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FAQs about Shark, Ray Environmental Disease

FAQs on: Shark Diseases 1, Shark Disease/Health 2, Shark Health 3, Shark Health 4, Sharks/Rays & Crypt,
Shark Disease FAQs by Type: Infectious (Virus, Bacteria, Fungus), Parasitic (see Sharks/Rays & Crypt, Flukes...), Nutritional (Goiter...), Trauma, SocialTreatments 

Back to Articles on: Sharks, Sharks In My Living Room?, Cartilaginous Fishes, Coldwater Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Port Jackson Sharks, Blacktip Reef SharkNurse Sharks, Moving Sharks

FAQs on: Sharks in General, Shark Identification, Shark Compatibility, Shark Behavior, Selection, Systems for Sharks, FeedingShark, Ray Eggs, Coldwater Sharks, Leopard Sharks, Heterodontus, Blacktip Reef Sharks, Nurse Sharks, Nutritional DiseaseMoving Sharks

Clean water of appropriate temperature per the species; Near natural seawater strength/density, a dearth of accumulated metabolite (often measured as Nitrate).

Need systems of sufficient size to move about, turn corners, dilute wastes, provide oxygen.

Stray electrical current or any ferrous material in their systems is contraindicated.

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

Horn shark sick      1/24/19
I bought a horn shark on Sunday. I got him in my tank just fine.
<Is this an Heterodontus francisci? This is a cold water species. Can you provide information about your tank size, water parameters, filtration and tankmates?...If possible a picture.>
He seems like his spine is injured. He is curled in a L shape. He tries to move but his tail just wiggles and he just scoots in circles. He wont eat anything. He breathes fine most of the time. Then sometimes he seems to not breath at all. I find it on its side sometimes just breathing. I think his spine is hurt and can't really move. I don't know how it happened.
<It can be severely stressed or could have been injured during capture.>
He seemed fine when I put him in the tank. He will sometimes start twitching like he is cramping up. I had to force feed him today since it is starting to look really skinny.
<I don´t think it has lost weight in four days, most likely you have acquired it in bad conditions.>
I fear every time I go to him he will be dead. I am not sure how to help him.
<Please give me/us more information. Wil.>
Re: Horn shark sick       1/25/19

It is Heterodontus Francisci. He is in a 300 gallon tank. Water was ammonia .25, nitrite 0, nitrate 0, ph 8.2, and temp is 68-70. I have a overflow box to a large sump underneath (not sure how many gallons) It has filter pad, bio balls, and a protein skimmer in it. I have a few live rock in it I got from an established tank. I have 3 chomps as tankmates.
<Have you done any significant change in the tank/filter recently? This ammonia reading is unusual for such a light bio load in a 300 gallon tank.>
I put some ammo lock yesterday to lower the ammonia and a 10% water change. Still no change in condition.
<You will not see any change that soon.>
I do see some red on his body last night when I turned a flash light on him to check on him last night.
<When sharks are stressed, they show reddish bellies.>
I feel like he is reacting to the ammonia. I would not think such a small amount could hurt him like that though.
<Oh yes, they are sensitive to even low ammonia levels, just like bony fishes. I recommend you to continue with the water changes,10% every other day will be fine; also add vitamins to the water and if/when the shark resume feeding on its own, try improving this fish´s diet with iodine, HUFA´s and vitamins mix added to its foods. DO NOT force feed for now and keep the lights out for a few days to calm the shark. Please keep us posted. Good luck Mike. Wil>
Re: Horn shark sick       1/25/19

The tank has only been running about a month.
I got the tank and equipment and live rock from a business local to me. He has over 2000 gallons running. He said the shark was already acting that way the first day he put it in his tank. He bought it for me at a wholesale place.
< If the shark was already in bad conditions, why did he bought it and placed it in an immature system??...>
So I do not feel like it was my tank that made him this way.
<You´re right, it was in bad conditions before getting in your tank.>
I asked him to hold it until my tank was good to go. He tested my water and said it was good to go for him.
< But evidently not for the shark. I think he didn't want to take the responsibility.>
He has red spots on his side, fins, and around his mouth. You can not see it during the day, only at night with a light on him
< Not too much to do at this point besides what I've already told, only time will tell. Cheers. Wil.>
Re: Horn shark sick       1/25/19

