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FAQs about Coldwater Sharks in Captivity Systems

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

"Is it hot in here?"

Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

New Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner

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

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

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

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

<Cool water> shark with white spots....... Env. 8/1/11
<... six megs of pix... Follow directions>
Hey crew, I have been looking for answers as to what my shark has. She is a 20" Port Jackson I have had for a year and a half. Recently after adding a yellow tail fusilier she has started swimming more than normal.
Upon inspection I see her skin now has bumps. Fins look bad like she has fin rot, also her skin has white bumps which I thought where Ich but after looking at them they look like 4 legged white starfish. She has been like this for a few weeks. I thought it was Ich
<Not... is environmental, not pathogenic in origin>
and bought quinine sulfate from National Fish Pharm. After a week of treatment I saw no difference. I was wondering if this was due to my tank temp of 70°?
<Very likely so... this animal is subtropical>
Should I run treatment again?
I also did a formalin bath on the shark and it worked wonders
<Burned off outer skin>
but shark now has the white dots reappearing. I was wondering if you guys could help me identify what this is and how I could treat it. I'm not opposed to doing a huge water change and removing all rock etc. Just want the Shark to be fine. Did the quinine sulfate treatment need longer exposure period due to the temp and life cycle of Ich? Thanks again,
Andres G. Munoz
Pics attached......
<Stress, pollution, thermal... Detail the system, foods/feeding, water quality tests... Do you know the needs of this species? Bob Fenner>

Re: shark with white spots....... 8/1/11
Hey Bob, sorry for the crazy email. I don't know how to properly attach these pics to an email from my phone.
<Mmm, me neither... might have to be sent to a computer, with software for manipulating graphics. Our cheesy webmail space is limited to 50 megs... Hence the worry, admonition to limit incoming file sizes>
Anyway I have kept port Jackson sharks for years and just recently began the process of moving. I am setting up my 4' wide by 8' long by 3' tall aquarium up at the new house.
<Ahh, how nice! For function's sake, the system doesn't need to be this deep... could be two feet tall... but does need to be covered as you likely know>
The shark is currently held in a 6' long by 30" long by 30" tall aquarium with a chiller which I usually run about 67°.
<Good. I would limit the high end of temp. here; perhaps stock other "southern" Australian livestock here... i.e., not tropicals>
Tank has about 150lbs of LR, runs a Deltec ap851 Skimmer, 300 gal capacity wet/dry, and a fluidized bed filter rated for 300 gals. I feed her twice a week squid, shrimp, octopus, crab meat, marine fish flesh with added vitamins (soaked in Vitamarin m) use the mazurka <Mazuri> Shark tabs. As far as water q. I tested a few days ago and water was as follows.....Ph 8.3......nitrite 0.......nitrate 40
<Mmm, too high... I'd do what I could to keep under 20 ppm, ideally under 10. This NO3 issue may be a principal indication/source of your trouble here. Do see WWM re NO3>
.....ammonia 0.......sal 1.0024......any ideas? Could it have been something I fed her?
<You may have a thiaminase issue: http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_1/thiaminase.htm
and the linked Nutritional Disease FAQs file above>
I fed her snapper and shortly after I started seeing the white skin spots which Adler more so t shaped.
<Bob Fenner>

Grey Smooth Hound question: Shark Systems This isn't even close.: 6/29/2010
I was wandering if a 10 inch grey smooth hound would last in a 125 gallon tank?
<For a little while......>
The dimensions are 6 foot long by 18 inch wide and 2 foot tall.
<That, with the right equipment would keep the shark alive for the first year if you are lucky.>
The tank also has 20 lb of live rock and protein skimmer fit for a 125 gallon, a emperor 400 filter system and two 1200 gph water circulators.
<Inadequate to keep a shark alive. They need lots of circulation, and pristine water quality. They are also a temperate water species, so you would need a chiller to keep the water cool enough.>
My plan is to upgrade to a 240 gallon or 300 gallon in about 1 1/2 yrs or 2 yrs.
<....and it will need a 500 to 1000 gallon shortly after that.>
<Please, read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coolh20sharks.htm and here:
Also read "Sharks & Rays" by Scott W Michaels before even attempting something like this.>

