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FAQs about Shark Selection 1

Related Articles: Sharks, Sharks In My Living Room?, Cartilaginous Fishes, Blacktip Reef Shark, Nurse Sharks, Coldwater SharksLeopard Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Moving Sharks

Related FAQs: Shark Selection 2, Shark Selection 3, Shark Compatibility, Shark Behavior, Sharks in General, Systems for Sharks, Feeding, Diseases, Shark, Ray Eggs, Coldwater Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Heterodontus, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Moving Sharks

Stegostoma fasciatum at the Singapore Aquarium, to 3.5 meters...

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

            I have been keeping Marines for about 4 years; and I wanted to ask your opinion on keeping sharks in an aquarium. I have recently dismantled my last tank and I have room for an aquarium that is 108 x 48 x 48 inches that I will have custom made, it will back on to my garage so all equipment and maintenance can be done in there. I would really like to keep shark(s) in this system- particularly a black tip reef. Is a system this size large enough for a black tip reef shark? And if not what other shark choices would you suggest for the home aquarium of this size?
Many Thanks

            I can hear that 'Jaws' music in the background'¦ The cartilaginous fishes (along with rays, skates and chimaeras) called sharks have a long-standing fascination for humans'¦ For their gory tales (though more folks are killed by falling aircraft parts) of attacking luckless swimmers, to the interest of husbanding them in the aquarium interest 
            Unfortunately though, the 'sharky' sharks are ill-suited for any but the most humongous of aquarium systems'¦ those of public aquarium size. A few aspects of their biology dictate this. These fishes rely on constant motion to not only keep them afloat (through hydrodynamic lift'¦ more surface area about their bodies than below'¦ akin to an airplane wing'¦) but to provide ventilation of their gills'¦ The consequence being that they require very large settings of a rounded-edge nature'¦ to provide adequate cruising area, as well as no 'walls' to bump into (a very common cause of loss of sharks is from such damage'¦ or through such encounters, jumping out!)
            And though they have celebratedly low metabolisms, sharks are very sensitive to pollution, including the nitrogenous wastes (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate) that we are so familiar with'¦ And these fishes must have not only a large volume of water for dilution effect, but vigorous water movement and over-sized filtration to remove such readily.
            The Black Tip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus requires a much larger sized system than a home aquarist can supply'¦ on the order of a good sized swimming pool in gallonage and shape'¦ Even small specimens suffer from being put in smaller settings, living miserable lives for a few months at most.
            Happily there are some true sharks that though not as active, can be much more readily kept in smaller, hobbyist set-ups. Most celebratedly these are members of the Epaulette and Bamboo Shark family (Hemiscyllidae), some of the Cat or Swell Sharks (Family Scyliorhinidae) and a few of the Port Jacksons and Hornsharks (Family Heterodontidae). Do be aware that these fishes also require the aforementioned 'heavy duty' gear to keep their water clean and clear'¦ and that they are a long-term and expensive commitment'¦ Living for years, consuming good quantities of meaty marine food items, and requiring a good deal of regular system maintenance all told. What's more, in this brief expose, I'll mention that there are restrictions in what you can further stock with such fishes'¦ There is much to consider when thinking of keeping a shark.  

I Want Sharks! Hey Bob, <Steven Pro in this evening.> Ever since I was a little kid I was into sharks and other dangerous predators. Well, now I'm a big kid! hehe. My question is, could I keep a bamboo/leopard shark in my 125 gallon long? <Neither is a good choice.> I plan on keeping them until they get way too large. <And then what are you planning on doing with it?> My buddy has a leopard in his 125 tall and its awesome. <A horrible choice, both species and size of tank.> He is upgrading to a larger tank, and I am probably going to be making a shark pond this winter. Do you think I could try a leopard or bamboo? I hear it takes them a really long time to grow, so maybe I could enjoy the leopard for a year or two. <Please search out information regarding on www.WetWebMedia.com. We answer these shark questions at least weekly. All your answers are archived on the site.> Thanks For Your Time, Chris Noonan <FYI, to properly care for just the Bamboo shark will easily cost over $5,000 for the initial setup. -Steven Pro>

Purchasing an elasmobranch in my area Bob, Hello from Philadelphia! In a previous message I had inquired about where to purchase a Ward's Wobbegong. You mentioned The Marine Center from the list of Retailers/E-tailers on the WWM site. Are there any others that are reputable and sell quality Elasmobranchs? <Mmm, none as much so... but it might be just about as good to have a good retailer order you one... my choice... from Quality Marine in Los Angeles (maybe Elmer's would special order it...) and have them do the acclimation, holding for a while...> I am looking to purchase 3 sharks of the same species(2 female, 1 male) one per month, each at a length of 15-20 inches. Some of my preferences would be: white spotted bamboo, Arabian bamboo, or ward's wobbegong. Also are there any places within a few hrs drive of Philadelphia that have sharks in stock so I could actually choose my specimens. I'm a bit reluctant to purchase an animal without having seen it or seen it eat) I've been wanting a Shark System for a long time and have been surprisingly patient, finally my custom 300 gal is cycled, up and running. The problem I'm having is that everywhere in my area, sharks are considered a specialty item.  <They are... and are most everywhere special ordered. I will cc this msg. to Anthony Calfo and Steve Pro who also answers these queries and are very-established pet-fish presences in Philly> Basically I have to pay in advance for the fish, wait until it comes in and regardless of it's health: it's mine.  <About par for this course. A risky and expensive business> Also, any suggestions on where to purchase a lrg artificial coral?  <There are a few places. Please look at the last few months issues of FAMA Magazine... the couple of companies that handle such replicas have been advertising there/then> I have 130 lbs of live rock under lights in the sump (so there would be Extra swimming room) and am looking for something for the center of the tank approx 2' high with a hollow bottom for the sharks to hide in during the day. Your response is greatly appreciated. <Keep dreaming and planning... Bob Fenner>
Re: purchasing an elasmobranch in my area
Patrick, I apologize, my friend... but all of the world travel that our good friend Bob Fenner has enjoyed has made the space between cities very relative :) Steve and I reside in Pittsburgh with the distance of another small state between us and Philly. <For crying out... thought you'd been mugged there... City of brotherly what?> I do have substantial experience as an aquarist with several Elasmobranchs and will be available to answer your queries on husbandry if you like. I have also heard great things about a store called the Hidden Reef in Philly. I wish you the very best in your endeavors! Kindly, Anthony Calfo <Be chatting, Bob F>
Re: purchasing an elasmobranch in my area
Bob, <Steven Pro this time.> You mentioned maybe Elmer's would special order a shark for me. Is Elmer's a shop that would have to contact Quality Marine or another Fish Store? <Elmer's does deal with Quality Marine, but unfortunately Elmer's, Anthony, and myself are all in Pittsburgh and I believe you are in Philadelphia. For all of Bob's worldly travels, he does not know/realize how large Pennsylvania is.> Do they have a web site? <Yes, http://www.elmersaquarium.com/ > I couldn't find it in the WWM links area. Thanks for your help and I'll send some pics when I can get everybody in and acclimated. <I have heard some good things about a store out your way called The Hidden Reef. -Steven Pro>

