Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Leopard Sharks 

Related Articles: Leopard Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Coldwater Sharks, Sharks in General, Cartilaginous Fishes, Moving Sharks

Related FAQs: Leopard Shark Identification, Leopard Shark Behavior, Leopard Shark Compatibility, Leopard Shark Selection, Leopard Shark Systems, Leopard Shark Feeding, Leopard Shark Disease, Leopard Shark Reproduction, Coldwater Sharks, Coldwater Sharks 2, Coldwater Shark Identification, Coldwater Shark Behavior, Coldwater Shark Compatibility, Coldwater Shark Selection, Coldwater Shark Systems, Coldwater Shark Feeding, Coldwater Shark Disease, Coldwater Shark Reproduction, Sharks in General, Systems for Sharks, Shark Compatibility, Shark Behavior, Selection, Feeding, Diseases, Shark, Ray Eggs, Moving Sharks

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

Leopard Shark Breeding, Keeping 9/28/07 If I have two leopard sharks is it possible to get them to mate in the home aquarium and if so what would the dimensions have to be for the aquarium? <They have not been bred in home aquariums as far as I'm aware, to accomplish this, and in reality to be able to keep a shark that commonly grows to 6 feet in length, you need an aquarium the size of a small home.> If they do not mate can u let me know the sharks that do mate but the ones that are just as big as a leopard shark or smaller than a leopard shark in a home aquarium? <None with any regularity that I'm aware of. In reality the only thing sharks do in home aquariums with any regularity is die.> Thank you for your time and i would really be more thankful to you if you reply back to me thank you so much <Sharks do not belong in 99.9% of home aquariums, they are simply unable to supply the environment the shark needs to survive.> <Chris>

CA leopard sharks    1/5/07 Mr Fenner, I'm not sure how often you are asked about Leopard sharks, <Too often my friend... almost never are these animals kept in appropriate circumstances by hobbyists> or the areas your readers frequent, but someone had forwarded me a link to your page, and I saw a few articles about leopard sharks.  I'd be happy to answer any questions regarding the legality of different things kept as pets in California. <Would you mind us... am inferring this here... positing your email address?> Specifically, fish that are native to California, although I could attempt to help if there was a question about exotics, as we do restrict some species. <Thank you> I do not want my email address made public/posted, however you may contact me if you have any questions.   <.... what? By smoke signals?> Leopard sharks must be 36 inches in total length to possess in California, regardless of their source. <Wow, I was unaware of this... is this a new advent? The trade sells these at much smaller sizes... perhaps they're originating outside the State>> The only exception is if someone can show that they have had it as a pet since 1994, and received written permission from the Department to keep it.  Thank you,  LT Hartman <Again, thank you for this input. If there is a further referent, some place to send folks to re... Please send this address, URL along. Bob Fenner>
Re: CA leopard sharks    1/5/07
Mr Fenner, If persons have questions or want more information they can go to the Department's website at www.dfg.ca.gov  Most of the information they would be seeking would be under the Marine Resources area. <Thank you for this>   They can also email the Department at askmarine@dfg.ca.gov   Feel free to make that email address available to your readers. <Will do so>   As for the regulations on leopard sharks, the size limit was established in 1994/95.  The illegal trade of undersize leopard sharks is a Black market of sorts, <Ahhh! As you will realize, I am not a fan of keeping Triakis, most any other Selachians in home-size systems... They don't live in such very long or well> and resulted in numerous arrests last year by the Department of Fish and Game and NOAA.  There is no exception to the size limit, even if the sharks are brought in from Mexico of Portland. <Really? Good to know>   Possession of a leopard shark under 36 inches in California is a Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $1,000 and or 6 months in jail.  The section is Fish and Game Code 8388.5, available on our website.  Hopefully this will help keep some of them out of those little tanks.  Thanks, and feel free to contact me our askmarine@dfg.ca.gov  if you have any questions,   LT Hartman <Again, thank you for your efforts. Bob Fenner>

Leopard Shark, "Professionals", Morality - 06/14/2006 Hello, I visit your site from time to time but have never posted.  At the moment I am in Las Vegas for a business trip and noticed that there was a Leopard shark swimming around in the big tropical tank behind the check in desk at the Mirage hotel.   <Arrrrrgh....> There were a bunch of tangs, puffers, the usual tropical home aquarium fish.  My question is, why would they have a cold water specimen in warmer waters if the care takers are suppose to be pro's at this?   <A very, very good question, my friend....  and one to which I have no happy answer.> <<I do... Just as you get "fair odds" in gambling there, this Triakis is getting "fair odds" at living a long, healthy life. Id est, none. RMF>> Is it possible for the shark to be fine and not have a problem living like this <Not long-term.> or will it die because of the conditions?   <Ultimately, yes.  This animal, like all too many others, should be left to the oceans and large public aquaria that can properly house them.> Thanks,  -Mike <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Leopard shark... abandonment issues   03/07/06 I have had a leopard shark in a 1500 gallon pond for about the last 3 years. I am now forced to move back up north (I am in Florida now) due to my parents becoming ill. I am not going to be able to get my pond set back up soon enough to bring her with me. I was wondering if you knew the contact info for sea world or any other aquarium that I could possibly donate her to? This all came up very suddenly so I need to try to get her placed as soon as possible. Thank you for any help <... you can try contacting... Maybe Bruce Carlson at the new Atlanta Aquarium... but not good odds. Bob Fenner>