Young smooth hound shark question... sys. mostly 6/4/09
Hi all - been reading your site for a while now, and it has made my saltwater experience vastly better. I currently have up and running a 265 gallon tank housing a number of tangs, puffers, and some of the more docile and small morays (pushing the capacity of the tank, I know - it was a package deal when I started, and I simply gave away a number of fish, just to improve the lives of everyone else). I've also started cycling a 600 gallon setup - not really knowing what to put in there, until recently.
While picking up supplies at less than reputable LFS, I noticed they had a small (think ~50 gallon) aquarium with 4 small (8-10") smooth hound sharks.
<A shame>
This is deplorable, IMO, and knowing this store, I knew they'd sell them to whomever, without concern for sizing - I saw them sell a 6' green moray w/ a 90 gallon tank, to give you an idea. Anyways, I put a deposit on all four sharks right away (I have a friend w/ a 1200 gallon tank who'll take two of them). On to my question - my BIG tank isn't ready yet, but I have a 100 gallon tank that's cycled (and maintained w/ it's own skimmer/filters) in which I keep some feeder fish. Do you think that will be sufficient for the
small sharks for the next 8-12 weeks while I finish prepping the big tank?
<Perhaps... what species of Dogfish are these? If (likely) a temperate species, chilling the water sufficiently may make all the difference here.
This will (ahead of time) necessitate doing what you can to initiate and secure at least nitrogen cycling (hard to do quickly in cold-water systems)...>
Also, any suggestions on eventual tankmates -
<Too much>
I've perused the site, and while there's plenty of info on epaulette and cat sharks, very limited on smooth hounds.
<This group of species is not often employed in ornamental settings... not "that" attractive, and need thousands of gallon systems ultimately... Bob Fenner>
Thanks in advance,
Re: Young smooth hound shark question - 06/05/09

Much obliged for the rapid response!
<Certainly welcome>
They are grey smooth hounds - I'm betting they were caught just off the coast in California (I'm in the San Francisco area).
<Ahh... coldwater animals>
I've got a decent nitrogen cycle going - the 100 gal. was my first tank, and I never "turned it off", and have simply used it for the occasional quarantine, or feeders.
I've brought temp and salinity in line with requirements for a cold water shark (1.025 SG, 70 degrees F)
<This temp. is way too high>
- I have a MONSTER chiller for the big tank, which can be hooked up to the little tank for now.
<I would do so... keep the temp. about what it is currently off the coast... sixty F. or so>
Ideally, what would be an appropriate final size tank for these little guys
<Again... thousands of gallons... Read here:
and the linked files above...>
- I believe they can reach just shy of 5'. I have the means and the focus to build whatever size tank (to put into context, my friends are jealous of my 19' reticulated python who has a bigger home than they do - 50'x 25'x 16').
Lastly, can you point me in the direction of any precise info on these smooth hound sharks?
<Mmm, not yet... Is there something in particular?>
I've searched WWM, Google, Fishbase, etc - and can find very limited information - just the basic requirements. Are these hardy sharks? Individual's experience?
<Can be hardy... given careful handling in collection, holding. FWIW, would get about, collect your own if you're going to/through the expense of housing, husbanding the species... Not hard to do...>
In the end, I may just release them back to their original waters.
<Mmm, do see my/our comments re... not advised... due to potential issues of "dragging along" other pests, vectors>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Young smooth hound shark question... lots of expletives! 6/5/2009

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

Thanks again for the info. Talked with the guys building the tank (they're also building the protein skimmer - one big enough for a 5K gallon tank), and it'll be here in 7 weeks - YAHOO! They keep 100K gallons of water cycling at all times, so they'll deliver the tank, set it up, and fill it, all in the same day. All I need to provide is cooling and lighting. Should be ready to go within 72 hours of delivery. Thanks again for your help.
<Again, welcome>
Oddly enough, the sharks looked so-so in their tank at the LFS, and the guy said they were light feeders.
<Mmm, not so>
In the couple of days I've had them, they've been voracious feeders, and look a lot healthier already. In that 2K gallon tank, do you think the smooth hounds would do ok with a bonnet head?
<No... not suitable size for Sphyrna... and not really compatible temperate or temperature wise. Best to stick with "other California natives"... life found in the same range as the Dogfish. B>
Thanks again,
Re Young smooth hound shark question, comp. 6/7/09

