Keeping Exotic Sharks In a Home Aquarium

Any pet store has a section with aquarium fish. But aquariums with miniature sharks always attract very special attention.

Aquarium sharks are ornamental fish preferred by fans of home underwater nurseries. Several decades ago, few people suspected that this “formidable” creature could be settled behind glass at home. Sharks for aquariums were brought to the USSR in the 1980s, although all species were described much earlier. The freshwater shark is endemic to Thailand, with most of the species found in the Mekong River. From there, they are massively caught for the fishery. In fact, mini sharks do not have the instinct to eat someone, just few people are familiar with their characteristics.

Sharks in Nature

Many are accustomed to the fact that a typical shark is a bloodthirsty predator waiting for its prey. Most likely, this description is suitable for ocean and marine species, but not for aquarium ornamental, which have a minimum body size. Small species rarely show an evil disposition, rather, these fish can be afraid of others, even humans. There is information that a mini shark grabbed a man by the hand and bit, but it has not been confirmed. You can safely clean the aquarium, lay out the soil and decorations in it. They love the soft bottom, sometimes they burrow into the ground. These fish are unpretentious in content. They are distributed mainly in museum and public aquariums, where they look more interesting.

Experts have found that aquarium sharks are a little lazy creatures with a calm disposition. Sometimes they lie at the bottom of the tank, movements during swimming are slow. A few hours before the meal, they fuss, make sharp turns. When the business of feeding begins, they stick their face out of the water, demanding food. This means that they have a biological “clock” with built-in memory.

During lunch, they push away, scatter the rest of the fish from food and tear the food apart, splashing their tail. This is perhaps the only thing that connects them with related predators. They have a strong grip, grabbing a portion of the prey, they will never let it go. For feeding in a shared aquarium, feed is distributed evenly so that all fish can eat, or a separate feeder is installed.

Decorative Sharks in the Aquarium

Sharks In a Home Aquarium

Exotic predatory fish can inhabit not only coastal sea waters, but also the depths of the oceans. Aquarium sharks have a body length of between 20 to 150 cm. Particularly large specimens are kept by aquarists with rich experience in specialized durable aquariums.

A surprising fact is the lifespan of these fish. There are cases when a shark lived for 20 years in an artificial environment and felt great.

The decorative shark is very similar in appearance to its bloodthirsty relatives. However, these are fish with completely different behavior. She is quite peaceful, calm and does not pose a danger at all. On the contrary, miniature fish are stressed and can get scared.

There are several different domestic toothy predators adapted for life in an aquarium:

  • pangasius (shark catfish)
  • dwarf shark
  • carpet shark
  • Nurse shark
  • Horned shark

Sharks require a large reservoir, preferably over 400 liters. Don’t get carried away by the intricate decor and intricate lighting of the aquarium. For fish, bright light is not needed, and complex compositions at the bottom can cause injury. Pay close attention to the issue of aeration and filtration of water – your fish need a clean environment.

Monitor the temperature and diet. The water in the tank should be between 28-30 degrees. Fish should have all kinds of seafood in their diet: shrimp, cod fillets, squid, and various shellfish. Both starvation and overeating of fish should not be allowed!

Care And Maintenance

Sharks from aquariums are sensitive to drugs, in case of illness, they are quarantined. There is a well-known drug “Neski prophylactic”, which is used to prevent parasitic invasions. This product does not harm algae. In order to avoid ailments, it is recommended to regularly renew the water, at least once a week, 20% of the total volume. Constant renewal of water develops a sense of appetite, and “heals” weakened individuals.

Within the walls of the aquarium, sharks prefer open, spacious areas with a slow current, which can be created with a filter and aerator. In a spacious tank, several individuals should be kept that can move quickly in the water. Medium and large fish will be eaten, so it is better to settle the “nibbles” separately from everyone else.

How to equip the aquarium: fill the bottom with fine gravel with a diameter of 3-4 mm or medium sand. Many breeders recommend spreading sand, and a layer of pebbles on top of it. The soil must be treated with parasites.

You should not fill up the yellow and red sand, it contains iron oxide harmful to fish. Plants are suitable for benthic plants, planted in clay pots. Hard -leaved species such as anubias and sagittarii can be planted at the bottom.

Tips To Keep Sharks in Aquarium

Keeping aquarium predators is unproblematic and uncomplicated. It is worthwhile to approach the purchase of this fish responsibly and think over the following questions in detail:

  • What kind of mini sharks to buy in your home?
  • What volume of the aquarium is suitable for the fish to keep them comfortable?
  • How to choose decorations, filters and compressors?

Even a novice aquarist can create ideal living conditions, clearly following the order and relying on knowledge.

Aquarium: Volume and Shape

For the correct content, the volume of water for sharks is required from 600 liters. Otherwise, the fish will not be able to fully move, and therefore develop. The shape is ideal for round tanks or hexagon-shaped aquariums. Place small pebbles or flat stones on the bottom as decoration.


Properly selected water will be a comfortable habitat for sharks. Normally, it should be around 28-30 C °, the permissible hardness is 2-15 o , the acidity of the water is 6.5-8.0 pH. Filtration, aeration and a bottom siphon are required. In a cool environment, fish catch colds and become seriously ill. It is preferable to prepare medium hard water. A neutral (pH around 7) or slightly alkaline environment is most favorable for predators.