Shark Problems 10/13/05 Hi Bob, <Nick> I have two leopard sharks that have been doing fine for about three years now. Recently I noticed some small whitish spots on their skin (see attached photos). The sharks are around 22" and the spots are up to 1/8", most are smaller. Most of the spots are on the bottom of the fins. Both sharks are eating and swimming okay, though I have seen them rubbing on the sandy bottom. <I see> I keep the water temperature at 57? in 800 gallons with: protein skimmer (counter current), wet/dry, fluidized bed, UV and large bag filter (300 Microns). <Sounds good... for now... as am sure you realize the size/potential for Triakis> Can you tell me what this problem is and how and what to treat it with. Thanks Nick <I suspect the root of this "problem" is environmental/nutritional rather than pathogenic... I advise the use of "shark vitamins" snuck into foods, and/or their administration (am sure you do this already) of iodine/ate. Do you use natural water? You might want to check your alkalinity if so. Bob Fenner> 


Re: Shark Problems Follow-up 10/13/05 Thanks for the quick reply.  I am using an artificial salt mix, Bio Sea's "Marine Mix", <I'd look for a good deal on a better brand... perhaps the 200 gallon size of Instant Ocean's products... even from etailers if they have a deal on freight> Vita-Zu "Sharks & Rays Vitamins" and Kent Marine's "Tech 1" Iodine Supplement and "Essential Elements" in the water. <Am not a fan of this company's products... too many hokum, no smokum...> Do you think I should be injecting their food with Iodine? If so what kind or brand of Iodine, how much, and how often. <I would use Lugol's Solution... about a half ml. per week, in one dose per shark> Their food is cut up: 2 small anchovies, 2 shrimp, and 2 clams. I feed them once a day. <Good mix, technique. Bob Fenner> 

Prospective Shark Doom? - 09/17/2005 Hello, my name is Roberto. <Roberto, proper nouns (like your name), the beginnings of sentences, and "I" are capitalized.  "You" is spelled Y-O-U, not U.  "I'm" has an apostrophe.  Please do not write to us with horrible grammar.  We have to retype these things for posting on the site.> I'm interested to buy leopard shark. <Don't.  These are not meant for home aquaria.  Enjoy these in the wild, or in sufficiently sized public aquaria, unless you have several tens of thousands of gallons to play with.> I live in Miami Florida. <Location is irrelevant, unless you live in the ocean, which is where these animals belong.> If you be so kind if you know anyone or any stores here in Florida that sell them let me know in this email address. <If I knew, they would NOT be stores I would recommend purchasing from; selling animals like these to ignorant folks with tanks of a few hundred gallons is deplorable.> Or if you know who is selling some smooth shark let me know too. <You need to do some research.  And desperately so, lest you be yet another person who has led one of these magnificent beasts to its doom.  WetWebMedia is here to promote conscientious fishkeeping, not the slaughter of sharks.  Or teaching grammar.  Start reading here, with emphasis on the article on leopard sharks:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm .> Thank you. <Any leopard sharks viewing this note: avoid the consumer pet trade at all costs.  -Sabrina>