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

Awesome. Thanks again for all your help. The sharks appear to be doing quite well - substantially better than when I picked them up. They're eating daily
- they really love frozen krill and chunks of silversides (whole silverside appears to be too much for them to swallow).
<Do take care not to over-feed... best to feed to just full a couple of times per week>
Horn sharks it is. My buddy tells me he sees them off Catalina frequently, so that's where we'll look. Should be fun. Can't wait to stock the BIG tank.
<Ah, good>
Thanks again, for all your help. I'll send pics when they're big and healthy in their big home.
<I thank you. BobF>
Re: Young smooth hound shark question, sys., acrylic tk. sel. -- 06/12/09

Hi gents - just wanted to give you a piece of advice/suggestion for other aquarists interested in keeping sharks/large tanks.
<Please do>
I work for a company that often deals with large volumes of chemicals - some safe, some very unsafe - and we have catch basins under all the machinery in the event of a spill - these tubs go up to 10K gallons. On a whim, I emailed our contact there, and asked him for a quote on a clear acrylic hexagon tank
- 16' diameter, 6' deep (roughly 7500 gallons). Take a guess at how much, and the lead time? You'd be wrong. $12,500 delivered. 7 days. And a 3 year warranty against ANY leaking
<Mmmm, I'd have you do a bit more look/seeing here. There are "quality differences" in the acrylic material being used... Some are far more appropriate for aquarium use than others... This "tank" may not be/stay
very clear>
The company in question asked not to be named, as this isn't their bread-and-butter,
<? Makes me feel dubious re the use of their products... is this simply a liability issue?>
but they told me that any chemical safety company ought to be able to do the work in the cost ballpark. For
comparison, I got quotes from 4 reputable aquarium builders for the exact same spec tank - the lowest quote was $32K, and the highest was $71K.
<Seems about in the range...>
Thanks again for your great site, and great advise. The sharks are doing great still, eating krill every 2-3 days.
<Keep studying... RMF>
Re: Young smooth hound shark question... sys. f' 5/16/09

Hey guys - another question about these sharks, and the requisite skimmer/sump setup. I've ordered up a Euro-Reef RC4000 (their BIG one -knowing that in 2 years it'll go on my big tank). Anyways, I'm questioning the need for a sump, instead of a simple in-line setup. Speaking to the guys at Tenecor, who are obviously fairly knowledgeable on the subject, they suggested that a sump/refugium is pretty unnecessary for a shark tank, and that a huge skimmer like this, coupled with their "marine" filtration system, would be more than adequate. Any thoughts?
<I like the sump/s for a few reasons... all archived on WWM... Please read before writing us... A scant review: the added volume and all it allows, a place to sequester/isolate stock, an area to place gear like the skimmer mentioned below... a good place for doing what one might do to add/blend chemical/physical adjuncts...>
BTW, sharks doing fine - eating well every two days, a couple of krill, and yesterday some squid. Water specs are all optimal - temp is 62 +/- 2, 1.025 SG, pH of ~8.3, low nitrites/nitrates. Very active too, which is cool.
<Ah, good>
Lastly, any tips on cycling such a big tank? I'm not thinking of using additives, but instead buying like a 1000 gallon horse trough, and start the cycle now in there (add sand/rock), while the tank is being built, and when it arrives, transfer that over, then dump a couple dozen feeder fish in there.
<Nix to the feeders... but the trough (can be made into a/the sump...) a great idea... to culture some substrate, microbes for now... room temp... slowly lowering (a degree or so F. per day) before placement in the DT.

