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FAQs about Leopard Shark Systems

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Related FAQs: Leopard Sharks, Leopard Shark Identification, Leopard Shark Behavior, Leopard Shark Compatibility, Leopard Shark Selection, 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

... need thousands plus gallons of water... chilled...

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

Shark Keeping, Sys., filtr., Triakis...    4/11/09
Hi All
Firstly I'd like to start by praising your efforts in maintaining the WWM website with its vast library of information. It has proved a priceless commodity in my research efforts.
<Very glad>
The reason for my email is to try and get some further detailed info specific to our climate in the UK.
I am keen on setting up a shark system, and I would like to build and maintain the best possible system to do this. To do this, I am currently exploring the avenue of building a shark 'pond' outdoors.
<Can be done...>
I am a great fan of the Leopard Shark (Triakis semifasciata). And being a shark from the temperate region, I was hoping that the climate in the UK would be sufficient to support this shark? I know that during the winter months it will require heating, but my initial thoughts are as follows:
I will be building an 1800 imperial gallon pool which will be used for the first couple of years, until a 5000-6000gal pool is built. The pool will be housed within a polytunnel/greenhouse type structure to protect from the elements. The water will be thermostatically controlled to ensure water temps stay stable and above 55 degrees. As well as a heavy duty cover to prevent jumping out...
I was also hoping you could provide some detailed info on the filtration requirements of the system. I know that it will be an extensive system due to their mess... but specifics I am yet to determine.
<Mmm, what little I know re is posted on WWM:
and the linked files above... Need high circulation (at least ten times turn-over per hour), no ammonia, nitrite presence... minimal nitrates (under 10 ppm)>
I was thinking of developing a multi stage DIY system, with a huge protein skimmer. Probably consisting of several drums house a variety of media, such as live rock and Caulerpa.
<... I'd be looking to other algal use:
As well as a fluid bed filter?
<A good choice of gear here>
Anthony Payne
<Do keep reading, taking good notes... You have perused Scott Michael's Aquarium Sharks book? Bob Fenner>

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>

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>

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 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

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>

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

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>

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

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>

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> 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 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, "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>

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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