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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
Sharky temps  > 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>  > The 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> Cheers, Robert, Bob Fenner CC'd me your query here regarding the building of a shark pool. Attached is a construction stage photo of the 1000 gall pond we built for a pair of horn sharks. It is simply made of plywood and studs... very sturdy, lined with Styro and a pond liner (the new Tetra super-duper poly/fiber stuff).  Best regards, Anthony

Swimming With The Sharks Hello, I realize that this email will probably horrify you.  I had a roommate that moved in with both a banded shark and a nurse shark in a 150 gallon 24" deep aquarium. <Yep. I'm horrified. Scott F. here today> He claimed to know what he was doing, but I see now that he didn't.  He left behind his sharks when he left, and said he would be back to take care of them as they needed it, but they didn't require anything but once a week feedings. <Gasp!> He hasn't been back  in 3-4 months so I started looking into care recently because it seemed unlikely that they required so little.  The nurse shark is about 24-30 inches long, and the banded cat shark is 20-24 inches.  I realize that I can't keep the nurse shark. <Yep...Not a good choice for captive systems, IMO> However, I'm going to have to get a larger tank for the banded shark.  Ideally I'd like 2-3 banded sharks, what size aquarium would you recommend? <Well, for just one of these, I'd avoid any tank less than 200 gallons. For more than one, you're talking hundreds of gallons or more, IMO> Also, after upgrading to that aquarium, and staying with only one banded shark, to what size could I keep the nurse shark happily? <Well, I think it's at the maximum already, IMO. You really need to look for a very large home for this shark; start by contacting some local public aquariums, universities, or a local aquarium society. Unfortunately, most public aquariums will not take in fishes from hobbyists, so you may have a difficult time finding a suitable home for this fish...But do keep trying, ok?> Thanks for all the useful information, Jeff <Our pleasure, Jeff. I respect your efforts to help out these animals in a difficult situation such as this. You should try to locate a copy of "Sharks and Rays" by Scott Michael, which will provide a lot of good information on the husbandry of these animals...Good luck. Regards, Scott F.>

Large shark systems Hello Bob, <Hello> I operate a small business named, Sharks-N-Such here in NJ, and I sell exotic species of sharks from distributors, and wholesalers.   I use a professional marine aquarium installer to suit my clients with their needs. I am now turning a corner because now I have some clientele that is a bit more financially suited to purchase reef tanks to accommodate black tips and other species similar to the reef shark. <A nice place to be passing into>   I am curious about your opinion on housing blacks even with a 3,500 gallon system that is fully equipped with proper lighting and filtration. Do you still feel it is not suitable for pups that are approximately 15-18 inches and adapted to grow into an artificial environment? <Mmm, a tough question. On the one hand, the system's themselves are adequate for a "long enough time" to warrant the keeping of such species... though certainly not at full size (most are consumed by other sharks when small). OTOH, is it better for those individuals to be sacrificed for the good of exposure of humans to their being, merits? I would bet/consider/vote so... as long as not "too many" folks had a "Sharks and Such" business... the overall impact of a few to a few hundred such installs is "worth it" IMO>   I have worked with my clientele for 6 months trying to educate them with all the literature available that there is on these types of reef tanks and sharks. They feel they are ready and I concur with their feelings.   I am not in a hurry to take their money because it is more important to me that the fish thrive than die. <Our values are confluent> If you would at your earliest convenience please reply with your input.                                                 Thank you,                                                                 Sincerely,                                                                      TJ <Hope to visit your business on a trip to NJ in future (my in-laws live in various towns, Belmar, Kennelon, Garfield... to the north). Bob Fenner>
Re: Large shark systems
I look forward to hearing from you. I don't have a store front because I deal through an outfit in Canada and my installers are in Long Branch. However, I will be glad to show you the cliental I have set up with these elaborate reefs aquariums.   Thank you,                                    TJ <Very well. Do you have a website? I strongly encourage you to develop one. Bob Fenner>
Re: Large shark systems
> <Very well. Do you have a website? I strongly encourage you to develop one. > Bob Fenner> I will eventually developed one but I don't want to make the shark tank a common item even to those who can afford them. It will become a novelty even more so I would keep that aspect of it to a minimum <You are wise here, but I would feature your other work. No bigger "bang for the buck" for custom installs than web exposure. Bob Fenner>   TJ

Brownbanded Bamboo Shark  3/13/03 Hi,<Hey!> I'd like to know more about this shark.<Try here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkslvgrm.htm > I have one in my aquarium 120cmx40cmx50cm, since  last August, where he was born, and by this date is measuring 24cm long.<You're going to need a bigger boat... I mean tank.  Just watched "Jaws" a few days back.> I feed him 2 and 2 days, shrimp, octopus, squeal, fish, and I want to know if this is a good way to feed him.<I'd suggest picking up the "Sharks and Rays" book By Scott W. Michael.  Great info IMO> He have is own cave, the water is fine, I have stars, corals, invertebrates. I'd like to know if this is a good environment to grow and keep a good health on him.<This shark needs a tank at least 220 gallons.  300-700 gallons is better.> My best regards Hugo Duarte<I'm sure the shark is fine for now, but a bigger tank soon is a must. Phil>

Shark Tank Update...  3/25/03 Hello Bob and Crew,<You got Phil again!> I just wanted to let you guys know where I am with my Bamboo sharks.   I began with an 8 inch adolescent and an egg in a 125 gallon.  I upgraded to a 150 gallon (I know this doesn't seem like much, but it has a much larger surface area, the tank is a custom acrylic that is 72 long 28 deep and 18 high).<You know you will need a bigger tank.  And you are planning so that makes you that much better off...>  I moved my titanium heaters to the sump and upgraded my sump to a 29 gallon dual drain unit with carbon, Purigen, poly filters, and a mag drive 1800.<Cool>  I am also cultivating red and green macroalgae. My skimmers are a Sealife motorized 150 hang-on and a Sealife Impact Skimmer 400 in the sump.  There is a 5inch deep sand bed in the main tank with 50lbs of live rock set up in an island layout.  Water parameters are: ammonia=0, Nitrite=0, Nitrate=10, Phosphate=0, Ph=8.4, SG=1.025, Calcium=460 and temp=78- 80.  The last time we spoke I was worried sick about my baby bamboo that had hatched five weeks prior.  It had still not eaten despite attempts at approximately 8 different types of frozen and live food.   Feedings were even attempted in the middle of the night (in case he somehow thought I was tricking him by turning the lights out for feeding during the evening.)  Well I finally initiated a manual feed and he is plump as St. Nick.  He initially regurgitated on the first attempt, but kept everything down on the second.  Prior to the manual feed his belly was appearing concave and I feared if another week went by I would have lost him.  I think he is definitely going to make it.  As I have said before, I have had great experiences raising some more delicate eaters such as freshwater Discus and a blue spotted stingray that is as happy as can be after over a year with me.  These sharks are truly magnificent creatures that require diligent husbandry.  I am glad I have taken the challenge and I an very appreciative to have you all for collaboration.  I would love to see some instructions on a good manual feed technique, as I collaborated with veterinary medical professionals to conduct it myself.<I agree... so anyone out there wanta write something up???>  I am trying to get a hold of Scott Michaels book, but have yet to be able to locate it.<Try amazon.com or Ebay.com  some book stores can special order it for you.>  Thanks again crew...Cheers! (okay, I stole that, so what) Mike<LOL, well it's not my line... who's line is it anyway??  I think Anthony is our cheers man!  So from Phil to you... Hope this helps!  And good luck!  Phil>

