Rainbow sharks are fascinating creatures, and make great additions to aquariums over 55 gallons. (Some say 30, but it’s best to err on the side of caution.) They are semi-aggressive, though, and like the bottom of the tank to themselves.
This makes choosing tank mates difficult.
A lot of fish just aren’t able to survive in a tank with a rainbow shark. And in some cases, rainbow sharks will randomly decide after years of living peacefully in a tank that they hate other fish and will attack them.
The best tank mates for a rainbow share are zebra danios, dwarf gourami, honey gourami, boseman’s rainbowfish, and congo tetras. Avoid adding other aggressive fish that primarily live on the bottom of the tank. Fish that are mostly top and middle-dwellers make better tank mates.
Let’s discuss a few more fish that can live peacefully with rainbow sharks.
The rasbora is not only one of the most popular fish in the hobby, it is also one of the best tank mates for a rainbow shark. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they live in the mid to upper levels of the tank, so they’re not likely to be bothered by your rainbow shark very often.
One thing you’ll need to know – rasboras are a schooling fish, meaning you can’t put one in an aquarium by itself. If you’re going to keep rasboras, you should keep 7 or more together.
The ideal conditions for rasboras are similar to those of a rainbow shark. Rasboras love a well-decorated tank with rocks and plants because they need to be able to hide when they feel unsafe.
As for diet, rasboras are omnivores. They will eat any tropical fish flake or pellet food you can feed them, as long as it’s small enough to fit in their mouths.
The best rasboras to keep with a rainbow shark are:
- Harlequin Rasboras
- Scissortail Rasboras
- Clown Rasboras
- Two-Spot Rasboras
Gouramis are a showy, semi-aggressive species that can work well as the centerpiece of an aquarium.
They do quite well with rainbow sharks (as long as you have enough room in your aquarium that they’re not fighting for territory), but they shouldn’t be kept with other gouramis.
The one exception to this rule is honey gouramis. You can keep multiple honey gouramis together.
Gouramis are mostly top-dwellers and have a unique organ that allows them to breathe from the air.
As for diet, Gouramis are also omnivores. You can feed them with any tropical flake, granule, or pellet food you have on hand. You can also provide them with some veggies from your kitchen.
Good gouramis to include in a tank with a rainbow shark include:
- Blue Gourami (AKA Opaline, Three-Spot)
- Red Flame Dwarf Gourami
- Honey Gourami
Note, however, that all rainbow sharks are different, and some will take to harassing gourami.
The rainbow fish is another good species for a tank with a rainbow shark.
They get to be around the same size as the rainbow shark does (6″), and are willing to fight back against the rainbow shark if it gets aggressive.
Luckily, due to their top dwelling nature, conflicts between these two fish are minimized in the first place.
Rainbowfish are omnivores, and will eat flake foods, pellet foods, and live, frozen, or freeze dried bugs.
If you’re thinking about getting rainbow fish, check out my list of what other fish work well with them in an aquarium.
As the name suggests, these fish have beautiful stripes like that of a Zebra. These fish are also known as Zebrafish or Striped Danio. Zebra Danios are inhabitants of South Asia. These fish will not only add beauty to your tank but are also well-matched with the Rainbow Sharks as tank-mates.
Zebra Danios are top and middle dwellers. They are small and peaceful freshwater fish.
Zebra Danios are shoaling fish, i.e., love to live in a group. A Group of 5 Zebrafish is good enough for an aquarium.
These fish are fash enough that they can easily get away long-finned, slow-moving species like Rainbow Sharks.
The ideal water parameters and tank environment are similar for both Rainbow Sharks and Zebra Danios.
These fish are Omnivores and will eat Worms, mosquitoes, Algae, Small Crustaceans, Bloodworms, Daphnia, etc., making them suitable with the rainbow shark. Zebra Danios also consume green vegetables like Cucumber, Zucchini, Lettuce, Peas, etc., just like Rainbow Sharks.
