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FAQs about Horn, Leopard, other Coldwater Sharks in Captivity 2

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Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

New Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

Smoothhound Shark bad nose... Coldwater, mis-placed... system       7/8/14
Hi , I own a Smoothhound shark approximately 18-20 inches on a 480 gallon rectangle tank with two tower live rock decorations on corners.
<... rectangular... the rock... this animal has damaged itself... You can read re other such incidents on WWM, in a book I've authored on captive shark husbandry (on Amazon.com)>

It looks like he hit his nose and it looks bad although he would eat everyday if i let him, i have been trying to feed every other day instead.(skid and or shrimp)
I had a bad spike in nitrates to what seemed over 160ppm at one time, Salt gravity is 1.021, Ammonia 0, Nitrites0 and nitrates close to 40, im vodka dosing on the 7th week @ 7.2ml
Do you think, more water changes would help him recover faster,
<Hard to say... using NO3 concentration as a guide to overall water quality... I'd keep under 20 ppm. Better by far to utilize RedOx... ozone... keep this at 350-400 mv/cm>
i was doing a monthly water change, i currently run a 7' long Sump/Refugium with live rock, DSB, (4) 7" Filter Socks
<Switch these out, wash daily>
2 40w UV Sterilizers with a MRC Orca pro II skimmer, 2 Carbon Media Chambers Water changes are done with RO/DI Water.
Also thinking about Mazuri Shark Vitamins, to try speed up his recovery.

I have noticed that at night he jumps and trashes over the bracing of the tank , he might have hit this with his nose, or maybe tank overflow it has some sharp corners.
<Did physically traumatize itself...>

His tankmates are a 3 Feet green Moray eel,
<What species? The congeners on either side of the C. American isthmus are very piscivorous... will eat all else you list fish-wise>

Show size Yellow tang, Small Desjardini, Purple tang, 2 red Big Eye Squirrel ,California stingray
<A coldwater organism, along w/ this Squalid>

and Show Size blond Naso tang.
Also thinking about adding more live rock on remote bins to lower nitrates as sump is full of Live rock and Chaetomorpha, with some coarse sand, i just discovered this is not as good as finer grade sand for Deep sand bed, so this will be changed soon.
<Sounds like worthwhile improvements>
Any help would be appreciated picture will be attached on a separate email.
<Thank you for these>
<Am named "Dogfish" in the Hash House Harrier run groups around the planet; so have an additional affinity for these shark species... Yous is likely doomed due to the physical trauma it has occasioned; along with this inappropriate setting.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Smoothhound Shark bad nose... explanation of cold vs. tropical mis-mix organisms    7/9/14
Thanks for your quick response. I quite did not understood what you meant about the water temp, I'm currently running 77 degrees
<... Yes; this IS a
subtropical/coldwater species... SEE WWM, FishBase.org... it really cannot be placed (nor the Ca. Ray; look this up as well) in a tropical setting. Part of the induced problem/s here>
I don't know if I could go colder with the Tangs, running a 1hp chiller on an APEX CONTROLLER.
<... the livestock you list NEED TWO very different systems. BobF>
Re: Smoothhound Shark bad nose

My ORP is currently 330 and I'm not running OZONE yet.
<Ahh! Glad to find that you are aware. B>

Smooth hound shark help Not for warm water systems, Not much information to go on. Reading, lots of reading. 6/1/2009
Hi everyone,
<Hi Wilberth>
I wrote a couple of times before and must say I appreciate your help.
<Thank you.>
This time I need your expert advice regarding a gray smooth hound shark, it's 12 inches long
<My first answer is "leave it in the ocean", but since you already have it,...>
It arrived a week ago and its eating fine, living in a 350 gal tank with small fishes, temp is around 74 degrees
<Temperature is a bit high, it would do better in a cooler water system, and what fish is it living with, how is the tank set up? etc.>
The problem is that its swimming like he is disoriented, making turns like a croc when taking a piece off its prey, and swimming upside down.
<Not a good sign. Could be a number of causes, stress, diet, infection, injury, water conditions, electrical equipment in the tank, >
Does this condition have a remedy, what should I do?
<You need to do a lot of reading. Start with these pages, and then read
the linked pages on the top of each page:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkdiseasefaqs.htm  >
Thanks again for your quick response.
<My pleasure>
regards from Mexico City.

Smooth hound shark... Sys., fdg.   3/29/07 I have a 3 foot smooth hound shark <.> what <What> temp should I keep the water as the place I got him failed to tell me, <... Depends on the species... there are several sharks with this common name... See fishbase.org re... Likely though this is a sub-tropical animal... requiring the use of a chiller... and temperatures of 55-70 F. or so...> and also how often should I feel this guy. <Feel?> he is a pig <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm The second tray... on Cartilaginous fishes... Bob Fenner>

Smooth Hound Zebra Eel combo 11/3/05 Hi, I have just a quick question. I have read pages and pages of Zebra Eel, and Smooth Hound Shark articles on various web sites but mostly on WWM. I have acquired a great deal of knowledge on both species, but my question is can they coexist in the same aquarium peacefully. I have a 400 gallon aquarium with 2 Grey Smooth Hounds, a Porcupine Puffer, and a Remora. My father is getting out of the hobby and has given me his 2 1/2 foot Zebra. Could this be a peaceful combination? <Could... or not. Hard to feed the Eel in the presence of the sharks, puffer...> With them both having poor eyesight and eating similar foods. I want to also mention the sharks are 1 male and 1 female still babies at about 20 inches, and the tank is a temp tank and will be moving to larger in a couple years as they all grow. Thanks for your time, Brandon <Mmm, worth experimenting... with intermediate temperature to accommodate all... Not likely to be much inter-species aggression here, but only first-hand experience can/will tell. Cheers, Bob Fenner> 