Ughh... leopard sharks Bob, <cheers, mate... Anthony Calfo here while Bob weeps at the thought of another aquarist keeping a leopard shark <G>> Hi, first I wanted to say that so far you have helped me a lot with my banded cat shark and egg thus far…I have also bought Michael's book as well…I just have a few questions not covered in either … <glad to hear of Bob/WWM of help as usual... and agreed, Scott Michael's book is fantastic ("Sharks and Rays" I presume) 1: I know that my banded cat shark egg is in its 4th quarter …and I was wondering when will I know my shark is about to hatch <not sure what you mean by fourth quarter...month? Such eggs often take around 4 months to hatch. Please do advise if I have misunderstood. Else, know that the last several weeks before hatching the shark is packed tight in the egg and doesn't move... quite natural during final growth spurt before flexing muscles to spring case open. Please DO NOT open the egg case... the shark is not dead. Also, please do read our WWM FAQ's on this topic... covered quite extensively in other queries> 2: This is on Leopard sharks…I am thinking on getting a 8"-10"  <Ughhh! doubly horrifying... first the though of keeping it captive with an adult size of 6-9 feet long. Doubly because they hatch at 12-14" long... sometimes longer which means the 8-10" babies so commonly seen are yet more products of the abhorrent practice of catching a single pregnant adult female and gutting her for her babies prematurely. All too common. Your purchase of this shark would support this practice> and I was wonder how fast it would grow…I have a 200 gal aquarium and I was wondering how long before I would be able to keep it….Thanks <any discussion of this animal in a tank under 1000 gallons is moot. Leopard sharks need huge aquariums to support their fast growth and adult size (6-9 feet). Else, they will stunt and die prematurely like most in captivity in tanks under 500 gallons. Many/most will hang in seemingly OK for up to 2 years before dying "mysteriously". No mystery... tank is too small. Please do NOT buy a leopard shark unless you have an aquarium fit for a zoo. Best regards, Anthony> Shane Isaacs

Species (shark identification) Hiya, quick question if I may. Can you confirm that the two attached pictures are of a juvenile and an adult banded cat shark (bamboo shark) Many thanks, Rolf Evans <Does look like: Chiloscyllium punctatum (Muller & Henle 1838), the Brownbanded Bamboo Shark... juvenile and adult... Please see here: http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/=Chiloscyllium&speciesname=punctatum  and: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm  for pix and husbandry information.  Bob Fenner

Epaulette sharks Thanks for the info and I'll be sure to look around for the book, I've read about a lot of problems with getting it, are those problems still going on?  <No... plenty around.> I keep researching, I really like the shark and I want to give it a good home for it's entire life, not just some of it, I really don't like inhumane people and I don't plan to be a hypocrite (please excuse spelling, lol).  <No worries. A suggestion: Do as I do, and learn as you go by utilizing the spelling, grammar checker software on your toolbar...> Speaking of that, how long is the average lifetime of an Epaulette shark in captivity? Thanks again Tyler Medaris <In captivity? Likely just a few weeks. Most people lose them through too small a system, inadequate filtration, beat specimens/damage in shipping/holding, jumping out... Bob Fenner>
Re: Epaulette sharks
Is this species of shark like the blue-spotted stingray? Am I doing all this research for a shark that will live a month or two!?!?  <Mmm, you asked my opinion/estimate of how long the average (central tendency: mean) lived in captivity> If you have adequate filtration, a large system, and a good hood to keep carpet surfing at a minimum how long do they live? <A few years... some have been kept for more than a decade by public aquariums. Bob Fenner> Tyler Medaris
Re: Epaulette sharks
Next time I'll be more specific in wording my questions. I'm having trouble finding info on what Epaulettes eat. Also you mention that there are 11 species of Epaulette sharks, what is the species of the one in the picture at the top of the cartilaginous fish page, that's the kind I want, FFE also has a picture of the one I want, is this the one that gets 3 feet, or 2 feet? In other words, for this fish do I need a 9 foot system or something in between 6-9? Does Amazon carry your friends book? Tyler Medaris <Please see fishbase.org for the species coverage and pix... and Amazon.com for Scott Michael's work (under an author search). You might benefit from chatting over your shark ambitions and plans with other similarly minded aquarists. Please check out our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/  Bob Fenner>
Guess not (Epaulette Shark f')
Thanks so much for all the help and info you've given me. It's really awesome to see someone out there to help ppl not for money but for the welfare of the animals and the ppl. I think it would be better for me to wait until I'm older and have an income before I invest so heavily in one animal. As I said before, I'm not inhumane and for the welfare of the animal I'm not getting one. Thanks so much for the help and sorry I've troubled you this much, it must be frustrating. Sorry! <No worries my friend. Do consider working, volunteering yourself for a time in the field. Bob Fenner> Tyler Medaris

