Is it every kid’s dream to own their very own aquarium filled with sharks? Now your childhood dream will come true!! There are freshwater and marine sharks which will thrive and survive in home aquariums. You read it correctly, home aquariums. We will provide a brief description of which sharks will be suitable for freshwater and marine aquariums.
Let’s start with freshwater sharks. These sharks are not considered true sharks because they have bones which make them Osteichthyes, but due to their shark-like body structures they are considered sharks. True shares are Chondrichthyes, meaning they do NOT have bones since their skeleton consists of cartilage. There are five sharks compatible for the freshwater aquariums-bala sharks, rainbow sharks, iridescent sharks, red tail sharks, and columbian sharks.
Here we go! Bala sharks (tri color) are semi-aggressive (meaning under the right circumstances, the fish could be aggressive towards other fish) and may become territorial. However, they are middle to top dwellers so they are compatible with other sharks, barbs, gouramis, eels, and loaches; unfortunately, they will eat any fish that fit into their mouths. In addition to eating smaller fish, they also eat flake food, pellet food, bloodworms, and phytoplankton (mostly crustaceans, rotifers, insects, and larvae). Their diet and genetics allow them to grow as large as 24-inches! So, their habitat needs be at least 50 gallons with numerous hiding structures to reduce any territorial aggression which may occur. Watch out though, they are quick and like to jump so a versa top is a must! Bala sharks are hardy and tough meaning they are easy to keep since they adapt to changes to their aquarium’s perimeter better than most fish (i.e., temperature change due to power outage). These hardy, tough, semi-aggressive sharks might look plain but have a personality everyone will like.
The second shark is called a rainbow shark. Rainbow sharks are semi-aggressive but may become territorial also. Since they are bottom and middle dwellers, they are compatible with upper and middle dwellers such as danios, plecos, rasboras, and gouramis; unfortunately, they will eat smaller fish that fit in their mouth. In addition to eating smaller fish, they also eat flake food, pellet food, algae, larvae, tubifex worms, periphyton, crustaceans, phytoplankton, zooplankton, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and aquatic insects. Rainbow sharks may grow as large as 6-inches, so their habitat must be at least 30 gallons with numerous hiding structures like the bala sharks. The rainbow sharks come in two colors, black and red or albino and red. Everything is the same except the colors.
The third freshwater shark is called an iridescent shark. Iridescent sharks are totally opposite of the bala sharks and rainbow sharks. They are peaceful but skittish and middle dwellers so they are compatible with schooling fish. They like to eat flake food and pellet food, not their aquarium-mates. Iridescent sharks may grow up to 6 to 12-inches in an aquarium but larger in their natural habitat. Therefore, their aquarium must be at least 45 gallons with numerous hiding structures and when startled, the iridescent shark may jump out of the aquarium so a versa top is required. Who would have imagined a skittish shark!
The fourth freshwater shark is called a red tail shark. Red tail sharks are aggressive and territorial. They are NOT compatible with other sharks but are compatible with semi-aggressive fish and loaches, which is amazing since red tail sharks are bottom dwellers and enjoy harassing other fish. Red tail sharks eat flake food, pellet food, bloodworms, and tubiflex worms. They may grow up to 6-inches so their aquarium must be at least 30 gallons with numerous hiding structures. Small shark with a big, domineering personality!
Last but not least, the columbian shark. Columbian sharks are peaceful, bottom dwellers. They are compatible with scats, monos, and target fish; however, they eat smaller fish. In addition to eating smaller fish, columbian sharks like to each flake food, pellet food, bloodworms, algae, and everything on the bottom. They grow up to 20-inches so the aquarium must be at least 70 gallons. The columbian shark will live in brackish water as a juvenile but must acclimate to saltwater as it matures. Wow, a freshwater shark turning into a marine shark as it matures, amazing!
Now let us briefly describe the marine sharks. Unlike the freshwater sharks, there are less species, the three most commonly found are-bamboo sharks, epaulette sharks, and wobbegong sharks, which belong to the benthic (fish which can rest on the sea floor) group. They are larger free swimming (pelagic, benthopelagic) sharks that require large aquariums 1,000 gallons or larger; we will describe those later in the blog. We will briefly describe each one so you have some knowledge of them.
Here we go! The first marine shark is the bamboo shark. Bamboo sharks are in the cat shark family, brown-banded, banded, brow-spotted, black banded, and blackbanded bamboo shark. Their eyes are sensitive to light so they are nocturnal. They are also aggressive and bottom dwellers. They are compatible with eels, groupers, snappers, hawks, hogs, rabbits, lions/scorpions, grunts/sweetlips, other sharks, stingrays, larger angels, parrots, and tangs/surgeonfishes, but will eat small fish. In addition to small fish, their diet consists of invertebrates, shrimp, scallop, squid, and ghost shrimp. They will grow up to 41-inches so the aquarium must be at least 1.000 gallons with numerous hiding structures to protect their sensitive eyes from the bright lights.
The next shark is called epaulette shark. The epaulette shark is also known as the longtailed carpet shark and walking shark (the walk on their muscular pectoral and pelvis fins). These sharks are docile, nocturnal, and bottom dwellers of long shallow waters. Their diets consist of worms, crabs, shrimp, and small shellfish. They grow to 42-inches so the aquariums must be at least 1,000 gallons with numerous corals, they like to hide inside or below coral heads. A gorgeous shark that is also reef safe!
Last but not least, the Wobbegong shark. There are three species of wobbegong-cobbler’s wobbegong, dwarf ornate wobbegong, and ward’s wobbegong. Wobbegong sharks are lazy, nocturnal, and bottom dwellers of shallow waters. They are lazy and wait for their prey to come to them then ambush them (prey). Their diet consists of shrimp, scallop, crayfish, crabs, octopus, and large fish. They grow up to 3-feet so the aquarium must be at least 1,000 gallons. Along with the epaulet shark, the wobbegong shark is reef safe!
Woohoo! You know have some knowledge of which sharks are suitable for freshwater aquariums and marine aquariums. Contact Living Color Aquariums to discuss how you could have your very own custom shark aquarium!
Author: Tessy Weigold