Leopard sharks in aquaria - 6/7/05 Bob: <Paul in today for our friend Bob> Thanks for the continued excellence in answering the questions that books and institutions seem to avoid! I am eternally fascinated with Leopard Sharks (Triakis semifasciata) and because of the impossibility in keeping these humanely as a hobbyist I make it a point to see all the Triakis I can in public aquariums. <You are my hero. Good for you and your conscientiousness> After researching the topic thoroughly and exhausting web searches on the topic I can't seem to find a reasonable answer to my observations and subsequent questions: I have seen 2 public Triakis displays so far that place Leopard Sharks in "tropical" warm water aquariums  <They are semi-tropical in that they are found in the southern regions of Mexico (at times) in warmish water (low 70s) but they should by no means be kept in full tropical environment, ideally> clearly with other tropical fish that Leopard Sharks would seemingly not associate with in the wild. Why are these large and presumably knowledgeable institutions doing this? <Don't underestimate the ignorance of public institutions and the ones you mention are true in the sense of PUBLIC institutions but not necessarily in knowledgeable. Also, sometimes there is a vacuum in the knowledge about long term environmental probabilities and viability of species in marine aquaria> The first is the Caesar's Palace aquarium in Las Vegas behind the checkout counter. <This is not a public aquarium per se and likely the design is from a local company and not a specialist in species tank/environmental design. More along the lines of the aesthetics than accuracy. I could be wrong. They could just be getting lucky with this animal.> There is currently 1 (one) Triakis in the tank right now measuring roughly 3 ft (June 2005) but I've observed over the years anywhere between 1 and at least 3 swimming around. <This might answer your question, no? There three and now there is one? They may be willing to lose sharks> This beautiful tank has many tangs, triggers, damsels, angels, puffers, jacks, and other obviously tropical fish (even a small annex housing clownfish, perhaps from Nemo popularity). Assuming that Caesar's palace has an equally awesome maintenance and curator staff to watch over the amazing tank, WHY would they house Leopard Sharks in this type of environment? <This is our assumption but don't be so sure their staff is some crack specialist team of shark experts.> The second instance is the "figure-eight" large-but-shallow feeding pond in front of the Shark Encounter at Sea World, Orlando. <Again, standards aren't always the same. Accurate habitat is not always of priority for display in some institutions. Do remember this is likely a question better suited to Sea World, but in my experience, this is more of an amusement park than research oriented aquarium> As of last week (June 3, 2005) I noted numerous Leopard Sharks swimming around the exhibit happily <Questionable. No real way to know if these animals are happy in any institution> with other warm-water species (Bonnethead sharks, cow-nosed rays <Hmmmmm, suspect>, black-tip reef sharks, tropical sting rays, misc large fish, etc). There were too many Leopard Sharks to count accurately but I would guesstimate at least 10 (ten) in the shallow but very large tank. I should note that this group of Leopard sharks is very light in coloration (between the leopard marks the skin was a light creamy tan color, though the pattern was clearly Triakis) and seemed to be between 2.5 and 3.5 feet in length. This is also the tank where you can buy little cartons of squid and toss them in to feed the sharks. Again... Sea World has an amazing staff of very knowledgeable marine experts <Says you and I but maybe not. They are also more influenced by demand and aesthetics to the consumer> ... why are they housing Leopard Sharks in a habitat with obviously tropical tank-mates? <Again, a question of standards that they may manipulate for aesthetics> Is there some type of Leopard Shark subspecies that these aquariums know about that can handle warm water? <No there are not.> Have they somehow adapted Triakis to fit in these environments? <See above as it is not adaptation but may be on the edge. Warm water species can be brought down to live in the mean temperature and cold species can be brought up to live in the mean temperature. Basically just on the shark's thermal threshold, and I might add, this is less than ideal conditions for long-term consideration of either species.> Do these sharks just love extended tropical vacations? I'm confused! Help! <Not sure of the confusion or the help needed here, but hopefully was able to give you some food for thought. Thanks for being part of it all. ~Paul> Cheers, Scott

Leopard shark Hi, OK I was duped into buying a leopard shark from my LFS (Claiming I could keep him in as little as a 60 gallon tank). <....> he's about a foot in length and currently in my 130 gallon. After researching (I know a bit after the fact) I realize I either need to get rid of this animal or perhaps build an outdoor shark pond (partially enclosed, maybe a greenhouse type arrangement). I am in Southern Cali (Long Beach) where the weather is mild. <During the non-Winter months... and too-hot in summer...> My question is this. Being near the ocean, could I collect sand and sea water from my local beach to use in this pond. Also is there any filter large enough available that you would recommend for such a set up. Thanks for your advice <My friend... return this animal... There is too much to be done to try meeting its needs... go snorkeling, scuba-diving off the coast and you can visit Triakis where they should be. Bob Fenner> 
Re: leopard shark
Bob, Thank you for your response, and your points are valid and well taken. However I find myself rather content with building a 12 x 12 x 3 foot shark pond <How will this fish turn around?> with a viewing window (I haven't yet calculated exactly how much gallonage this will be). <There's about 7.48 gallons per cubic foot... pi R squared for the area of a circle...> I feel returning him to the LFS where they will place him back in their TROPICAL tank and/or push him off on some other inexperienced aquarist with an inadequate set-up will lead to this animal perishing either way. <Is there no other alternative... what have you, they learned?> Please, any advice on the construction of this pond would be much appreciated. Temperature control? (chiller)... Acquiring non-metallic Filtration & circulation equip? etc. <... this is all posted... on WWM> Also would you know where I may acquire gel-coated fiberglass <... this is made on-site... can be hand or machine applied> or polyethylene Rubbermaid type enclosure of this size. <I think the largest size is about eight feet...> otherwise I will go with wood frame w/ pond liners. <Not recommended for shark systems... easily torn... Bob Fenner> Thanks again