Bamboo shark Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I know you must get this subject more than you would like to, but this time it isn't coming from a 12 year old with a 50 gal! No, its coming from a 15 year old with a 7'x7'x4' tank in the works =) <excellent... you must have a really sweet allowance to afford such a tank> I have gotten so much misinformation and mixed reviews that I feel like a tornado hit me! what is your take on a tank that size? <it will literally cost over $5,000 to buy or build (the height is the real killer... over 30" tall in aquaria gets quite expensive due to necessary engineering> also as far as tank mates go, I was thinking of: 1 blue spotted stingray <scrap this idea...too big, too hard to keep alive... and too many die in shipping. Leave them for the zoos with large aquaria> 1 Miniatus grouper <excellent fish!> 2 or 3 tang or other schooling fish <most tangs are fine and hardy... prefer Zebrasoma to Acanthurus> I would have an eel on that list, but with a 7x7 tank with no cover, it would be a professional carpet surfer! what do you think of that too much? would that tank be too small for 2 bamboo sharks? <it would be fine for two bamboo sharks> mark <best regards, Anthony>

Banded Bamboo Shark Obsession Hey Bob, I am new to the shark collecting hobby, but it somehow has ignited something inside of me. I can see myself doing this for many years to come as I hold a high respectful for one of gods most incredible creatures. My question is about the now infamous banded bamboo cat shark. Through looking through various other sites I cannot come to a solid conclusion of the size and requirements of a tank. There are people claiming that these things will grow to only be 24 inches, and that a 80 gallon tank could hold them just fine, <Very incorrect.> Being limited on funds for a tank, I cannot afford the lavish dwelling these creatures so deserve, so I want in honest opinion in whether or not I should pursue raising one. I found a 125 gallon tank, which is 72X18X22. I like that its 72 inches in length so the shark has room to wander even if it grows to be 40+ inches. Do you think it could survive being the only inhabitant, with good care and cautious feeding for a few years. <For a few years, yes.> A bit off the subject, what is the average life expectancy for these things in the wild? <I would imagine that one should live for 10-20 years if properly cared for. The vast majority aren't and don't.> Also, should I be worried that the tank is only 18 inches wide? <Yes> One site said it should be at least 24 so the shark can move more freely. <Eventually, you will need a tank that is 4' wide and 12' long.> I obviously don't want to raise this shark just to see it die in a few months. Should the tank be longer, wider, does height matter?  <The height is not really too much of a concern. Two feet deep should be plenty.> I know your going to say I need a 500+ gallon tank, but I cannot afford one. <Then perhaps you should admire these creatures from afar.> Keep in mind I will not clutter up the tank with meaningless artifacts, or other fish. Any input on the subject would be greatly appreciated as I am yearning to pursue this interest. Thanks, Bob Benson <Do read through the articles and FAQ files on WWM for sharks. -Steven Pro>

Coral catshark... intelligent Q's hi there, <greetings...Anthony Calfo in your service> I came across your website this evening while doing a little research into shark and ray keeping. I recently bought a one hundred gallon long Plexi tank from a friend who had kept it as a shark and ray tank...  <Really a tank only suited for one specimen of either and limited by species small enough> but the more I've read the more it seems that NO shark species seen in the pet trade would be happy in a hundred gallon tank. is this true?  <very true if you are a responsible aquarist planning for the long term> could I keep a coral catshark in a hundred gallon long if it were the only shark in the tank?  <for a good while if bought small and it was the only FISH in the tank... grow to 3 feet long... will eventually outgrow the tank> if I could, are there other types of fish that can be kept with it, or would it just eat them? <nope... more into eating crustaceans...but the tank would still be heading down a bad path if you put anything beyond the shark in it... just not kind or responsible. If you admire sharks...please treat it with respect. A six foot tall person would not want to live his whole life in a 10 ' X 4' wide room. And sharks have larger natural wild home ranged than most people do <wink>> also, are there any ray species that can be kept in a hundred gallon tank? when I ask that, I mean for their whole lives.  <thank you for the intelligent and long-sighted answer. I say no...there are not> I work in a pet store and I see a lot of people who come in wanting to trade fish when they outgrow the tank- my thoughts are, why get the fish if you know you aren't going to be able to keep it?  <agreed...lacks respect for the sea life that they claim to admire!> I would like to ensure that whatever species I get set up in this system are going to be happy there for the rest of their lives. I live in a smallish pad so I probably don't have room to upgrade to a larger tank. >honestly... cat sharks are mostly tail and rather lazy... just the shark in the 100 gallon would fly for a very long time> thanks for your time, ~Mixie <with kind regards, Anthony>

TANKMATES FOR SHARKS Well Anthony thank you for your opinion, you're not the first to be surprised about my accommodations. My shark frenzy started with 2 leopard sharks towards the end of last year & I readily bought them because I was planning on upgrading to a bigger tank within a month or so & they were soon going out of season. After the first, buying the others was irresistible & I figured since 3 of my 5 sharks were slow or non-moving, they would all be alright in a 125 gal. tank. They all look healthy & tolerant of each other, with the exception of tolerant in the case of the leopards. The fault is all mine & I am willing to give up my sharks when their too large- but for now its shark mania, thanks!! <Hello. This is Steven Pro "speaking" now. Sorry to butt in but it appears Anthony did not get across the desired meaning. He was not surprised as much as he was appalled and I am too. Your new larger tank is inappropriate even for one of the smallest sharks you have. You admitted you were willing to give up your sharks when they grew too large. Well, now is the time. They are already too large for you and your tank. Please do the hobby a service and find appropriate accommodations for your animals. Sincerely, Steven Pro>

Miniature sharks Hi, I would like to know where I can get miniature sharks. not any and any sharks, minis that look like the big guys, actual look-alikes. <There are no such animals. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and the linked files beyond. Bob Fenner> Timbaland

