The Aquarium Guide

Rainbow Shark: Care and Breeding Guide

This fish is not a true shark, but is so named because of the shape of the body and fins, which resembled the sharks. Elongated black-green body, mouth lowered, flat abdomen, fins and red tail, large eyes. The rainbow shark is one of a kind and the colors are very eye catchy.

Epalzeorhynchos frenatum or rainbow shark is a freshwater fish with a wonderful look. It is part of the Cyprinidae family, the genus Epalzeorhynchos, and originates in Southeast Asia, Thailand and Indonesia.

General description of Rainbow Shark

rainbow shark

As the name says, shark fish are not sharks in the true sense of the word, but they have shark-like bodies and fins. If most shark fish even reach the size of 30 cm, the rainbow shark does not exceed 15 cm in length. The body is long, and the predominant color is greenish-green. But the name of this fish is the “rainbow” shark just because the fins and the tail are brightly colored in shades of fire, beautiful red and orange combos. There are also white specimens with colored swimmers, but these are very rare.

The head is elongated, the eyes are large, they have a darkened iris, the mouth is well developed, there are two pairs of sensitive mustaches or sensitive sensory antennae that help it detect the food. With their help they probe through the vegetation on the bottom of the water looking for small edible organisms.

The abdomen of these fish is flat, the eyes are large and the butt is sharp. In the gills area, a slight black streak can be seen, which continues to the mouth. Differences between females and males are more than obvious. The males have a thinner body, and the dyed colorful dorsal fins are beaded with thin and black stripes.

Aquarium setup

In the natural environment, the fish belonging to this species live in quite large groups, so it is preferable for the aquarium to host 6-8 specimens. In the aquarium, the rainbow shark lives on the surface and in the center and can be considered a real sanitary because it also consumes other food debris.

Many aquarists believe that this species is an aggressive one, but in reality, if there are more specimens of rainbow sharks in the aquarium, they will tolerate without difficulty. The red tail shark is the most aggressive and territorial, especially if the number of specimens is too small.

Although it is not a large fish, the rainbow shark needs plenty of space, being a very energetic fish. An aquarium of approximately 200 liters is appropriate. It must contain many plants, especially in the back area, and the hiding places must not be missed. In the natural environment, the rainbow shark prefers the sandy bottom, so the substrate in the aquarium is preferably made of sand with the finest grain. Pisces tends to jump, so aquarium coverage is vital. The water should be very well hydrogenated and the optimum temperature should be between 22-26ºC.

Feeding of the rainbow shark

Rainbow shark is largely a herbivorous fish, preferring to eat algae. But it is good to feed live food such as insect larvae, Tubifex worms, zooplankton and small crustaceans. Commercially available food like sinking pellets or flakes are also good for the rainbow shark. We recommend feeding him also with vegetables from time to time because they provide a good source of vitamins and nutrients that will help this fish develop well.

Relationship with other fish

The rainbow shark can be very aggressive. It likes to chase and poke other fish like Mollies, Guppies, Betas and even Tetrazonas. Yes, even Tetrazonas that are known to be very aggressive fish as well. It should only be kept single or with 1-2 more individuals of the same species. But this thing doesn’t apply to all rainbow sharks, some individuals are quire peaceful and they can live along with other species of fish (mentioned above).

Some good tank mates for him include the Coridoras catfish and bristlenose pleco, because he does not bother with bottom dwellers. The rainbow shark will spend most of its time eating algae from the glass wall or from the plants.

Some authors recommend that rainbow sharks should not be kept with other bottom dwellers, but that is up to you, we found out that they don’t have a problem with those species of fish, they typically avoid each other and they don’t get into fights.

Other good tank mates for the rainbow sharks are Gourami, they are active fish as well and they are way bigger than our rainbow shark so it basically likes to avoid them.

Breeding behavior

rainbow shark guide

Young individuals reach sexual maturity after 1-2 years of life. If there is more fish there is the possibility to establish a kind of strict social hierarchy in the space inside the aquarium.

Reproduction is difficult and cannot be achieved in personal aquariums. Although it is not a difficult to maintain fish, rainbow shark is not suitable for beginner aquarists. It is an ideal fish for those who know some of the many secrets of this wonderful passion.

In conclusion

Due to the man’s intervention in rivers and lakes, the number of specimens has fallen greatly, so today this species is protected by law, considered to be in danger of extinction. The life expectancy of Labeo bicolor is about 8 years old.

Rainbow sharks make a great addition to every tank. They are medium sized, beautiful and magnificent fish. They fit almost everywhere, although there may be some problems regarding which fish to put along with the rainbow shark, this thing can easily be figured out.

The rainbow fish tends to be slightly aggressive especially as they age. It has the habit of delimiting a territory and removing other fish from that area. Some are very aggressive, and others on the contrary are calm and less capricious. They are good algae eaters and they are one of the best choices when it comes to choosing algae cleaning fish.

Sadly, they cannot be kept more than 1 at a time, in some cases they can live along other 1-2 more individuals of the same species.

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