At what age can you sex a horn shark?
<Since birth, males have claspers(tube-shaped pelvic fin extensions),females lack them. Wil. >

High phosphates wither sharks      7/16/18
I have a 550 gallon salt water fish only tank. I two sharks approximately 2 feet long , epaulets and coral cat. I have been able to control the nitrates but not the phosphates, it us off the chart.
<Please tell me more about your tank equipment, other tank mates and maintenance practices.>
I am looking into hooking up a reactor with Phosguard but have read that some phosphate removers are not good with sharks. I was making sure Phosguard is okay to use with them.
<Phosphates are very hard to keep at low levels in Elasmobranch systems because of their feeding habits(amount and frequency). Fortunately high phosphate levels are tolerated by must shark species and YES, phosphate removers are toxic for them because of its ferric oxide composition which affects their electroreceptive system, I suggest you to use a deep sand bed refugium with algae(Chaeto/Caulerpa sp.) to keep phosphates in check; do frequent water changes and use a high quality skimmer rated to your tank gallon capacity to export nutrients before they break down.
Thank you
<You`re welcome. Wilberth>
Re: High phosphates wither sharks    7/17/18

I will try Phosguard thanks for your assistance.
<Let me know how it goes. Wilberth>

Marbled cat shark; sys., hlth.       12/31/17
Hi! My boyfriend recently purchased a shark for me for Christmas. I noticed about a week in that her belly started getting pinkish/red.
<Mmm; indicative of.... what? Some irritation likely... from the substrate? Being moved?>
The lady that sold her to him apparently had no clue what she was doing and sold us this very gravely type live rock.
He had no intentions of going and buying her so not much research was done which obviously wasn’t a smart move but she should have known because he sure didn’t. But we took that sand out and put a fine grain in there of the live and it still had a few shells and such in there that are hurting her belly. It was better for about a day before it got red again. What would you recommend?
<Mmm; how big and what are the dimensions of the tank, shark? Could you send along a well-resolved pic of all?>
Just taking all of the sand out or medicine or what? Your help would be much appreciated thank you!
<Glad to help; just need useful info. Bob Fenner>
Re: Marbled cat shark      12/31/17

I’m definitely thinking it’s irritation from the substrate. We just switched to the fine grain 2 days ago so we’re hoping if it DOES get better it’ll be by tomorrow or the next.
<Mmm; a longer time frame... perhaps a few weeks>
It’s seemed to have lighten up a lot it’s just kind of alarming. But it’s a 150 gallon. Which I know is small for now but we are looking into this 300 gal so it won’t be long before she is moved. She’s only about 6 months so she’s still small. I’m at work right now but I can send you s picture later!
<Real good. BobF>

Re: Marbled cat shark      12/31/17
This is the stuff they first sold to us.
<... inappropriate>
We also took the last be rock out for now. We had about a pound in there but just wanted any type of irritant out

Re: Marbled cat shark     1/1/18
Okay! Well thank you so much for your help and reassurance! I’ll be in contact to let you how she’s doing here soon! Happy holidays!
<Please do read the numerous "shark" articles and FAQs files archived on WWM... Not much to understand their needs, but unless provided... dire consequences. Happy new year. BobF>

Re: Marbled cat shark     1/27/18
I know it’s been awhile but I’d just like to let you know she is doing amazing!!! We got her in her new tank and is a champ!
<Yay! Thank you for your note. Bob Fenner>

What killed my Coral Catshark; env.         1/30/16
Hi Guys,
I just lost my coral Catshark after only having him for 4 weeks.
<Ahh; too commonly lost>

He had been
eating well and even started to come out during the day and boss the puffers
<Not compatible>

about. I need to know what is likely to have killed him so I can make sure i don't loose <lose> the rest of the tank, and to make sure I don't let this happen again in the future.
He looked fine in the tank, not floating or upside down, but when I took him out I could see that his underside and some of this top had blood red shadows under the skin.
<Again; basic symptom of stress... aspect/s of water quality, physical habitat, psychological, physiological poor fitting>