Leopard Sharks in a small world I have two leopard sharks in a 180. I have had them for 1 year and everything was doing great until my baby nurse was getting red on the bottom and just stopped eating and dies in two days. The same thing is happening to my leopard shark. <Typical...> Just one of them just stop eating and is turning red on the bottom and is not moving. All levels are perfect and my filtration is excellent with two wet dries, protein skimmer, and UV. It like a host that attacks the fish and kills them in two days. I really need help with this it makes me sick that am going to lose both of theses sharks. Any question please call me at XXXX Thanks Darrell <We don't "do calls"... Please read my articles archived on WWM re coldwater sharks, Leopards, Nurses... the inappropriateness of their hobby keeping... Bob Fenner>

Leopard Shark Diseases Could you please tell me what are two common diseases of the Leopard Shark (symptoms, treatments, and prognosis)?  Thank you <Without a doubt they are both environmental: being kept in too small and non-chilled systems. I take it you've read my bit on Triakis posted on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

Leopard Shark and Lionfish - No Copper, Please, & No Goldfish Hi, <Hi Tim, MacL here with you today.> I just have a few questions that I have been wondering and you guys seem to be the best fitted to answer the question.  I currently have a leopard shark in a 125 gal tank. I have already read many posts from your crew not to keep leopard sharks in captivity, but it's too late I already have one. I would not have purchased the shark if I had done more research on them. The shark is in a 125 and the shark is about 24". I was feeding it Shark Formula put out by Ocean Nutrition until I introduced him to prawn from the local grocery store. It has now been eating the prawn now for about 6 months. Out of nowhere the shark stopped eating. He has not eaten but a few glass shrimp from the local pet shop in the past 2 months. I have tried giving it flounder, scallops, shrimp, and the Shark Formula, but it doesn't seem to want it. It will pick the food up and spit it out. <Sounds to me like your tank conditions might be a bit off, in my experiences with Sharks when they stop eating like that they have high nitrates.>  I had thought that it may have been because I was running CopperSafe with it, but I have not had copper in the tank for some time now and still no progress.  <EEEK, Sharks do have adverse reactions to the copper so that might indeed be the root of the problem. I would do several changes of the water to try to get as much copper out as possible. Also you can run PolyFilters in the tank and see if it turns colors to indicate that copper is still there. Or an accurate test kit as well.>  <Editor's note: Sharks and their kin should be considered as invertebrates, no copper!> So my question is what should I be feeding my leopard shark and why might he be not eating. Could it be some sort of hibernation effect since it is winter months? I am currently in the process of purchasing a 300 gallon tank. to keep him for maybe another year until donating him to an aquarium.  <You should check now with the aquarium you plan on talking to a lot of times they need a lot of advance time before taking the shark and /or they might not want them.>  Another question about the leopard shark, is there anyway to sex them?  <Males have claspers.> I also have a 90 gal tank that I have two lionfish in. I purchased the tank with one lion and it was about 10" at the time and is now about 14", and the other I grew up from a little guy and it is about 10" now. The large lion has always had issues with his side fins growing, they curl as they grow and seem to break easily.  <Tank is too small for him I'm sorry to say. Also he probably has a vitamin deficiency if you are feeding freshwater fish to him.>  I was thinking that it may be from poor nutrition.  <Sounds like you are right on track, they need vitamin supplementation if you use freshwater fish like goldfish to feed them. You should try to get them converted over to things like prawn and smelt etc. Also they need a variety in their diet and not just one type of food. This is much easier to do with the younger fish.>  The smaller lion has beautiful side fins and I feed him all live also, but it is fairly young compared to the larger one. I have read recently that lions should not be fed freshwater fish due to some type of toxic chemical that can harm the fish over time. What should I be feeding my lions. Also, is there any way to sex a lion fish?  <Not that I am aware of, although a male and female tend to stay closer in a tank to each other. Also, there's an amazing article about lionfish in one of last years articles of Coral, great info there. Good luck, MacL> 

Another Leopard Shark... I have a 500 gallon fish only and I would like to keep a Leopard shark in the tank but I don't know where to buy them can you help me? <Hi Peas, Not too many people have the luxury of having a 500 gallon tank.  Why would you want to tie this up for one fish?  Sharks are best left in the sea or public aquariums.  Most people get them as a novelty and that soon wears off leading to "where do I unload the shark.  If you're really serious about this try contacting Live Aquaria.com and inquire as to the availability of a leopard shark.  Good luck,  James (Salty Dog)>

Leopard sharks I am very interested in purchasing some leopard sharks. However they have been hard to find. Do you know of any pet shops or dealers? Thank you Sincerely Joel Clayton <Not pet shops, but a few of the online etailers of marine livestock sell Triakis. Please read re this species captive care here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/leopardsharks.htm and the Related FAQs (linked, in blue, at top), and get back to me if you're still interested, informed and equipped to keep this animal. Bob Fenner>