Metal alternatives in reinforcing shark tank 6/30/09
Hey all - thanks for all the info prior. My smooth hounds are doing great, and their 2000 gallon home is cycling now. Anyways, as stated earlier, I'm planning a LARGE tank in my house that's being built. I was originally thinking a 5000 gallon hex, but talking with the shark specialists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (who are super helpful, btw),
<Ah, yes>
I've been told a longer tank vs. circular is preferred for swimming sharks (I'm hoping to put a pair of black tip reef sharks in there - keep in mind this is 2 years down the line - so 2 years of experience with the Smoothhounds). So we've designed a tank that's 28' long x 12' wide x 6' tall - 15K gallons. Now, on to my question.
The builder wants to use steel rebar for the concrete beneath, beside, and behind the tank (front and lid are reinforced acrylic). I told him that was unacceptable, but he replied that wood wouldn't be strong enough in the long run. I asked some folk at the local aquariums, and no one seemed to know what was behind/inside their walls.
<Very likely, almost a certainty, there is some sort of reinforcing metal/mesh or rod>
So curious if you guys happen to know what large aquariums use for structural members? Or do they say "F it" and use metal?
<Can indeed be used, but one must pay particular attention to the type of rebar used (coated/sheathed) and MAKE SURE that the concrete itself is adequately water-proofed. May seem strange, but "ordinary" concretes are not impermeable to water... and you MUST not have ferrous leaking, touching the sharks' water>
Also, while I've used Tenecor for my current tanks, could you point me in the direction of some reputable custom aquarium builders (for LARGE aquariums)?
<Try CASCO/SeaClear/Tradewind, and San Diego Plastics, and maybe ask at Reynolds in Colorado...>
Searching Google gives me tons of useless sites who's custom tanks barely crack 500 gallons.
<Ongoing welcome. Bob Fenner>

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

Smooth hound shark... Sys., fdg. 3/29/07 I have a 3 foot smooth hound shark <.> what <What> temp should I keep the water as the place I got him failed to tell me, <... Depends on the species... there are several sharks with this common name... See fishbase.org re... Likely though this is a sub-tropical animal... requiring the use of a chiller... and temperatures of 55-70 F. or so...> and also how often should I feel this guy. <Feel?> he is a pig <Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm The second tray... on Cartilaginous fishes... 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>

Spiny Dogfish Hey Dogfish, <Yowzah, yo!> This one might be right up your alley. Essentially I would like to house two Dogfish. I live in Western Washington and they are quite common in our waters. I have read from what info I can find on dogfish that they can grow up to a max size of just over 5 feet. Now I have read your site for about the past four hours and the one thing I don't want to do is get sharks and keep them in a tiny tank. So I am trying to figure out what size of tank would be needed for two full grown (five foot) Spiny Dogfish. <Biiiiig... like at least their twice their length and once their width> I figure if this is too large for what space and finances I have then I shouldn't even try and will just enjoy the sharks when I am scuba diving. <Agreed, indeed> Thanks for your time, Brian Hoyt <And you for yours. Bob Fenner>