In some places these had actually bled through the skin and gills.
There were no other signs of damage, infection or parasite. The only other thing i had noticed is that for the last 2 days he had been moving as if swimming even when sat in his cave. The tank is 2500 litres, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrite, 25mg/l nitrate,
<Too much... see WWM re>

0 copper, 0 chlorine/chloramine, 0.06 ppm iodine. Highly oxygenated (2 large air stones, 45 l/min air pump, 2 skimmers), steady 25 degrees C. The only other thing i have found is that the ph has dropped to 7.6 without me noticing.
<.... disastrous. The pH scale is base ten logarithmic... a whole point change is an order of magnitude difference... See WWM re this as well
All other fish are fine and behaving as normal.
Please help as I love my animals like members of the family and don't want to loose <lose> others or do something wrong.
Many thanks
Steve Rose
<Let's have you start reading here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sharkdiseasefaqs.htm
then the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Help shark      7/21/14
See picture attached...this is my 2ft marble cat shark top fins. Do you know what is going on...is this fin rot?
<Mmm; the end of the dorsal fin structural elements are showing... something is eating, eroding the back edge.
Water quality is most likely off here... but could be... I'd be reading: WWM, my book on sharks...
Bob Fenner>

Re: Help shark      7/21/14
Is this likely to kill the shark...or will it grow back with time and good water conditions.
<Keep reading. BobF>

Smoothhound Shark bad nose... Coldwater, mis-placed... system       7/8/14
Hi , I own a Smoothhound shark approximately 18-20 inches on a 480 gallon rectangle tank with two tower live rock decorations on corners.
<... rectangular... the rock... this animal has damaged itself... You can read re other such incidents on WWM, in a book I've authored on captive shark husbandry (on Amazon.com)>

It looks like he hit his nose and it looks bad although he would eat everyday if i let him, i have been trying to feed every other day instead.(skid and or shrimp)
I had a bad spike in nitrates to what seemed over 160ppm at one time, Salt gravity is 1.021, Ammonia 0, Nitrites0 and nitrates close to 40, im vodka dosing on the 7th week @ 7.2ml
Do you think, more water changes would help him recover faster,
<Hard to say... using NO3 concentration as a guide to overall water quality... I'd keep under 20 ppm. Better by far to utilize RedOx... ozone... keep this at 350-400 mv/cm>
i was doing a monthly water change, i currently run a 7' long Sump/Refugium with live rock, DSB, (4) 7" Filter Socks
<Switch these out, wash daily>
2 40w UV Sterilizers with a MRC Orca pro II skimmer, 2 Carbon Media Chambers Water changes are done with RO/DI Water.
Also thinking about Mazuri Shark Vitamins, to try speed up his recovery.

I have noticed that at night he jumps and trashes over the bracing of the tank , he might have hit this with his nose, or maybe tank overflow it has some sharp corners.
<Did physically traumatize itself...>

His tankmates are a 3 Feet green Moray eel,
<What species? The congeners on either side of the C. American isthmus are very piscivorous... will eat all else you list fish-wise>

Show size Yellow tang, Small Desjardini, Purple tang, 2 red Big Eye Squirrel ,California stingray
<A coldwater organism, along w/ this Squalid>

and Show Size blond Naso tang.
Also thinking about adding more live rock on remote bins to lower nitrates as sump is full of Live rock and Chaetomorpha, with some coarse sand, i just discovered this is not as good as finer grade sand for Deep sand bed, so this will be changed soon.
<Sounds like worthwhile improvements>
Any help would be appreciated picture will be attached on a separate email.
<Thank you for these>
<Am named "Dogfish" in the Hash House Harrier run groups around the planet; so have an additional affinity for these shark species... Yous is likely doomed due to the physical trauma it has occasioned; along with this inappropriate setting.
Bob Fenner>