Sick leopard sharks  9/1/05 Hi Bob, my name is John and I have a two hundred gallon tank at my office and it has two leopards and a blue spot and a epaulette. <...> I got both leopards about a year and half ago and they were about the same size and now the one is about 4-6 inches bigger then the other one. The big leopard and the epaulette and blue spot always eat great but the little leopard eats but not very much. the last few days he has been sitting on the bottom allot and seems like he has no center balance and is breathing hard. <On its way out... prematurely...> He is also getting stuck in the back of the rock and this never happen before, I keep having to get him free up, he keeps bumping into things and has black marks on the bottom belly under the fins and gills, is this normal. <Normal? For a cold-water animal in too small a world?> I did a 100 gallon water change today and my salt is at 1.022 and the temperature is 76", Nitrate is between 0 and 5.0, Nitrite is 0 and ammonia is between 0 and 0.25 closer to 0, I also added Melafix today, <Worthless> as of 945pm on 8-31-05 he came out of the corner and is trying to swim, but still has very little energy. Please help!!! <... my friend... these fishes are misplaced. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/leopardsharks.htm Bob Fenner>

Not Using WWM, Mixing a Coldwater Shark With Incompatible Tropicals Hey, I purchased a Port Jackson shark a few days ago and I was told to lower the temp what temp should it be at? I also have some angels and triggers in the tank with the port Jackson. What is a safe temp for all the species. I do have a chiller. Thank you. Derrick <... these fishes and their environments are incompatible... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/portjacksons.htm and the Related files linked above, and separate these animals. Bob Fenner>

Sharks and ponds? 12/14/04 Hello again, I was just reading through the article about how temperate shark species are sold to unwitting aquarists as tropical species. This got me thinking about a question you would probably know the answer to.  Would some species of temperate sharks, I have leopards in mind, be able to live in a large saltwater pond?   <besides the fact that leopard sharks are almost wholly inappropriate for private aquarium keeping (they get 6-9 feet long as adults and most people cannot afford the meat to even feed an adult leopard shark, let alone the aquarium and hardware to support it. It costs literally tens of thousands of dollars to keep one of these sharks alive for even the medium term> I live in central Pennsylvania, where we don't have much of a problem with cool water outside :)   <I live in PA too my friend... it is too cold here to even remotely have a chance at keeping these California subtropical species... and then the logistics of combating it otherwise (solarium above the pond, heat/cool issues, etc.) would be enormous. Uncovered as a pond is entirely out of the question as we are one of the rainiest cities in the US and salinity would be a nightmare> Electrical heaters could be used to keep the water temperature stable, but how stable would it have to remain? <good grief, mate... the cost in electricity to heat this pond would be thousands of dollars per month several months per year> would a deep pond be able to house a shark with no heaters, given that temperature changes would be much more gradual? <truly off base... no possible> I'm drawn to leopard sharks because I've read that they are fairly well managed and not in a lot of danger in the wild.   <this is actually mistaken... recent studies have shown that all Elasmobranch species are threatened in the San Francisco Bay.> the body shape of sharks is very conducive to ponds, they share the same general shape as the king of ornamental pond fish, the koi!   <sigh... I need a drink> A trio of active leopards in a donut shape pond would keep them happily swimming all day long right?   <no> I'll be very interested to know what you think, thanks for your time. Jon <please spare the lives of this fish you admire and do not keep one until you are older and better funded my friend. Get $30K in the bank and then start to think about maybe keeping one of these fishes. ;) Anthony>

Leopard shark in a small world I have a 2 foot leopard and I have it in a temporary enclosure that is seven by eight feet and is filled 20 of 36 inches .at what size do you recommend the upgrade . <ASAP... one of these dimensions needs to double.> I don't want her to be stunted and I have the space time and money to give her what she needs .right now she is engulfed by the sheer mass of this thing. and everything from salinity ammonia ph are tested very regularly .I have few small hermits in there too  to pick up the remainder of what she eats. I feed her about once a week to about 2 times if I slim out the portions so I can diversify her diet. shrimp squid and carp are what I'm at right now and she eats every time she is fed I put sand and darker round rocks around so her natural camouflage would blend in and possibly reduce stress to her .(maybe she feels more comfortable feeling like she cant be seen so easily she'll feel less stress. <Yes, good point> the lighting system is simple one marine Glo and one power Glo <? On a tank that is seven by eight feet?> and at night I have four blue track lights on a dimmer that I can slowly adjust to simulate it becoming night out .the water coming back into the enclosure is heightened to move to water a little more .I can't find a power head safe enough to circulate it that has no metal parts and feel that she can't get to it  but I am experimenting w/ flow hose but any advise at when upgrades could and should be done . <... You want a... powerhead? This situation does not add up... if this tank is seven by eight feet, you likely have a large fluid-moving pump outside the tank... make a manifold for the discharge to optimize current, aeration with it> diet how much and how many times as she grows so I can keep up with her and possibly anything else that you could think of would be so appreciated. I do know a lot of these animals and did keep the Ampullae of Lorenzini (spelled completely wrong) in mind when her enclosure was built and she isn't next to so much as speck of metal in the construction of her tank. <You are correct here> oh and by the way I realize how big she gets and am prepared for it .I just see so many of these die online and from idiot fisherman who don't, and actually won't eat them it's nice for me to think that if I could just keep one of them from falling into the wrong hands and she could be taken care of properly comforts me .and if you know of anyone who is completely overwhelmed and cannot take care of their animal let me know . I do have a lot of space  and she probably could use one more w/ her .or maybe not ,are they very competitive w/ other leopards or gray smoothhounds (size being fairly similar) <Not competitive, can be mixed with other cool water sharks> also the guy that sold it to me said she was about eight years old and I know some sharks have very slow growth and that some of it must have to do w/diet but I just cant see how this can be right if you say that their growth rate is much higher. Joe <This fish is likely about two years old. Bob Fenner>

An albino port Jackson shark The below link is to a short article about an leucistic "albino" shark. A funny error in one of the first lines of the article though: "As adults, they reach a maximum of just three or four feet and feed on a variety of crustaceans such as oysters, mussels and crabs." Heehee... what wrong with this sentence boys and girls? :) <Har! Am feeding Harry (shell nut friend formerly of Amgen) and Kate (a vivacious diver-employee of Big Island Divers... as other friends are out with their wives for a romantic do...) a real crustacean (local palinurid from diving last night). Bob> Ant- http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/innews/specialyellow2004.html