California Shark Dreaming Hi again! I'm still going after my crazed 900+220=shark tank + tidepool/bait tank. Due to its size, it would have to be outside, and in SoCal, during summer I don't think I could get the tank below 70, even if I bypassed a chiller to servicing only the main tank on its own separate loop, disconnected from the filter system. <Could be done... with adequate chilling, insulation... but expensive> This filter setup goes overflow-floss/pad-carbon-skimmers (built from pre-made skimmer powerheads to avoid airstones with 3' tubes) - fluidized bed filter-wet dry (to reoxygenate) - refugium-chiller-shark[s]. I was thinking of having a rotating box where the output from the wet-dry would fill it up until it dumped its water into the tidepool, where it would be slowly sucked away by the chillers and back into the tank. is this feasible? <Yes... a few design possibilities here... surge systems, spill-over cammed buckets... but I wouldn't do this. Not enough to be gained for the trouble, added gear, exposure> I am hoping it will simulate waves better, and make the tidepool animals more comfortable. <Our defunct businesses designed, fabricated and installed such systems... mainly for public aquariums and zoos... not hard to do, but require careful planning, upkeep> in the main tank for substrate I am hoping to have mostly beach sand (NOT silica) with some refugium mud and rocks at one for a small macro algae forest, also a large cave for the shark[s] to hide in, or maybe the removable-panel idea from the archives. in the tidepool, a few large rock slabs as the main substrate, with lots of rock and large gravel in the rest to best simulate the tidepool substrate. I am looking at 1-2 H. francisci, with something to stir the sand, any recommendations on what to stir with or sand bed depth would be appreciated. another option in 2 swell and a guitarfish or stingray. <The Heterodontus will keep the upper substrate moved around themselves> would either of these be sufficient for stirring the sand with the 2 horns, or is the bioload too much? <I would start with the Horned Sharks, test the water for accumulating metabolites and add other livestock in a few months> (I'm worried about the crowding, the FBF is going to be enough for 1500 with only 1150 to filter (the extra 30 from all the chillers, piping, skimmers, etc.) in the 220, I'm wide open: Nudibranchs, cucumbers, anemones, octopi, crabs, snails, I know that I really want a small school of Catalina gobies, they are just too cool! what are the regulations on Garibaldi? <Can't be collected from the U.S. coast, but of all things... can be from Baja... and are... and sold in foreign countries. Have your dealer contact the L.A. wholesalers (likely Quality Marine) and ask re their purchase> is it illegal to keep them? do you know any legal places to collect (lightly, over a period of 8-10 months) from tidepools? also, what can I keep as a janitorial crew with the sharks? I figure I would lose crabs, snails, small lobster, etc. quickly. would I just be in for a lot of manual labor? <The last> also, I would be going to college, possibly as far away as Maryland (presently) a couple years after setup of the tank, right now my #1 choice is Humboldt state, in Arcata, CA. <A very fine school, esp. for fisheries.> They have a private aquarium area with a large amount of tanks, so I'm hoping I can overnight the sharks with a battery air pump running a skimmer (about 5) if not, how can I accomplish the 8+ hour transport? <Can be shipped in large Styrofoam boxes in a large truck... with airstones, or if sharks are large (a few feet in length) with 12V fluid-moving pumps... (or if very large sharks with them anesthetized and these pumps recirculating water through their mouths...> I am terribly afraid of temperature stress. I also had problems deciphering the transporting sharks section of the site, any help would be appreciated. Right now I am thinking of using one of the transformers that turn a car outlet into 110v AC to power a chiller, air pump, and maybe the FBF. <Not worth trying to run the/a chiller in transit... you can float containers with ice/cubes if there is very warm weather> is current required for transporting large (for aquarium sharks at least) 3'-5' sharks? also, depending on location, the tank may need to be 8x5x3 instead of 10x4x3 LxWxH which would you say is preferable? <Either will do for Horn Sharks... Anthony's Brother in law has some in an eight by system... in Pittsburgh!> recommendations for supplements needed, water movement, pump styles/names, brands, etc. would be greatly appreciated. For the water coming out of the tidepool, a "wavemaker" <Not necessary. Can run unidirectionally, fine> which turns the powerheads 3 min on, 3 min off would take it out, with either a regular waterfall or the swinging box putting it in, so the water level would go up and down, hopefully simulating the waves as best I can. also, what should the stand be made of? <Either four bys tied together with carriage bolts (for ease of disassembly) and braced in all dimensions, or welded steel, powder-coated...> I am DIY most of the project, and I can't make a steel stand overlaid with wood, which I just learned after reading the site. can you get me in contact with the guy who has the H. francisci in the 800? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/coldshkfaqs.htm fourth and fifth questions from the bottom. <Will cc Anthony here> I would like to learn the specs of his setup, and what kind of plant he has in his "forest" as well as his maintenance routine, and where he obtained the shark. Sorry for the essay of Q's! Robert <No worries. DO your homework as thoroughly as you have time, patience for. Bob Fenner>

