. But their coloring and patterns are completely different. This species also has short and small fins.
  • Tank Level: Zebra Danios swim and feed exclusively at the upper-middle and top levels of the water column. You won’t have to worry about them coming into contact with their bottom-dwelling tank mates.
  • Water Parameters: The ideal values include 64–77°F, 6.8–8.0 pH, and 5–19 dGH.

7. Platies

Platies make excellent tank mates and you don’t need lots of space for them! Not to mention that Platies are also extremely hardy, beginner-friendly, and cheap. You can find them in most local pet stores for around $3.

So, if you want to add a little bit of color to your aquarium, look no further! This species has all the traits of the perfect community tank fish:

  • Temperament and behavior: Platies are mostly peaceful and do well when kept with similar fish. Male Platies can become competitive, so the females should outnumber the male fish.

Other than in-group competitively, Platies shouldn’t cause any problems in the community tank. They prefer to keep to themselves and spend most of their time in groups, not interacting with other species. They won’t provoke your Sharks, that’s for sure!

  • Size: Platies grow up to 3 inches in length. It’s a decent size, so they’re unlikely to get eaten. You’ll need just 2 gallons per fish. This means you’ll be able to keep a small group of five Platies in a 10-gallon tank!
  • Appearance: Platies come in a variety of colors and patterns. The possibilities are endless! Most specimens have small, short fins. However, hifin Platy varieties have elongated, flowing dorsal fins. I recommend you stay away from this type of Platy. You might get unpleasant surprises, given the Red Tail Shark’s fin-nipping tendencies.
  • Tank Level: Platies occupy the middle and upper levels of the water column. That’s great because they won’t enter the Red Tail Sharks’ territory often.
  • Water Parameters: Platies thrive in 70–77°F temperature, 6.8–8.0 pH, and 10–28 dGH water.

8. Rasboras

Rasboras are a diverse group made up of dozens of species. These colorful, shimmering fish thus come in a variety of sizes and have different water parameters. All Rasboras are peaceful, hardy, and beginner-friendly. They make excellent tank mates.

But you should stay away from small species such as Galaxy, Chili, Dwarf, and Pheonix Rasboras. These fish are smaller than 1 inch in length, so they’ll perish pretty quickly in a Red Tail Shark tank. Instead, I recommend species like the Clown, Scissortail, and Brilliant Rasbora. Here’s why these fish make great Red Tail tank mates:

  • Temperament and behavior: Rasboras are the goody-two-shoes of the community tank. This species is extremely peaceful and friendly. Rasboras are also sociable and prefer to swim in groups. They get along well with virtually all peaceful fish. Rasboras never bully their tank mates.

In fact, they might often become the targets of bullying. These fish are a bit timid and need plenty of hiding spaces. When they feel safe, usually in the company of other Rasboras, you’ll see them darting energetically around the tank.

  • Size: It varies a lot depending on the species. Rasboras can be anywhere between 0.7-6.0 inches long. Obviously, you should stick to the larger species. Scissortail and Brilliant Rasboras grow up to 3.5-4.0 inches long on average. For larger species, you’ll need roughly 20-30 gallons to house a small group of fish.
  • Appearance: Appearance is also species-dependent. Rasboras come in a variety of colors including silver, gold, black, red, green, blue, and orange. All fish have short, small fins.
  • Tank Level: Rasboras are middle-level swimmers. They spend most of their time in the center of the water column. They shouldn’t disturb the Red Tails much. But Rasboras do sometimes venture into other levels of the water column when exploring. Luckily, these fish are quick swimmers that can flee a pissed-off shark.
  • Water Parameters: The ideal values also depend on the species. In general, Rasboras need 72–81°F, 4.5–7.8 pH, and 2–15 dGH water. But you’ll need to ensure the water parameters are also species-appropriate.

9. Candy Cane Tetras

Candy Cane Tetras are hardy and adaptable. This makes them a great pet for beginners and experienced fishkeepers alike. These white finned rosy Tetras also make excellent community fish, given their non-aggressive behavior.