New catshark? Hi Bob, I would like to know if you've seen any New Catsharks (Atelomycterus Fasciatus) in the aquarium trade and do you know of anyplace that currently has any in stock? Thanks again, Lee. <Mmm, otherwise known as the Banded Catshark... occasionally imported out of Australia... I would check with the fine folks at the Marine Center: http://www.themarinecenter.com/ as well as your LFS for special ordering, other etailers. Sharks are not "specially targeted" for collection... but are "happened upon" or "come crashing into fence nets" while you're diving/collecting... so, availability is a function mostly of chance. Bob Fenner>

Shark questions Hello, After reading as much info on the net as I can find, I still can't find anything to explain why (despite it's smaller size) my Australian Marbled Catshark and the Coral Catshark aren't regarded as the best aquarium choices.  <These are good choices... as far as Elasmobranchs for home aquariums go.> Also, I would like to know if the presence (or lack of) claspers is the means of sexing (mine) all sharks. <Yes, externally... the best, easiest method> And can you give me any info on breeding them in captivity. Thanks, Lee P.S. I've informed family members that I EXPECT,-( Aquarium Sharks and Rays) for Christmas. <Mmm... you will enjoy, learn from its reading. Our shark materials are stored here on WWM: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm Bob Fenner>

My shark tank hi my name is Omar I have a tank it's 55 gallon it's marine tank I want put sharks in there can you please tell me what kind shark I could put in my tank
<Please start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and follow the links (at the top) to the "Shark Selection" et al. FAQs files. Bob Fenner> thank you.

Shark Tank Hello, Sir! I must say, I absolutely love your site and I love your book, The Conscientious Marine Aquarist! For a long time I wanted a reef, with corals, anemones, and quiet reef fishes swimming among them... Then it happened! I fell in love with a shark! Anyhow, to make a long story short, my ideal tank changed a bit, and I am going to be setting up a tank that I want to include sharks! The tank will have a sump (as big as I can make it, with a refugium) and I am prepared to do anything I have to keep sharks. I was hoping that, before I go out and spend $$$ on a monster of a tank, you could just give some feedback as to whether or not my shark tank is a dream or a reality: <I will try... Have you read over the "shark sections" on WWM re Shark Systems? Scott Michael's newly redone book on Aquarium Sharks and Rays?> TWO Brown Banded Bamboo Sharks (Chiloscyllium punctatum) I plan to get egg cases, as I want to see 'em hatch! These would be my "feature" fish, and I really would like to keep them into adulthood. For a bit of colour and action, I wanted to include EIGHT Yellow Sailfin Tangs and TWENTY Blue Damsels. Will they get eaten? <Maybe the Damsels, in time...> I didn't think so, because I've seen them in shark tanks before... So how does this look? I was hoping that this might work in a 200-gallon tank (84"x24"x24"). If it won't work, how can I modify the above plan to work?  <Should work... at least for a few years... till which time the Sharks might be too big...> Let's look at it from a different angle now, what would I need to do to make this plan work? <Big pumps, filtration, skimming... As stated this size, shape system for two of these smaller, sedentary species should do fine... If/when the sharks approach the width of the tank in length, you will very likely be onto "reefs" with live corals et al.> Also, are there any suggestions you have for me regarding successfully choosing and hatching egg cases? How do I know that I'm picking the right species when I pick an egg? <Look for signs of life inside, complete casings. Bob Fenner> Thank you in advance! Jennifer

Subtropical Shark Selection Hello bob, Hope everything is good I just have 2 questions are the Portjacksons sharks from Australia coldwater or warmer? <Cooler, subtropical heterodontids/Horn Sharks... from Southern Australia, Heterodontus portusjacksoni... more tropical Heterodontus zebra from up north> How big of a tank do these need. <Hundreds of gallons. Lots of bottom area, darkened spots, a cave or two to hide in a good part of the time.> These are the ones they have in the collectors corner on FFExpress. <Mmm, a fabulous species. Bob Fenner>

Question re shark selection I bought a tank six months ago - from this place http://www.aquadesign.co.uk/radial%20aquarium.htm <Hmm, site wouldn't come up for me> I have a stable environment in it. I want to add a shark. I read the article at wetwebmedia.com. I was wandering what size shark would work in my tank. its 175 gallon tank. 24*24*70 <The more suitable species are listed there... of Catsharks, Bamboo, Epaulette Sharks. Here is the Selection URL: http://wetwebmedia.com/sharkselfaqs.htm> I really want to do a nurse shark...... but I don't think I can keep it small enough.. <I agree... at least not for "long enough" to suit me... Ginglymostoma come in, get too big too fast to be of serious consideration here.> I would appreciate you input thanks Pete Overholser <Do consider a smaller species my friend. Bob Fenner>
Re: shark selection, name
too bad the site wouldn't come up for you it's a beautiful tank.. <Yes, nice pic, thanks> I think I will do the tiger shark. <Hmm, do you have another name, even scientific for this species... not "the" Tiger Shark, Galeocardo cuvier for sure.> seems to be the best one for long term. thanks for the input ill keep in touch with ya when I can get a hold of a camera ill send you a pic of my tank. I love it.. Pete Overholser <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Coldwater Shark out, Majestic Angel in Hello bob, Yes I am finally getting rid of my leopard shark  <Mmm, why, may I ask?> and am trying to find one more fish to put in my tank you suggested that an angel would be okay in my 125 gallon so I am thinking about getting one what would you suggest besides an Asfur or maculosus because they do not get along well with my fish I was thinking an Annularis or emperor something with a lot of color <These are fine fishes... my coverage of marine Angels is on the WWM site> my LFS has a friend that has had a majestic in his sump of his reef tank for about 7 months and he is still doing great but he would like to get rid of him would a 5 inch specimen be okay for my tank or is this not a good choice. <One that has been around this long is a "keeper"... I would buy/try it. Bob Fenner> Thanks for any help you can give me and have a good day.