The educated consumer: nurse shark in a 55 gallon tank 3/5/03 Mr. Calfo or Mr. Fenner, <Cheers, Jeff> Please check out this auction on e-bay.  The seller is suggesting that a two foot nurse shark can be kept in a 55 gallon tank but would do better in a 75 to 100 gallon.  Is this asinine or what? <very much so> Maybe one of you gurus of the saltwater world should e-mail this bone head and set him straight about the gallonage that an animal like this should be kept in ( the ocean) or at least several hundred gallons if not more.   <actually... we seek to educate good folks like yourself that write in looking for advice and opinions. You/they are the best use of our time/efforts because you are the almighty consumer. If you teach yourself or are taught that this is an unwise purchase... and enough people like you do the same, it kills that silly twits chances of survival in the market. If we (consumers) stop buying such things, then they (bad merchants) will stop selling such things. Its not a charity... if enough sharks die on him without selling (perhaps even one), then they assuredly will stop selling them> I can't believe someone would suggest such a thing.  Looks like the seller only wants money and doesn't even care about an animals well being.  Mr. Calfo what do you think?   <it is disappointing to see. But such folks are truly the minority. All my friends and colleagues here (WWM) are wont to remind me when I go off on one of my rants <G>... have just about 10,000 people daily reading this site... only a fraction of them (less than 100) write in... and even a smaller number of them are truly misguided like shark-boy here. Heehee... my problem is that I end up with most of them in my mailbox... and I really don't own a pair of kid gloves. Perhaps I should buy some :) > Thanks for letting me vent, Jeff Reed <thank you for caring, Jeff. Best regards, Anthony>

- Shoehorn Shark - <Greetings, JasonC here...> HI I have purchased a 30 gallon tank and have added the salt I have been letting this aquarium run for about 1 week the ph is 8.0 the nitrite level is 30 which I know is stressful I want to add a bamboo shark that was born on Feb. 19/03 what would are the steps that I need to take to keep this shark alive..... <If you want this shark to stay alive, leave it out of your tank. I would start by leaving it at the store and instead purchase Scott Michael's book, Aquarium Sharks & Rays. In the meanwhile, please read the following article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm Your 30 gallon tank is absolutely inappropriate for a shark of any type or size.> please help <Cheers, J -- >

Shark Tanks Aloha from Hawaii, <Howdy> My name is Jillian Davis, a junior at West Hawaii Exploration Academy (WHEA) on the Big Island of Hawaii. We have a unique school set up where we have access to surface ocean water and deep-sea water. <We were just visiting there (at NELHA) last week!> We just recently finished the tank for our shark pit, which is quite exciting. We also have an Aloha Kai program where students from other schools and people of all age groups come and see our projects. Shark Pit is intended to be one of the most exciting. Being that I have never had sharks before, I was wondering if you could give me some advice. These are the things I would like to know... <Okay> What is the standard temperature of a shark tank? <Mmm, actually, there are decidedly tropical to cool to coldwater sharks... and systems respectively. You can find ranges for many species listed on fishbase.org> How do we clean the tank or keep it from being over-grown with algae? <Good, thorough circulation/agitation of the water... I suspect you will have an open system (not-recirculating) otherwise we could chat re filtration methods... so good turnover (maybe ten-twenty turns an hour) will do likely... along with good scrubbing, vacuuming perhaps on a daily basis> What are some fish that would survive well in a tank full of sharks? <Depends on the shape, size of the system and types/species and sizes of sharks kept. I would try fast, aware species found in the same region/ecotype> Is there a certain type of fish that shouldn't be put in with the sharks? <Mmm, venomous, spiny types that might cause trouble if ingested> Are there any precautions we need to take prior to putting the sharks in the tank (water quality testing, etc.)? <Yes, please see below> Do you know of a source I can use to look up an future questions? <... Oh yes. On our site (starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and the materials listed in the bibliography/further reading at the end of the articles there. Do seek out Scott Michael's last re-do of "Sharks and Rays" for sure> Your time and effort in this is greatly appreciated. I would like to thank you in advance for any advice u may send to me. Mahalo, Jillian Davis 11th grade <You're welcome. Bob Fenner>

Shark tank Hello Bob,<Hey there! Phil here!> I am interested in purchasing a shark and would like to know what the biggest species available is as a pet, want what size tank would be needed in order to house it? I would also like to know if you recommend any stockists that I can contact for further information and purchasing? Thanks James <James keeping a small shark like the Banded Bamboo Shark requires a tank of at least 250 gallons!  This tank must cycle and as it is so big it take much time.  Before you go out and buy a tank like this please try and locate a copy of Scott Michael's "Sharks and Rays".  It's a shark keepers bible.  Hope this helps!  Phil>  

What else can I do? Hi WWM crew! <Hey there!>  I've got a question for you.<Shoot>  I have a 135 gallon shark/FOWLR tank and I wondered if it would be OK to run my system by you and see if you would have any corrections or suggestions for how I could be doing any better. Like I said, it's a 135 gallon tank.  The rest of the equipment is as follows: CPR 800 GPH overflow CPR CY194 Wet/Dry and built-in skimmer (water level running about 1/2 way up the Biobale) Rio 3100 return pump pumping almost 800 gph at 4-5" Sanders Model 100 Ozonizer (planning on buying a controller for it soon, not on yet) [Editor's Note: we do not recommend running an ozone generator without a controller.]<<Mmm, RMF doesn't think this is a big deal, as long as the maximum output of the unit can't do damage>> Additional Rubbermaid sump with Eheim Subtrat and Mech mixed together covering about 1" Two 55 watt 10,000K white lights and two 55 watt actinics One 3' PowerGlo Fluorescent Two 25 Watt red bulbs for night lighting (all lights on 24-hour timers for realistic day and nighttime conditions) Rio 1400 powerhead for flow in the tank Heater in the sump It's stocked with: 2 very small banded Catsharks, one 7" and one 9" 1 larger banded Catshark (about 11 inches long) Small (10") snowflake eel 2 gobies, one 3" long, one 2" long Serpent star 2 Turbo snails Small spotted grouper There is also about 60LB of live rock in the tank. I realize that the sharks (and the grouper) will get big enough that this tank will not be big enough in a year or so, and have plans to upgrade at that time. Thanks for your help! Rich <The gobies will be eaten is short order!  They need to be moved soon!  The eel should be moved soon too.  The grouper will be a problem, as it will pick on the sharks.  Also these three sharks will grow at around one inch a month.  To keep these three sharks you will need a 300 plus gallon tank in about 6-8 months.  SO plan for it!  Hope this helps!  Phil>  

Shark Tank Substrate Hi Bob, I very much appreciate your site and the wealth of information you offer, and thank you for all your time and advice. <No problem.. it's what we're here for!> I currently have an existing 40 gallon setup with silica sand that would serve as a temporary quarters for a banded cat shark until the larger tank (125 gallons) is fully cycled and ready to accept such a huge load. A larger tank will be procured/converted as the need will soon arise. I have read over the information on your site and did not see anything pertaining specifically to using silica sand vs. aragonite/crushed coral for shark keeping. I do realize the benefit of the buffering capacity of the latter, but this should not be a concern as the well water I am on has a high PH. I keep a freshwater hystrix ray in a 200 gallon setup using natural sand, and the ray is doing very well.  I have stayed out of the way of silica sand for the ray due to the potential to scratch the belly of the ray and allow for infections.   Is this advised for a shark as well? Thanks for your time and insight! Mike <Mike as you know this shark will require a 200 plus gallon tank in around a year or so.  You might want to try and get the 200+ instead of the 125 so there is less hassle!  Sharks need the finest sand possible so shoot for natural sand instead of crushed coral/silica.  You'll be thankful when the shark doesn't get scratched up.  BTW how big is this shark?  40 gallons even for a baby is way too small.  You need to but the baby in a bigger tank ASAP.  Hope this helps!  Phil>
Shark Tank Substrate
He's a freshly hatched shark... about 6".  The 40 gallon has a 36" x 18" bottom.  I don't want to decommission one of my 200 gallon tanks (1 x Silver Arowana/Stingray tank, 1 x African Cichlid tank) until I know the shark is doing well enough, hence the interim 125 gallon tank.  I will be very mindful of the shark's size and bio-load on the aquarium, and will convert the 125 to a full out reef when the shark is moved. Just to confirm what you mean by natural sand... not aragonite, or any other commercial sand.  Sand such as you'd find at a beach, right? Thanks again! Mike <Sorry for not being clearer.  Sugar sized sand is best.  About the same size as beach sand would be best.  Good luck to you and your shark!! Phil>

