The red tail shark and the various types of African cichlid are seeing a surge in the popularity right now and this has caused a spike in the number of people reaching out to ask about keeping a red tail shark with African cichlids.
Now, African cichlids do have a reputation for being very aggressive fish while red tail sharks have a reputation for being semi-aggressive so many people think that a tank with a red tail shark and African cichlids would not work but surprisingly it can.
It can work so well that the red tail shark is actually one of the most commonly kept tank mates in tanks with African cichlids and although it doesn’t work for every tank setup, it can work well if you plan out your tank prior to stocking it.
In this article, we will be going over the things that we would highly recommend that you focus on when planning a tank for a red tail shark and African cichlids to try and increase the chances of you being able to make sure your tank works well.
When looking to keep any two fish species in the same tank as each other, the first thing that you should always consider is the temperament of the fish to see if they are compatible or not.
The Temperament Of Red Tail Sharks!
Red tail sharks are actually semi-aggressive fish and they are known for being nippy towards other fish in the tank as well as chasing after them.
While they are not the most aggressive fish in the world, they can hold their own against other fish and they are not afraid to stand up for themselves.
This is something that you will need to take into consideration when planning your tank as you will need to make sure that the other fish in the tank can handle being nipped at and chased by a red tail shark.
The Temperament Of African Cichlids!
The temperament of African cichlids varies depending on the species but in general, they are known for being very aggressive fish.
They are known for being very territorial and they will often fight with other fish in the tank over territory.
Some African cichlid species are more aggressive than others but in general, they are all pretty aggressive fish.
Can The Temperament Of Red Tail Sharks And African Cichlids Worth Together?
Although the red tail shark and most types of African cichlids have higher than average levels of aggression, they will almost always do their best to show dominance when first introduced to each other.
This usually means that there will be some fin nipping and chasing for a couple of days, maybe a week but once the fish learn that neither will back down and submit to the other, they tend to be less aggressive towards each other.
Please note though, as we covered earlier in the article, not all setups with red tail sharks and African cichlids can work so the aggression may continue in some aquarium setups.
When keeping any two fish together, you need to make sure that their diet is compatible as different fish have different dietary needs.
It can be problematic if your fish have different diets as you need to try and make sure that each fish only eats the food that is intended for it.
The Diet Of Red Tail Sharks!
Red tail sharks are actually omnivores and in the wild, they will eat a mix of plants and small animals.
In the aquarium, they should be offered a mix of high-quality flake food, pellets, and frozen/live foods.
It is important to make sure that they are getting enough protein in their diet as this will help them to grow and stay healthy.
The Diet Of African Cichlids!
African cichlids can be carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores depending on the specific type of African cichlid that you intend to keep in your aquarium so we would always recommend that you do your research into the dietary requirements of the specific type of cichlid you plan to keep in your tank if possible.
Is There Enough Crossover In The Diet Of Red Tail Sharks And African Cichlids?
Although your African cichlids can be carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores, the fact that the red tail shark is an omnivore works to your advantage as it makes it much easier to offer suitable food sources for your full tank.
If you do keep some herbivore African cichlids in your tank we would still recommend that you try to offer your red tail shark some meat based foods on a regular basis as they do tend to need meat in their diet even though they can technically live on a plant based diet.
The next thing you need to consider when keeping red tail sharks and African cichlids together is tank size.
As we have already discussed, both of these fish are semi-aggressive fish so they do require a bit more space than some other fish species.
This means that you should always be trying to oversize your aquarium and keep it understocked if possible to reduce the chances of aggression breaking out with your fish.
Red Tail Sharks Tank Size Requirements!
Red tail sharks are not the biggest fish in the world but they still need a fair amount of space to swim around and be comfortable.
We would recommend that you keep them in an aquarium that is at least 75 gallons if possible, especially if they are going to have African cichlids as tank mates.
We know that there are plenty of sources out there saying that you can keep red tail sharks in 55 gallon tanks and this is true, when they have peaceful tank mates.
African Cichlids Tank Size Requirements!
African cichlids are also not the biggest fish in the world but they too need a bit of space to swim around and be comfortable.
The minimum tank size we would recommend for African cichlids is 30 gallons depending but this is for the smaller types of African cichlids, the average sized ones usually need a 55 gallon tank with the larger ones often needing a 75 gallon tank.
What Size Tank Do I Need For Red Tail Sharks And African Cichlids?
The number of African cichlids that you intend to keep in your aquarium will play a large roll in how large your tank has to be for them.
The majority of people who are looking to keep a red tail shark with their African cichlid will usually be only keeping one red tail shark in their tank so a 75 gallon tank can work well in many situations.
Just do your research based on the exact type of African cichlid that you plan to keep as well as how many of them you want in the aquarium with your red tail shark.
The next thing you need to consider when keeping red tail sharks and African cichlids together is the habitat that you are going to provide for your fish.
As we have already discussed, both of these fish come from different parts of the world so they have different habitat requirements.
Red Tail Sharks Habitat Requirements!
In the wild, red tail sharks come from slow moving rivers in Southeast Asia.
This means that you need to provide them with a slow moving environment in your aquarium if possible.
You can achieve this by using an aquarium with a large footprint and a low water flow.
If you cannot provide them with a low water flow then you will need to make sure that there are plenty of places for them to hide and feel safe as a high water flow can be stressful for them.
African Cichlids Habitat Requirements!
Depending on the exact type of African cichlid that you are keeping, their habitat requirements can vary quite a bit.
The vast majority of African cichlids come from Lake Malawi which is a very rocky lake.
This means that you need to provide them with a aquarium that has plenty of rocks and caves for them to hide in.
You also need to make sure that the water flow in your aquarium is not too strong as they are not used to living in fast moving waters.
Thankfully, there is enough cross over between the red tail shark and the African cichlid to allow you to cultivate a habitat that both species will love.
The basis is to add plenty of rocks, some live plants if possible but fake plants can work and depend on the exact type of African cichlid, some driftwood can work well for your red tail shark to graze on too.
Can I Put Red Tail Sharks With African Cichlids?
Although beginners may struggle to optimize a tank setup for both red tail sharks and African cichlids, it can definitely be done and it can be a rewarding tank to keep.
There is never a guarantee that the fish will be able to get alone and not have issues with aggression but plenty of people within the fish keeping hobby do keep African cichlids in the same aquarium as red tail sharks with minimal problems.