Shark Hi Bob I like your piece on sharks. I too want a shark tank. I would to get a white bamboo shark. My question is would he fit in a 120 gallon or would a 200 gallon work better. I also like eels. Would I be able to put an eel in the tank with him. Also is the white bamboo shark a warm water, or a cold water shark. And my last question is what kind of setup would I use for the shark. Like filter protein skimmer, sand or rock, and any decorations in tank. Thank You Brian  < Hmm, don't know which species you're referring to exactly... pls see below list from FishBase for the genus. Scientific Names for Chiloscyllium  [n=20]  Scientific Name Author Valid Name English Name  Chiloscyllium arabicum Gubanov, 1980 Chiloscyllium arabicum Arabian carpetshark  Chiloscyllium burmensis Dingerkus & DeFino, 1983 Chiloscyllium burmensis  Chiloscyllium caeruleopunctatum Pellegrin, 1914 Chiloscyllium caerulopunctatum Bluespotted bambooshark  Chiloscyllium caerulopunctatum Pellegrin, 1914 Chiloscyllium caerulopunctatum Bluespotted bambooshark  Chiloscyllium colax (Meuschen, 1781) Chiloscyllium indicum Slender bambooshark  Chiloscyllium confusum Dingerkus & DeFino, 1983 Chiloscyllium confusum  Chiloscyllium furvum Macleay, 1881 Brachaelurus waddi Blind shark  Chiloscyllium fuscum Parker & Haswell, 1897 Brachaelurus waddi Blind shark  Chiloscyllium griseum M?ler & Henle, 1838 Chiloscyllium griseum Grey bambooshark  Chiloscyllium hasselti Bleeker, 1852 Chiloscyllium hasselti Hasselt's bambooshark  Chiloscyllium hasseltii Bleeker, 1852 Chiloscyllium hasselti Hasselt's bambooshark  Chiloscyllium indicum (Gmelin, 1789) Chiloscyllium indicum Slender bambooshark  Chiloscyllium malaianum M?ler & Henle, 1839 Hemiscyllium freycineti Indonesia speckled carpetshark  Chiloscyllium margaritiferum Bleeker, 1863 Chiloscyllium punctatum Brownbanded bambooshark  Chiloscyllium modestum G?ther, 1872 Brachaelurus waddi Blind shark  Chiloscyllium obscurum Gray, 1851 Chiloscyllium griseum Grey bambooshark  Chiloscyllium phymatodes Bleeker, 1852 Chiloscyllium indicum Slender bambooshark  Chiloscyllium plagiosum (Anon., 1830) Chiloscyllium plagiosum Whitespotted bambooshark  Chiloscyllium plagiosum var. interruptum Bleeker, 1852 Chiloscyllium plagiosum Whitespotted bambooshark  Chiloscyllium punctatum M?ler & Henle, 1838 Chiloscyllium punctatum Brownbanded bambooshark  A two hundred would definitely be better... the bigger... And there are many species of moray eels that could be kept with your shark. Do plan on over-sizing your filtration, aeration, circulation for these bruisers. Bob Fenner>

Hemiscylliid sharks .... the basics ??? Hi Bob, I recently visited a small public aquarium, where they had a display of small sharks. In one tank, they had a bamboo shark, which looked really neat, and I fell in love at once. I have just read in your book, that you feel these species are suitable for home keeping, in large tanks. Could you please give me an idea as to the most basic detail, and the most basic requirement for the bamboo and epaulette sharks........... what sort of size they will reach, and consequently what sized tank they would require ???  I realize that all sharks are incredibly complex creatures, and require a lot of specialized care, and I would research this thoroughly if I were to go ahead with one. But before I waste valuable time researching them, I would like to know the most basic , fundamental things, its' size and the tank needed, since if they grow huge, and I cannot provide a proper home for it in this regard, there is little point in pursuing the idea any further. Thanks for reading. Regards, Matt  < Ah, the well-thought out and translated message, what a joy! Please take a look through the "Shark" article and FAQ input on our site: Home Page at this point Matthew, and when we can chat about the exact species, particular questions re its husbandry... we'll do so. Bob Fenner>

Nurse sharks hey were can you show me where I can buy a nurse shark or get things I need for one <Please read over the Shark survey work and associated FAQs pages archived on the site: www.WetWebMedia.com When you are ready, you can order a Ginglymostoma from the livestock sources listed on the Links pages on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Epaulette Shark Hello, I got a question about the epaulette shark because my pet store has one that is about 12" and I was wanting to purchase him but he is 240$ is this a lot of money for this kind of shark?  <Not really... a lot of work, freight to get this animal from the wild to your dealer to you...> Would he get along with my other fish the stars and stripes puffer and Assasi trigger? <Maybe... if your tank is big enough... the other fishes not too used to getting all the food introduced into the system...> I was thinking it would be okay because the puffer has never tried to go for another fishes fins and either does the trigger. The tank is a 125 but I will have a 300-400 gallon in a little less than a year. What other kind of fish can I put in it after I get the big tank? <Many choices...> I was thinking a mappa puffer and 1 large tang will this work out okay and will I need a bigger tank after the four hundred?  <Depends on what the other fishes are... Have you considered a career, volunteering at a Public Aquarium?> I have a lot of rock in my tank am I going to need to take out some of it because I have a 75 gallon with a lot of room because I have about150 pounds the hole back wall is covered. We have a queen trigger in are 75 gallon can we put any other fish in their it is only about 2 inches long? <Many choices here as well... look to other life for info. in the same area... the tropical West Atlantic... Bob Fenner>

Sharks I don't know if you're the person to ask but I want to buy one of the smaller sharks. I've been doing a lot of reading and a bamboo sharks seems to be one of the smaller ones. I also read about the smallest shark that there is but it sounds like it would be real hard to get one. What kind of shark would you suggest and would size tank would I need to buy. I would appreciate it if you would give me some advice. <Glad to help. Please read through the coverage on "Sharks" and the related FAQs files on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com and keep your eyes open for Scott Michael's new Shark and Ray book due out soon. Bob Fenner>

Ward's Wobbegong (Orectolobus wardi) Bob, Hope all is well. I will soon setting up a 265 gallon fish only tank. My plan is to have 1 or 2 white spotted bamboo sharks, a blue lined snapper, and one or two other compatible fishes. After reading Scott Michaels shark book, I would like to get a Ward's Wobbegong (Orectolobus wardi).  <A good species...> I have read that these specimens are hard to come by but make ideal aquarium candidates. Any leads as to where I could purchase one would be most appreciated. Thanks. <Try the Marine Center... link on our WetWebMedia.com site. Bob Fenner>