Re: Brownbanded Bamboo Shark Hello,<Hey, Phil here.> Thank you for your website!<No problem, glad you like it!!>  I have been a collector of marine and tropical fish for several years.  I have been able to keep healthy Discus fish for years and currently have had my blue spot stingray alive and well for over a year.  I have just purchased a Brownbanded bamboo shark (juvenile, six inch length) and have placed it in my 125 gallon tank with 80 lbs of live sand and 60 lbs of live rock arrange in a corner.  I have a 15 gallon dual outlet sump with bioballs and Purigen.  Two protein skimmers (one hang-on and one in sump) and a 1200 gph MagDrive finishes off the filtration.  I am using 220watts of PowerCompact light on timers.   I have a yellow tang, an Anthias, two sandsifting stars, and bunches of hermits and snails.<This is a lot of fish for a 125 tank... the shark doesn't help!>  I am testing for PH, nitrite, and ammonia and all parameters are exceptional.  I can be a bit obsessive and am still worried I am missing something.  I am prepared to upgrade tank size as needed and would like to know if I have missed anything.  Do you see any flaws in my setup? <There is a lot of live rock in this tank... a shark tank should be 25% live rock or less.  The rest should be open swimming space.>  When is a good time to upgrade my tank size? <My rule with sharks is upgrade ASAP.  A 125 tank is about 18 inches across, I believe.  This means the shark is the width of the tank when you plan to upgrade.  It would be very cruel to the animal.  I believe you have two options at this point.  You can remove all other fish from the tank and have only the shark and upgrade in say 7-12 months.  The shark will/may eat the sea stars and hermits in time.  Or you can upgrade to a larger tank now.  The Brownbanded Bamboo Shark needs at least a 250 gallon tank.  The width should be no smaller than 36 inches.  Length should be around 100 or more inches.  Any smaller of a tank and it would be like putting a human in a small room for long amounts of time.>    I was assuming when the shark reaches a length of 18 inches (the current depth of my tank) this would be the appropriate time.<Not for the shark please see above.>   Again, I hope this e-mail was not too long, but I am just trying to make sure I have covered the bases for providing a happy environment. Thank you very much. Mike <It sounds like you have a plan for now... in the mean time check to make sure the shark is not being harassed by the other tankmates.  Also keep testing your water to maintain stable/good levels.  Also if you live in a warm area (e.g.. Florida) you may need to invest in a chiller to keep the water cool.  A great book about keeping sharks is "Sharks and Rays" by Scott Michael.  It's my shark bible.  Best wishes and good luck!  If you need anything else feel free to ask.  Phil>

Pondering a future shark system Hello, <Hello Jesse> I must say that your website provides a ton of information and is very interesting.  Much thanks to the creators.  I'm a senior in college and this is sort of a general "could this ever happen?" question. A fun question for you marine biologists.  Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted a huge aquarium with a shark.  I don't mean a 500 gallon aquarium. I mean a Sea World sized aquarium, the size of a average living room.  After reading your site I think a nurse shark and a Whitetip reef shark would be amazing pets, even with their unpredictable survival.  I plan on being a plastic surgeon, so this might be a possibility someday.  I would hate to keep a shark (one of natures greatest animals) in a tiny space, like some of the people who write to you attempt to do.  Is this even possible?<Yes, with lots of $$$$>  Would I ever be able to get the equipment or someone to build this?<Sure there are aquatic design companies...>  Would my concrete foundation (of my future home) support an aquarium of this magnitude?<This is where the builder comes in... lots of variables>  Lastly, how loud would all the equipment be, especially with the turning over of all that water?<If you put in in it's own "fish room" you may not hear it at all.>  Hope you don't find this too amusing-everyone has their dreams!<I do one day dream of something like this!!> Oh, and how much would something like this cost, a ballpark number?<This tank would be swimming pool size 15,000-20,000 gallons plus!  I can't tell for sure but over $30,000 easy. A custom 1,500 hundred gallon tank is nearly $9,000.  If you have anymore questions please ask... I would love to see a tank this big in a home some day.  If you can't look up a man in Hawaii.  His home was on HGTV, he had a 25,000 saltwater pond.  Half inside and half outside his home.  He didn't have sharks but his tank could have kept them with no problem.  Best wishes and remember... don't jump into the marine hobby with sharks (no pun intended) start with easier fish and work your way up.  A great book for shark aquariums is "Sharks and Ray" By Scott Michael.  Good luck!! Phil> Thanks, Jesse   
Pondering Shark Tank?
I am thoroughly enjoying my 4 month old fish / invertebrate system... I'm so glad I took the plunge into this hobby.  I am buying a new house in a few months and have dreamed of incorporating a 200-300 gallon tank into my basement development.  I would really like to do a predator type system for this one.  Some questions... 1.  Should a 300 gallon tank be ok in the basement with regards to weight?  Probably worth me mentioning to the builders?  Perhaps there is something they can do for extra support???< You should talk to the builders!!  They will know!> 2.  I have experience with canister filters... should I be using a sump system instead if I am going this big... especially with my livestock that I am interested in - see next question.  Sump systems seem complicated to me... are they really easier to maintain then they appear? 3.  I have always wanted a shark... I have read your shark info and will stick to a very small banded or bamboo shark.  I'm keeping my depth smaller and my width and length larger to give my creatures more surface area.  I plan to create two live rock islands, one at each end of the tank... as to give my creatures somewhat of a figure-eight type circuit with a nice sandy bottom.  Hope that makes sense...  just imagine that the white areas in the " 8 " are live rock islands....  perhaps 90lbs for each island.  Do you think this would work well??  For the current, I am guessing I need enough powerheads in the tank to turnover 1 to 2 times/hour??? 4.  If I have a small bamboo or banded shark... I was hoping to add a moray eel (type to be determined), a lionfish, a couple of angels... Would these all be compatible together???  Do you have any other suggestions on what I could have in my system??  Or is there anything that I shouldn't have????  What about a dragon wrasse??  They tend to get quite big don't they?? 5.  Last question...  if something goes wrong and I have to get something out of my tank... or for tank maintenance...  How does one avoid getting their arm chewed off??  I understand that one of the sharks that I mentioned are quite timid but of course unpredictable...  as well, snowflake eels or zebra eels are also quite timid?  I think I might be a little afraid with all those 'unpredictables'...  I don't know, perhaps this is a dumb question... Dave <Well Dave... I'm glad you like the marine hobby!  I do have some bad news for you!  You've only been in the hobby 4 months, to keep a shark takes year in this hobby!  I think your setup sounds nice for a shark but maybe a few hundred gallons more... more like 450-550 to be safe.  Sharks don't always stay as small as we like! :)  For a shark tank a sump is a MUST! Sharks might bite through a heater or knock over a tubes.  Sumps aren't as hard as they seem, at first glance maybe.  You can read up on them on WWM!  Please get the book Sharks and Rays by Scott Michael!  It's the BEST shark book I've ever read!  If I were you I'd get the tank and set it up as a reef or a fish only.  A few years down the road maybe a shark.  Please read now and be "ready" later!  Best wishes!!  Phil

Titanium Heaters with Sharks Hello, Sorry for bothering you all so much.  In my attempts to provide the best habitat for my bamboo shark, I may have inadvertently made an error.  I have been sparing no expense by purchasing top quality equipment and am using two titanium heaters with remote LCD displays. I am worried that the titanium housings may upset the shark.  I prefer this heater because it appears more durable and will not shatter like its glass counterparts.  On the other hand, if there is a chance of it upsetting my sharks, please let me know and its gone.  Thank you very much. Mike <Good question... I would mount these heaters out of the main system, perhaps in a sump, just in case. Bob Fenner>

Pygmy shark I'm looking for the spined pygmy shark for my 30 gallon aquarium. Can you tell me if there is any one who sells them? I really want a shark. I just can't afford an aquarium for a marble Catshark. Pleas help me. Thank you!!! <Well no shark can live in a tank less than say 250 gallons.  And that's for the smallest shark!  Please read more on these creatures on WWM.  Your tank is WAY WAY too small!  Phil>

