Is Your Red Tail Shark Swimming Funny And Acting Strange?

As a new Red Tail Shark owner, you might be wondering why your Red Tail Shark is acting strange and, at first glance, somewhat inexplicable behavior from their Red Tail Shark. This article will explain reasons for your Red Tail Shark behavior and help you resolve the issue. Without further ado, let’s see why your fish is swimming funny and acting strange.

Your red tail shark is swimming funny and acting strange due to several reasons such as stress, diseases, wrong aquarium parameters, poor water quality, parasites, and ammonia and nitrate poisoning. You should identify the main causing factor and eradicate it immediately.

Although some of you may think that this kind of behavior is not a big deal, we strictly recommend carefully investigating and finding the reasons behind it. It can be a sign of a pretty serious disease or poisoning which oftentimes, can be fatal for your fish. Therefore, we are here to provide information regarding this topic and show you the proper ways to solve this issue. Let’s start!

Is Your Red Tail Shark Really Sick? 6 Reasons With Solutions

As we have mentioned above, this kind of behavior can be induced by several factors and it is not easy to identify it at first glance. Sometimes there are completely harmless and simple reasons behind this but most of the time you have to take this case seriously and act immediately.

The most common disease influencing fish to start swimming in a strange way is called a swim bladder disease. It is very hard to treat this illness so you must do everything to avoid it. When it comes to poisoning, we encounter two major occasions – ammonia and nitrate poisoning which we will describe below.

Also, stress is one of the leading factors for weird and unusual behavior in aquarium fish. It can be caused by many reasons and the symptoms generally include strange swimming manner, gasping at the surface, or lying at the bottom of the tank.

Red Tail Shark Swim Funny
Red Tail Shark Swim Funny Act Strange

Sometimes wrong aquarium parameters and water quality make your red tail sharks swim erratically. They might behave this way if there is not enough space for their comfort as they require a relatively large aquarium.

As you can see, the reasons can be quite serious, so it is important to act accordingly when you notice strange behavior from your red tail sharks. In the next part, we would like to describe these factors in detail.

Swim Bladder Disease

This is an extremely common and serious illness among aquarium fish. The swim bladder is an important gas-filled organ that helps fish to swim and control their buoyancy so having it disordered can lead to a fatal outcome.

This disease is developed when the bladder is not functioning any longer and as a result, your red tail sharks start to swim in a strange way. This goes on until it is not able to move anymore and starts lying motionless at the bottom of the tank.

It is caused by several factors but mainly due to overfeeding. When you provide more than necessary food especially when your fish is not able to digest it properly then the bladder gets damaged. You have to control the amount of meal you give your red tail sharks in order to avoid this.

In most cases, the swim bladder disease is chronic and there is no way to cure it except for euthanizing your fish.

Ammonia Poisoning

Ammonia is a pretty dangerous chemical substance for every aquarium fish species which can lead to death if you fail to take care of it properly. The symptoms usually include heavy breathing, swimming in strange patterns, or not swimming at all. 

It can be hard to identify this issue at first as the ammonia is not visible in the tank. You have to use an aquarium test kit to check its level in the water and if it shows a high number then you should act accordingly to prevent further spreading.

First of all, you need to start changing the water in the tank regularly and it will be a good idea to set up a good water filter. It’s important to control the water changing process carefully and the best recommendation would be to take out approximately a quarter of water daily until the level of chemicals is balanced.

Nitrate Poisoning

The symptoms of nitrate poisoning are pretty much like ammonia and it is also produced by fish waste. These chemical spikes have the biggest influence on breathing and therefore, your red tail sharks might start gasping at the surface.

The effect is relatively slow compared to ammonia and it might make your fish completely numb and motionless at the bottom of the tank. In this case, you have to act similarly and perform regular water changes and make sure the level of nitrates will not exceed 20 ppm.

The water filter helps to keep the water clean and get rid of harmful substances easier, so we recommend getting it to ensure a healthy environment for your red tail sharks.

Aquarium Size and Water Temperature

We have already noted that red tail sharks require a large aquarium and usually, 55 gallons works best for them. Although they are not huge individuals, they are quite active and love to swim around. Therefore, the lack of space might induce them to act strange and start swimming in a funny way.

As for the water parameters, they are able to tolerate a wide range of temperature and hardness. However, you still need to control them and keep the recommended numbers in order to avoid some health issues.


Stress is probably the most well-known issue regarding every aquarium fish species. It is something that leads to serious problems and therefore, you need to take care of it immediately. All the above-mentioned factors make fish stressed and cause them to start behaving in a weird way.

Also, we would like to point out the incompatible tank mates. When you place fish species that don’t get along well with red tail sharks it makes them stressed and the aggressive behavior is visible in this case. Therefore, you have to learn which species are compatible to guarantee a peaceful community aquarium and avoid stressing your red tail sharks.

If you fail to take care of your fish properly and avoid the above-mentioned issues, they will most likely start showing an odd behavior which oftentimes, will lead to fatal results.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have reviewed some of the leading factors inducing red tail sharks to act strange and start swimming in a funny way. The main reasons are diseases, stress, poor water parameters and wrong aquarium size, and poisonous substances in the water.

These are pretty serious issues that you have to resolve immediately or else the risk of death is extremely high. You have to constantly observe the behavior of your red tail sharks and in case you notice these manners, then it’s time to take action and solve the issue ASAP.

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