Shark filtration hey bob, <Hey Will, MacL here with you this fine and lovely evening.> you've compiled and put up some great info on WetWebMedia.Com! <Every day I become more amazed at the work that's gone into this site. Bob Fenner and company are fast becoming my idols> I must say that it has been the most comprehensive and informative source that I have come across yet. anyway, lets cut to the chase... I've got a 55 gallon glass tank with a hood, stand etc... I've got about 40 lbs. of live sand, I've mixed some instant ocean salt. as far as equipment, I'm running 2 fluorescent tubes in their own hoods, 2 powerheads (150gph ea. ), and a 30-60 hang on filter that uses carbon/foam cartridges. I've also got an airstone aerating the incoming water. <sharks cannot stand nitrates whatsoever so your tank has to be firmly and completely cycled. And you have to watch the nitrates very closely.>   as far as equipment goes, I will be replacing the filtration unit with a protein skimmer, of course, however I am a little unclear about what else I am going to need... one of my local fish stores that sells sharks told me that I will need to purchase a good protein skimmer and place it inside of a 20 gallon sump filled with live rock. it sounds as though this would be a very good idea, after all biological and mechanical filtrations working in conjunction with one another should be better than just a skimmer. although it may just be overkill... <I don't think with sharks you can have over kill.  They are big waste producers they eat a lot of food.> I don't plan on placing anything inside of the tank other than 1 small juvenile grey smoothhound shark. no decorations other than live sand either.  <You might need some type of cave for him to feel secure in.> with this said, my main questions are as follows: 1. what do you recommend I go with as far as filtration ? I would like to be as economical as possible, but don't want to get crappy components that will just barely keep my shark alive. my local fish stores wanna sell me all this super pricey equip. so specific product recommendations will DEFINITELY be taken into consideration and appreciated. <Definitely take a look at the best protein skimmer you can get. Aqua C and EuroReef come immediately to mind.> 2. my tank's got a glass support in the top middle, I don't want my smoothhound to jump up and catch a sharp edge, what should I do ? >is it something that can be sanded? > 3. should I keep my powerheads in the tank when my smoothhound arrives ? <I would definitely keep them in the tank but make sure the shark can't get into them> 4. anything you could recommend that I may have missed or gotten wrong that will keep my shark as happy as possible until it moves to its bigger home... <Sounds like you are serious about your research and well on the way to keeping him happy.> 5. lastly, how do grey smoothhounds and leopards compare ? leopards are just so beautiful but my understanding is that they grow larger and possibly faster than smoothhounds... I don't want a beautiful unhappy shark, so I'm pretty much set on the smallest smoothhound I can find... unless I can achieve the same results with a baby leopard. thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you <I think you are definitely going to see very fast growth and lots of movement from both species. Please keep us up to date Will. MacL> -will

I purchased a Brown Smooth Hound shark for my system today the shark is swimming fine I have a 200 gallon 5 feet long 2 feet wide an 30 inches high my temperature is a 72 degrees and I have a 150 pounds of live rock is that to much for the tank with a shark write me back tell me please.<MikeD here, and in my opinion you've goofed.  The only sharks I'd even begin to contemplate for a 200 would be the smallest catsharks (largely a bottom dwelling species), and even there it would be barely tolerable, with a 6 foot length usually the BARE minimum.  If possible read "Sharks&Rays" by Scott W Michaels before even contemplating  anything else along this line. Is there any chance the fish can be returned?>

-Releasing a leopard shark off the coast of Florida: yay or NAY?- Bob, <Kevin here tonight> Thanks for all of your information. First I would like to say I can't believe that people are even allowed to sell/buy sharks to people without a certain type of license. <Troubling indeed, and I'm sure the vast majority receive inappropriate husbandry (namely too small and poorly shaped aquariums) only to die shortly or lead agonizing lives.> I live on the water in St Pete Beach Florida. I have sandy bottom 240 gallon tank with nothing in it but a lion fish. I want to put a Leopard Shark in it. My dimension are 96X24X24. How big can I keep him till? And when he gets to big can I let him go off my dock? <NOOOOOOO! First off, NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES release a fish from your aquarium into the ocean! Have you heard about the problems with lionfish showing up in the Caribbean lately? Firstly, its a very bad idea to introduce non-native species into the ocean because they may end up upsetting the ecological balance. It only takes 2 to tango, and if someone else got the idea to let their leopard shark go off Florida, they just might meet up. Additionally, who knows what diseases and parasites from the pacific are hanging out in and around this shark? Like people, fish can carry many different diseases w/out being effected by them, the last thing you want to do is introduce these pathogens into an ocean of fish that don't carry the same immunity.> What are his chances of survival? <I'd say about the same in the ocean as in your tank since this is not a fish from tropical waters. Leopard sharks are caught near Cali in cooler water, water too cool for your lion to handle. Forcing the shark to tough out tropical waters will severely shorten its lifespan.> I also want to put some live rock in a corner with some corals and some different tropical fish and a snowflake eel. would that be possible? <That would depend on your lighting and filtration setup, but live rock is always welcome. Enjoy and PLEASE don't let anything go into the ocean! :) -Kevin>  Thanks, Michael

Spiny Dogfish Hey Dogfish, <Yowzah, yo!> This one might be right up your alley.  Essentially I would like to house two Dogfish.  I live in Western Washington and they are quite common in our waters.  I have read from what info I can find on dogfish that they can grow up to a max size of just over 5 feet.  Now I have read your site for about the past four hours and the one thing I don't want to do is get sharks and keep them in a tiny tank.  So I am trying to figure out what size of tank would be needed for two full grown (five foot) Spiny Dogfish. <Biiiiig... like at least their twice their length and once their width> I figure if this is too large for what space and finances I have then I shouldn't even try and will just enjoy the sharks when I am scuba diving. <Agreed, indeed> Thanks for your time,   Brian Hoyt <And you for yours. Bob Fenner>