Bonnethead sharks and Whitetip reef sharks Dear Mr. Fenner, First, I would like to say your website is very informative.  Definitely one of the best aquarium sites on the net.  I was particularly fond of the sections concerning sharks and their care.  This brings me to my question.  You may or may not be aware of the existence of a company in Florida known as Marine Life Designs, INC.   <Mmm, not until this moment><<Folded by 12/08. RMF>> This company specializes in the creation of what they call "shark lagoons."  Ranging from a basic saltwater pond to systems limited in size only by available space and budget.  They build the systems, stock the systems, and can be contracted for maintenance. <This is the "dream" of most service companies> Their livestock offerings include lemon sharks, bonnetheads, Blacktip reefs, Whitetip reefs, Wobbegongs, and bamboo sharks.  The species that most interest me are the Bonnethead and Blacktip and Whitetip reefs.  The Bonnethead and Blacktip reef sharks have to be in constant motion.  Although the Bonnethead averages only 3.3 feet in length.  Apparently the average length of the Whitetip reef is 4 feet and they live a largely sedentary life. <Yes> Those ingredients seem to suggest they could adapt well to captive conditions. <Mmm, not really... are we talking Triaenodon obesus? This species is pretty "high-strung">   So, would any of these species be possible for someone to keep who is willing to spend whatever is necessary to create a habitat in which they could live in comfort? <If... they're willing to dedicate, have the resources... am mixed here (my sentiments) re the taking of these animals from the wild for home display... My question back is, "At what point is an animal, as individuals, species more precious in the wild than being put on display (removed from the gene pool, food web...) such that it warrants only being placed in public settings?" For me, most sharks in our time and place have "crossed over" this cut-off point> Thank You, Robert Perry <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

- Wobbegong Shark and Friends - Merry Christmas Folks <And Merry Christmas to you.> I have recently received a wobbegong shark that for the current time is residing in a very sparsely decorated 75 gallon tank with a radiata lion, harlequin tusk, and a Imperator Angel. <Seems a tight squeeze to me.> I am filtering at least 500 gph and the skimmer is rated for a 100 gal. aquarium.  I am going to do 15 gallon water changes weekly to compensate for his hyper osmotic body and feeding 2 silver sides (or clams, squid, or shrimp) 2 or 3 times per week.  The shark is 12" at the moment.  When he reaches 2 - 3 feet he will be moved to a 250 gallon along with his tank friends and when he reaches max, 8 to 10 feet I believe he will reside permanently in a 500 gallon. <It seems to me too long to wait... your existing system is already crowded, you should be looking to that 250 NOW!!> All tests on my tanks show sparkling fresh water.  Zeros across the board and Gravity at 1.025.  Now that you know I am doing things right I hope :-) <I would disagree... this tank is too small.> My question is how quickly does this chubby boy metabolize and grow. <As quickly as you feed it. Would you choose to live in a closet with four of your best friends? How long do you think it would take for that situation to go south? Please consider a larger tank... someone is going to jump out soon, bet on it.> The day after he arrived he already ate 2 silver sides so how quickly can I expect him to say double or triple size? <All depends on you.> And when he does get large what is a good staple diet because I am sure silver sides and shrimp wont even put a dent in his appetite? <Please consider purchasing Scott Michael's book Sharks and Rays. In the interim, begin your reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm > Now Corals: Would I be correct in my thinking that LPS and Mushrooms prefer the indirect to bottom shady areas under MH lights? <Yes.> The tank is a 200 gallon tank and has 4 174v MH and 4 48" actinic blue fluorescent. <You should move the shark and fish to this tank...> and they are spread evenly.  And do SPS Acroporid corals prefer the direct light of the MH? <Yes.> Thanks  Oh yea, there is also a Squamosa clam, he is currently placed on the bottom in the sand a little to the left of a MH.  Is this good? <You should be able to tell by looking at the clam. By your description, it should be fine.> And should all the other clams be in direct view of the MH lights? <Yes.> Thanks John (fin) <Cheers, J -- >

Atlantic shark What is the min. size tank I can put an Atlantic Sharpnose shark in? <I am not familiar with the exact shark species you speak of. In general all sharks even the bamboos and nurse sharks outgrow most home aquariums in a short amount of time> The shark is 16 inches right now an I have him in a 135gallon tank. They told me it would do fine in there because the average is around three feet for females but most stay around 2.7feet for males and its a male the one I have <My friend, think about it...a 135 gallon tank is about 72" long (depending on width and depth). That's 6'. How wide is the tank? If a shark grows to almost 3' or possibly bigger, will the shark have space to turn around? Especially in a rectangular aquarium as opposed to a round tank? If the length of the fish will eventually be almost half the length of the tank, how will this affect a fish that has a swimming range of many miles in the ocean? Could you live comfortably in a house that is twice as tall and twice as wide as you are? Personally, I cringe every time I see sharks for sale. Most will not live to see 3" in a home aquarium. In order to keep most shark species, you need a tank of hundreds if not thousands of gallons and it really needs to be a species tank. Please remember...stores are in business to sell...you must do your own research. There is a new book on the market called Sharks and Rays (TFH) that you may want to purchase. In the mean time, there are thousands of articles and facts at Wetwebmedia.com that detail this type of information. Good luck! David Dowless>   

Catshark Fever! Would a cat shark be good in a 180 gal tank? And how long do they live in home tanks? <180gal might be ok depending upon the type of cat shark, filtration, tank mates, water parameters, etc.  Bigger is always better 220gal (6x2.5x2.5) would be nice.  Most sharks do not live long in home tanks, due to poor husbandry.  I advise a lot of research before setting up a shark tank.  There are some good articles and FAQs at the links below.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkslvgrm.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm Best Regards, Gage.>

Bamboo Shark Hi Bob, <Steven Pro in this afternoon.> I hope you can help me with this. I purchased a juvenile Bamboo Shark that is about 10" long. It was doing great in my tank along with eight other fish. <Not really a great idea, to mix sharks and fish. I have repeatedly advised individuals that if they really want a shark, then they need to dedicate the whole tank to it and it alone. Sharks need the growing and swimming space of an entire large tank to themselves.> I noticed over the last few days that it was doing a lot of swimming in the air bubbles and rarely resting, that I could see. After closer examination I was horrified to discover that both of it's eyes were gone, <Oh God!> no other apparent damage to it. <Is any other damage needed at this point?> I believe that the Lemonpeel Angel it resides with is the culprit. <It really could have been just about anyone large enough.> Last night I removed the shark from the display tank and put it in a large cooler with an airstone, powerhead, and a heater. I added Melafix to the water and am hoping for the best. <Let me save you the trouble, those eyes will not grow back.> My questions are 1.) What are the chances of this shark surviving after this three day treatment and it is put back in the 125 gal system? <I cannot believe you are even considering placing this animal back in the same tank!> 2.) Am I doing the right thing by the shark as far as keeping it alive or do you think its cruel to do this? <This animal needs put down and you need to examine how much research you did on your purchase prior to bringing it home and what is your responsibility in all this.> It hasn't eaten in three days but I don't think I would either if both my eyes were picked out. <I don't know what to say at this point. Was the comment above intended to be humorous? I hope not. You were ill prepared for this animal, placed it into an inappropriate environment, and basically killed it.> Any advice you can give would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks, Ken Armstrong <Sincerely, Steven Pro>
Re: Bamboo Shark
Hi Steve, I wanted to write back and let you know that my comment was not intended to be humorous at all. I am really saddened by what happened to this animal. <As I am.> I did a lot of research before purchasing it and inquired at the fish store (it only caters to saltwater fish) with their staff before purchasing it. They indicated that there might be some harassment by either the shark or its tankmates but I was not prepared for this. I want to do what is right by this shark. Should I freeze it to put it down <Yes> or start another smaller system for it exclusively until I can afford a larger tank (about 180 gallons) in about six months? <We all generally agree that the minimum size tank for any shark is 180 gallons to start, with a larger tank being necessary in the five year picture.> I really love and care about all my fish, to the point of spoiling them. Had I realized that something like this could happen I NEVER would have subjected this animal to this trauma. I had purchased and read Scott Michaels book, "Aquarium Sharks and Rays" prior to this and tried to get advise on the feasibility of this animal in my system. I guess I didn't get enough. Anyway, I just wanted you to know how hurt I am that I caused this animal pain through my ignorance. I plan to keep sharks in the future but will dedicate a large tank to them, solely. <A long term tank for this species would be 2 feet tall by 3-4 feet wide, by 9-12 feet long.> Sincerely, Ken Armstrong Best regards, Steven Pro>