So, if you want to brighten up the aquarium with a little bit of color, you should give the Candy Cane Tetra a try! Curious about how these fish fit in a Red Tail Shark tank? Keep reading to find out more about this fish:

  • Temperament and behavior: Candy Cane Tetras are pretty sweet (pun completely intended). These fish are mostly peaceful and calm and don’t go out of their way to cause trouble. They might appear shy because they get easily startled.

These Tetras need a tranquil environment to feel happy. An overcrowded tank or a tank with lots of movement can stress them and make them act out. When agitated, Candy Cane Tetras might nip at the fins of other fish.

When there’s not enough room, these Tetras also become competitive during feeding. They’re quick swimmers and can hoard all the food for themselves. As long as there’s enough space in the tank, Candy Cane Tetras are quiet and passive.

  • Size: These fish grow up to 3 inches long. This puts them in safe territory, as they’re too large for the Red Tails to eat. Candy Cane Tetras also have low space requirements. You can keep a school of six fish in as little as 20 gallons worth of space.
  • Appearance: Candy Cane Tetras get their name from their rosy body color. This fish has very thin, silvery pink skin. It appears almost translucent. There are different shades you can choose from, ranging from pale to salmon pink. These Tetras have short, small fins, although their dorsal fin is tall and more prominent.
  • Tank Level: These fish swim in the middle to upper layers of the water column. They rarely if ever swim any deeper. So, there shouldn’t be any cause for conflict between the two species.
  • Water Parameters: Candy Cane Tetras prefer water that’s 73–82°F, 6.6–7.8 pH, and 3–12 dGH.

10. Rainbow Kribs

Cichlids would be the last tank mate you think about. Most species are large, aggressive, and territorial. Cichlids are also generally bottom-dwellers. These traits don’t make them suitable tank mates for Red Tail Sharks.

Luckily, there are also Cichlid species that are small, peaceful, and mid-level swimmers. All of this is true for the Rainbow Kribs. This colorful, hardy, beginner-friendly fish is the perfect addition to a Red Tail Shark tank. Here’s why:

  • Temperament and behavior: Kribensis Cichlids are unique in many ways. Did you know that these fish can change their color to mirror their mood? These fish also establish families with clear roles, where the older fish look after the youngsters. But the most important thing you need to know is that this species is peaceful.

Rainbow Kribs Cichlids stick to themselves and don’t interact with others in the tank. They aren’t shy, but they aren’t confrontational either. Overall, they get along well with other friendly fish. They can also tolerate semi-aggressive tank mates, as long as there’s enough room in the aquarium.

  • Size: Kribensis Cichlids grow up to 3-5 inches in length. They’re the perfect size for a Red Yellow Shark tank mate. They don’t need that much space either. You can keep one Cichlid in a 10-gallon tank. You need to keep them at least in a pair, so bump that up to 20 gallons.
  • Appearance: These fish sport an interesting combo of golden-orange and blue colors. They have elongated bodies and short fins.
  • Tank Level: Rainbow Kribs Cichlids are most active in the middle regions of the aquarium. That’s where they swim, play, and feed. They might venture further down in the tank when searching for a place to hide.
  • Water Parameters: The ideal values include 72-82°F, 7.0-8.0 pH, and 10-20 dGH.


As you can see, there’s a lot of variety to choose from. Although Red Tail Sharks are aggressive and territorial, you can still find many species that won’t bother them. The key is to stick to middle to top layer swimmers. All the species I’ve included on this list fit the bill nicely. These species are also appropriately-sized and unlikely to get hurt by their shark tank mates.

These fish are friendly and peaceful. They won’t provoke the Red Tail Sharks or any other fish in the aquarium. Lastly, all of these fish can tolerate the same water parameters as your Red Tails. So, you can choose any one of the species on this list, or even multiple ones to build the perfect community tank! Let me know which ones you like best!

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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