Re: Leopard sharks Thank you very much! I had no idea it required such a large tank! <Yes> I had seen them at a pet store once and they had about 4 or 5 in a tank together. So I had made the assumption they were able to live in a pretty normal sized tank as well as sub normal environment. I don't think I will have the proper equipment for a while. Are there any species you could recommend that do not require as large an environment. <The aquarium-suitable species are covered in materials linked to where you've been reading> Can they be kept in slightly smaller tanks when they are smaller? <Not really... much better to start with adequate systems> Also with this kind of purchase do people usually set up for a buyer for when they become larger? <Very rarely... almost all of these animals perish after short, dismal lives. Am glad you have saved yourselves and them from such a fate. Bob Fenner> Thank you Sincerely Joel Clayton

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

Leopard shark Hello,       I was just wondering, specifically, what are the dimensions required for the tank for a leopard shark to grow to its maximum size? <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/leopardsharks.htm> Considering that the largest leopard shark ever caught was 7'9'', I'm not sure about aquarium kept leopard sharks, mine has been doing well for quite a long time in a 7x8 foot enclosure, its 3 feet high and filled to 20 inches. Her fork length is 24-26 inches. I'm wondering what to put her in for her to live her whole life dimension wise. Theory or morals aside, I am more concerned with fact. Can you tell me exactly what size I would need? <Likely about twice these dimensions or better>      Also, how would an Atlantic Sharpnose get along with a leopard shark? <Yes, should>      Lastly, can you recommend anything to minimize water changes? <Chemical filtrants, a large refugium (lighted), ammonia tower/s...> Right now I am changing about 100 gallons of her water a week.  Sometimes more frequently, when necessary.     Please let me know about the dimensions so I can start building it ASAP. Thanks, ~Libby <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharks <Pam, Lorenzo Gonzalez, responding for Bob-in-Indonesia> Hello, I got a question about adding a new fish to my tank My tank is 125 gallons I have about 150 pounds of live rock 2 in. deep sand bed for filtration I have a emperor 400 and a Skilter 400 also 2 maxi jet 1200 power heads for circulation.  <That's grossly under-filtered. oh. well, maybe not for just one small puffer.> The only fish in the tank now is a stars and stripes puffer I would like to add an epaulette shark about 12 inches and my puffer is about five will this work out okay with just these 2 fish I might maybe add 1 more down the road a little ways but not for a while and definitely before I get the shark I will get a big protein skimmer besides the Skilter and about another 100 pounds of live rock.  <If you're quite set on a shark, (how 'bout a trigger, grouper or lionfish instead?) - I'd forgo all the extra live rock in favor of a much, MUCH more powerful filtration system, maybe a big Eheim canister, one of the wet/dry models, as well as a powerful skimmer. A leopard (you mention one below) will need mucho 'cruising space'.> If this will not work can you tell me what else I need to get for my tank? 1 more question the epaulette shark is 260 dollars is that to much <Too much for me - but sounds pretty typical.> but it has been there for 4 months and is eating great also if I should not get the epaulette would I be able to get a real small leopard because the LFS also has 1 of them but it is smaller than my puffer so I don't know if that would be good.  <With all that rock, the leopard would probably be able to stay out of the puffer's way. But less than 5 inches is awfully small to be buying. And keep in mind that both of these sharks will WAY outgrow your 125 gallon tank in a year or two - the 12-inch epaulette even sooner.  -Regards, Lorenzo>

Leopard shark habitat Hey Mr. Fenner! I really enjoy the information you have to give about all species of sharks.  <Wait till you see Scott Michael's new book on the group...> I have a 125 gallon (about 6X2X2 feet) set-up with nothing but live rock and sand. I would like to add a Leopard shark. I live in the basement of a house and the water temp. stays at 65 degrees year round. Would this set-up be alright for a leopard shark? <Only temporarily for a small specimen... and then not very "humane"... A Triakis will be very unhappy in such a size, shape tank, being able to only turn around in one direction in a short while, for a short while... Study this species from afar, visit it in Public Aquariums, perhaps the wild... maybe try a Bamboo or Epaulette Shark or even small Catshark species..., or even hatch one from an egg instead. 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.

Feeding a Leopard I recently purchased a 12 inch leopard shark, I was wondering what would be the best food to feed it. Thanks in advance. > In my opinion cut fish, or whole fish... and not too frequently... these are messy feeders... and you don't want yours to grow too fast, or eat, waste too much... BTW, this shark, Triakis fasciatus is a cool/cold water animal... am curious about the environment you're providing it... How big, the shape of the tank, if you're using a chiller, if there are other livestock in with it... Bob Fenner

