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FAQs about Coldwater Sharks in Captivity Compatibility

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We can't live together...

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

Banded Hound Shark Questions    11/7/12
Love your site.  Wish I knew about it before hand.   Well let me get to the questions.  I just recently purchased a 15inch Banded Hound Shark Male.
<Is this Triakis scyllium?>

 He was shipped to the east coast from the west coast and was boxed for 11 hours or so before I got him. Problem 1,  I noticed when I placed him in the tank that he had some red spots on him.
<Not uncommon w/ small shipped sharks>
  These tend to go away and come back off and on.  His breathing seems fine but........... Problem 2,  His swimming habits are funny he has gotten a little better but he tends to stay on the glass with his belly against it and noses at the top of the water.
<... this is a cold water animal... You do have it in a chilled system?>

   He eats fine from the first day on.  Know problems there.  
Problem 3, He tends to shake like he is twitching or has a nervous tick. What could this be?
<Damage to nothing>
 Please let me know if these activities are normal.   My system is as follows.  Size: 7ft x 7ft x 3ft - 1000 gallons or so.   800lbs of live Fiji pink sand.
<What grade? Should not be coarse>
 4 Coralife lights. Two large protein skimmers. 1 grounding probe.  2 very large little giant pumps turning about 8,000 gallons per hour.  Bio Ball tower.  1 UV Filter.   1 Aquaripure denitrator.     Tank Stats.   Ammonia 0   PH 8.2-8.4   Nitrites 0  Nitrates 20.      Steps I have taken.   I am going to test for electrical current in the water tonight.  I started placing vitamins into the aquarium not just the food.  I am doing a 25% Water Change tomorrow as well.    Inhabitants include all other fish that are perfectly healthy -  15inch white spotted Bamboo Shark Female,  10inch Lionfish, 6inch Lunar Wrasse, 12 inch Blue Dot Stingray,  2ft Zebra Eel,  6inch Yellow Tang, 12 inch Blonde Naso Tang,  6 inch African Red Starfish, 40 snails, 30 Hermit Crabs only about 60lbs of live rock.   Thanks for your help and please let me know if you need anymore info.
<Umm, the other livestock is tropical... the new shark needs to be elsewhere. Not tropical, and grows too large for this setting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Banded Hound Shark Questions    11/8/12

Yes u are correct on the breed.
<Not a breed, a species>
No chiller on the tank but water stays at around 73-76 all the time. I was told that this species can handle slightly warmer water than most hound sharks   Up to 79 degrees but prefer cooler. Is this correct?
<Mmm, not as far as I'm aware, no. See Fishbase.org re:  this is a subtropical species>
 I was planning on building a much bigger tank to house several large sharks but it sounds like I need to hurry that up. I was going to wait a year or so to set that up.  How long can this shark stay in a tank my size?
<... won't likely live>
 If never then it looks like I need to place him somewhere else. I was told that a male will reach 4ft.
<About this long>
   When I mentioned the swimming habits you stated "damage to nothing". What did u mean?
<The reddening... source>
  Thanks again for the help.   Thanks again. 
Shea Bailey
<Please read on WWM re coldwater sharks. B>

Housing Question, Mixing in a Dogfish w/ other (tropical) Sharks  10/16/09
Hello Mr. Fenner.
<Morning Steve>
I have been using your web site for a little over 2 years now with great success. I believe my last e-mail to you was 2/07, regarding Brown Banded and Marbled Cat Sharks. I purchased these as hatchlings and turned to you for advice on raising these beautiful creatures. I am happy to report they are healthy, thriving, and growing. I have both Sharks in the custom 475 gallon tank, in which I believe may be a little to narrow (36") across. I would like to move these sharks to a salt water pond I built in my basement. I will be plumbing the pond to the 475 gallon tank. The pond is 15'x8'x13" deep, my worry is the 13" depth, is this sufficient for these sharks?
<Mmm, yes... but I would make it/this deeper if you could... for a few
I also do a lot surf fishing, this past weekend I caught a Smooth Dogfish approx 28" a little smaller then the Marbled and Brown Banded Sharks.
Dogfish have been a rare sight lately, mostly due to commercial fishing, since they see them as a nuisance to gear and commercially fished species.
I would love to catch another one of similar size and keep it. I would like your opinion on this, would it be compatible with the Marbled and Brown Banded Sharks?
<What species of Dogfish is this? The common name is applied to a few Elasmobranch? Do take a look at identifying it, then look on Fishbase.org re this animal's natural temperature range. Some are too cold-water to be kept with tropicals, others aren't and can be mixed with the others you list>
Once again Thank You for your time.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Re: Young smooth hound shark question... lots of expletives! 6/5/2009
Again, much thanks for the fast reply. Before I'd received it, I'd spent a solid 6 hours perusing the WWM site, and realized my errors. The water temp is now exactly in line with this morning's ocean temp, 62 +/- 1 degree (it's a 3 HP chiller - it took about 4 minutes to cool the water from 70 to 62, kind cool).
I also went ahead and ordered a 2000 gallon oval tank from Tenecor.
Delivery time will be ~2 months, plus another month of setup. I'm hoping that these smooth hounds will be ok in their small home for that time (again, 10-12" currently, tank is 100 gal).
<Much better for sure>
So in that 2000 gallon monster, what else could I house with the two smooth hounds?
<... many possibilities>
I was thinking of heading down to SoCal with my buddy who's got his master diver cert (I've just got open water) and attempting to catch a pair of Heterodontus francisci.
<Can be done>
Are there any cold water rays?
Lastly, for now, if I were to simply go fishing out in the bay (which I do from time to time), and caught some fish, would there be any possible drawback to tossing them in with the sharks?
<Not much... or too much IMO/E... always the possibility of pests, parasites... I'd be doing a bit of reading re pH adjusted FW baths for prophylaxis, possibly stocking up on Levamisole...>
My thinking is that if they get eaten, fine, if not, just adds more diversity to the tank?
<Mmm, yes>
Or am I unnecessarily risking infection/disease?
<Always a chance>
<Welcome. BobF> 