Brown-banded bamboo shark and nitrites? Hello, I have a 150gal saltwater tank with two 60 gal. charcoal filters and a large protein skimmer. The tank had 2 puffers in it with 8 hermit crabs. All the chemicals were fine until one puffer died and the hermit crabs ate up the dead puffer. Ever since then the ammonia and nitrate have been close to zero, while the nitrites shot up to 4ppm! <it is very unusual to have a nitrite spike after the tank has cycled regardless of the cause... it is evidence of another/bigger problem. Specifically, the nitrite converting bacteria have been damaged or displaced by other bacteria which may or may not be ammonia converting (sometimes they are simply incidental species that do not participate in mineralization but DO displace more desirable bacteria. My advice here is to add new biological media (to culture more nitrite converters) or kill a small part of your biological filter (replace gravel or filter media) with the same hopes. Water changes too of course> I am doing a project for class on the brown-banded bamboo shark and I need to get it in 2 days!  <well... not with nitrites> 50% water changes have not helped, maybe even more is needed. Will the shark be able to handle the nitrites if I got it down to 1-3ppm? Any help would be great. Thank you so much. <if the nitrite is truly 1-3 ppm it will be fine, but you do need to be sure of why it exists and how to control it. Best regards, Anthony><<RMF disagrees here... any detectable nitrite (or ammonia) is incrementally toxic to sharks, all cartilaginous fishes>>

Coral Catshark Hello,  I hope this email finds you well. As always I have to thank you for the energy you expend helping us would be marine aquarists. Not that I expect you to remember but I emailed a few months ago regarding potential shark species for my tank. You advised me that coral Catshark (Atelomycterus marmoratus) or marble Catshark (Atelomycterus macleayi) would be best suited to my tank. Well after waiting for several months, keeping my tank minimally stocked, I finally got one. He is almost two feet. Only problem is I'm not certain if it is a coral or marble Catshark. Photos of the two closely related species aren't easy to come by and they seem to depict the same shark. Could you supply me with some distinguishing features between the two? <Please take a look at www.fishbase.org or your copy of Scott Michaels' "Sharks & Rays".> Also just to verify, I'll run my tank parameters by you to be certain everything is in order. 180 gallon (6' long, almost 3' wide), 50 gallon sump, trickle filter, 40 pounds of LR, sand bed, Aquamedic skimmer rated for 250 gal, two 802 powerheads. Is this enough aeration?  <You neglected to mention your return pump and its rating. A test for dissolved oxygen would confirm either way.> Temp: 79, pH: 8.3, Ammonia: 0, Nitrite: O Fish: 4" black volitans, 2" fuzzy dwarf lion, 4" Naso tang, 3" tomato clown and couple of damsels. Tank has been running for 7 months. Compatibility? <To me, if you are going to have a shark tank, have a shark tank. I would have left everyone else out. I do not see any out and out compatibility problems, but this tank seems overstocked or will be when everyone reaches full size.> I've done my research and believe I've provided a good home for this creature. Nonetheless, your expert advise is of great value and duly appreciated.  <Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>
Re: Coral Catshark
I had checked Scott Michael's book. He lists tank size for a coral cat shark at 75 gallons. <That is the second time someone has said that. I am going to have to get a copy for myself. I cannot imagine he means as a final, healthy home. To me, a 180 is a good starter, but not the last tank you will need for an animal this size. They grow to three feet. The tank needs to be at least that wide, so they can turn around as adults, and three to four times that long, so they can swim a bit.> Given that figure, I assumed perhaps incorrectly that my 180 gallon tank would be able to sustain other fishes besides the shark.  <Yes, an incorrect assumption IMO.> Your point is well taken though that the fish in my tank, particularly the Naso and Volitans will eventually put too much strain on the system. However, so long as my tank parameters remain healthy, I am not certain why the tank needs to be species specific. If you don't mind, could you please elaborate on your reasons for a species specific tank.  <Mainly because this is an incredibly large fish that is going to leave behind large waste and tax the system heavily. You do not need the additional waste from other fish. Plus, my recommendation generally separates the people that really, really want a shark from the casual shark hobbyist. If someone is not willing to have a species specific display, they are usually not going to save the tens of thousands of dollars to set up a tank large enough to house a shark permanently.> I also have two more questions. The flow rate on my pump is 850 gph coupled with the two 802 powerheads and the trickle filter is this enough aeration and circulation? <It seems like rather modest circulation to me. That 850 gph is a zero head pressure. I would ballpark it at no more than 500 gph actual plus the two 802's are rated at 400 gph (clean). Realistically, I would bet you have no more than 1200 gph total circulation.> I'm trying to track down an oxygen test kit but haven't been able to find one. <This should be fairly easy to find one on the internet.> Also my lighting consists of 110 watt, 48" power compacts, is this too bright?  <No> Thanks for your expertise. I hope the questions of a novice don't put too much strain your patience.  <That is who we primarily help everyday, new hobbyists. Have a nice day! -Steven Pro>

Marbled Cat Shark Hello again! Are you sure that Marbled Cat Sharks can not be kept in a 100 gallon? <They could be kept in a 100 gallon, but not live a full life. Much like you could theoretically live in your closet 24/7. You may survive, but would not live to see 65, that is for sure.> Mr. Michael's book says that 70 gallons is sufficient for an adult and that they only grow to 24 inches. <I do not own his Sharks & Rays book, but do have his Pocket Expert Guide. In that he lists: Chiloscyllium plagiosum at 37.4 inches and  Chiloscyllium punctatum at 40.9 inches Both recommended for a 180 gallon tank. These fish have to be able to turn around and swim a little. Please see our coverage of these animals here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and please follow on through the linked FAQ files.> Most websites post 100 gallon as minimum as well. Please send me back a reply! Thanks! <I do not know what else we can tell you. We give an honest, open opinion free of charge for those willing to take them. We collectively work many hours each day to help others provide an appropriate, healthy home for their pets, so they can enjoy them for a long time. -Steven Pro><<Scott Michael's suggested minimum tank sizes are WAY too small IMO. Ridiculously so. BobF>>

Emerald Crab Greetings Bob and Crew!<<Greetings to you too!>> I just recently bought two small emerald crabs to take care of some algae in my tank. I know that they will grow larger and attack my snails and fish, but I'm hoping not for a while. When they do grow too large, I was thinking about buying a Marbled Cat Shark. I have a 100 gallon and in Scott W. Michael's Sharks and Rays (Bible) said that the Marbled cat shark can be housed in a 70 gallon aquarium. Do you think the shark will be able to take down the two crabs? And if not, how would I go about taking them out? I am not so worried because they are both less than half an inch wide, but still, I want to plan for the future. Could you tell me a good way of getting rid of them? Thanks Bob I really appreciate it!. Thanks and I love the site! <<Catch them and trade them in at your LFS. I would not recommend keeping a marbled cat shark in a 100. Yeah, maybe a 70 for less than a year. Sharks get BIG, are messy, require massive filtration and skimming, streamlined/angled corners, no powerheads or stuff to knock loose, etc. Please read the shark info at http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkfaq.htm  Many letters regarding your interest. Many requirements you are unaware of to learn about here! Please look carefully before you leap! They require BIG systems. Craig>> 

Shark sensitivity to metal Hi! I am planning a large 300g + FOWLR and I recently have been playing with the idea of a bamboo shark. If I did end up getting one it would probably be ~400g (96 x 36 x28h) I plan to build the tank (plywood). It would have a large ER skimmer as well as 400 lbs of LR and 500 lbs LS (some in the tank, most in ref and sump). Also a 40 gallon refugium with 5 or 6 mangroves. My questions are about sharks and metal. 1 Would an 2" angle iron frame around the aquarium be ok? <As long as it doesn't come in metal contact with the water... coat it with epoxy type paint or other...> 2. Would the stand need to be non metallic? <No, I would make of metal or four by wood elements... just protect from rusting, and metal getting into the water...> Also , I read on WWM that angels may pick at rays and sharks. How big of a problem is this. (daily harassment causing death or infrequent picking causing some stress)  <Both and neither occur at times... quite individualistic... depends on individual temperaments, crowding, feeding/foods availability> I'd like to keep a Queen Angel, a Miniata Grouper, A Harlequin Tusk, A large Naso tang, And possibly a trio of butterflies. Would any of these be problematic? <Perhaps the Queen. Start it smallish, and see. The Shark may grow to consume the Butterflies.> Thanks a lot! Jeff Liechty <Bob Fenner>