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

Little Tank of Horror (sharks?!?) What's up guys, I have a question to add to your list. I am currently upgrading from a 55 gal. tank ( 48 x 12 x 24 ) to a 125 gal. tank ( 72 x 18 x 22 ) with two prefilters drilled, a Rio 4100 pump, a 150 gal. wet/dry, a protein skimmer rated for 150 gal. ( I saw one in my LFS but can't remember the brand ) & two 72 inch VHO lamps. I plan to have 80 lbs. of live sand & a few live rocks in the center - but otherwise pretty barren so the sharks can have as much room as possible. I was contemplating on getting 2 Sleeper Gobies (Valenciennea strigata ), or 2 Yellow Head Jawfish ( Opistognathus aurifrons ) & a Reef Lobster (Enoplometopus daumi ). I want to know what's the best tankmates for sharks? I currently have 2 Leopard sharks, a Horn shark (Heterodontus francisci ), a Whitespotted Bamboo shark, & a Brownbanded Bamboo shark all about 1 foot in length. I figure the lobster would have to be 1/3 the length of my sharks. What's your opinion on worthy tankmates & some cleaner - uppers? By the way Love the site!! <Adrian...let me first say that I appreciate the fact that you made contact in search of information at all. And that any imperative tone in my reply that follows is in no way disrespectful, but rather disbelief. Indeed. When I read the query... I thought at first it was joke. But is seems that the questions and reality of the tank are quite serious. Frankly... I am horrified that someone sold you any ONE of the above mentioned sharks let alone five for 55 gallon tank (or a three hundred gallon for that matter)!!! I'm disappointed that you didn't have the slightest inclination at any point that putting five one foot sharks into your tank was not even possible let alone ethical. You do need help with your tank, my friend, and your charges that you admire so well are in very grave danger even in the soon to be upgraded 125 gallon tank. To answer your question... none of the fish or lobster will be compatible with these sharks in any sized tank short of a swimming pool. The smallest shark species you have mentioned (the bamboos) still attain a feet of 3 feet in length. The leopards are recorded at nine(!) feet in length and are sure to reach at least six. Keeping any one of these sharks in a 55 gallon tank is cruel. You need to find aquaria to donate or sell these fish to or build an extraordinary pool. Else, they will all be dead in your 125 gallon tank within a year for various reasons if not months... you can be as sure of that as the sun will rise. Please forgive me if I sound accusatory or at least critical. But I am very upset. You have been poorly advised and to some extent let yourself be so. As aquarists we must properly research an animal before we take it into our care to give the miracle of life its proper respect. You clearly need more information about shark husbandry. If we as aquarists do not manage our resources responsibly... we run the risk of having the privilege to do so legislated away from us. Your sharks suffering and dying in a cramped tank serves no purpose. Please, my friend...take heed. Anthony Calfo>

Snorkeling in La Jolla Bob, I have recently starting snorkeling at La Jolla Cove about 3x a week. Yesterday I decided to try the shores. I saw 20-30 leopard sharks (3-5 ft) and was wondering if they pose a threat of any sort (to me)?  <Nope... Triakis semifasciata are at times VERY abundant where you were on up to the Sea Lodge (just shy of the Shores)... but don't bother people in the least> I enjoyed watching them, but not enough to put myself in harms way. I also saw many sting rays in 3+ ft. water. <Have seen thousands of Guitarfishes there seasonally...> if one gets spooked could it surface enough to make contact with me or will they stay strictly to the ocean floor? <They do get up, swim about at times... but aren't interested in people> I guess I feel a little out of place/helpless in their beautiful world. It's one thing to look through my aquarium glass, another to swim with them. Is there a good location that I can look to find the means to classify the fish I run across here in S.D.?  <Miller and Lea Bulletin 157 Cal. Fish and Game... go to the S.I.O. (Birch) Aquarium book/gift store (you don't have to pay to just go in the side door there. And ask for this Bulletin... Green cover, you can't miss it... a dichotomous key to all fishes off our coast> For example, I saw a "fish" that was about 3' long and looked like a cross between a ray (round, flat body) and a shark (tail). It remained on the bottom until startled, and then swam away like a shark (as opposed to the swimming motion of the rays). Thanks for the help, Mark <Ah! Likely one of those Guitarfishes... Please see here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/rays.htm Bob Fenner>

Leopard sharks We just bought a 300 gallon tank setup for our 3 leopard sharks. It is cycling now in it's first week. Anything we can do to speed up the process? Do we need any live rock in this setup? What kind of problems are we going to encounter in a fish only tank? Thanks from Kansas, Bob and April  > Yes to adding the live rock... and a good part of the gravel, water from these cool water animals existing set-up... The principal concerns I see are trying to keep the system clean, aerated, circulated and cold during the Summer.... Triakis semifasciata (Leopard Sharks) are not tropical animals, and need lots of water movement... A big pump or two on separate circuits... A very large skimmer (in this case, a downdraft type), a regular regimen of maintenance (weekly water changing, gravel vacuuming, mechanical filter media replacement, cleaning... and a large chiller/heat exchanger. Bob Fenner

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….Thanx <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 dieing "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