Re: Young smooth hound shark question
Thanks again for the info. Talked with the guys building the tank (they're also building the protein skimmer - one big enough for a 5K gallon tank), and it'll be here in 7 weeks - YAHOO! They keep 100K gallons of water cycling at all times, so they'll deliver the tank, set it up, and fill it, all in the same day. All I need to provide is cooling and lighting. Should be ready to go within 72 hours of delivery. Thanks again for your help.
<Again, welcome>
Oddly enough, the sharks looked so-so in their tank at the LFS, and the guy said they were light feeders.
<Mmm, not so>
In the couple of days I've had them, they've been voracious feeders, and look a lot healthier already. In that 2K gallon tank, do you think the smooth hounds would do ok with a bonnet head?
<No... not suitable size for Sphyrna... and not really compatible temperate or temperature wise. Best to stick with "other California natives"... life found in the same range as the Dogfish. B>
Thanks again,

Re Young smooth hound shark question, comp.    6/7/09
Not sure why I said Bonnethead - was reading another page and was apparently smoking crack - I meant a Port Jackson shark. I know they're completely different locales, but they have similar water requirements. Having dived off of CA, and in the south of Australia, I know for a fact both are cold as $!@%.
<Ahh, Heterodontus francisci would be a worthy choice here... along with other coastal choices>
I've also talked to a different (reputable) LFS, and they can find me some California stingrays when the time is right. Think everyone would be ok in the 1000 gallon for the next 2 years? I spent the afternoon with my
architect who's designing my big proper house, and he's figuring out just how big I can go on my final shark tank (I'm hoping 10K+ gallons). Thanks,
<Ah yes. BobF>

Horn Shark and Smooth Hound Compatibility... no reading, mixing tropicals with coldwater sharks that need non-hobbyist settings    8/20/08 Good Afternoon, fellow fish lovers! <Good morrow to you> My boyfriend and I have recently upgraded my shark tank from a 180 to a 240 inset through a wall in my dining room, it has a central overflow and whirlpool current to promote circular swimming. Sadly, in the process we lost our second leopard shark, <Dismal... why haven't you read my posts, articles ahead of writing us here?> the first committing suicide one night. <Inappropriate species for such a small, squarish, likely non-chilled setting> We came across a deal for a 17" California Horn Shark and have a couple of questions. First, how compatible is a Horn Shark with a 16" grey Smooth hound shark? <Mmm, very> Secondly, I have a 5.5" Koran Angel, a 6.5" Vlamingi Tang, a 5" Yellow-bellied Hippo Tang and a 4" hog fish in there as well. <... not compatible with these tropicals. Again, what are you doing writing here? You should be reading, ahead of such purchases> I am very worried about the first three fish, especially the Koran Angel (he was an anniversary present a few years ago) and the Hippo Tang (have had her for almost 5 years). How strong of a possibility is it that they could become shark food? <Not very hard> My Hippo Tang likes to lay in the rocks a lot and I am worried that one day she will choose the wrong cave. We will be setting up a shelf to give the horn shark a "home" to retreat to during the day, any tips on helping her find and settle in that area? <Let's just stop here. Is this Heterodontus francisci? Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/portjacksons.htm and the linked files above.> Finally, she has been at this store for over two months and I have been told that she is eating well. <Leave this animal where it is> It will take me two hours to get her to my house from the shop and am a little worried about the acclimation process (the shop provides almost coffin size boxes for ease of transportation). Do you have any tips on the least stressful way to acclimate her and getting her to eat? How long does it typically take to get a shark like that to eat? I know with my smooth hound it was a couple days, one of my leopards a day and the second took 4 to 5 days ( I was stressing). I love my fish like they are my children <... Not per my definition. IF you love something, you endeavour to know what is good for that/those things... and provide them. You have done neither> and I don't want to do anything to hurt them. As you can tell my boyfriend is the aquarium expert in this relationship, I am no novice but I am nowhere near his expertise. Thank you so much for your time and consideration in this matter, you have no idea what it means to me. Sincerely, Katie S. Samarin <Read Katie... Know, act, this is love. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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

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>

  Horn shark I am looking for some info on the care and species info on the horn shark, Are they compatible with small marine fish? What do they eat? How much room do they need? How big do they get ? etc... Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jeff <There are a few species of Horn Sharks, family Heterodontidae, offered from time to time in the trade... the cooler water Californian, Heterodontus francisci, and the more tropical, H. portusjacksoni mainly... though the pretty H. zebra is occasionally seen... and there are five more species in the genus... They eat invertebrates found on the bottom and small fishes... all get to about four feet long. Need aquariums in the hundreds to thousands of gallons size. Not compatible with small marine fishes... will eat them if hungry, or the opportunity arises. Bob Fenner>

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

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

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.

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
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