Pink tail chalceus stats infographicThe Pink Tail Chalceus, also known as Chalceus macrolepidotus, is a mid to top-water predator that adds flash and activity to tropical freshwater aquariums. They are widely kept for their attractive appearance and dynamic behavior. This article will help you understand how to care for and maintain your Pink Tail Chalceus.

You can find the Pink Tailed Chalceus in rivers in the northern reaches of South America in the wild. Their range extends from Columbia and the Negro and Orinoco river basins eastward through Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Peru. The species is most often found in the fast-moving, clean, and oxygenated top layers of rapids in coastal rivers.

They are a family species, Characidae, which includes the bright tetras so often seen in aquariums. Those same tetras can wind up on the Pink Tail Chalceus menu, so they do not make good tank mates.

The Pink Tail Chalceus is much more predatory and will eat anything to chase down that fits into their mouths. In their native habitat, you can see them leaping from the water to catch insects. You will find them an always-moving species with a penchant for occasionally jumping out of aquariums that do not have tight-fitting lids.

Sometimes called the pink tail fish or pink tail shark, its streamlined, torpedo-shaped body easily recognizes Chalceus macrolepidotus. It features large, silver scales and bright red or pink fins and tails. Their scale pattern layers from large to small; and from the upper to lower portions of their bodies. These layer patterns give the impression of armor. This effect is much more prominent in larger fish.

Depending on water conditions and breeding variations, Pink Tail Chalceus may exhibit brown or green shades and fins coloring orange to yellow. The top portions of their irises may also have splashes of red or crimson.

Juvenile specimens of this pink tail fish are usually purchased around 2 inches in length. If kept well, the species can grow to 10 inches in length. The expected life span is 7 to 8 years, making it one of the longer-lived freshwater species.

This potential for large size, combined with its aggressive, active nature, are the guiding factors to work with when providing the ideal habitat and care for Pink Tail Chalceus.

Pink Tail Chalceus Stats

Listed tank sizes are the minimum.

Size: 10″ (25 cm)
Tank: 48 inches (standard 55 gallon)
Strata: Middle-Top
PH: 6.0-7.5
Hardness: Soft to hard. dH range: 6.0 – 18.0
Temperature: 73 to 82°F (23-28°C)


Order: Characiformes
Class: Actinopterygii
Family: Characidae
Subfamily: Incertae sedis
Genera: Chalceus
Species: macrolepidotus

Pink Tail Chalceus Care

In the broad spectrum of tropical freshwater fish, the Pink Tail Chalceus is an easy species to care for as long as a few parameters are met for their wellbeing. These are tank size, well-filtered and well-oxygenated water, and plenty of open area for moving.

Because of their potential to reach large sizes and need to be constantly moving, the minimum aquarium tank size required to keep this species is 48 inches or approximately 55 gallons. A horizontal versus vertical tank design will provide room for them to swim. This should be sufficient to keep a few of these pink tailed sharks up to 5 inches in length.

For fish from 5 to 10 inches, you should consider a double volume tank, 100 gallons or more, maintaining the same horizontal aspect. This will give them room to roam and minimize inter-species conflict.

Pink Tail Chalceus do best in a temperature range of 73 to 82°F (23-28°C). A standard aquarium heater easily maintains this range.

As these pink tailed fish will live in the aquarium’s upper levels, what you place at the bottom to mid-level is mostly unimportant. A sand or gravel substrate is acceptable. Tank décor such as rocks and or shelters are also acceptable if they leave the upper portion of the tank open and transparent. A few floating plants will help imitate their natural surroundings and can provide some distraction so that they are not always focused on each other.

Add living or plastic plants into the aquarium fringes to improve tank mates’ appearance or conditions. Just ensure they do not interfere with the Pink Tail Chalceus ability to roam freely about the upper level and surface.

The filtration system you select for Pink Tail Chalceus is doubly essential. It must keep the water very clean and provide richly oxygenated water to imitate the state of their natural habitat. A system that offers robust water movement is ideal.

This species will not bother in-tank equipment but make sure tank mates are not prone to chew on pipes or wires. A tank lid that is firmly latched is a must. The species is known to leap and can knock a loosely fit top off-center enough to jump out of the tank.

Pink Tail Chalceus Breeding

Breeding Pink Tail Chalceus is an endeavor that is considered very difficult, if not impossible. Very few recorded instances of in-tank breeding and those that are occurred in huge tanks.

Male and female Pink Tail Chalceus are very difficult to tell apart, so you never know if you have a breeding pair. If your fish do breed by chance, the only indication you might have will be many small eggs adhered to the plants in your aquarium. You can feed the fry small brine shrimp after their egg sacs have been absorbed if you get a hatch. Record this instance because it will be newsworthy.

For the general hobbyist, breeding the Pink Tail Chalceus should not be considered practical.

Pink Tail Chalceus Tank Mates

Pink tail chalceus tank mates

As a larger predatory fish, the Pink Tail Chalceus is ideally suited to same or other species tank mates of similar size and activity levels. Keeping smaller fish will result in them being eaten or severely bullied.

The Pink Tail Chalceus does well individually or in larger groups to spread out the possibility for aggression. If you want to try a small school of Pink Tail Chalceus, groups of 6 or 8 per 55-gallon tank are sufficient to minimize fighting.

Species that do well with this pink tail fish include:

  • Larger South American tetras such as the Silver Dollar Tetra.
  • Leporinus species such as the beautiful Black Banded Leporinus.
  • Cichlids, which reside in the lower levels of the aquarium.
  • Aquarium size catfish species native to South America.
  • Snails and other non-swimming tank mates.

If you want to add non-South American fish to your Pink Tail Chalceus tank, species like barbs and rainbowfishes should do very well. The key to the successful integration of tank mates is to keep species of like size and temperament that will occupy different aquarium levels with limited interaction. A good, compartmentalized tank décor design will make a happy tank possible.

Pink Tail Chalceus Diet

The Pink Tail Chalceus is very easy to keep fed. It has a wide tolerance for food types and readily accepts live food and frozen, flake, and pellet. To maintain a healthy fish, various diets are recommended, feeding them a mix of all types of foods on a schedule of once or twice a day.

Feeding smaller meals twice a day will help with aggression and means more of the food will be consumed. This will help prevent moldy food accumulation at the bottom of the tank.

Feed your Pink Tail Chalceus flaked and pelleted food that contains animal protein. For live or frozen feed, consider tank favorites such as chopped earthworms, bloodworms, small brine shrimp, and insects such as small crickets.


  • Pink Tail Chalceus will do well in large aquariums with clean, well-oxygenated water.
  • Make sure the aquarium has a tight-fitting lid to keep fish from jumping out.
  • The species is quite aggressive, but you can manage it using large aquarium sizes, tank décor layout, and keeping groups of fish.
  • They are easy to feed and do well on a mix of processed, fresh, and frozen animal protein-based foods.
  • Pink Tail Chalceus is considered impossible to breed in captivity.
  • Your fish will do best with a food mix that is heavy on fresh and frozen meaty foods.
  • Ideal tank mates are similarly sized freshwater fish from South America.
  • Introduce tank mates that live in different levels of the aquarium for the most balanced interaction between species.

If you are a large tank enthusiast, Chalceus macrolepidotus is a species that will provide motion and activity in an easy-to-maintain environment. Discover for yourself while the Pink Tail Chalceus is one of the most widely kept and admired South American freshwater species.

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