Building a Shark Tank Hello WWM Crew! I know that sharks require LARGE tanks in the long run and they are can cost quite a lot of money. <You are correct sir!> After we sold our piano, we were left with two bare walls. We are thinking about a shark tank. I measured the area and this is my tank idea, L shaped. One side of the L will be 84 inches and the other will be 94. It will be four feet tall and at least 42 inches wide. <The four feet tall and 42 inches wide requires awfully heavy duty glass or acrylic, probably 1" thick stuff for either.> I would be building this tank as it would cost a fortune to have "pro-build". <Ok... Have you ever built an aquarium before? Perhaps not the best design to begin with. It is doable, but not easy.> I asked some of my LFS's and they all told me that this type of tank would not work, no reason given. <I have personally seen at least two and several more in catalogs.> BUT they would be HAPPY to sell me one of their 125 gallon tanks and a shark for a good price. Man what are these stores smoking? I know you guys know of Preuss Pets in Michigan, <Zo knows these guys pretty well. I met the owner very briefly at MACNA in Baltimore at an AMDA meeting.> I live no more than a hour from them. They have a Cat Shark that I though would be nice in this tank. Main thing: will this tank design work or is it back to the drawing board? <It can be done. The key/problem is the bottom panel. It is best that this L be one solid piece, no seam. A far easier solution is to have two tanks butt up against one anther in the corner with a common sump.> Thanks as always! Phil <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>
Shark Tank Follow Up
Thanks Steven for the great advice! I plan on building the tank out of Plexiglas, weight should not be a problem as our basement is only underneath half our house the rest is concrete slab. I will have at least 2 or 3 other guys helping me. I found a Plexiglas maker who could (and will) make the tank. He told me that it should be at least one inch thick and I agree. <Me too> The final size will be 84 inches and 96 inches, by 44 inches wide by 45.5 inches tall. Is there a system that I could use to find the number of gallons in this setup? <Break it into two rectangles, multiply the length x width x height (all in inches) and divide that number by 231 to get the gallonage. It should be just under 1200 gallons.> My father owns an electric wholesale company so lighting is no problem. I plan on using F-40's will this light work or do sharks need "special" lights? <Enough light for viewing, that's all.> At night I can use F-40's with red sleeves. Please note that I can NOT find a copy of the Sharks and Rays book. Do you know any where I could find one (Amazon.com has some garbage ones)? <Several of our sponsors on www.WetWebMedia.com carry books as well as aquarium supplies.> Also do you know of anyone in the lower Michigan area with knowledge of sharks? <No, sorry.> Thanks, Phil <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

New Shark Tank Hello Bob, I am currently looking into starting a salt water aquarium. I am looking at a 200 gallon aquarium. The reason I want to start with a bigger one is I would like to keep a pair/trio of bamboo sharks...and possibly breed them, which I would love to do. <You will need a bigger tank. Something at least 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 8-12 feet long. If you crowd them, you will have no shot at breeding them.> How much would the whole set-up cost me...tank, filters, (chiller if needed) and all the other things. <No chiller needed for this species. Definitely shop around and get several different quotes from acrylic manufacturers. The links page, http://www.wetwebmedia.com/WWMAdminSubWebIndex/general_links_pg.htm, should have several leads as should any trade magazine; TFH, FAMA, Aquarium Fish, etc.> I am newer at this so I am not sure what I would need. So completely set-up what would be a good price estimate? <Thousands of dollars, probably over $10,000 for everything.> Any advice would be great thanks a lot, John <Definitely begin reading as much as you can about sharks. Starting here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and going through all of the links and items mentioned in the bibliography. -Steven Pro>

Shark Tank Hello from Denver, CO! I have a 120 gallon that is filtered with an Rena Filstar XP2 canister filled with coarse and fine foam, ceramic tiles, and activated carbon, a Magnum 220 canister with coarse foam and activated carbon, a UGF (which I've been told to get rid of) and a mere 35 lbs. of Fiji live rock. I have been told by the staff of a fairly respected marine store that this is "grossly under-filtered". Is this true? <Not really under filtered, but definitely an old way and not the best.> Say it isn't so! Also, my girlfriend has been researching the coral cat shark and wants to buy one. I have found sites that say that a 120 is big enough if it's by itself and if live rock is used sparingly. I said no, but I don't have my own web site. <Your tank size and your present filtration would not be adequate.> Thank you for your time. Kyle <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Hello again (Shark System) Hi, I plan to get a five hundred gallon next summer for leopard sharks. <A large tank, but still pretty small for an animal that will easily reach 6 feet in length. Bob took Anthony and I to see a very nice display at the Scripps Aquarium. It was thousands of gallons.> I was wondering (please don't post this) how much this type of tank would be, if I were to get a medium, not top of the line, aquarium. <I would get quotes from several acrylic tank manufacturers.> For example, what kind of chiller would I need. <One that is rather large.> I do not know much about them. Are they all the same, like could the cheapest one cool my tank but do it slower or something? <No, chillers are rated by how much water they can cool and by how many degrees they can cool it.> I was looking at those seven hundred ones, and hoping the would be cheaper. Or maybe I could get a loan on this type of thing. Do you know of any cheap places to buy aquariums online. <Many different e-tailers. Look in on the link page of www.WetWebMedia.com and in trade magazines, such as FAMA, TFH, AFM, etc., for ads.> Like I said I want to get something sufficient, but not the most expensive possible. And could I make my own filter and protein skimmer? <Yes> If I were going to do that, what would I need? <Look for plans at www.OzReef.org/> At the very end, how much would I generally need to spend? I plan to do this but I want to do it for dirt cheap (not dirt cheap, but not the most expensive possible.) Do you understand? I don't want to sound thrifty, but I don't want to be excessive. Just to let you know I love fish, I love them more than anything. I don't even want a car, just so I can spend the money on this tank. I am not that wealthy, but I also want to keep people like am now, from buying a leopard shark and then having it die. I want mine to live and thrive. Could you give me a price? Can you give me an idea. Also is building your own aquarium, filter and skimmer a common practice? <It is a more common practice with smaller tanks.> And would it be cheaper? <I would feel more comfortable with a guaranteed 500 gallon tank.> Thank you! Please don't post this. I don't feel comfortable in the fish world right now. Please give me an answer. Alvin Chan <Good luck. -Steven Pro>

Hello AGAIN (Shark System) Hey, can't get rid of me, huh. I'm annoying like that. Anyway, my parents felt badly about the loss of my shark as do I, they say that if I get straight A's, they will let me get the shark tank of my dreams. As you know I am very passionate for them, but do not know much about. The tank is 500 hundred gallon, the popular for Bonnethead Sharks I see. I was wondering if this would be sufficient. <Good for many of the smaller popular sharks. Please see Bob's articles regarding the good and bad shark choices here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and pick one with an adult size under 4 feet.> a Cyclone Biofilter with a protein skimmer made in it. Only about $549. (everything is made to adjust to a 500) A cyclone 1/2 HP Chiller. About $1279. 2 CAP Aqua Pumps, flow 1250 gallon per hour. <You need larger pumps and they really should be external ones. Two pumps rated at 2500 gph each would be my choice.> (you know current, they say sharks love current, I don't know.) $167.98. A UV Sterilizer, $409.99. And the Big Finale, the 96x48x30 500 gallon, Tenecor acrylic aquarium $2,385 and a Oak Stand and Canopy Set, $2517. I think I am getting ripped off with the canopy and stand being more expensive than the aquarium, don't you think? <Get several quotes.> The total Price $7309.97. That is not too bad is it? And I was wondering, what kind of sharks can I house in there, and how many. Is the filter sufficient, too much too little? I was thinking maybe a baby Bonnethead, but how much are those? What about a Port Jackson Shark? What are the price ranges on all these sharks? I am dying to know. <Answers to all of the above questions can be found at the link listed previous or in Scott Michael's book "Sharks & Rays" which should be your first purchase.> Thanks again Bob, for Everything, Alvin Chan P.S. Please tell me if I am getting cheated with anything. :) <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

