Aquarium Sharks
Aquarium Sharks

Aquarium Sharks

If you want to keep true sharks in an aquarium there are a few good choices and a lot of poor ones. When choosing an aquarium shark the smaller species are the best choice.  Large sharks can be found in the trade every now and then but these species are really not suitable for the home aquarium. They grow big very quickly; many species can grow 2 ft/60cm a year when young and will therefore need very big aquariums. Large sharks also posses a real danger to their owners as they can bite or otherwise hurt them. If you see sharks like black tip reef sharks and hammerhead sharks in the store you shouldn't fall for the temptation – just walk away. Other sharks like the nurse shark are better choices but I still strongly recommend not getting one. Ok. Now you know what not to get, so what should you get if you want to get aquarium sharks?

I recommend that you get Bamboo sharks, Cat sharks or Epaulette Sharks. These species grows relatively small and even if you still need a large aquarium it is possible to keep and care for them in a home aquarium. Suitable species include Whitespotted Bambooshark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum), Brownbanded Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum), Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum), andCoral Catshark (Atelomycterus marmoratus), but there are more suitable species as well. The Coral Catshark (Atelomycterus marmoratus) might be the best choice of all as it is one of the smallest species available.

Another species that is quite popular although it grows big, 10 ft / 3 m, is the Spotted Wobbegong (Orectolobus maculates) This hardy species can be kept in large home aquariums despite its size due to the fact that it is less active than many other sharks. It spends a lot of time resting on the bottom of the tank.

The aquarium

If you want to keep aquarium sharks you will need a large tank that is at least 3 times the length of the shark when it is fully grow and the width of the aquarium must be at least 2 times the length of the fish. This means that a 150 cm long shark will need an aquarium that is at least 450 cm long and 300 cm in width.

The tank should be shallow and offer as much surface area as possible. A round or hexagonal aquarium is to be preferred as corners might prevent the shark from swimming freely. Decorate the tank to create as much open space as possible for swimming however a few hiding places that they can hide under is appreciated. Make sure the shark can not get stuck in the hiding places.

The aquarium should be equipped with a good protein skimmer and good filtration. It is recommended to use circulation that turns over all the water in the aquarium at least 5-6 times an hour. All equipment, tubes etc should be hidden.

The water quality should be kept high and stable and the salinity at 1.025 specific gravity. It is very important to keep the salinity stable. The importance of stable water quality means that you only should keep sharks in established tanks. Large water changes are recommended and it is very important that the new water has the same salinity as the old. Sharks do not tolerate metals and all metals should be kept away from the aquarium and it is even recommendable not to use metals in the construction of the aquarium.

You can keep several sharks of the same species (most species) together if the aquarium is large enough. The size I quoted earlier is for 1 shark only.

Feeding aquarium sharks

The sharks species I mentioned earlier are easy to feed and will accept most meaty food after training. Sharks can however go on food strikes and then you have to try to offer them something especially taste and try to feed them on other times such as during the night. A healthy well nourished shark can go a few weeks without food. Sharks should not be feed more than 2-3 times a week. Feeding more will put stress on the water quality. If you want to grow out your sharks quickly you can feed them more often but then you need to keep a close eye on the water quality.

Aquarium shark eggs

Aquarium sharks can often be quite expensive and not everyone can afford them. If you want to keep a shark but think that sharks are too expensive you might consider buying a shark egg and raise the shark yourself. Shark eggs are available from several small shark species and are generally much cheaper than live sharks as they are easier to handle and transport. The eggs viability can be checked in front of a strong light. You can also follow the development of the shark this way. The eggs hatch in 3- 6 months depending on which species of shark you bought an egg from and the temperature in the tank. The species I listed as suitable as aquarium sharks above can all be found and bought as eggs.

Breeding aquarium sharks

Many smaller shark species can be bred in aquariums and are regularly bred in public aquariums. If you want to try to breed sharks you will need an aquarium large enough to house several sharks, perfect water quality and patience. Try to find information on how to breed the particular species of shark you are keeping since the exact preferences can vary from species to species.

Freshwater Aquarium Sharks?

There are a few freshwater species that are sold as sharks, e.g. Bala shark, Red tail shark and Silver shark. None of these species are true sharks; they are just called sharks because someone at some point thought the looked like sharks and named them accordingly.  Most of these species are unsuitable for aquariums as they grow too big. Many of them can reach two feet (60 cm) or more and will therefore need a very large aquarium.

True freshwater sharks do exist but these are never or at least almost never offered in the aquarium trade and they grow way too big for the home aquarium.