California Shark Dreaming Hi again!  I'm still going after my crazed 900+220=shark tank + tidepool/bait tank.  Due to its size, it would have to be outside, and in SoCal, during summer I don't think I could get the tank below 70, even if I bypassed a chiller to servicing only the main tank on its own separate loop, disconnected from the filter system. <Could be done... with adequate chilling, insulation... but expensive> This filter setup goes overflow-floss/pad-carbon-skimmers (built from pre-made skimmer powerheads to avoid airstones with 3' tubes) - fluidized bed filter-wet dry (to reoxygenate) - refugium-chiller-shark[s].  I was thinking of having a rotating box where the output from the wet-dry would fill it up until it dumped its water into the tidepool, where it would be slowly sucked away by the chillers and back into the tank.  is this feasible? <Yes... a few design possibilities here... surge systems, spill-over cammed buckets... but I wouldn't do this. Not enough to be gained for the trouble, added gear, exposure> I am hoping it will simulate waves better, and make the tidepool animals more comfortable.   <Our defunct businesses designed, fabricated and installed such systems... mainly for public aquariums and zoos... not hard to do, but require careful planning, upkeep>      in the main tank for substrate I am hoping to have mostly beach sand (NOT silica) with some refugium mud and rocks at one for a small macro algae forest, also a large cave for the shark[s] to hide in, or maybe the removable-panel idea from the archives.  in the tidepool, a few large rock slabs as the main substrate, with lots of rock and large gravel in the rest to best simulate the tidepool substrate.  I am looking at 1-2 H. francisci, with something to stir the sand, any recommendations on what to stir with or sand bed depth would be appreciated. another option in 2 swell and a guitarfish or stingray. <The Heterodontus will keep the upper substrate moved around themselves> would either of these be sufficient for stirring the sand with the 2 horns, or is the bioload too much? <I would start with the Horned Sharks, test the water for accumulating metabolites and add other livestock in a few months> (I'm worried about the crowding, the FBF is going to be enough for 1500 with only 1150 to filter (the extra 30 from all the chillers, piping, skimmers, etc.)  in the 220, I'm wide open: Nudibranchs, cucumbers, anemones, octopi, crabs, snails, I know that I really want a small school of Catalina gobies, they are just too cool! what are the regulations on Garibaldi? <Can't be collected from the U.S. coast, but of all things... can be from Baja... and are... and sold in foreign countries. Have your dealer contact the L.A. wholesalers (likely Quality Marine) and ask re their purchase> is it illegal to keep them?  do you know any legal places to collect (lightly, over a period of 8-10 months) from tidepools?  also, what can I keep as a janitorial crew with the sharks?  I figure I would lose crabs, snails, small lobster, etc. quickly.  would I just be in for a lot of manual labor? <The last> also, I would be going to college, possibly as far away as Maryland (presently) a couple years after setup of the tank, right now my #1 choice is Humboldt state, in Arcata, CA. <A very fine school, esp. for fisheries.>   They have a private aquarium area with a large amount of tanks, so I'm hoping I can overnight the sharks with a battery air pump running a skimmer (about 5) if not, how can I accomplish the 8+ hour transport? <Can be shipped in large Styrofoam boxes in a large truck... with airstones, or if sharks are large (a few feet in length) with 12V fluid-moving pumps... (or if very large sharks with them anesthetized and these pumps recirculating water through their mouths...> I am terribly afraid of temperature stress.  I also had problems deciphering the transporting sharks section of the site, any help would be appreciated.  Right now I am thinking of using one of the transformers that turn a car outlet into 110v AC to power a chiller, air pump, and maybe the FBF. <Not worth trying to run the/a chiller in transit... you can float containers with ice/cubes if there is very warm weather>   is current required for transporting large (for aquarium sharks at least) 3'-5' sharks?  also, depending on location, the tank may need to be 8x5x3 instead of 10x4x3 LxWxH  which would you say is preferable? <Either will do for Horn Sharks... Anthony's Brother in law has some in an eight by system... in Pittsburgh!> recommendations for supplements needed, water movement, pump styles/names, brands, etc. would be greatly appreciated.  For the water coming out of the tidepool, a "wavemaker" <Not necessary. Can run unidirectionally, fine> which turns the powerheads 3 min on, 3 min off would take it out, with either a regular waterfall or the swinging box putting it in, so the water level would go up and down, hopefully simulating the waves as best I can. also, what should the stand be made of? <Either four bys tied together with carriage bolts (for ease of disassembly) and braced in all dimensions, or welded steel, powder-coated...> I am DIY most of the project, and I can't make a steel stand overlaid with wood, which I just learned after reading the site.  can you get me in contact with the guy who has the H. francisci in the 800? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coldshkfaqs.htm fourth and fifth questions from the bottom. <Will cc Anthony here>   I would like to learn the specs of his setup, and what kind of plant he has in his "forest" as well as his maintenance routine, and where he obtained the shark. Sorry for the essay of Q's! Robert <No worries. DO your homework as thoroughly as you have time, patience for. Bob Fenner>

Cold water shark keeping - 3/17/04 I want to thank you for your web site and all your help. <No worries. Glad it could/can help you> I've been doing a lot of research and I am currently cycling a 135 gallon aquarium (for about 6 weeks now).  It is equipped with a euro reef skimmer(cs6-2+), Iwaki 30rlxt pump for circulation and a built in over flow to my 150 gallon AMiracle wet/dry system with a 15 gallon tank attached to the wet/dry for additional sump space. I do also have a chiller as well.  Now I know how you feel about sharks, <Uh-oh. Especially cold water sharks> specially cold water sharks. <Doh!> This is something that I've always wanted to do and I intend to start working on setting up my next aquarium because I do understand that they will not be able to be kept in this size aquarium for long. <How about just not doing it. I don't think your temperature will get low enough with the chiller alone, this is an inadequate tank size amongst other things> I am realistically looking at a 1,300 gallon tank as my next project. <Expensive for a cold water setup plus the time commitment is large. Speaking of large...this is a large long-term investment to undertake> I figure I have enough time <and long-term money??> if I start setting it up now to be able to move them in the near future. <how soon?> My question to you is do I even need a heater? <Probably not> I live in Southern California, water is set currently at room temperature and it fluctuates from 72-75 right now <pretty warm!! and going to get warmer in the summer months> (I do not have the chiller currently running since the tank only has 8 damsels in it). <Why do you have damsels in it?? For cycling? I don't like this method of bioloading a tank. Couldn't come with other ways?> What exactly would be the best water temperature to maintain??? <For what type of shark? Most cold water sharks come from the range of 54-64 but shoot for the middle at around 58 degrees> Should it be kept constant year round??? < A fluctuation of a few degrees is not that big of a deal, but you should ideally want to keep your inhabitants in as perfect conditions as one can create at all times.> Would a heater be required at all to help keep temp steady??? <again, probably not> I intend to purchase 2 leopard pups and one Smooth hound shark pup as well. <and keep them in a 135 for some time? Doubtful. Very doubtful!! I would consider this on the cruel side> I want to supply anything needed to assure the survival of these species in my home. <How about letting them live in the ocean and try a video or take up diving?> What exact water conditions are required??? <High 50's water and excellent water chemistry.> Salinity??? <True ocean salinity and density of 1.025 35ppt>  How often and how much water should be changed once the pups are introduced??? <Depends on how fast it breaks down. Would likely need to change the water very often. A few times a week. these are very messy eaters.> And last but not least, would you recommend any type of Ray that could be kept with these types of sharks and at their preferred temperature??? <there are a few different rays but to add to the stocking density you have planned even a 1300 gallon tank won't be enough room> This is truly my last question, how fast do these sharks grow??? <Fast. Up to 12 inches or more a year in a well fed aquarium in ideal conditions.> Are they a good compatible combination??? <I thought the previous question was your last? Just kidding.....I don't like most sharks to be in captivity except for by large public aquariums (not in all cases but usually these companies have the money and well educated manpower to keep them). You would/will need a much much larger tank> I want to estimate how much time <time is not as important as money (short term and long term), human commitment, space available, then time> I have (hoping for at least a year and a 1/2 to two years) before I need to introduce them to their new tank??? <No. You will need to start with a very large tank now. I implore you to reconsider keeping these sharks. ~Paul> Thank You for your help. Jimmy Sandoval