Cold water shark keeping - 3/17/04 I want to thank you for your web site and all your help. <No worries. Glad it could/can help you> I've been doing a lot of research and I am currently cycling a 135 gallon aquarium (for about 6 weeks now). It is equipped with a euro reef skimmer(cs6-2+), Iwaki 30rlxt pump for circulation and a built in over flow to my 150 gallon AMiracle wet/dry system with a 15 gallon tank attached to the wet/dry for additional sump space. I do also have a chiller as well. Now I know how you feel about sharks, <Uh-oh. Especially cold water sharks> specially cold water sharks. <Doh!> This is something that I've always wanted to do and I intend to start working on setting up my next aquarium because I do understand that they will not be able to be kept in this size aquarium for long. <How about just not doing it. I don't think your temperature will get low enough with the chiller alone, this is an inadequate tank size amongst other things> I am realistically looking at a 1,300 gallon tank as my next project. <Expensive for a cold water setup plus the time commitment is large. Speaking of large...this is a large long-term investment to undertake> I figure I have enough time <and long-term money??> if I start setting it up now to be able to move them in the near future. <how soon?> My question to you is do I even need a heater? <Probably not> I live in Southern California, water is set currently at room temperature and it fluctuates from 72-75 right now <pretty warm!! and going to get warmer in the summer months> (I do not have the chiller currently running since the tank only has 8 damsels in it). <Why do you have damsels in it?? For cycling? I don't like this method of bioloading a tank. Couldn't come with other ways?> What exactly would be the best water temperature to maintain??? <For what type of shark? Most cold water sharks come from the range of 54-64 but shoot for the middle at around 58 degrees> Should it be kept constant year round??? < A fluctuation of a few degrees is not that big of a deal, but you should ideally want to keep your inhabitants in as perfect conditions as one can create at all times.> Would a heater be required at all to help keep temp steady??? <again, probably not> I intend to purchase 2 leopard pups and one Smooth hound shark pup as well. <and keep them in a 135 for some time? Doubtful. Very doubtful!! I would consider this on the cruel side> I want to supply anything needed to assure the survival of these species in my home. <How about letting them live in the ocean and try a video or take up diving?> What exact water conditions are required??? <High 50's water and excellent water chemistry.> Salinity??? <True ocean salinity and density of 1.025 35ppt> How often and how much water should be changed once the pups are introduced??? <Depends on how fast it breaks down. Would likely need to change the water very often. A few times a week. these are very messy eaters.> And last but not least, would you recommend any type of Ray that could be kept with these types of sharks and at their preferred temperature??? <there are a few different rays but to add to the stocking density you have planned even a 1300 gallon tank won't be enough room> This is truly my last question, how fast do these sharks grow??? <Fast. Up to 12 inches or more a year in a well fed aquarium in ideal conditions.> Are they a good compatible combination??? <I thought the previous question was your last? Just kidding.....I don't like most sharks to be in captivity except for by large public aquariums (not in all cases but usually these companies have the money and well educated manpower to keep them). You would/will need a much much larger tank> I want to estimate how much time <time is not as important as money (short term and long term), human commitment, space available, then time> I have (hoping for at least a year and a 1/2 to two years) before I need to introduce them to their new tank??? <No. You will need to start with a very large tank now. I implore you to reconsider keeping these sharks. ~Paul> Thank You for your help. Jimmy Sandoval

Sharks in captivity part 2 - 3/19/04 WOW! I am now seriously reconsidering pursuing this at this time. <Considering?> I've been looking at larger tanks and I think that my "dream" of owning a coldwater shark tank will need to be put on the back burner for now. <Excellent> I've spent so much time, money and effort in creating my 135 gallon tank that I get exhausted with just the idea of starting all over again from scratch with a 1,000+ gallon tank. <More like 2000+> I wanted to know for future reference, I did see a "shark tank" that was 12'x6'x3' and wanted to know if you felt this size would be adequate to start if I do decide to pursue my cold shark tank in the future. <I think you know my answer> I am hoping to purchase a new home in the near future and realize it would be nearly impossible to move a tank this size so I will be putting off this idea for now. <OK> You have helped me in keeping me from making a big mistake. <Good> I was really disappointed with your reply but soon realized it was in everybody's best interest not to do it at this time (especially my wife/she thanks you). <Good to hear> Now that I am just about ready to hang up the cold shark idea I must begin to research further to see what I am going to put in current tank after all. Now I Love Sharks, so I wanted to know if you think I could keep a small banded shark in this tank with maybe a blue spotted ray??? <In a 135? Nope> I haven't really looked in to either one of these so I also wanted to know if they are compatible??? <Well, look into them. They are compatible in my experience but not in that small of a tank. I would say start at 500 gallons or more and be sure the tank is more round than square. Likely a custom build> What water conditions would be suitable for these fish??? <Oh no, do let your fingers do the walkin' and research yourself. This info is available on our website too many other sites as well. No need to reinvent the wheel> Temp??? Salinity??? <Check it out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharks.htm and do a search in google> I know that for leopard sharks from what I had read it said not too put much if any decorations in the tank. <I agree> Would it be a good idea to put some type of landscaping with a banded shark??? <maybe some live rock but not too much in the main display tank> And a blue spotted ray??? <same as above> As far as live rock, if so how should the rocks be kept to a minimum??? <Use boulder type configuration> Do they also need the open space to swim??? <Yes> Should I try and make caves for them??? <Large coral heads (fake) would be ideal> My tank is three sided so do they need hiding space??? <Yes. This is a corner unit? If so then I feel this is a very unsuitable tank for a shark or ray ~Paul> Thanks again, Jimmy

