If you’re anything like me, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Rainbow Shark (epalzeorhynchos frenatus) is how it came to share a name with a terrible deep-sea predator.
What about the second? What is the best way to care for these magnificent creatures, and where can you find one?
First and foremost, the Rainbow Shark is a member of the Cyprinidae family, not the shark (Chondrichthyes) family. Which contains carp and minnow species.
They got the term shark in their name because their dorsal fins rise upright, just like a shark’s, and so the name!
They are sometimes confused with its near sibling, the Redtail Shark, because of its vivid fins and dark-colored bodies. The Redtail shark, on the other hand, has only a red tail, but the Rainbow shark has coloration on all of its fins.
Other slight distinctions exist between the two species, implying that they should be treated and cared for as separate species.
Rainbow Sharks Characteristics and Care Guide
The Rainbow shark is best recognized for its gorgeous fin colors, as we’ve already mentioned, but it’s also a lot more. They have a lot of personalities, as well as a lot of hostility (at times), and are extremely energetic swimmers for a bottom-dwelling species.
They have a few requirements in terms of the care that must be satisfied for them to maintain optimum health and happiness. This is why their degree of care is described as moderate.
However, as long as these are addressed, housing the Rainbow shark is a breeze. The following are some of the essential needs for this species. Throughout this essay, we’ll go over everything in greater depth.
Colour and Appearance of Rainbow Sharks
They has a long flat stomach, a pointed snout with two pairs of barbels. Moreover, a down-turning mouth can grow up to six inches long. They have huge eyes and are grey to black with vivid red/orange fins.
The male of the species is generally brighter in color, whereas the female is a thicker set. This is not, however, an absolute, but rather a guideline.
The level of care given to them and its general well-being in its tank can affect its coloration. Rainbow sharks that are unhappy tend to become anxious and lose their color as a result.
Please be aware that the Rainbow shark has a second variant known as the Albino rainbow shark. This variation has the same red/orange fins as the regular.
But the body is white rather than black/grey in hue. It also has the signature pink eye of other albino species and is more difficult to come by than the regular Rainbow shark.
Rainbow Shark Habitat
Rainbow sharks can be found in the warm rivers of Southeast Asia in their natural habitat. They’re common in Thailand, particularly around the Mekong, Chao Phraya, Xe Bangfai, and Maeklong rivers. They’ll be at the river’s edge, nestled among the sandy substrate.
They are thought to only tolerate the presence of other sharks of their species during breeding season because they live a lonely existence.
Depending on the weather, this normally happens in October and November. Season, length of the day, and temperature all influence breeding.
Migration is another component of Rainbow shark life that is influenced by the seasons. This species migrates into wetter locations during flood season and then retreats with the river during the dry season.
The IUCN Red List is keeping an eye on Rainbow Shark populations because they have been declining in recent years.
Food-wise Rainbow sharks are omnivores that eat rotting plants, algae, insect larvae, zooplankton, and small portions of flesh that they locate in their natural habitats. They require their food to sink so that they can rummage for it on the river’s sandy bottom.
Rainbow Shark Behavior and Temperament
They are a bottom-dwelling fish that spends most of its time either resting on the aquarium’s bottom or sifting through the sand for delectable morsels of food. They are, nevertheless, well-known for being quite active and spending a lot of time swimming. They are fast and quick swimmers when they do swim.
The Rainbow shark has a generally peaceful attitude and will peacefully share its aquarium with a variety of other freshwater species. They do not, however, share the same feelings for other members of their species or those who live in the lower part of the aquatic space.
Rainbow sharks are fiercely territorial and will attack anyone that enters their territory.
Rainbow shark aggression manifests itself in the form of pursuing, biting, and head and tail butting and can result in death. This can take the form of pursuing until the fish is so stressed that it dies, or it can take the shape of physical aggressiveness. In any case, it’s not a pleasant position.
Fascinatingly, the hostility of Rainbow sharks increases as they grow older. They will most likely get along as teenagers and live in relative peace and happiness.
However, as they achieve sexual maturity (about four inches in length), they will no longer tolerate others. As a result, it is recommended that you only retain one Rainbow shark per tank, which we shall discuss in further depth in the care section.
While feeding, rainbow sharks are also a lot of fun to watch. They have two pairs of small barbels that they utilize to explore the substrate for food and scrape it clean. Their mouth is turned down to allow them to ingest the food they can easily release.
Rainbow Shark Care Guide
In terms of care, it’s probably best to start with the issue of keeping only one Rainbow shark per tank. This is owing to their hostile nature against one another, as previously stated. There are exceptions to this rule, and it is possible to maintain multiples together, with five being the magic number.
If you want to keep a group of Rainbow sharks together, you’ll need to provide them lots of room to construct their territories that won’t be disturbed. This would necessitate a six-foot-long aquarium with a water capacity of 125 gallons (463 liters). If you are unable to do so, you should not consider keeping more than one.