Sharks in captivity part 2 - 3/19/04 WOW! I am now seriously reconsidering pursuing this at this time. <Considering?> I've been looking at larger tanks and I think that my "dream" of owning a coldwater shark tank will need to be put on the back burner for now. <Excellent> I've spent so much time, money and effort in creating my 135 gallon tank that I get exhausted with just the idea of starting all over again from scratch with a 1,000+ gallon tank. <More like 2000+> I wanted to know for future reference, I did see a "shark tank" that was 12'x6'x3' and wanted to know if you felt this size would be adequate to start if I do decide to pursue my cold shark tank in the future. <I think you know my answer>  I am hoping to purchase a new home in the near future and realize it would be nearly impossible to move a tank this size so I will be putting off this idea for now. <OK> You have helped me in keeping me from making a big mistake. <Good> I was really disappointed with your reply but soon realized it was in everybody's best interest not to do it at this time (especially my wife/she thanks you). <Good to hear> Now that I am just about ready to hang up the cold shark idea I must begin to research further to see what I am going to put in current tank after all. Now I Love Sharks, so I wanted to know if you think I could keep a small banded shark in this tank with maybe a blue spotted ray??? <In a 135? Nope> I haven't really looked in to either one of these so I also wanted to know if they are compatible??? <Well, look into them. They are compatible in my experience but not in that small of a tank. I would say start at 500 gallons or more and be sure the tank is more round than square. Likely a custom build> What water conditions would be suitable for these fish??? <Oh no, do  let your fingers do the walkin' and research yourself. This info is available on our website too many other sites as well. No need to reinvent the wheel> Temp???  Salinity??? <Check it out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and do a search in google> I know that for leopard sharks from what I had read it said not too put much if any decorations in the tank. <I agree> Would it be a good idea to put some type of landscaping with a banded shark??? <maybe some live rock but not too much in the main display tank> And a blue spotted ray??? <same as above> As far as live rock, if so how should the rocks be kept to a minimum??? <Use boulder type configuration> Do they also need the open space to swim??? <Yes> Should I try and make caves for them??? <Large coral heads (fake) would be ideal> My tank is three sided so do they need hiding space??? <Yes. This is a corner unit? If so then I feel this is a very unsuitable tank for a shark or ray ~Paul> Thanks again, Jimmy  

Horn sharks I wanted to know what can a horn shark live with in an aquarium. <Other cool/coldwater organisms that it can't or won't eat... Please take a read through www.WetWebMedia.com using the search term "Horn Shark", and get your hands on Scott Michael's recently redone shark book... will save you a good deal of money and grief. Bob Fenner>

Keeping locals (cool/cold water marines) To all the wonderful WWM staff (especially Anthony) Please have your coldwater specialist answer this      As a So. Cal. resident, going to piers often, and seeing on an almost regular basis many pet trade specimens (sharks and rays) 2 of which I have seen at my LFS.  I have never known what they were except a famous few, but would like some care data on my locals, especially the ones I am interested in.  They are numbered an listed in the order I would like them.  As previously mentioned,  I am looking into a 220 gal tank, and cold water is still an option.  Their captures will be mentioned also.  First, Zapteryx exasperata.  Is it 'exasperating' to keep (pun intended)? <Nope. Refers to markings> I find this to have an occasional appearance at the piers.  Second is Rhinobatos productus, <Note to readers, these are Guitarfishes... dorso-ventrally flattened Elasmobranchs (shark relatives)> These are there almost every other time I go.  This is also the one at the LFS, but it was kept at 78 degrees! <Not well or for long>   Is there a similar looking species that it could have been, but then again, there was also a Urobatis halleri <I changed the spelling> in there.  What would be first, but there is the size constraint, is Triakis semifasciata. <Too big, active for such a small, rectangular system>   I found this to be much more than semifascinating. (pun again intended)  My friend hooked one of these himself, fishing for a Productus. His 180 gal was lowered to 75 pushing it for both the shark and the tangs.  Final for the locals I wish for is Urobatis halleri.  This was interesting later, as a different fish was identified as one.  That story was with a small Myliobatis californica.  One about a foot and a half wide was pulled in by my friend, and believing it to be a stinger, went to cut it off. <Yikes... this fish gets VERY big... as wide in the wild as your tank is long> Finding none, he assumed some thing had happened, and the stinger had fallen off.  He took it home, lowered the temp of his cage again, (the leopard went to 3 feet, and was released)  Now he had two rays, a blue-spotted and an eagle (unknowingly)  He took good care of it, but it succumbed to temperature poisoning (as we call it) 75 degrees wasn't good enough for it.  It lived about 16 months.  I could not find them on your site, at least not their name specifically, the sand shark.  I believe it to be either Heterodontus francisci (most likely) or Cephaloscyllium ventriosum.  Do you know about the advanced care of either of these? <Try the Google search tool on the WWM homepage (bottom left)>      Now enough with the stories.  what kind of chiller would I need? <Kind as in size? There are calculators for draw down (the diff. between ambient and desired temp.) by volume... I would look for at least a 1/2 HP unit> To take a load off the chiller, could I make ice cubes from RO water tu use for evaporation top off? <You could... but this is very laborious, tiring>   What kind of lighting, substrate, etc.  would I need? <Please reference the sections on WWM on coldwater systems... the links therein>   What type of filter media would I need? Carbon, bio-balls, filter pads, etc.  Would I need a current, or a wavemaker? What type of decor is possible?  I saw your site that says little decor.  How much would they eat? <All covered on the site>   Looking at a possible placement of smaller food-sized fish or inverts for a shark or ray in a separate tank.  aka grunion and other small bait fish, or sand crabs, urchins, etc..  Would I be able to keep a water dweller (leopard) with a sand dweller (banded guitarfish)? <Could be done in a large enough system. Hundreds to thousands of gallons>   Please save me from giving the same fate as the poor eagle ray. Thanks for your time, another person named Bob <Bob, time to "hit the books". Bob Fenner>