Shark Hello Bob I really like your website. Has great information. I have sent many people on aquarium fish forums to your site. Thanks for having such a great site. <You're welcome, thank you> I have keep my different species of marine fish and freshwater fish. Including angelfish and Butterflyfish. Also lionfish. I have been into the marine scene for 7 years. This will however been my first shark. My question is I am building a 200 gallon pond for a shark. He will be the only species beside a one tang. I am looking into the brown banded bamboo shark Chiloscyllium punctatum or the coral catshark Atelomycterus marmoratus. I was wondering which how of these species would be better to keep?  <The former> Also do you have a copy of Scott Michael Shark book like a black and white one, I was also wondering if you could send a copy to me? I live in Canada. <All out... but it is in print and available from TFH or Microcosm.> P.S thanks so much for answering my question <No worries, Bob Fenner>

Shark and tankmates Hey Robert Thanks for the answering to my question. My other questions is which species of tang would be best with the shark.  <Some of the larger, faster species of Acanthurus and Naso> I am looking into the yellow tang or Powder Blue Tang.  <Not the latter, for the reasons given on our site (www.WetWebMedia.com)> Just incase there is algae. <There will be.> Those are my choices. Which tang species would you put in? So it will be a 200 gallon tank using strong pond lining. The animals in the tank will be a brown banded bambooshark and a tang. I have read your FAQ and part on sharks, are their any other species of fish that would go with the shark? If not, don't care if the tank (pond just houses the shark. P.S thanks <Many. Ahead of the huge monetary investment (and ongoing) you are going to make, do buy, read Scott Michael's new Shark and Ray book... can be ordered from the publisher: http://www.microcosm-books.com/ Much money and heartache to be saved by first studying here. Bob Fenner>

Shark for Aquarium Hi, I was wondering. Is there some sort of shark that stays small and won't bother any of the fish??? <Please read over this section and FAQs on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm Keeping sharks requires a good sized system, and considerable upkeep. Bob Fenner> Thanks Kyle

Trade in of a cool water shark for a tropical Hello Bob, Thanks for all the quick replies you have sent me I have the 125 with the leopard shark, stars and stripes puffer, and honeycomb grouper since you say the shark will probably not last long in my tank I was thinking trading him for a marbled cat shark or epaulette would one of these be a better choice but my leopard shark is still doing great he eats just about anything I put in the tank but I don't really want to risk it dying <I agree with your point of view> I just added 2 CPR Bak Pak protein skimmers and added 2 more MaxiJet 1200s all my water perimeters are good ph-8.2-8.3 ammonia and nitrite are at 0 and nitrates are at 25 so I was wondering after I trade the sharks and every thing is normal again I would like to add an angel fish or something nice and 1 of my LFS has a 5-6 inch Koran that has been there since 3/5 and it eats just about anything or I was wanting to purchase a 5 inch specimen from the marine center what do you think? <A good idea in my estimation. Likely to add a great deal of color, interest to your system.> Also do the angels ever pick on the sharks <Yes... some species more than others... of sharks and angels... but not a huge risk, worry> and if it is not good for an angel I was thinking a Sohal and blonde Naso what sounds better to you? <I'd rather the Angel. More intelligent, interesting behaviorally.> and thanks for all the help you have given to me Pam Reinsmith <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Livestock Sourcing I am looking to set up a 200 gallon tank. I previously kept a 90 gallon reef but had to sell it last summer. I decided recently that I would like to pursue the hobby again, however, this time I want to keep sharks. I would like to know how many sharks and of what species I could put in the tank. <Please take a read through the brief "Shark" section and associated FAQs archived on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com> I was thinking maybe one bamboo and one epaulette. what other fish could I house in there along with those sharks. is a grouper and/or stingray good tankmates?  <They might be, depending on species (size, temperament)> are there any special conditions I should be aware of (i.e., temp, salinity, etc...)? what about the filtration? is a external wet dry and protein skimmer sufficient? <Once again, please see the WWM site. Good filtration, circulation, aeration are critically important> also I want to use some live sand as a substrate. I am assuming that ok as well. I plan on picking up Scott Michaels book, but I just wanted some basic ideas before I committed myself. any suggestions of places online to purchase the sharks, rays, and fish would be helpful as well. <Try the Marine Center IMO> thank you for you time. <You're welcome. Much more to plan, discuss... Bob Fenner> Scott

Bamboo Shark. HELP!!!!!! <Jeremy. Lorenzo Gonzalez standing in for Bob-in-Indonesia.> Hello I really need your expert advise. I was given a bamboo shark egg as a gift.  <Some gift. That's kinda like receiving a firecracker.> My friend said he asked the aquarium dealer if it would be OK in a 37 gallon reef tank with 2 clown fish, 2 Buddha cardinals, a Japanese wrasse, Fiji damsel and a blue tang.....he said yes because if I feed the shark brine and meaty foods he will not bother anyone else.  <That sounds like a very nice tank. That dealer is a crook.> Is this true?  <No. Not really.> Are bamboo sharks very docile?  <Yes, they're pretty docile.> I have about 50 lb. of live rock with many areas to hide for the fish. Is this fish going to cause real problems in my tank?  <No. But I'll wager he'll die not long after hatching, so keep an eye out for that - because a dead 6-8 inch fish will seriously pollute so small a system.> He or she looks to be about 3 inches long in the egg and is attached to an embryo like white ball. How big do they get before they hatch?  <About 4-5, even 6 inches.> I appreciate the gift but I do not want to kill my tank. Please Help. <A smart attitude. I wouldn't want to kill your tank either, it sounds really nice. The shark will not live long in that environment. And if it did, well... they get HUGE. Take the egg to a public aquarium, back to the store it came from, or something. There are 3 other emails in our mailbox RIGHT NOW from people asking why their baby sharks are dying. Sharks belong in gigantic public or professionally managed aquariums - or best of all, in the ocean.  Best luck, and best regards, Lorenzo > Jeremy Ray Fedoruk 
Re: Bamboo Shark. HELP!!!!!!
Lorenzo thanks for the quick reply. From your experience will this shark hunt down all my fish and eat them? What size tank do these guys require? <No, that shark won't hunt down your other fish and eat them. But if/when he gets big enough, he certainly won't ignore a tasty morsel unlucky enough to swim past his face...> Are their any sharks suited for small tanks? OR any really attractive shark-like bottom dwellers? <No shark species is suitable for tanks less than several hundred gallons, and most need several thousand, to be healthy in the long term. The small leopard, bamboo, epaulette sharks and such that you see swimming happily around at big hotel, restaurant, or casino aquariums are all juveniles. As far as 'shark-like' bottom dwellers, I can't really think of any that are suitable for a small tank... but there are bottom dwelling fish that are quite beneficial - sand-sifting 'sleeper' gobies, green-bar gobies, and the like, that are okay in a small tank... Best regards, Lorenzo> Jeremy Ray Fedoruk 