You were Right (self-debasement re Leopard Shark loss) Dear Bob, you were totally and utterly correct. Not one week into and the next thing I know the leopard has jumped out of a tank and into a Garbage Can. You were right.  <I'd rather been wrong> I feel awful and hope I can learn from this. I know Leopards are not for "learning experiences" but I felt more confident about fish before this and now I feel I know nothing. Why could I have not predicted this? I am incompetent and all of you who do not listen to this guy are too. I don't mean to be harsh but who ever is even remotely thinking about a leopard shark, stop, PLEASE STOP thinking. Unless you have a gigantic tank, no not a two hundred, not a three, or even a four. NO DON'T THINK, don't do. Just keep to your tangs, and triggers, forget this. You may want to have one in your fifty gallon or your 100. I tried that, look at where I am now. Eighty-five dollars short and heartbroken. I have had experience too. I have had a tank for years. And if you think you can do better with a tank of that degree, you may. But is it fair to the leopard to be forced into such containment? Is it? No nothing deserves that, no one. If you admire a leopard enough to buy one, then you admire it enough to leave it in the ocean. I've learned my lesson the hard way, and I want you to learn it from my experience. Don't think about what you think in your head. "oh he's just a failure" or "I can do better" no, you cant. And frankly I wouldn't approve of it. If you want to see one, get a year round pass to the aquarium. Let them handle it. Then suddenly the population of leopard sharks can grow back to its once great era. Then maybe on a scuba trip out in LA you will see one. And maybe they wont be so timid. Listen to Bob Fenner, he knows what he's talking about and at least he has the consideration to let you know what you should do. You should at least have the consideration to listen. Alvin Chan P.S. Listen, who knows how long they will live, if all people were like me. Please, don't. <Use your experience to grow internally, and to help others. Peace. Bob Fenner>

Aquarium for sharky sharks Hey there I want to construct a large indoor aquarium roughly the size of a normal swimming pool and then half again and twice as deep will this be enough room to keep a Mako , Tiger , or Reef Shark in? <Mmm, not likely. Please read through the shark materials stored on our site, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and on to the FAQs... and the references listed there. Bob Fenner>

Re: building BIG tanks I recently emailed you about a huge shark tank, well I have changed my mind, I will only be home for about 3 more years at max before college, so what's the point in building such a huge tank when I won't be here much to enjoy it. However I still want to build my own very large reef tank that will hold obviously a reef but I really like the looks of the Epaulette shark. What is the smallest system I could build to house it and a coral reef.  <A few hundred gallons> The design of the aquarium right now is a triangle but the dimensions haven't been decided yet. I want to be able to keep eels, the epaulette, a ray or skate, lionfish and the normal reef inhabitants, angels, tangs, Tuskfish, Anthias, triggers, puffers, etc. How big would the tank have to be and I don't know much about building tanks, <Time to study my friend... all these fishes together? Not likely> just that the glass or acrylics would have to be relatively thick, only use 100% silicone with no mildewcides, and to have a very structured stand. What about the frame that surrounds the top of the aquarium do I have to have one and where can I get one made, or how do I make one, please give me some answers or resources, I want to build it this summer or fall. Thanks for your time! Reply to Tyler Medaris <Please take a look at the Marine Links page on WetWebMedia.com particularly re Oz' Reef DIY site. Bob Fenner>

Shark I really want a shark but forget the reef, is there a shark I could keep in a 180 gallon aquarium, I really like the Epaulettes, what is the smallest aquarium I could build to house it and I don't know some other fish, what are some other fish I could keep with it? What about the size of a system with a coral cat shark? with a reef? I really like sharks but I like reefs as well and if I could have both that would be cool. If I could have a shark in a 180 I would be very happy. Sorry about all the questions I just try to learn as much as possible about something before I invest especially this much money.  <What is it that prevents you from referring to the answers to these repeated questions? Please read where you've been sent to on WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner> Tyler Medaris
Re: Shark
Very sorry to annoy you, I have been extensively researching your site and have been unable to find much about the smallest size system for an Epaulette.  <No worries. Please see: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharksystems.htm and for the time, money, effort involved... have you read Scott Michael's re-do of Sharks... for the Aquarium?> I've seen mixed info about it I'm thinking about getting a large acrylic aquarium 250-300 gallons  <If you look... just barely... you will find "mixed reviews" most everywhere on most any topic, issue> I hope it's big enough for an Epaulette, and a puffer, trigger, tangs, lionfish, groupers, stuff like that, not all that but some of it.  <Some of it> Again sorry to annoy you but I couldn't find the info on the site so I just thought I'd ask you. I'll stop. This is the last e-mail.  Tyler Medaris <Don't make rash statements, or decisions as in "nothing is decided till it's done". Study my friend. Bob Fenner>

Sorry (Epaulette Shark Husbandry) I've already read that page and about every other page on sharks, all I need to know are the dimensions that would be good for an epaulette, and some of those fish I mentioned with possibly an eel or two. <Hundreds of gallons... at least a width of the length of the longest fish, likely an Epaulette Shark, family Hemiscyllidae... by three times its length... of the 11 species, some get about two feet, others to three feet in length...> I know with the more active sharks you need rounded corners but is this so for an Epaulette? <Not necessarily> How active are they?  <Not very. Most of the time "sit" on the bottom> I have found much info on the coral cat shark and the banded bamboo shark but little to none on the Epaulette. I'm very surprised that you replied this quickly to that last email, it's almost 2am!!! <Someone is up here (on the sites) pretty much all the time> Thanks and sorry for the last email I was just a little upset that I had already read most of everything. Where could I find that book you listed?  <The etailers carry it for sure. Di's Aquatics, Custom Aquatic... Sea Challengers...> And about how much would the aquarium and filtration, and lighting cost for an Epaulette alone?  <Some of this you could DIY... but likely at least a thousand dollars to several> I don't have that much money, but I really would easily spend it on this system. Thanks again!  Tyler Medaris <Perhaps you could secure some part time work at a good-sized retail store that deals in these animals, or volunteer some time at a public aquarium that displays them? Bob Fenner>

Shark Tank I'm not sure if I've already emailed you or not I can't remember so sorry if this is a repeat.  <Mmm, don't recall seeing this> My family and I are about to build a HUGE aquarium measuring 12 by 5 by 4 (or three haven't decided height yet). We're are most likely going to put an eco-wheel filtration unit on it, with a UV sterilizer if it wouldn't mess with the eco-wheel unit.  <S/b fine together> There's going to be very little to no decoration, only moderately size rock formations on the bottom for the tank mates which will include groupers, eels, rabbit fish, yellow snappers, and Scorpionfishes in general, some other tangs and large angelfish may be added later as well. The lighting will be relatively intense so I can see them of course. What kind of sharks can I keep in this aquarium? I really like Wobbegongs, and the cat sharks listed on this site, but I LOVE black tipped reef sharks, can I keep at least one in this aquarium, and if not what do I need to do to be able to keep one?  <This tank should be able to accommodate one or more of the smaller bottom-dwelling species... and even a Black Tip Reef Shark for a few years if fed sparingly... Do make provision for preventing these animals from jumping out... they do> Thanks for your help and if you notice any other problems with this setup please feel free to point them out, as I'm sure you can tell this is a project of monumental proportions for anyone! Please reply to XXXX Thanks for your time, and sorry if this is a repeat. Tyler Medaris <No worries. Do document, photograph the planning, construction here and submit same as an article in the hobby magazines. Bob Fenner>
Re: Shark Tank
WOW quick response thanks so much for the good news, we will definitely go ahead with planning and construction, a couple more questions though: Is this filtration enough or do I need more?  <Always good to have redundancy here... I would add more aeration (possibly a "bio-tower", with a blower injecting air into falling water... and a very large skimmer... make that two... look into Euro-Reefs... and scan WetWebMedia.com re this and other gear choices> Where can I find specimens, I live in rural southeastern KY and obviously the selling of sharks and other large fish is not exactly a main source of income around here, where can I find Wobbegongs, Catsharks, and a black tipped reef shark?  <I would start chatting on forums about this (ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/)... Do make good acquaintance with your best retailers there... to have them make inquiries on your behalf (the wholesalers rarely deal with the public directly). Have them contact Quality Marine, Sea Dwelling Creatures in Los Angeles. Oh, and you definitely can/should contact Marine Center (link on WWM) yourself re these fishes. Bob Fenner>