Injured Leopard Shark - If You're Gonna, This is The Way! >I have Two leopard Sharks in an 1800Gal oval shaped custom built aquarium. The aquarium is located in my home Gym. The aquarium was custom built out of solid concrete with fiberglass reinforcements. The filtration on the tank consist of three independent system the first system is a 4,000gph Biotech 10 pond filter, the second filtration is a little more complicated. The water leaves the tank fed by gravity into a modified Ocean clear canister filter, then through an in-line heater before it goes into a 200gal aquarium filled up with live rock and Two 3" homemade Protein Skimmers >>I think you mean 3' skimmers, yeah? >..copied from a Red Sea Berlin Turbo. The water leaves the 200gal tank and goes into a large 30W UV Bio Pond Filter before it is pumped back into the tank. The third simulates wave motion [set up on timer] the water just leaves the tank goes thru a 500gph EHEIM Canister filter and is pumped back into the tank with a 3600gph pump. The aquarium is in an air-conditioned room and the water during the summer stays around 71 degrees but during the winter it gets around 68 degrees. >>Great description of setup (though I've taken the liberty of shortening some passages). >In the center of the 1800Gal aquarium is a combination of live Rock and Hard coral, approximately 150-200lbs. The substrate is about 450lbs of Florida Crushed Coral. For The sunlight simulation I have 4 streetlights. For moonlight simulation I have two 48" blue moon fluorescent lights. All the lights are on timers. >>And now to the real issue at hand (send pics, please, as we have MANY queries on how to set up for sharks, and though you didn't give exact dimensions you've got other issues covered quite well). >The Leopard Sharks are around 28" and I had them for around three years now.  They have never had any health problems, neither have any of their tank mates. The tank mates are two 18" Panther Groupers, Two 12" Naso Tangs and one 9" blue tang. Now the problem that I have is that my female Leopard Shark sustained an eye injury last week. How I really don't know but I suspect she cut it on some hard coral while feeding because they get very destructive. >>Indeed. >I can't find any information on how to treat the injury nor can I find a person experience with this.   >>Likely you won't outside of public aquarium staff and most likely the staff vets (that vet the animals, not the staff). >I don't won't her to lose her eye and it's not looking good. At first a blood-filled blister appeared at the top of the eye I think where the cut was. After that a film covered the eye now the eye is filled with blood and has a white film.  I've used Garlic Xtreme, Stress Guard, and made sure the water parameters are next to perfect. >>I would expect the first two courses of action to do very little, but the last course is positively your best course.  Injuries are commonplace for sharks in the wild, and they appear to have excellent repair and recovery systems.  Along with near seawater parameters, I would strongly suggest (if possible) separating her physically from the other animals, and feeding her food soaked in a good supplement, I very much like Selcon.  You haven't mentioned what you feed, though I suspect/hope it would be something akin to what she would feed on in the wild. >Her swimming behavior has changed, she hardly swims anymore, only when feeding and when she feeds she appears to be herself. >>She is conserving her energy and "removing" herself from "the herd", so to speak.  She knows she's injured is basically hospitalizing herself.  If you can erect a physical barrier this will be helpful. >I need help please.  I've removed the hard coral from the Aquarium but will she ever see from her eye again? >>I cannot, nor can anyone from our crew, predict whether or not she'll see again.  She would have to be examined by a vet to make that determination.  However, you can certainly continue with the high water quality, section her off from the others, soak the food for best nutrition (which WILL help her help herself), and give her time.  You have described no signs of infection, so I would not recommend treating her with any antibiotics, especially because this would necessitate her removal from the main display--may be more traumatic than it's worth.  I expect her to heal, barring any other interference.  I do hope this helps, and if you can send up webpage sized jpegs (no bmps, please) of anything and everything it would be quite helpful, plus it would allow us to share with others how sharks should be housed (sans that coral though, yeah?).  If you are in need of good quality, SAFE, attractive decorations for the system now, I strongly suggest you look up Walt Smith, in Los Angeles area, as his company makes some AMAZING models of living coral reef specimens that are quite safe for the animals housed with them.  If I recollect, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific used much of his wares to stock their systems.  Marina

Horn Sharks 7/16/03 Hi (whoever is on shift)! <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have been entranced and amazed by all sorts of sharks for as long as I can remember. I read whole books and facts I could get on 'em. Recently however, my aunt got a fish tank. When I saw the fish I immediately fell in love with the whole idea. So now, I want to provide a home for a horn shark. I have researched them for months and I have just found a great tank manufacturer. They sell glass tanks very cheap. Now for my first question: What type of horn shark (I've read there is 3 for home aquariums) would you suggest for me? <The H. francisci is most common an least expensive. Ships the best domestically and can be acquired small. There are some zoos even breeding these in great numbers> Will one of the species you suggest do fine in a 280 gallon with just sand and maybe a small cave or rock fixture (with dimensions of 72"x30"x30")? <for a couple of years... but know that they still reach about 3 feet in length. A 6 foot tank would not be right for the over 2 year plan> I know this is slightly less than you recommend. I know they need the water to be around 70 degrees for them to be both moving and comfortable. <70F is really the high end of their ideal range: higher metabolism and shorter life for it> I still need to find out what they eat, and how often though. <a lot of echinoderms in their natural diet. Squid and shell-on shrimp are recommended too. Ocean Nutrition makes a vitamin enriched Shark Formula... recommended> It would be great if you could give me some pointers. I would love a shark tank, but I don't  want to be cruel to these wonderful creatures. Thanks a million in advance, Ryan <do look into joining the national Elasmobranch society, and read Scott Michael's Sharks and Rays if you haven't done so already... comb through his references too in the book for suppliers, information sites and more. Best of luck, Anthony>