Shark filtration hey bob, <Hey Will, MacL here with you this fine and lovely evening.> you've compiled and put up some great info on WetWebMedia.Com! <Every day I become more amazed at the work that's gone into this site. Bob Fenner and company are fast becoming my idols> I must say that it has been the most comprehensive and informative source that I have come across yet. anyway, lets cut to the chase... I've got a 55 gallon glass tank with a hood, stand etc... I've got about 40 lbs. of live sand, I've mixed some instant ocean salt. as far as equipment, I'm running 2 fluorescent tubes in their own hoods, 2 powerheads (150gph ea. ), and a 30-60 hang on filter that uses carbon/foam cartridges. I've also got an airstone aerating the incoming water. <sharks cannot stand nitrates whatsoever so your tank has to be firmly and completely cycled. And you have to watch the nitrates very closely.> as far as equipment goes, I will be replacing the filtration unit with a protein skimmer, of course, however I am a little unclear about what else I am going to need... one of my local fish stores that sells sharks told me that I will need to purchase a good protein skimmer and place it inside of a 20 gallon sump filled with live rock. it sounds as though this would be a very good idea, after all biological and mechanical filtrations working in conjunction with one another should be better than just a skimmer. although it may just be overkill... <I don't think with sharks you can have over kill. They are big waste producers they eat a lot of food.> I don't plan on placing anything inside of the tank other than 1 small juvenile grey smoothhound shark. no decorations other than live sand either. <You might need some type of cave for him to feel secure in.> with this said, my main questions are as follows: 1. what do you recommend I go with as far as filtration ? I would like to be as economical as possible, but don't want to get crappy components that will just barely keep my shark alive. my local fish stores wanna sell me all this super pricey equip. so specific product recommendations will DEFINITELY be taken into consideration and appreciated. <Definitely take a look at the best protein skimmer you can get. Aqua C and EuroReef come immediately to mind.> 2. my tank's got a glass support in the top middle, I don't want my smoothhound to jump up and catch a sharp edge, what should I do ? >is it something that can be sanded? > 3. should I keep my powerheads in the tank when my smoothhound arrives ? <I would definitely keep them in the tank but make sure the shark can't get into them> 4. anything you could recommend that I may have missed or gotten wrong that will keep my shark as happy as possible until it moves to its bigger home... <Sounds like you are serious about your research and well on the way to keeping him happy.> 5. lastly, how do grey smoothhounds and leopards compare ? leopards are just so beautiful but my understanding is that they grow larger and possibly faster than smoothhounds... I don't want a beautiful unhappy shark, so I'm pretty much set on the smallest smoothhound I can find... unless I can achieve the same results with a baby leopard. thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you <I think you are definitely going to see very fast growth and lots of movement from both species. Please keep us up to date Will. MacL> -will

I purchased a Brown Smooth Hound shark for my system today the shark is swimming fine I have a 200 gallon 5 feet long 2 feet wide an 30 inches high my temperature is a 72 degrees and I have a 150 pounds of live rock is that to much for the tank with a shark write me back tell me please.<MikeD here, and in my opinion you've goofed. The only sharks I'd even begin to contemplate for a 200 would be the smallest catsharks (largely a bottom dwelling species), and even there it would be barely tolerable, with a 6 foot length usually the BARE minimum. If possible read "Sharks&Rays" by Scott W Michaels before even contemplating anything else along this line. Is there any chance the fish can be returned?>

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

Leopard shark 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 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>

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>

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><Heeeeeee!>
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>

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>

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

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 -- >

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 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>

Sharks and Rays in Aquariums
Gaining an understanding of how to keep these fishes in captive saltwater systems   

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by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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