Shark in a 70g? <Lorenzo standing in for Bob-in-Asia> Question: I have a 70 gallon salt tank that is currently being set up. I have about 2 yrs experience in marine fish keeping and now need some advice on what shark I could keep in the 70 gallon. Any info will be greatly appreciated.
<No baby shark can thrive in a 70 gallon aquarium for more than a few weeks. No shark will LIVE in a 70 gallon aquarium for more than a few months. No matter what ANYONE says otherwise. Sorry to be so short about it - but it's so sad to see so many sharks dying in these (miniscule by shark standards) hobbyist tanks. Do the responsible thing. Visit sharks at the public aquarium or professionally managed show aquariums like restaurants and hotels... best regards, Lorenzo>

Setting up large Aquarium Dear Bob, I am designing an aquarium that will be in excess of 5000 gallons for my business. I am curious as to which types of sharks would be able to survive in this size aquaria. The tank runs along three walls and is roughly seven feet high and seven feet deep along sixty feet of wall space. I am concerned that I could pick a species that may outgrow this aquarium. I do not want to act in an inhumane way. Also, could you give me any idea of how I would find appropriate dealers of the shark species that you have suggested. Many thanks, Michael Taylor <For such an important endeavor please do read over Scott Michael's work on Sharks and Rays (a new edition is finally to see the light of day from Microcosm/TFH this year)... and the input on sharks stored on the website: www.wetwebmedia.com... It would be better to have such a sized system be more flat/shallow and of rounded edges... i.e. not rectangular/with square corners... Do consider the species listed on the WWM site... though any, all sharks would/will eventually be crowded in this system. Bob Fenner>

Epaulette Shark Dear Bob, I have a FOWLR 125 Gal saltwater tank, that is 6 feet long, and was wondering about purchasing a Epaulette Shark. The tank is currently stocked with a 4 inch crushed coral sandbed, 55 lbs of live rock, a Naso Tang, a Yellow Tang, a Sailfin Tang, a Humu Trigger, a Blue Cheek Goby, 6 Neon Gobies, and about 12 Snails. For filtration I use an Eheim Echo 2235 Canister, and a Remora Pro Protein Skimmer. I also have two Maxi-jet 600 powerheads. Sorry for the long email but I just wanted to give you an idea about my setup. I would appreciate any help you can give me. Such as The sharks feeding habits, and if my tank is big enough to house one. Thanks. Rooshir Patel <Thanks for writing, asking... Well, let's see. The shark would have to be a small one to start... so it could turn around in the 125... you would have to move the live rock to just in the middle to accommodate it... And it would likely eat the gobies and hermits in short order... and might well be picked on by your triggerfish... And you'd have to upgrade your filtration and skimmer to keep up with the wastes it will produce... In other words, I wouldn't place an Epaulette (or any other) shark in this system. They're too big, messy, likely to eat small, easygoing livestock, be picked on by curious, toothy ones... Take a read over the many selection articles and survey pieces and FAQs on the www.wetwebmedia.com site for a review of much better choices. Bob Fenner>
Re: Epaulette Shark
Dear Bob, Thanks for your reply and input. By the way if I were to get a shark which would you recommend. Rooshir <Please read over the survey piece and accompanying FAQs section on our website: www.wetwebmedia.com re. Bob Fenner>

Bamboo Bob, Thanks for all of your advice, I have another question. For housing a bamboo shark (best species?), what is the minimum tank size, lighting requirements for small amount of live rock and sand (preferably actinics or 50/50s), filter, and should I look into breeding... seems easy if only I had ample tank room (Sea World could barely stop the breeding until the separation of sexes!) >> IMO, Hemiscyllium trispeculare... for size, beauty. Minimum tank size? IMO again, a two hundred forty stock (8 by 2 by 2) minimum. Compact fluorescents would do... actinic and some 10k... would be my preference. Filters? I would have a BIG pump... maybe a half horse... really, to power a BIG wet dry with a denitrator in the sump... and the down draft type skimmer (probably the largest Aqua-C)... and numerous discharges to vigorously move the water in the tank in a slow vortex like fashion. The intake I'd situate near the middle with a mechanism for drawing the water from the bottom, having it rise to an overflow at the top... And don't know about the breeding bit... and dearly want to make a joke about same... but I realize you're referring to the sharks... not the folks at Sea World. ;) Bob Fenner