This is disgusting - leopard sharks Hi, I live in California and would like to ask you a serious question.  There is a store in Brea (Southern California) called Tong's tropical fish, this is one store of the many brother Ton's fish stores here in southern Cali. <Yes, I visit the one furthest south (in Fountain Valley)... near Tommy's (fave chili-burger spot) at times> Well last week I went in and since this guy knows me fairly well he should be what he had in the back in a garbage can. Leopard Sharks! And what sucks is that they were all 8-10 inches around 15 of them.  I was shocked to read on this site that any fish under 12-15 inches is torn out of the pregnant females stomach! Well anyway the guy that owns the store is a pretty nice guy, I just wish there was someone I could report him to so that he would be warned into not selling these creatures.  Is it illegal to sell sharks this small? <Mmm, no... there are a few species of fishes that are illegal for fear of getting loose in the wild... piranhas, splashing tetras... in California and some at the federal level (the walking catfish for about the same reason... desert Pupfishes as endangered species, some "State" fishes...)... but no sharks as far as I'm aware> Why the hell aren't people caring at all? <Some of the public will buy them... is the reason> I like to play stupid with this guy, I was told that I could keep the baby leopards in my 50 gallon tank for two years HAHAHA! Yea RIGHT, and I even got offered a cheap 30 bucks each for them.  The world is disgusting sometimes, this guy is no exception to a prick looking for fast cash. Anyway sorry for writing so randomly, let me know what you think. <Thank you for your input. Bob Fenner>

- Cloudy Eye on Leopard shark - <Greetings, JasonC here...> I have a 14 inch Leopard shark that I have owned for about 6 months. Last week I noticed her left eye was beginning to build up a white mucous near the inside corner of the eye. The LFS recommended Mela-Fix, so I tried adding it to the tank as directed. Since, I have noticed that the build up is getting worse. It now covers about half of the eye and has developed a bit of a lump shape. It looks as if it could be wiped off, but I am not sure that would solve the problem. So, I thought I would check with the experts first to see what you would recommend. Thank you, your site has contributed greatly to the aquarium industry, Gene Hart <Well... you don't reveal much about the system this animal is being kept in, and 9.999 times out of 10 the systems people choose for these sharks are completely inappropriate. Additionally, at a size of 14", it sounds like you've obtained a juvenile which would not be in your advantage or the fish's. Sadly, these are often harvested from a live shark by slicing it open, and the pups released and the mother shark disposed of. It's a gruesome harvest that does no one any good... additionally, these sharks are cool water sharks - if you don't have a chiller, it will die. Most often the symptoms you describe are brought on by the environment so I would start by looking there. I can't state strongly enough that these sharks are inappropriate for anything but a public aquarium, and unless that's who you represent, you've done everyone in the chain of obtaining this fish a great disservice. By purchasing it and taking it home, you've encouraged people to continue the forced and sometimes premature birth of these fish - the destruction of the mother - and your local dealer purchasing the fish. These fish should be left in the ocean. Please read this link: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coolh20sharks.htm Quite sincerely, J -- >

- Removal of Infected Fish vs. Medication - Dear Bob. <Actually, it's JasonC today...> I recently discovered the web site you and your other experts are involved in. I have been involved in the marine aquarium hobby for 12yrs. I have a recent complicated scenario which could use some expertise advice. So many of the owners in the local aquarium trade, where I live now have limited knowledge of Elasmobranch health and basic knowledge. Up to this point I have relied mostly on my previous experience and from several books. However I should point out that I have relied heavily on Scott W. Michaels book and of Martin Moe in the past.   I have 2 Leopard sharks which from behavior and visual inspection appear to be in good health. They are 18" and I purchased them from a friend who had much to small of an aquarium. My aquarium is 120"L X 42"W X 36" H aprox 800 gal. <Well... if you've been using Scott Michael's book, then you know this tank is too small for these sharks.> Temperature is 72 with the chiller keeping it within 1 degree fluctuation. <That's still too warm - should be in the 60-65 degree range, no higher than 70. If you've ever been diving where these sharks live, then you know the water there only gets to 70 in the dead of summer, and the rest of the time is rarely warmer than 65 degrees. Please consider lowering the temperature.> The wet/dry was made for a 1200 gal tank so ample biological filtration and large down draft. ph 8.2, density 1.020. The plan for a salt water pond is under way so as they grow larger they will have a permanent and healthy life. <How are you going to chill an outdoor pond in Florida?> My main urgent concern is with another tank mate a Vlamingi Naso tang that appears to have a serious case of Cryptocaryon or Marine Ich? I have begun treating the tank with Metronidazole, but have come to the understanding that this may not cure the tang, and the tank itself along with the other fish are probably already hosts. <Correct on both accounts.> If by removing the tang could this help prevent infection of the other tankmates? <Well... as you mentioned, it is probably to late to prevent infestation, but... you need to treat Ich with copper, and that MUST be done in a separate tank - the sharks won't do well with this compound around at all.> I have also begun feeding the sharks shrimp permeated with the Hex-A-Mit. There are a total of 5 fish including the tang. The others are a Panther grouper & Mangrove snapper. <My friend, this livestock mix is inappropriate. As I mentioned before, this tank should really be kept somewhere near 60F - and the other fish you have in here will not do well at that temperature. Likewise, the sharks will not do well at the upper end of their tolerant range. You really need to reconsider this mix.> At this point they show no signs of infection. I know there has been studies that show Tangs are more prone to Marine ick. Would you recommend to continue with the current medication? <No, you need to remove the tang and begin treatment with copper and freshwater dips.> Is there any other recommendations you could advise me of? I know most sharks cannot tolerate a Hyposalinity treatment, but can Leopard sharks tolerate it? <No, they can't - sharks need the salt to regulate their internal systems, and will quickly perish in hypersaline water.> Thank You, for your expertise on this serious situation, Scott Mc Kirgan Naples, FL <J -- >

