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FAQs about Coldwater Sharks in Captivity Selection

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Related FAQs: Coldwater Sharks 1, Coldwater Sharks 2, Coldwater Shark Identification, Coldwater Shark Behavior, Coldwater Shark Compatibility, Coldwater Shark Systems, Coldwater Shark Feeding, Coldwater Shark Disease, Coldwater Shark Reproduction, Leopard Sharks, Heterodontus, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Coldwater Systems, Sharks in General, Shark Compatibility, Shark Behavior, Selection, Systems for Sharks, Feeding, Diseases, Shark, Ray Eggs,

A neat setting in Germany...

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

Triakis scyllium, shark sel.  11/20/2008 Hello Crew! I saw a very small pair of Triakis scyllium at a LFS. I couldn't find any info on them. I was wondering what you knew? <Have seen this species intermittently offered in the trade...> I am guessing they are pretty much like a smoothhound shark. I would like to get them but want to research first. My current tank is a 220 that is 6 foot long, 30 inches wide and 24 tall. <Mmm, too small> I run a Deltec Ap851 skimmer, 300 gallon wet/dry, <Inappropriate for shark systems> 3/4 HP chiller (keeps my temp at 70), 36 watt Coralife UV and a barracuda pump as a return. Water params are PH-8.4, Nitrite-0, Nitrate-40, Ammonia-0, Sal 1.023. Tank has a 5" Lunare wrasse, 5" Naso tang, 5" Yellow tang, 6 "Hippo tang, smaller hermits and a conch. <All food> 40 LBS of LR stacked onto left side of tank to optimize swimming room (rock wall like and stable). Overflow is on the outside as well and tank has 150-200 LBS of very fine almost oolite sand. I have kept sharks before and have a lot of experience with them I just cleared my tank out and am waiting for a Port Jackson. However I want info on the Triakis scyllium. I know they will outgrow this tank and I am in the process of paying for a larger tank since I plan on keeping all my fish for their full life terms. Please let me know what you know. Thanks, Andre <This fish/species grows to about this systems length, is subtropical... I would not try them here. Bob Fenner>

Sharks for my pond  8/13/07 Hello to Wet Web Media, <Mike> My question is what type of shark would be best to place in my 25,000 gallon pond? I live in Germany where our Winters get below freezing. <Nice pix, pond...> My pond is 40 feet long and 30 feet wide with a depth of 6 feet. At this time it is used as a swimming pool. It has no filter system and uses no chemicals. It has plants and a 6 foot waterfall which circulates the water supply. Are there any interesting freshwater sharks or would you recommend making my pond into a saltwater system and then adding saltwater sharks to it? Thank you in advance, Mike <Well... all the FW sharks are really too "tropical" to consider here... there are some cold/er water species you might consider... If interested, I would visit with folks who do livestock wholesale AND food-fish distribution for contacts with actual fishers in your country... Ask them if they might conspire with you to live-haul such animals from the sea... Information on shark transport can be found on WWM. Bob Fenner> a couple pictures are attached

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>

The Smoothhounds - they get all the girls!  12/10/05 Good Morning! <Night time now, hello. Adam J with you.> I am an aquarist at a museum in FL and would like to inquire about how to obtain a Mustelus canis (smooth dogfish). Any insight? Thanks for your time! <Well this being a temperate species they are native to the west coast so I would attempt to contact some of the wholesalers out this way such as Quality Marine or Walt Smith, possibly even The Marine Center. These animals are fairly common out this way.> <<Actually, let's just take my dog Missy to Dog Beach down in San Diego.  She'll get some small smoothhounds for ya!  Marina>> Danielle <Adam J.>

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>

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

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

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>

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

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

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 -- >

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 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>

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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