Hot Water Fish

Bicolor Labeo

  • Scientific name:  Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
  • Common Name: Bicolor Labeo, Red Tail Shark, Black Shark
  • Aquarium size: 150
  • Temperament: Lonely and territorial
  • Temperature: 22ºC to 26ºC
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Length: 12 to 15 cm


The Labeo bicolor is a cyprinid that has many common names, some really unique, such as red-tailed shark or black shark.

Its morphological appearance and its behavior in the aquarium may remind sharks something, since it
is a very lonely and territorial fish, which does not hesitate to quickly chase any specimen that approaches its hiding place.

It is especially striking for
its color, completely black except for its red tail, which gives rise to several of the names by which it is usually known.


Black shark fish can measure up to 20 centimeters in the wild, although in the aquarium it does not usually exceed 15 centimeters in length.
It has an elongated and laterally compressed body, very aerodynamic , as it continually shows in the aquarium, with its comings and goings at high speed.

Earlier I referred to their behavior to justify the name «black shark» or «red-tailed shark.»
In fact, aquarium enthusiasts have named it this because of
its dorsal fin, very similar to those of sharks.

It has a relatively small head, in relation to its body.
Its head features large eyes and a downward-facing mouth, from which two pairs of barbels hang.


The most striking thing about the bicolor Labeo is its coloration, completely black except for its very bright red caudal fin «tail».
Their pectoral fins are slightly tinged with an orange color.

It is common for some specimens to have a white spot on the dorsal fin, which can be confused with the onset of white spot disease.

Sexual dimorphism

It is not very easy to distinguish the males and the females, if you are not used to the eye.
The females are slightly larger, thicker and rounder in the ventral area than the male. Its coloration is also somewhat paler than in males, more intense.

The dorsal fin in females ends at a right angle, while in males it is pointed.

Distribution and habitat

It is a species native to Thailand. It could be «found in the wild» in the Mae Klong, Chao Phraya and Bangpakong rivers.

This fish
was officially declared extinct in 1996 , although in 2011 a small population was found in the Chao Phraya river basin.

The truth is that his situation in freedom is not very clear, but he is in serious
danger of extinction .

The fish that we can find for sale are artificially reproduced for sale.

Its natural habitat includes fast currents, with substrates of sand and stones, with a large amount of vegetation.

Aquarium conditions

In the aquarium it is recommended to reproduce largely its natural habitat, providing it with a sandy substrate, with many stones and logs that provide places to hide.

It is also desirable that it is densely planted.

Regarding the size of the aquarium , it is more than obligatory to have 150 liters, it is quite long, at least 80 centimeters, to allow the fish to have enough travel to swim freely.

The aquarium must be maintained with the following parameters:

  • Temperature . 22ºC to 28ºC
  • pH . Between 6.5 and 7.5
  • GH . 10th


They are omnivores and voracious , they will eat almost everything: live , dry, frozen food … in the wild they eat small crustaceans, insect larvae …

In the aquarium,
the bicolor Labeo must be fed with granulated bottom food , which must be supplemented with live food (A rt emias) and fresh plant material , such as lettuce or spinach leaves, which we will blanch (put in boiling water and remove) beforehand to offer them without risk.

Behavior and compatibility

The bicolor Labeo is a fairly solitary fish, which tends to be aggressive towards others of the same species.

With other species of fish it is quite indifferent, although the larger specimens can be too annoying to the rest of the aquarium.

The big problem to face within a community aquarium is its territoriality.

They are capable of chasing around the aquarium whoever dares to approach their territory.

To keep with other species
it is advisable to associate with Botias , Barbos and other cyprinids of similar size.


As far as is known, it is not a fish that breeds in captivity . The fish we buy are commercially obtained, treated with hormones to achieve their reproduction.
They are oviparous fish, which freely lay their eggs on plants.

After three days the fry appear, which (if we succeed in their reproduction) would feed on Artemia infusoria and nauplii.

Photographs of the bicolor Labeo or Black Shark

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