In the aquarium, red-tail sharks are usually
peaceful. They will chase and harass similar-looking fish and other bottom dwellers, but
rarely to the point of harming them. Only
one individual should be kept per aquarium,
unless the tank is quite large. The shark
should be given its own bolt-hole—a cave or
similar decoration around which to form its
territory. Other fish will be actively chased
from this area.
E. bicolor will reach about 6 inches ( 15
cm), and aquarists should be aware of
this eventual size before placing a young
specimen in the tank. While they will graze
on algae and other biofilms, they’ll eagerly
eat flakes as well. Water parameters don’t
seem to be important, provided extremes
are avoided. Red-tail sharks are quite hardy
The black shark (Labeo chrysophekadion)
is sometimes encountered in the trade,
though it’s not nearly as common as the
red-tail shark. Aside from lacking the red
tail, L. chrysophekadion looks a lot like E.
bicolor, but while the red-tail shark reaches
a manageable size, black sharks grow to
nearly 2 feet ( 61 cm) in length.
In addition to their large size, black sharks
can be aggressive, particularly with anything
that looks vaguely like them. Like the red-tail shark, they’ll establish a territory around
a bolt-hole and defend it against intruders.
However, while the red-tail seems to limit its
aggression to “Get out of here!” chases, the
black shark will actually harm other fish.
As an active algae eater, L. chrysophekadion
should have its diet supplemented with
vegetable matter, as with the plecos of the
family Loricariidae. Peas, cucumber, squash,
and spirulina pellets will all be relished.
Unfortunately, this diet often leads to
degraded water conditions, which the black
shark will not tolerate at all. These fish must
be maintained in pristine water with high
oxygen levels. Supplementary filtration,
powerheads, and large water changes
are mandatory. The black shark is large,
aggressive, and delicate, making the red-tail
shark a better choice for aquarists.
In addition to the true (i.e., family
Cyprinidae) minnows found in South Asia, a
large number of loaches are spread across four
families. The largest of these families is the
Nemacheilidae, the stone loaches, with 600-
plus described species. Despite the size of this
family, its members are not well represented in
the aquarium hobby, but these are really nice
little fishes that should be on every aquarist’s
The most commonly encountered of
these fish is the zipper loach (Acanthocobitis
botia). These are cute little loaches that reach
a maximum size of about 4 inches ( 10 cm),
though they seldom exceed 3 inches ( 7. 5 cm),
that are found in slow-moving boggy areas
throughout South Asia and beyond, which
likely accounts for their pervasiveness in the
trade. Oddly enough, they also seem to handle
downright torrential conditions and will
thrive in both fast- and slow-flowing water.
They’re shoaling fish, and they should
definitely be kept in a group. In the wild,
they’re micropredators, feeding on small
insect larvae, daphnia, and the like. This diet
should be mimicked in the aquarium, though
they’ll also eat flakes.
The black shark (Labeo chrysophekadion) grows to a larger size and tends to be more
aggressive than its red-tail cousin.