The firetail, also known as the fire-tailed fringed lipper (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor), is a member of the carp family. It is native to central Thailand and prefers moderately flowing waters where there are patches of lush vegetation.

What are the characteristics of the firetail?

The Firetail is a schooling fish in the wild. It is nocturnal and only comes out of its shelter at dusk. Its behaviour is territorial and it becomes aggressive when it feels restricted in its habitat.

The appearance of the firetail

The firetail is characterized by its typical carp-shaped body and its triangular fins. Males are almost black from their body colour. Females on the other hand have a slightly lighter colour. As with other carp species, the pattern of scales is clearly visible on both males and females. In addition, the fish has two barbels on its mouth. The striking feature of the fire tail, however, is the bright red tail, which also gives the fish its name.

Housing conditions

The Firetail needs a spacious aquarium from 200cm upwards, in which it can unfold. If it is kept together with other fish in an aquarium that is too small, it will hunt other aquarium inhabitants. Juveniles are more suitable for a mixed keeping. With increasing age, however, the fish become more territorial and more aggressive towards other fish.

However, the firetail is also not suitable for a pure single keeping. Therefore an aquarium from 200cm and more would be ideal, in which a small group of firetails can live out. The ground of the aquarium should be sandy and offer enough retreat places in form of a lush planting and cave hiding places for the smaller young fish.

The most important points about keeping:

  • Aquarium size from 200cm+ preferred
  • Rather a small swarm than single or mixed farming
  • Mixed housing possible at a young age
  • Sandy underground
  • Dense planting and cave hiding places recommended

Gender differences

The body colour of the fire-tailed Rognern is paler than that of the milkers. While male fire tails look almost black, female fire tails appear rather dark grey. On the other hand, the rogners are much stronger in build than the milkmen and can be easily distinguished.
The shape of the dorsal fin can also give information about the gender of a firetail. In males the dorsal fin is rather straight. In females the dorsal fin is pointed.

Water values for the firetail

  • Water temperature should be between 20° and 26
  • Soft to medium-hard water(5°dh to 15°dh)
  • pH value between 6,0 and 7,0 preferred

Food and nutrition for the firetail

The Firetail is an omnivore. It prefers protein-rich live food, but can also be fed with frozen food and dry food. The food can also have vegetable components. If the Firetail does not find enough food, it feeds on algae and growths in the aquarium.

The ideal aquarium for the firetail

An ideal aquarium offers a small group of firetails plenty of space and hiding places. The minimum length should be 200cm, but better would be a length of 250cm or more. In addition to a sandy ground with dense vegetation and cave hiding places, the animals prefer warm and slightly acidic water. Furthermore, a bright lighting of the tank should be avoided, as fire tails are nocturnal and tend to avoid too bright light.


Breeding in an aquarium is possible – fire tails lay up to 1.000 eggs, for breeding a tank with at least 500 litres is required.

Recommended water values for breeding:

  • 1° dKH
  • PH value 7
  • 28° C

Important for breeding is a very strong current in the tank (5,000 to 8,000 litres) – a separate flow pump is necessary for this.

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