- Jason do you have a 4000 gal tank.....??? - Jason according to your last negative and patronizing response it sounds as if maybe I should have not rescued these fish from my friends 180 gal tank??? <That's right.> I guess I should of disposed of them immediately??? <Or perhaps offered to a public aquarium. When they perish... what will the difference be?> Only public aquariums are going to have a 4000 gal tank which is required for Leopard adults! <That is correct, sir. These fish should never be taken out of the ocean.> Juveniles have been proven to do well in as small as 300 gal enclosures! <And you expect them to stay juveniles for how long?> I was trying to be a good human being, by taking them out of a 180 gal to a 800 gal tank. <My friend, you were mistaken. This is not 'rescue' - it is just delaying the inevitable. Besides... I was really more concerned about the temperature of the tank. Again, if these fish you really 'care' about, please consider studying them a little more - perhaps go diving where they live - it's not 70 degrees there. So... you are not doing them any favors.> However, if I was to take your Bull Shit advice then they would really be better down the toilet!? <Sometimes the truth hurts, but basically, yes - it's my contention they will end up there eventually - sadly, most captive leopard sharks do.> Scott Mc Kirgan Naples, FL <Cheers, J -- >

Re: "The illustrated guide to the sharks of California" Dear Bob and Anthony, thanks for your messages. If Bob has some photos of sharks found along California coast, these pictures will be surely useful for the book. Thanks for your attention. I look forward to hear good news from you. Best regards, Alessandro -- Dr. Alessandro De Maddalena Curator of the Italian Great White Shark Data Bank Member of the Mediterranean Shark Research Group via L. Ariosto 4, I-20145 Milano, Italy Ph.39/02/48021454  & 39/02/45497974 E-mail: ademaddalena@tiscalinet.it Personal web page (SQUALI website): http://www.geocities.com/demaddalena_a/demaddalena.html Italian Great White Shark Data Bank: http://utenti.lycos.it/Carcharodon/index.html Mediterranean Shark Research Group: http://alessandrodemaddalena.supereva.it/index.html

Leopard shark... doing the math Hi Bob <greetings, Edward> I now have a tank 7' x 24 "x 30" L X W X H <a very nice tank but not even remotely large enough for a leopard shark. Your shark will not live to see a full lifespan in this tank or any other short of several thousand gallons. You must understand this... they naturally reach their adult size in as little as 5 years. That means that your shark should be 4 to 5times longer than your tank is wide (adult size to 9 feet)! Marine fishes do not "grow to suit their tanks size"... they stunt and die prematurely, my friend. So even in a seemingly "large" tank as this... your admired companion may live 3 years more instead of 15 or 20 years. The reported lifespan is 30 years. Please see fishbase.org for the gross data on this magnificent species here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/SpeciesSummary.cfm?genusname=Triakis&speciesname=semifasciata> I have my salinity at 1.025 using a refractometer with temp compensator.  <very well... and please use this as a lower end salinity. Most Elasmobranchs like higher salinity. Please consider purchasing Scott Michaels "Sharks and Rays" for a good aquarists reference on sharks> My pH is at 8.3 using a Milwaukee tester.  <again... a low end measure. 8.3 by night and 8.5+ by day please> My nitrate is at 10 PPM using a red sea tester.  <you may notice your shark "yawning" on occasion. Elasmobranchs are sensitive to nitrate in the water and execute this behavior as a symptom. Actual nitrate (the ion, not as nitrogen on test kits) is a multiple of 4.4 X the test kit reading. Your nitrate in this case is actually 44ppm or somewhere thereabouts if the test is true. Aim for under 10ppm actual nitrate with sharks and rays. Big water changes here as you know> My water temperature is at 75 .  <Yikes! You do know that this is a temperate species... as in not tropical? In any sized aquarium this species lifespan will be seriously abbreviated at temperatures above 70F. The SF Bay gets very chilly in the native habitat where this fish was likely collected... way chilly (well under 60F)! This species needs a chiller> I feed him cut up frozen fish twice a week.  <a well varied diet is needed here... fishes with bone, innards, head... shell on shrimp, whole squid are a big favorite (tentacles, head, guts). Proffer at least 4-6 different foods> I have him for about two week. So Far he is doing fine.  <good heavens, my friend... 2 weeks is no measure at all. Please understand that I have heard this exact same story/scenario from countless other aquarists for more than a decade. The bottom line is that this is a temperate species that grows six to nine feet long and needs a cylindrical chilled (!!) tank of several thousand gallons in capacity. If you keep this animal, I am as sure that it will die within 2 years as I am sure the sun will rise tomorrow. It breaks my heart and it is ironic if you think of it... the very thing you admire so much will suffer at your hands. Point blank... I wish I didn't have to play the heavy, but it is what it is: you bought a live animal that you cannot care for. Please do the right thing and not only find an appropriate home for this poor beast immediately, but help to educate others to prevent this tragedy. This shark simply should not be imported for casual purchase by aquarists. You are my third shark question in 2 days and it really bums me out.> I will be getting a tank 8' x 48" x 36" as soon as he gets larger.  <this tank is still only appropriate for a matter of months. Constricting the animal for even 1-3 years in this tank retards development. Again... this shark will die prematurely. Some reef fishes spend their whole life in small territories and adaptation to life in the confines of an aquarium is no great stretch. This shark however is not a reef fish, but a pelagic temperate species accustomed to swimming miles. Wow... what can more can I say> When he out grows my tank. The college will take him. Kingboro college. <ughhh... if they are competent they won't accept it and perpetuate the enabling of this habit/outlet for the keeping of inappropriate species> I had salt water fish in tank for 6 years. I have a wet dry filter, A Eheim, a skimmer, and a Mag hang on. <large weekly water changes in the meantime. Run poly filters at all times (Elasmobranchs are sensitive to metals and many contaminants), keep a tight lid on the tank (they are strong jumpers)>  The water temp is my concern. Do I need a chillier? <Yes... and a membership form from a good Elasmobranch club/society for support (see the back of Michael's book and on the 'Net)> Thanks, Edward Demsky <I really don't know what to say here... other than wishing you enlightenment on the seriousness of the matter... a better appreciation for life at large... the need to research an animals before you buy it... empathy... and patience for my own intolerance. Disappointed and saddened. Anthony>

Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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