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>

Leopard Shark <Greetings...> Please, I have just gotten a baby leopard shark, about eight inches. <Oh boy.> It is in a one hundred gallon long at about seventy-five degrees. I know this is too warm and too small for him but for about how long can I keep him? <like this? days, perhaps weeks. Even if the tank were the perfect shape and size, without a chiller, this shark is not in optimal conditions.> I have a custom filter with a 700 gallon per hour pump and a Fluval and both with carbon and one with bioballs. I believe it is sufficient it has not let my down yet. <This is insufficient going forward.> There is this PVC pipe in which the water comes out on the top. Now I'm thinking that the leopard wont miss a large tank so much because the water is being shot directly into its mouth (moving water so tons of oxygen) and it is swimming into it. <Oh?> So what I'm thinking is that it is sort of like a spinning wheel like a mouse runs in. <this is no way to live, even a mouse has other places in the cage besides the wheel.> It is swimming, not needing to turn around and ton of air. The thing is it is swimming in one spot. Does that count for it is always there and seems to be content. It isn't running into walls except at night when the lights are off and I know its just looking around. <And this is normal shark behavior... running into the walls is a good way for your shark to get injured.> when it becomes larger I plan to get a pond for it outside. <Do you live somewhere where you won't have to heat and cool this pond? For most people, this type of pond would be an extravagance - very, very expensive to build and maintain.> I have a large enough estate so I can have about a five hundred gallon all surrounded by walls and my parents were planning to put a pond there anyway. I was thinking, for about two or three years, will it be ok like that and not die mysteriously? <Too many variables to predict, but if it dies under the current conditions it would hardly be a mystery.> I have the tank covered and I am taking care of him. I constantly watch him and if he is in distress. I am not the rich, so I'm the guy that sees the temp, oh gosh too high runs to the fridge gets a whole lot of ice, I mean A LOT and dump it in there. It seems to work. <It might 'seem' like a good thing but I can assure you, this is not the correct, or even advised way to keep a saltwater tank cool. If you're squeezed for cash, you might reconsider your plans to keep this fish. You must invest in a chiller.> So do you think my leopard shark will be ok in its "water wheel" or will I have to speed up the creation of my pond. <I don't think the shark will fare well in your current system, but I also don't want to endorse your pond idea just yet. I fear perhaps there is more in the big picture you have not yet seen.> (In order for me to get it, I have to get straight As YAY) Also will stunting the growth to it, to only three or four feet kill it extremely fast? <These are not Bonsai trees - any attempts to 'stunt' the growth of a shark will result in an unhealthy shark.> Or will it live at least ten years or so, other words will it reach maturity? <I don't think so.> Or will it die next month or something? <or something.> What are the facts on this shark? <They are extensive - start your reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coolh20sharks.htm and then order the Scott Michael book, Aquarium Sharks & Rays: Click here to order! You will find these invaluable to accomplishing your goals.> I am fascinated by this shark and it has been my dream ever since making my first salt tank to have this shark. (originally I wanted a Blacktip, but lets face it, Leopards are easier and cheaper to get) I love the way this shark moves and eats <I will quickly interject here - you might better spend some of this energy to learn to scuba dive so you can observe these animals where they live.> and I'm not willing to let it die so quickly. <I'm sorry to say that sheer will alone cannot keep this animal alive.> I truly do not want to be selfish in this act and if it comes down to it, I will give it to an aquarium, NOT a fish story (who knows what they will do to it) with my best regards. <Have you consulted with an aquarium yet to see if they can even take it?> If there is anyway I could keep this fish, just for a couple years or so without shortening its short and valuable life too much, I will do it. I keep it cool, but I need to keep it a bit warmer just for the idea of my other fish. <bad plan.> I have a banded shark in there, but I plan to give it up soon, just for the leopard and hope that it can survive in the hell hole I have created for it. I know it is cruel and unusual, but understand I keep this shark with the most love and attention a shark can receive. <(sigh)... so why do you even have it?> Now that I travel downstairs to get a drink, I just hope that you can respond soon to this urgent cry for help. <Start reading.> Please be gentle, my soul only has the best intensions. <Well... as they say, the truth hurts, and I can't honestly tell you that you're doing a good thing. You need to do the research first, then self-examine to make sure you can actually care for these animals, and then self-examine again and sometimes leave the poor beast at the store. Fish like these really should be left in the ocean.> The reason why I bought him was because I had not read that stunting growth can shorten its life. I thought it was like caffeine, you know not shorten life, just shorten height. <no matter what, attempts to stunt a shark are ill-conceived.> So please help, SOS, thank you from Alvin Chan, and his leopard shark Max (not Max Chan, just Max) <Alvin, please pick up that book, and please read the URL link I gave earlier. Much for you to consider... a path will show itself. Cheers, J -- >

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 dieing <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>

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.

