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Rainbow Shark

(Epalzeorhynchos frenatus)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-aggressive   • Maximum Size: 6"
• Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons   • Water Conditions: 72-80° F, KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
• Diet: Omnivore   • Origin: Thailand, Southeast Asia   • Family: Cyprinidae
• Species: Sharks   • Aquarium Type: Community

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Species Information

Rainbow Shark native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Rainbow Shark originates from the river basins of the Mekong, Xe Bangfai, Chao Phraya and Maeklong rivers of Southeast Asia, Thailand and Indonesia. They are typically found inhabiting calmer areas of the river where water flow is moderate and the river bottom is sandy with plenty of lush vegetation. They were give the common name of Rainbow Shark when first introduced into the aquarium hobby due to their body shape and finnage which somewhat resembles that of a shark.

They are of course not real sharks, but a type of ray finned fish common to the region in which they live. They have strong availability within the aquarium hobby and have been widely imported for a long time. They generally go by the common name of Rainbow Shark, but like most species are often sold under a variety of common names including: ruby shark, red-fin shark, red-finned shark, etc.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Rainbow Shark in the home aquarium.

Rainbow Sharks are considered moderately difficult to care for due to their territorial behavior towards those of their own species and similarly shaped species. The larger the aquarium and the more plants, rocky caves and tunnels provided to them, the more their territorial nature can be mitigated. Single specimens can be kept in aquariums as small as 30 gallons, but do better in aquariums of 55 gallons or more.

In order to keep multiple Rainbow Sharks or to keep a Rainbow Shark with a similar species like a Red Tail Shark or Bala Shark, a much larger aquarium is required to provide each specimen with enough territory. A suitably large aquarium for multiple specimens would be a 6 foot long tank like a 125 gallon, which if aqua-scaped correctly could provide plenty of territory for multiple specimens.

Rainbow Sharks prefer a sandy substrate, but this is not a requirement as they can also do very well with gravel substrates as well. It is important to provide them with plenty of vegetation and cave or tunnel structures in order to replicate their natural environment.

Rainbow Sharks can be kept with most commonly available freshwater community fish species, but can be a bit too aggressive for some of the more shy species. They generally do not exhibit aggression towards other fish species that are shaped unlike themselves. However, if kept in a very small aquarium (less than 30 gallons) they may become more aggressive towards all of their tank mates.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to properly feed Rainbow Shark and provide a healthy diet.

In their natural environment Rainbow Sharks feed mostly on algae, decaying plant matter, insect larvae and small meaty items they find on the river bed. In the aquarium they will readily feed on a wide variety of staple aquarium foods including: flake, frozen, tubifex worms, blood worms, algae wafers and similar food items. They should be offered plenty of vegetable based foods in their diet in order to ensure that they have a balanced diet, which will help them maintain a strong immune system.

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