Loaches (With Caution)
Loaches are middle to bottom dwellers and are more active at night. However, if you give both fish a proper place in the tank, you can still keep them together. This will allow them to maintain and adjust the area for themselves.
The key here would be having a lot of hiding spots and breaking line of sight at the bottom of your aquarium.
I’ve heard of some people having success with keeping clown loaches and rainbow sharks, but you never really know if it’s going to work out until the shark is fully grown and has become as aggressive as he’s going to get.
I would recommend this only if you’re an experienced fishkeeper and have another tank you can move the shark or the loaches to if it doesn’t work out. (Due to the potential for territorial conflicts.)
Loaches are omnivores and will eat live worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and algae. This fish will eat some of the green vegetables you can get from your kitchen. Both Rainbow Shark and Loch have similar tank and water conditions. So, you can keep these fish together as they will add more glory to your aquarium.
Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish
Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish are native to Indonesia. Although these fish are small despite their size, they are very active and swim very fast in the aquarium almost all day. Moreover, Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish are shoaling fish and must live in groups. A Group of 10 or more is just fine.
These neon rainbowfish are top-level dwellers and hardly ever eat from the bottom of the tank. That’s why the Neon Rainbowfish will usually never have a problem with the Rainbow Shark.
Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish are also Omnivores and will eat anything you give them. These fish mainly love to eat Brine Shrimp, flakes, Bloodworms, Tubifex worms, live foods, etc. Rainbowfish will also eat vegetables like spinach, cabbage, and peas.
Tiger Barbs (With Caution)
Tiger Barbs can be one of the best companions for rainbow sharks because they are active, playful, and challenging fish.
They can get aggressive if there are less than 6 tiger barbs in the tank, however, so make sure to keep them in a group.
Also, use caution, because they are known for nipping the fins of other fish.
Although tiger barbs can be aggressive, they are generally compatible with rainbow sharks.
As long as their privacy is maintained, the rainbow shark will tolerate other fish. You need to take care of tank conditions and water parameters.
Plus, Tiger Barbs are omnivores. They will eat processed foods such as crisps, flakes as well as live and frozen fish food.
Rainbow Kribensis Cichlids (With Caution)
Kribensis Cichlids are native to Africa and make passable tank mates for a Rainbow Shark. These fish are very showy with a combination of beautiful colors and patterns.
These cichlids only show aggression when they are protecting their offspring. That can be lessened if you have a large aquarium with more pieces of equipment like rocks, plants, etc., to hide.
You may end up needing to relocate your rainbow shark while the kribs are raising their young if their aggression gets too bad, however.
You could also stock only a single krib, but you wouldn’t get as nice of coloration out of it.
These fish are Omnivores and will eat any types of both frozen or live fish food. You can also give them some vegetables as per your preferences.
Caridina Shrimp or Bee Shrimp
Bee Shrimp, or otherwise known as Caridina Cantonensis Shrimp, are a small freshwater shrimp native to Taiwan.
Bee shrimp eat the little pieces of decayed vegetation long with algae in the aquarium. Bee Shrimp are very much compatible with the Rainbow shark because they are not so agile and never fight for food.
The Bee Shrimps prefer slightly acidic and soft water. Their temperature requirement is similar to the rainbow shark. The hot temperature will affect their health. Most importantly, the Bee Shrimps are super peaceful and won’t bother other aquatic animals like the rainbow shark.
Caution: Do not add Cherry Shrimp with a rainbow shark. The rainbow shark will eat them.
Tetras are perhaps the most popular fish in the hobby next to goldfish and bettas. And they make a great choice in rainbow shark tanks as well.
The Congo Tetra is native to the Congo river in Africa (usually South Africa). The Congo Tetras also prefer slightly acidic and soft water as well.
The congo tetra is also mid-top dwelling fish, so they’ll mostly stay out of the rainbow shark’s way.
They are schooling fish, though, so you’ll need to keep them in a group of at least 6.
Also, these fish are Omnivores making them good mates of rainbow sharks. They feed on crustaceans, worms, insects, aquarium vegetation, and algae.