The shark feeds on seafood. The diet should include shrimp, fresh or frozen squid, and lean fish. Young individuals will gladly eat the ground fish products. For mature predators, it is enough to cut everything into small pieces.

Ornamental Aquarium Sharks

Among the huge variety of predatory fish, there are obvious giants that can be dangerous to humans if kept improperly, and there are small exotic specimens, the content of which is adapted to domestic conditions.

Shark Balu

Shark balu is a freshwater fish from the barb family that bears great resemblance to sharks, but requires minimal maintenance.

Dwarf Shark

Often, the body of such a shark reaches a length of only 25 cm. It has rather sharp teeth. The dwarf shark is ideal for an aquarium due to its small size and character. The fins and belly of the fish glow. The fish lives in the waters of the Indian and Pacific Ocean.

Nurse Shark

nurse shark in your home pond. She lives for about 25 years and reproduces well. Other species live for 8-12 years.

Horned Shark

It reaches a length of 100-115 cm. Above the eyes are ridges that resemble horns.

Each shark is endowed with its own character and behavior. Decorative aquarium sharks are not only a decoration of your aquarium, but also your favorite pets.

False Shark (Catfish Shark) or Pangasius

Children and adults are very surprised when they learn from the seller of the pet store that a fearless sea monster is peacefully floating in the aquarium, and its almost complete copy is a harmless catfish. Pangasius is a beautiful large fish, belongs to the shark catfish family. You can visually identify an aquarium shark from a real predator by its characteristic color and body shape. Young representatives have a gray or ash color. On the sides of catfish, bright silvery stripes are clearly visible. Despite the fact that the fish are almost identical, the peace-loving catfish can be recognized by the following signs:

  • flattened head shape,
  • prominent eye shape and large mouth,
  • four mustaches,
  • fringe on the anal fin,
  • the fin on the back is set up.

A certain similarity with a predator in a catfish in a dynamic manner of swimming. In a pack, they actively prowl in search of food, they like to swim in a circle.

In an artificial habitat, 3 types of fish are most often found:

  • High fin pangasius.
  • Siamese pangasius.
  • Small Pangasius.

An adult shark catfish reaches an average of 60 cm.

Sharks Catfish (Pangasius) in Aquarium

Pangasius is a demanding and somewhat capricious false shark, so it is not suitable as a first fish for beginners and young aquarists. For those who are a little familiar with exotic fish or are ready to invest in proper care, you can take a closer look at this species.

Other notable species often found in aquariums are the feline brown-striped freshwater shark, carpet shark and peaceful bamboo shark. They eat crabs, shrimps, sea urchins. In nature, they live in shallow water, they are rather lazy.

Choosing an aquarium

Fish grow quickly and in a short time can reach their maximum size. Therefore, when buying an aquarium, choose the largest possible capacity and capacity.

For a small family of 3 catfish, the volume of the aquarium is desirable more than 600 liters. Choose roomy and wide models so that fish feel comfortable and can move freely over long areas.

Few people know that this type of fish is very prone to jumping. Be sure to consider this feature before choosing an aquarium model. Choose models with lids or custom made with durable glass.

Smooth stones are suitable for decoration. Pay attention to pebbles and all kinds of stunted plants. Be sure to leave some space in the tank for catfish safety. Intricate decorative items can cause injury and bruising.

Location of the Aquarium

Pangasius is very prone to stress and fright , so place your fish tank in a quiet area free from sudden yells, pops, and other unexpected situations.

“When frightened, the catfish loses its orientation and frantically runs in the tank, hitting corners and objects. In addition, the sensitive fish may even pass out from fear.”


Pangasius eats not like an ordinary catfish, but afloat. For food, this large fish will not sink to the bottom, and it will definitely not eat up the remnants of food. If you notice aggressive and nervous behavior, attacks on neighbors, this means that Pangasius is hungry. Perhaps he simply does not gorge himself during feeding. Treat your freshwater friend with special food, fish, chopped squid or shrimp.

It is not recommended to feed the pets by hand, it is better to do this with a net, or install a feeder. Feeding is not a hassle; live, dry food is suitable for these fish, which is served 2 times a day – in the morning and in the evening. In public places, they are fed with meat, squid, shrimp, and freshly frozen fish.

Subject to the correct feeding regimen, maintaining a varied diet, and the absence of external stimuli, sharks from aquariums will respond to a person with a friendly character and peaceful behavior. The gluttony of these species is just rumor. Like all fish, they need special attention and quality care.


Eating a lot of food and especially meat, fish stain the water with excretions from waste products. Therefore, it is important to install modern filter and compressor systems in the aquarium. From polluted water, Pangasius will hurt and wither before our eyes. Weekly it is necessary to replace up to 40% of the water in the aquarium with fresh water.

Tank Mates

The choice of neighbors for shark catfish must be approached with all responsibility. Suitable for an aquarium with still small sharks:

  • barbs,
  • scalars,
  • guppy,
  • goldfish.

As soon as miniature sharks begin to mature and grow, they already regard miniature neighbors as prey and a delicious meal. As you grow older, add other large and energetic fish to the catfish. Excellent companions for adult Pangasius will be:

  • citron cichlazomas,
  • parrots,
  • astronotuses,
  • other types of Asian fish.


These fish do not breed in a home aquarium.

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