Sharks First let me say that I bought your book after reading about it on this site, but before you started contributing and it is the most well written books I've been able to buy on this often over complicated hobby. My question is this. I have a 125 gallon tank that I would like to set back up with just a couple of sharks. What sharks are readily available that would allow a couple to make an attractive display and which ones are the easiest to keep at home. What is the best way to feed and are there any specific water issues that should be addressed? Thank you, Todd >> What a boost! Thank you for writing... and contributing to this forum! There are really only a few species of sharks available which are suitable for home aquarium use. They all belong to the Epaulette or Bamboo shark family, Hemiscylliidae... You've no doubt read my overview opinions on keeping cartilaginous fishes, of course including sharks... not easy, not for everyone. They need lots of room, vigorous circulation, aeration, filtration... Do investigate the references posted at the end of the "Shark" piece posted at the www.wetwebmedia.com site... in particular, Scott Michael's Shark and Ray book is due out in a few months... wait for it. Bob Fenner
Yes, I've read the overview and know sharks can be difficult. I've been enjoying this hobby for about ten years now and always had the good fortune in the beginning of having several shop owners as friends that took the time and gave me good advice. I like keeping the more bazaar species; sea robins, eels, seahorses and such so I think sharks is the next step. I do know that most of the available sharks for home purchase are in the "bamboo" family but which of this family is more apt to "swim"? They all have a tendency to lay around quite a bit and that's not really what I'm looking for. I'll await the book, will it be available on this site? Thanks again, Todd >> Ahh, feel much better knowing/hearing of your extensive experience... however, none of the hemiscylliids swim about much at all... in point of fact, that trait, along with staying small(er) is what rates these sharks so highly regarded as aquarium specimens...  The "swimming about" varieties like the coldwater Triakis (Leopard), Requiems (Black tip, Lemon) that are much more active get way too big, need HUGE and/or circular shaped quarters... and the other "lay abouts" that are regularly (mis)offered like the Nurse (Ginglymostoma) and Horn Sharks (Heterodontidae)... get too big... Maybe a stint working in a public aquarium? Bob Fenner

Epaulette sharks Hi Bob, I have a 135 gal. fish only aquarium with 100 pounds Marshall Island Live Rock. I have a 2" Assasi Trigger,3" Neon Damsel,8" Snowflake Eel and a 2" Three Bar Damsel. I would like to get either a Wobbegong, Epaulette Shark or a Blue-Spot Stingray. My question is, are you able to train a shark or stingray so he wont eat my small fish? I don't want him to eat my other fish. >> Ummm, no, not really. The smaller species of Epaulette sharks might do for a short while... the Wobbegongs get way too big, and are fish inhalers... and the blue-spotted stingray (Lymna taeniura) rarely lives in captivity for any real length of time. If it were me, I'd keep compiling my wish list of "to add" livestock... If you want a cartilaginous fish like a shark or ray, I'd dedicate the whole system to it... Bob Fenner

Sharks I have a 200 gallon saltwater tank with a three foot zebra eel and a 1 1/2 foot snowflake eel. I am interested in stocking some sharks in the tank. Any suggestions as to what kinds would be best and how many? Also, is there any other types of fish that would go along with the sharks (triggers, puffers, etc..)? Thanks for all your help, Michelle >> This is a BIG and important question... Let's see.... Even in a tank as seemingly HUGE as two hundred gallons there are really only two groups of sharks I would consider, the Bamboo and Epaulette Sharks.... okay maybe the Tasseled or Wobbegong Sharks (only small individuals of smallest species)... but certainly none of the "Jaws" type sharks... Do you know/realize what you're getting into with these animals? They all are big eaters/waste producers that will add tremendously to your system maintenance... and may well hassle (including eat) your other livestock... and/or be picked on by triggers, puffers and more... as most of the time they "just lay" on the bottom. You'll need to modify the tanks decor to provide space all the way around the edge to allow the shark(s) to swim the entire perimeter without damaging themself(ves). Yes, what will your system look like with the rock stacked in the middle? Okay? Okay! Do read my survey piece on these cartilaginous animals on the wetwebmedia.com site and get hold of a copy of Scott Michael's work (there's a book on Sharks and Rays, and/or the articles that have run in the hobby magazines... I reference a few of them in the article).  This should be a serious undertaking... it is potentially expensive and disastrous. Study up first before doing anything further. Bob Fenner

Nurse Shark I recently added a nurse shark to my 150 tank. The pet store told me that it was OK to have other fishes in with him, how ever after talking to a few people, I have received different opinion. I hope you can shed some light on this subject. I would like to add some Tangs, Triggers and Lion fishes to my tank. If other fishes can't be added, are invertebrate safe in this tank. Thank you in advance. >> Boy this is a toughie. Well, the species in question (Ginglymostoma cirrhatum) is the most common sold shark for aquarium use... but I wish it wasn't... sold that is. This tapioca colored beauty gets to several feet long (some folks say 15, I know at least ten... from seeing them underwater), and FAST. I swear you can feed them a big meal and watch them grow before your very eyes! They will gladly suck up any and all tankmates they can get their low pressure vacuum maws (the suckling action is so vigorous, that this is why they're called Nurse... as in nursing a baby... sharks). You might be okay by piling your invertebrates carefully on rock in the middle of the tank, leaving space all the way around the sides... for a few to several months (feed SPARINGLY)... or by putting larger, faster, more aware livestock in with the Shark... but do consider taking it back... If you must have a shark, take a look at the article I have on the wetwebmedia.com site, read up about the Epaulette and Bamboo Sharks (not "jaws" types), and cater to one of these... I'd ask and try to return the shark myself... Bob Fenner

Question: I have a 240 gallon tank, 8ft x2 x 2. I bought a small leopard shark (8-9"). I have read that they don't see too well and rely on their smell. I have feed him frozen krill and live fish. The shark seems almost blind. He eats the krill only after bumping into it. He seems to smell the food but has a hard time finding it. And the live fish I have to hold with a pair of tongs and put it directly in front of him. Is this normal eye sight for the leopard shark? This is the only fish in the tank and I am concerned if I add another fish, perhaps a trigger (something aggressive), the shark will not be able to compete for food due to his eye sight. Bob's Answer: Jim, Leopard Sharks (Triakis semifasciata) have excellent vision, but are easily damaged in collection and shipping. They're cold water animals usually caught off California and really inappropriate for water of more than sixty five degrees. Yours is likely doomed by its processing and/or being kept in a tropical system. To others: please don't buy these animals. If you must try a shark, look to the Epaulette and Bamboo families.

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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