Leopard sharks and abhorrent collecting practices Hi Bob What temperature, nitrate, and salinity should I have for my leopard shark? Thanks Edward Demsky  <hmmm... do you own one already? If so, I must say that I am a bit saddened to see yet another one of these beautiful creatures purchased without having done the research first. Do you also know, my friend, that these sharks grow 6 to 9 feet long as adults. They cannot be "stunted" in smaller aquaria but most in small aquaria (under 500 gallons) die prematurely in about 2 years. Also, they are live born at around 14-18". This is interesting because 9-12" are commonly seen in the trade. How is this possible you may ask... simple, gravid females are caught and gutted for the immature offspring: much easier than waiting for the birth of a litter and then catching each one individually. For your benefit and that of all of our daily FAQ readers, do advise your local fish stores of this if you ever see them offered for sale. You might also ask such merchants how many customers they have that can house even a puny 6 foot adult? We are literally talking about a shark that needs an aquarium of several thousand gallons in the 5-10 year picture. Make no mistake about it... I/we are very sensitive about the inappropriate keeping of any animal. Please write back and tell me more about your system so that I can fairly help you (now that I've got all the soapbox stuff out of the way <G>). And please understand that we simply get too many people writing in asking us how to help them "kill"/keep (same thing) Leopard sharks in 300, 200 and even tanks smaller than 100 gallon tanks. Best regards, Anthony>

Ughhh... more Leopard Sharks  HELLO. <cheers> my name is Bryan and I find your site great. I have been reading over all day. I am considering purchasing a large tank. the dimensions are 8ft long by 4 ft wide and 30inches high. would this be a good size tank for leopard sharks.  <not even close my friend. Adult Leopard sharks reach 6 to nine feet long in the first 3-5 years of their life. They are entirely inappropriate to keep by most any private aquarist. Most folks put them in smaller tanks 200-300 or smaller where they live for a few years at best before dying stunted and prematurely> and I have seen all the negative comments towards owning them but I have to ask because I have not read one person ask about a tank this size mostly under 200 gallons.  <there's nothing much to chat about here, bud. Your tank is 8 feet long which is a foot smaller than the potential adult size. It would be like locking a great Dane in a closet in an apartment. Just because it fits doesn't make it humane or responsible.> this is an acrylic tank a friend of mine is selling. the price is right for everything he throwing in but I need to know about these sharks and my tank. the tank I was going to save up for brand new was a lot more money but it was also 2 feet longer. that's is why I ask about the 8 foot tank. also can you have the banded brown shark in with leopard sharks as far as getting along? and water temp? thanks for any help <do read more my friend... you are missing some basic information beyond the adult size of the species. Leopard are temperate species and bamboos (great sharks and fine for this tank of yours) are tropicals. They cannot survive together based on temperature alone. Here at WetWebMedia we talk to too many folks killing sharks prematurely. Please take my advice... few sharks species can be appropriately and humanely kept. Few aquarists have the means to do this. Admire them from afar, my friend. It would be ironic to kill the thing you admire so dearly for inadequate husbandry. Best regards, Anthony>

Leopard Shark Dear Bob: I have a 135 Oceanic Show (really equates to a 125) with a newly introduced Leopard Shark (10") and a baby Green Moray (6").  <Wow, these are small> I have had many differing opinions on how long the Leopard Shark can live in the tank - the range I heard is about 6 months to up to 2 years. <Most die within a week or two... from maladjustment to size/shape of the captive system, or temperature issues...> The frustrating part is that I even get different answers from different employees of the same LFS. I talked to the owner of one LFS who said Leopard shark will do great in my tank, while later his employee said that no one in their right mind would even try to put a leopard shark in my tank. <I lean toward the latter view.> I do realize it is not on the OK choice list you have, and I also realize that a show formatted tank is not the best situation, but I could not resist after seeing the shark. <My friend... perhaps this animals care may serve as a lesson for your true education> I have also read a lot of people keeping them, some even in a 75. <These are almost all "stories"...> How long should a 10" Leopard Shark in a 125 gallon be able to live until the tank is too small? <Likely a week or two... I do hope your experience is better> The Green Moray is really a baby - his color is very dark green an almost black. I have had Greens in the past and do realize that they are never as vibrant as what most see in pics. Does a Green Moray's color improve with age? <Mmm, yes... can/does often change (usually to lighter green as it approaches three feet> Also, my filtration is a Eheim Wet/Dry and an Eheim Pro II Canister - Remora Pro Skimmer will be ordered next week. <A good upgrade, choice> Thanks in advance for your assistance. Alex <Please read this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coolh20sharks.htm and the associated FAQs files... do you have a water chilling mechanism? I encourage you to seek alternate means of keeping the water cool (below 70 F.), added aeration, and a very secure means of keeping the lid secure. Good luck, life my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: Sharks I shall find out if that was the way our sharks were acquired and object. <Yes, it is a terrible practice and a waste of resources. The easiest way to avoid it is to only purchase full grown babies, over 12".> So far they seem happy, feeding and swimming well, and as the weather cools the tank temperature is dropping. <They will need a chiller to maintain a proper temperature for them.> Still breathing faster than I'd like, but otherwise seem settled. Thank you for your attention, Jack <Good luck to you. -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>

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

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
Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: