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FAQs about Horn, Leopard, other Coldwater Sharks in Captivity 1

Related Articles: Coldwater Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Cold Water SystemsBlacktip Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Sharks in General, Cartilaginous Fishes, Moving Sharks

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

A California Horn Shark, Heterodontus francisci. Coldwater.

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 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>

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

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

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.

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>

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>

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

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>

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

"You ain't nothin' but a Dogfish, swimming all the time..." I was referred to you by Jim at Aquarium-Design.  <Ah, yes; friend, industry associate Jim Stime> A student asked me why a dogfish is called a dogfish; do you know why. Jim seemed to think you know everything. Thanks. <I only know a little about pet-fish. My "given name" in the Hash House Harriers is Dogfish, and have cut up a few for anatomy classes, instruction... a common name that applies to a number of species (see Fishbase.org) of two families of Sharks... there is some resemblance about the head to canines (see Squalus acanthias), but the label is mainly derogatory... as in "worthless" as a dog... as these fishes are not considered a good catch. Pix et al. re these cartilaginous fishes can be found here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm Bob Fenner>

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>

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

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

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>

Horn shark keeping... story Hi I am writing to you in regard to keeping horn shark. I have been keeping horn sharks, catshark and bamboo sharks for years. I have found keeping them is very easy to do. I live in Chicago south suburbs. I have kept my horn shark for years and had no problem related to temperature. My tank is kept between 77-80 at all times.  <Do you know what/which species of Horn Shark you're keeping?> I have been feeding him fresh shrimp from the store. I house my sharks in 135 gallon tank with four different types of wrasses. I keep tank my cool family room with oceanic reef filter and a sea clone protein skimmer. <A small skimmer for such a large tank, big/messy feeders> My water changes done every two to four months depending on water test results.  <This is a long interval.> I have also kept fresh water fish in my other tanks for long as fifteen years. I brought books on sharks and accumulated a large library of information on them. I hope there more successful people out there. <Me too> Yours Truly, Mel Hardwick <Thank you for your input. Will post with the Sharks FAQs on our site, and to an article covering the family (Heterodontidae) to be written. Be chatting. Bob Fenner>
Re: Horn shark keeping
Dear Bob; I am sorry I didn't tell you that the shark I have is a California horn shark.  <No worries... Heterodontus francisci is the most popular/commonly used species by far> I live in area with a great deal pet stores. To those who are looking for a great deal of information try Barnes and Noble books or on the net fishbase.org. I thank you for taking the time to respond to my email. The secret to my success is keep my prefilters clean on a weekly basis.  <Ah! A good practice with such large fishes> Second is to feed my shark just enough, not leaving no waste at the bottom of the tank. <Again, a very valid point> My shark eats every 2 to 3 days. A lot of information I attain from friends at sea world on line and the shed aquarium. I enjoy your website. I help a lot of friends and co workers get start with fresh water or marine fish. I like to let those who are looking for good pet stores in Chicago or southwest suburbs. Starting with Alsip Nursery-Frankford IL 815-469-1044,Capture Of The Sea Orland Park IL 708-444-7614,For Shark and Stingrays Falling Waters 708-478-7663 and Scott's Pets 31st wolf road Westcher IL. All these pet stores have excellent prices and livestock. Most have a very experience staff on hand.  <Great!> I hope I helped someone become a better fish keeper. Remember the fish best fish keeper are the people every time you go to there home they have the same fishes and not lots of different fish in the tank? Thank You Mel H. <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

Big Small Shark Stocking Plans Hello, I was wandering can you have an epaulette and port Jackson shark in a 500 gallon? <Likely so.> and are Portjacksons fish eaters <Like all members of their family, Heterodontidae ("different teeth"), they eat both fishes and hard-shelled invertebrates...> if so how big would the fish have to be for them to be not interested in eating? <Small, slow, unaware enough to either fit in their mouths or a good piece therein> How big would the Portjacksons get in a setup like this with the epaulette and 4 other big fish that would include a honeycomb grouper stars and stripes puffer, queen angel and other big angel? <About thirty inches> Do you see any problems in this stocking list? <Hmm, just a need for big filtration, aeration, circulation. Bob Fenner>