Shark pond at home Hi Robert- I emailed you about 2 months ago when I was setting up a shark pond and you gave me some great advice, thank you! Well, it's all set up now and doing great! It's about 500 gallons and 2 ft. deep, mostly shaded and round. Great biological filtration with a bio filter and a little rock pebble stream. The bottom is round, smooth rock pebbles as well and the salinity and pH are excellent. I went fishing last week with a friend and we caught a bunch of what I identified as a Smooth Hound (Mustelus canis) in a water channel in Huntington Beach.  <Ahh, my "hash name" (running/drinking group) is "Dogfish"... a double entendre with being a shark of sorts and not being worth much...> I brought 2 of the small ones (about 10-12 inches) back and put them in the pond. They seem to be doing really well - constantly swimming and look healthy. It's been 4 days now, and I'm sure they are ready to eat. I tried putting some squid in there and nothing. Any suggestions? <Small pieces other meaty foods on a "feeding stick" (split on the end... wood, plastic), with the food placed right in front of the animals... in the AM, so you can see, remove the material if not ingested and kept down. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tim
Re: shark pond at home
Oh, I forgot to add - I know that you say that dogfish are a cold water shark, but I actually checked the temperature of where I caught him and it was 75 F and sometimes the channel is even warmer and even sometimes brackish <Wow, that IS warm for off our coast (we're here in San Diego). 'Bout the only time the surface water approaches seventy degrees F. here is during Santa Ana's or right behind a little girl from Arizona... Bob Fenner>

Bamboo Shark Setup Bob, <Actually Steven Pro here today.> Let me start by thanking you in advance for your much appreciated advice. <I hope you like my answer.> I have a 200 gallon that I had a lot of success with in the past. It was torn down about five years ago when I moved and I was waiting until the basement was finished to set it up again. Well the time has come and opinions seem to have changed in the last five years. <Off topic, but please test fill your tank somewhere water will not do serious damage. The silicone seals have a tendency to dry rot.> I want to set my aquarium up for a Bamboo Shark. Therefore, I will have very little rock in the tank so the fish can have as much room as possible. However, there is some live rock in the sump of a wet/dry filter. Will the fish be able to thrive without the benefit of the live rock? <Yes, but better to have some.> Perhaps I should add more to the tank itself and forego swimming room? <I am sure you can strike a happy medium.> My second question relates to the use of a wet/dry filter. It seems as though this is a must for a shark according to the related FAQ page yet other parts of your website seem to discourage such an approach. Is it simply a matter of the fish load on the filter? <Yes. If the shark is the only inhabitant, which it probably should be, than you can support it with just liverock.> My final question is this - can a bamboo shark really be happy in a 200 gallon setup? <Any fish needs a tank at least as wide as it is long. In this case, a three foot wide tank. And for exercise, the tank should be three times as long as the fish, again nine foot would be nice. You are looking at something 3' x 3' x 9' as it final home. These are minimums, bigger is always better.> I had another shark named Sparney that I had to take back to the pet store when I moved. He was really a member of the family. He would follow us if we walked in front of the tank, he would eat out of our hands, let us scratch his nose. He would even spit water at us if we were not paying attention to him. I am really looking forward to getting another shark. Hopefully he will be as friendly as my last one. <If you are willing and planning on something larger in the one to two year picture, okay. Otherwise, leave these magnificent animals in the ocean.> Thanks again for your advice. ~Steve <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Shark Questions Hello I have a few aquarium questions. I have a banded cat shark egg in a 55 gal. I have had it for almost two months and can see much movement inside it. I was wondering if you could tell me how long it could take to hatch? <Take a look here http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkfaq.htm> Also, I was wondering about the Miniata Grouper. Would this be ok in a 55 gal? <No> Finally I was wondering if there are any sharks that could go well in a 55-75 gallon tank? <Sorry, but no. -Steven Pro>

Pond Liner for Salt tank set up? Bob, First off LOVE THE site!! Just found it and it's a wealth of info. I have a quick question 4 you. I'm considering making a large salt tank and was wondering if the normal pond liners would be ok for constructing a salt tank used for sharks and rays etc..... If pond liner won't work is there any other material other than the Rubbermaid tanks etc...... I want an indoor pond but with sharks I figured the cheapest way to get a 6x12 tank would be to go pond liner. Thanks and keep up the good work. and thanks in advance. <You are welcome. I have built such "shark tanks" (and more) out of pond liners (nominal 20 mil. polyethylene ("water bed") types to 32 mil reinforced, EPDM, Butyl Rubber... with good utility. The large Rubbermaid tm oval "troughs" are also very useful. A note of caution: Do make a complete, secure cover over either, as even apparently sedentary sharks can/will launch themselves out... Bob Fenner> Regards, Robert C. Taggett
Re: Pond Liner for Salt tank set up? 
Thanks for your reply! And yes a cover is a must I had a 386 gallon tank 96" l x 36" w x 24 h and yes I encountered not once but twice one of my leopards liked to breath carpet fortunate enough I was able to save him and he lived for many years after that... Keep up the good work.! <Yikes, thanks for the lucid response. Will endeavor to do so. Bob Fenner> Regards, Robert C. Taggett

Shark and ray pond/lagoon at home Hi Bob- I have a question regarding using sharks and rays in an outdoor pond/lagoon. I have a shady courtyard in front of my house where my wife and I would like to put an in-ground small pond. <Good for thermal insulation> I have enjoyed my 80 gallon reef tank for years and would love to find a way to make an outdoor saltwater environment work (not much of a Koi fan), but I'm having trouble gathering good information on this topic. <Have seen a few, and built a couple of largish marine features of this sort...> I live in Southern California - great climate (40 F - 90 F) air temperature year round and about 20 minutes from the ocean. (so obviously pumping in ocean water won't happen!)  <We live in San Diego... more inland than you...> The size of the area is going to be about 10' x 10' and 2-3' feet deep, so I'll have great surface area and room for them to turn. The courtyard is also well protected with 4 walls. So, Is it possible/difficult?? <Possible, not terribly difficult> Would I need a heater/chiller?  <Yes... a heater during the Winter, or chiller during the Summer, depending on what species you are interested in... to keep temperatures "about" steady> What type of pump/skimmer? <Look around for good service factor (operating cost) and no need to be fully-rated (can do fractional RPMs)... There are a few companies that make/use units here... look for Baldor motors... Skimmers... either stock large EuroReef, Sanders unit... or maybe a DIY or RK2 product... see the WetWebMedia.com marine links here> How many/what types would do well? Would my wife divorce me when she sees the bill? Thanks for the help! <Livestock... either cool or tropical... some input posted on WWM under "Shark Selection FAQs"... and references to other sources of info... Re spouse, electrical costs... who can say? Can/should all be calculated in advance of digging... Bob Fenner>
Re: shark and ray pond/lagoon at home
Thanks for the quick response, Bob - I really appreciate it. After talking it over with my wife, we are going to start with some fresh water fish.  <A smart approach, trial> I am going to closely monitor the water temp during the hot summer months and see how much/often I would have to run a chiller. If I was to go saltwater down the road, which species would do best? Hornsharks? Bamboo? Cat? Cal. Stingray? Or maybe Tangs and Triggers? Thanks for your assistance. <I'd try local species... perhaps Heterodontus/Horn Sharks (but they're boring, just sit about), many stingrays, non-stingray species off the coast, a dogfish (my Hash House Harriers namesake), other Squalid sharks, maybe a Triakis (Leopard) in time... other common, hardy, near-shore fishes you might catch, study could go as well... I sense an annual pass to the regional and national (many of them "trade" entrance privileges) Public Aquariums in your future. Bob Fenner> Tim

A Home? for Sharks Hello Bob, <You got Steven Pro today as Bob is out of the country.> Thank you for you website. It is very informational. and have had a lot of questions answered. now for my question. I have a 55 gallon aquarium that I am setting up for a temporary home for some bamboo shark eggs. <A very temporary home indeed. A 55 is inappropriate for even one shark let alone "some".> Well I have a wet dry system on it and have read a lot about removing the bio balls. What is the purpose for this and does it help the bacteria convert everything that it needs to. <The purpose of not using bio-balls or other inert material is to use liverock and live sand instead. This way when the beneficial nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate, you have anaerobic bacteria to breakdown the nitrate to nitrogen. Also, trickle filters are very good at turning various dissolved organics into nitrate. Without a trickle filter, your protein skimmer has a better chance at removing more/all the organics in the water.> Then approximately how long do you think before I can move the shark eggs? <It usually takes around one month to cycle a tank.> They are in another established tank now but it is not really set up for them. the new tank has been set up about 1 1/2 months now and everything is non existent or very low levels. thank you for all your help and I will continue to read all that I can. Steve <Do be sure to read up on their respective care and how big of a tank you are going to require to properly house these magnificent creatures. It will be hundreds of gallons. -Steven Pro>

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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