Now that we’ve covered how many Rainbow sharks there are, let’s look at the habitat they demand and how to give it. As previously indicated, this species is found in running warm rivers with a soft and sandy bottom. It’s not difficult to replicate this at home, as many community aquariums are already set up in this manner.
One Rainbow shark should have an aquarium that is at least 50 gallons long and has medium-flowing filtration. This species, which enjoys good water flow, also appreciates air pumps and air stones.
The substrate should be sandy or fine gravel at the absolute least. The Rainbow shark’s two pairs of barbels and mouth will not be injured as they sift through the sand as a result of this.
Check out this fantastic Beginners Guide to Starting a Fish Tank for more information on how to set up an aquarium successfully.
Water quality is critical for the Rainbow shark, as it is for any other fish species, to avoid disease and illness. The pH of a Rainbow shark aquarium should be between 6.5 and 7.5, and the KH should be between 10 and 15.
The water temperature should be regulated between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit (22 and 26 degrees Celsius), which is a standard temperature for community aquariums.
Dense foliage, plants, driftwood, caverns, tunnels, and hiding spots are all important in terms of decor. This will help the Rainbow shark to establish a secure domain, reducing the likelihood of violence.
When the Rainbow shark is young and hiding is their preferred activity, hiding places are especially important. Only as they grow older will they become braver, venture to swim around their habitat regularly, and acquire hostility.
Nothing additional is necessary for terms of lighting or keeping your Rainbow in your tank. This species is tolerant of most common lighting systems and does not jump, thus a basic lid should suffice.
However, as a new addition to your aquarium, it may be smart to keep a watch on your Rainbow shark because if they are going to attempt a jump, it will be now.
Disease and sickness
Rainbow sharks are tough, yet they are susceptible to the same infections that affect freshwater species. Ick, swim bladder disorder (SBD), fungus, and skin flukes are among the diseases that might be contracted.
They are almost always acquired as a result of poor water quality. Check out our entire guide on tropical fish diseases for more information on freshwater diseases and how to treat them.
It’s incredibly easy to keep a Rainbow shark healthy by avoiding disease and illness caused by poor water quality. Simply do regular maintenance and water changes on your aquarium. Twenty to twenty-five percent of the water should be replaced every week, and the substrate should be vacuumed to remove waste.
Do not be deceived into thinking that because the Rainbow shark is a bottom-feeding species, it requires less frequent water changes. They do help with aquarium cleaning, but not nearly enough to eliminate the need for our regular intervention.
Another technique to help avoid your Rainbow shark from contracting a disease or illness is to provide them a high-quality, varied food similar to what they would eat in their natural habitat. Soon, we’ll talk about appropriate foods and a schedule.
When selecting a Rainbow shark for your aquarium, search for one that is active and vivid. Keep in mind that the hue of this species changes as they grow older. So the ones in your local store may not be as vivid as they will become.
Please keep in mind that rainbow sharks for sale are usually not fully mature, which is why they can be housed in the same aquarium at aquatic stores. The level of aggression in rainbow sharks increases as they develop, usually peaking at roughly four inches in length.
If you want to reduce aggressiveness between a Rainbow shark and other tank mates, introduce the Rainbow shark last. This may prevent them from establishing a territory, or from establishing a territory that is too huge, and it may make them more compatible with their tank mates.
Rainbow sharks will require some adjustment to their new habitat, but they are tough enough to use the floating bag approach. Simply switch off your aquarium’s lights and float the bag housing your new addition for about twenty minutes.
Then, open the bag and pour some aquarium water into it, securing it first, and allowing it to float for another ten minutes or so.
Add more water and let it float three times before ultimately releasing your Rainbow shark into the main body of water. Allow your Rainbow shark to settle in by turning off the lights for a few more hours.
Rainbow Shark Diet
The Rainbow shark is an omnivore, which means it will eat both meat and vegetables if given the opportunity. They aren’t picky eaters; in fact, they will eat almost anything as long as it comes from the aquarium’s bottom.
A Rainbow shark’s diet should be diverse and similar to what it would be in its natural environment. This will aid to maintain their immune systems’ health and strength, as well as their coloration’s brightness and vibrancy.
Flaked, frozen, pellets, plants, and live food should all be fed to the Rainbow shark. Algae (tablet/wafer), insect larvae, crustaceans (frozen/live), zooplankton, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, and peas are all excellent sources of protein. Bloodworms and brine shrimp can also be used to add natural color to the diet.
Feeding should be done twice or three times, with enough food to last them five minutes. Be mindful that if you do not feed the Rainbow shark a variety of food, they may become stunted and have poor color.
Because of its aquarium requirements and compatibility with other species, the Rainbow shark is considered moderately difficult to manage and thus may not be worth the effort. This, on the other hand, could not be further from the truth, and here’s why!
While the Rainbow isn’t a genuine shark in the technical sense, it certainly possesses the personality and ferocity of one. It is completely capable of defending its domain and will not be messed with by anybody or anything.
This makes it a fascinating fish to keep an eye on in your aquarium. Though you must keep it from getting overly aggressive, which is easy to accomplish.