Horn Shark Update Hey Bob welcome back! Two months after purchase the Horn Shark I put in my 800 gallon tank is doing way better than expected. The little guy is still about 1'6" still, which is a good size he looks really small in the tank so I know he's got room. How big should I expect him to grow? I figured about 3-4' at most at least that's what I have been reading. <Yes, but likely two and a half foot maximum in your care> Probably less than that though in a captive situation right? Any way he has not been to fond of the lights which are reef intensity from my previous tanks. I lowered the amounts of light considerably, however he continued to hide in the giant cave I built for him in the far left of the tank. I visually reduced the size of the tank by adding a removable panel that matches the wall. This way he can have privacy and when I need to awe some viewers I can take it off and show the entire tank. This has been a great success as he now spends most of his time fishing through the sand or swimming open water. The teeth I can see when I look close appear to be purplish. Is this from the occasional urchin I feed him?  <Likely, yes> I'm guessing so, I usually feed him mostly muscles and shrimps and once a week an urchin but lately he's been getting spoiled more like 4 urchins per week. Its hard to tell just how he is getting at the soft body inside he does it so fast its mostly a cloud of sand. Any help on how he pulls this off?  <Crushing in mouth, inhaling most all that is edible, blowing rest by gill slits, otherwise passing through spiral intestine...> The water temp now is about 60 which is just about right I think. He had some sort of a corrosion on his tail fin when I got him however it has disappeared and the tail is fully grown again. Any other help/ info on this guy would be appreciated. Thanks Again! <You likely know more than I... should write a husbandry article on this groups (heterodontids) captive care, your experiences, speculations. Bob Fenner>

Help for the big tank guy <Heterodontus> Hello again Bob, I have written you in the past about my large systems, 800 gallon angelfish, 500 gallon reef. Now that my house has finally finished all of the cleanup and we're fully settled my tanks finally are too. <Must be a relief!> I sold the contents of my 800 gallon angelfish, most of which funded my 400 gallon office show tank filled with Fathead Anthias, about 22 and Green Chromis about 30 or so, really a spectacular tank especially on a reef setting. <Neat... and all the Sunburst/Fatheads get along?> The Boston Aquarium was generous enough to accept my 16 inch emperor. In return I was hooked up with a deal from a neighboring fish farmer with a 1 1/2 foot horn shark. I put him in the 800 in a cold water setting with very little rock work except for a large cave at one end, mostly large beds of kelp-like grasses to provide a san Francisco bay type setting. The shark seems to be thriving and what I thought would be the biggest eye sore is non existent, him laying on the bottom like in the those undersized nurse shark tanks. Obviously being a Horn Shark he still does this but he is a very active swimmer. He eats well and enjoys the occasional urchin which gets very interesting.  <Hmm, yes... I have a pic of a Heterodontus francisci swimming about in Scott Michael's new Shark and Ray book... am quite familiar with this species> What kind of things should I mix into his diet to ensure a long life?  <Most anything will do... the name "hetero" and "don't" point up the fact that these small temperate and tropical sharks can/do eat hard-bodied organisms... like the urchins you mentioned, clams, crustaceans... as well as fish...> He thrives in the cold water but how cold is too cold?  <Below 50 F. or so. But I would keep mine at nearer 70 F. so you don't go broke chilling water, and your shark will move about more at this elevated temperature.> Its been a pleasure to do this project the right way, the fish has lots of swimming room and it really looks great. The 500 is taking on full life, it turns the corner of my living room into the hall and is longer then wider, more so than usual. I have added a lot of water flow on the branched off section that's in the hall (about 100 gallons of room there) to accommodate my final additions, 3 Jewel Tangs, (Acanthurus guttatus), thanks to the Marine Center. <Wow, have rarely seen this species kept... just not offered in the trade... congratulations> Its kinda like a surge zone with only the hardiest of my corals. Its a pretty cool effect. The Semilarvatus B'flys are growing nicely, all three are now about 6 inches. The Sohal has also maxed out at about 9 inches now. Most of the little fish have been removed except for the occasional cleaner wrasse, I think I still have two, and a group of Catalina Gobies that have really done better than expected in their own little territory near the far glass against a rock wall. What other requirements do the Jewel tangs have? <About the same as the Naso lituratus... lots of room, rock, greenery to eat, water movement> They seem to be healthy after a month of quarantine (I was extra cautious be it I never used e-fish purchasing before. They only feed really well on Nori right now though. What else do they eat? <Mostly green, brown, red algae, but will eventually take most all foods> The Majestic Angel was also removed after he suddenly went violent on my corals. Any reason for this? <Just happens at times> Thanks for all the help, you've contributed a good deal to helping my tanks get to the way they are at this point, nice and steady. Kev <Outstanding. Glad to have helped. Bob Fenner>

55 gallon shark aquarium? I was wondering if a 55 gallon aquarium would be large enough for a Hornshark or a banded shark, possibly if raised from an egg to try and keep its size down?  <Only for a very small individual for a few months> Or would they really need a bigger aquarium for when they mature in size? -Evan Glisson <You are correct... a much larger system as it would grow... along with sufficient filtration/aeration/circulation. Please read through the "Shark" and "Cartilaginous Fishes" sections, FAQs posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more. 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>

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.

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

Horn shark I have a Horn Shark that was eating very well up until 2 days ago . It seems a little sluggish and just has no interest in food .. I feed it squid and shrimp.. any ideas ? > Probably a little "indigestion". I definitely would not worry. These animals can and do go without feeding for weeks sometimes... Maybe try a bit of fish fillet in a few days. 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
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