These are beautiful fishes and are the most common among fish lovers. Bichirs can also be compatible with rainbow sharks but only in a large tank, more than 80 Gallon tank.
They are moderately aggressive towards their own species only, and they are slow bottom dwellers. Professional care and management are required when adding these fishes with rainbow sharks. But it can work.
Slender Danios are another small tank pet that can be kept with your rainbow shark fish.
Slender Danios have the right temperament to fit in with a rainbow shark. And they are just the right size to live with rainbows. They are only around two inches, but most tank owners do not report any issues keeping these two species together.
You can house your nerite snails with rainbow sharks and other snails because rainbow sharks won’t care about them and vice versa, so nerite snails and rainbow sharks are great tank mates because they mostly ignore each other.
Furthermore, a hard protective shell on netile snails always protects them if your rainbow shark gets hungry and attacks it.
The downside of nerites snails, however, is:
- They are master escape artists and will leave if they aren’t happy with the conditions in the tank.
- They leave infertile eggs everywhere that you’ll have to scrape off. Their eggs look like sesame seeds.
Mystery snails are another good species of snail that will live peacefully alongside a rainbow shark.
These snails come in a variety of colors (both their skin and shell) and make an excellent addition to your tank’s cleanup crew.
They’ll spend their days driving around the tank cleaning up soft algae and decaying plant matter, but they won’t hurt any of your healthy plants.
If your tank is messy enough you don’t have to feed them, but they do best when you give them part of an algae wafer so they have a dedicated source of food.
Ghost shrimps are remarkable to watch. They are compatible tank mates for a rainbow shark because of their natural ability, i.e., they are “ghosts.” It means they can become transparent and camouflage.
Because of this, if you add them in the same tank with rainbow sharks, they are difficult to spot. (Increasing the chances of their survival.)
You can also make it even challenging for your rainbow shark to spot your ghost shrimps by adding decorations and tall live plants to your tank. This is because the decorations and the plants will create perfect hiding spaces for your shrimps.
The downside of ghost shrimp is that there is a lot of variation in their hardiness due to the number of different species sold as “ghost shrimp”. This means that sometimes they’ll just die off on their own.
Rummy Nose Tetras
Rummies are fascinating looking fish. And according to many professional aquarists, you can keep them together with young or small rainbow sharks.
It is unlikely that a young rainbow shark will try to attack them if you house them combine in the same tank from the beginning.
Since rainbow sharks get more aggressive as they get older, you’ll need to watch them as your rainbow shark grows, however. Give your rainbow shark a cave large enough for him to feel comfortable in, which will decrease the chance of him acting overly aggressive.
You’ll also want to provide plenty of hiding spaces and break up line of sight within the tank as much as possible.
They serve as perfect additions to any large community aquarium. Usually, wild-caught Angelfish are not found in aquariums. Most of the fishes that are sold are captive-raised. In the wild, you will discover Angelfish with black and silver vertical stripes.
Angelfish in my experience can be pissy fish, especially when breeding, and they will sometimes attack other fish in your aquarium. If properly cared for and the right tank mates are chosen, however, these issues can be mitigated.
They will generally get along with a rainbow shark. (As long as it doesn’t have a habit of nipping at fins, which some do.)
Angelfish are omnivores, and will eat tropical flakes or pellets.
Black skirt tetra
Black Skirt Tetras are schooling fish belonging to the Characidae family and are one of the best Rainbow Shark tank mates.
Black skirt tetras in particular are a popular choice for a lot of semi-aggressive fish, even over other tetras.
They are colorful, calm, and generally peaceful, making them the right choice for advanced hobbyists and beginners.
They are mid-level dwellers, making them the best choice for rainbow sharks provided with a large tank.
White Cloud Mountain Minnow
White Cloud Mountain Minnows are colorful, small fishes and are famous for their beauty. Their scales reflect many different colors and make them look beautiful.
White Cloud Mountain Minnows need to be kept in a school of 6+, or they will hide and lose their color.
Because they are mid-top of tank dwellers, they will usually get along with a rainbow shark without much trouble.