Re: Smoothhound Shark bad nose... explanation of cold vs. tropical mis-mix organisms    7/9/14
Thanks for your quick response. I quite did not understood what you meant about the water temp, I'm currently running 77 degrees
<... Yes; this IS a
subtropical/coldwater species... SEE WWM, FishBase.org... it really cannot be placed (nor the Ca. Ray; look this up as well) in a tropical setting. Part of the induced problem/s here>
I don't know if I could go colder with the Tangs, running a 1hp chiller on an APEX CONTROLLER.
<... the livestock you list NEED TWO very different systems. BobF>
Re: Smoothhound Shark bad nose

My ORP is currently 330 and I'm not running OZONE yet.
<Ahh! Glad to find that you are aware. B>

Re: Smoothhound Shark bad nose      7/13/14
What can i use to treat His wounds, im putting a kiddie pool together to treat him, I will have to go throughout a lot of water changes on it since it's not cycled.
<... Nothing to really treat... externally. Best to do what you can to bolster this fish's health nutritionally.
You mentioned Mazuri.com I believe. Have you read where I referred you?>
I just started putting it together it's 48"x48"x12 .
<Needs to be covered; lest this animal (easily) jump out>
Hope that I'm not too late.
<Me too. BobF>

3 year old banded cat shark sick... hlth., likely env. and nutritional    2/19/13
I've owned this cat shark for a little over a year, she's always been active and healthy. She's kept in a 300gal tank (84/30/24). We run two can filters, a 450gal skimmer, small sump, 2 power heads. Water parameters are 1.026sg, 76 degrees, 8.3ph, 0ammo/nitrite and our nitrates are usually in the 80ppm range
<Much too high
... and symptomatic/common for most all shark losses in captivity: the ill-effects of exposure to concentrated, accumulated metabolites>
 (I did recently upgrade to that larger 450gal skimmer and also added a bio pellet reactor to help with the nitrates)...
<I'd do more than this. See WWM re methods of NO3 control>
 I know the nitrates are high but I've had people say its not too big of a deal in a tank that large.
<Is a big deal>
Shark has seemed fine in the listed conditions.
However, 6 days ago she stopped swimming
and just lays in one spot, she'll wiggle a little to scratch her belly and before some major water changes (50% then 30%) she was swimming in her side for a brief moment, presumably to scratch her gills. After the 50% water change she finally ate and swam around a bit. I thought we were in the clear, that was 4 days ago. But she went back to just laying on the sand. I haven't actually seen her swim since she ate 4 days ago. I'm not sure what to go, or what caused this, but here's a little history of some out of the norm things from a few days before her signs of illness...
About 5 days prior, I did a large (40%) water change. After, I realized that my RODI system was putting out about 86ppm if TDS. So it's possible there was something in the water that is bothering her.
<Doubtful... there's more TDS added via salt and foods>
In a state of panic (a couple days later when the shark was looking sick), I dosed the tank with Prime just in case it was water pollutants or metals.
<Of no use here>
Also, just a day or two before the symptoms, I added a bio pellet reactor which made the water cloudy from a bacteria bloom (every thing I've read says that's normal and harmless, but I'm not convinced).
<You should be>
Also, I had just bought a fish from a local chain pet store (against my better judgment), so in thinking possible disease introduced?
Lastly, I put a capful of Iodide in the sharks food (per my local fish stores direction) and let it soak in. I do this about once a month just to make sure she doesn't get gout. I feed her mostly frozen silversides and a little krill. Occasionally some thawed squid cubes.
<See WWM re shark feeding, Mazuri.com foods, supplements>

Her breathing is normal. Eyes and belly look normal. Everything else in the tank looks fine. Well, I do have a Cortez ray that I've had for over 2 years that occasionally shows a red line on her belly.
<This is telling as well... see my initial comment... the skimmer may help... do you use Ozone, have a RedOx measuring tool? Very useful for determining real life-sustaining capacity of captive systems. See WWM re these as well>
We thought it was a scratch, but maybe it's some sign of a parasite?  She is always super active and has the appetite of a 15 year old boy.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!!!
<Read and write back if you have questions, further concerns. Bob Fenner> 
Re: 3 year old banded car shark sick     2/20/13

Here's a video of her behavior, also she's covered in sand, exhaling sand and her belly is bloated and sort of hard; she won't swim at all.  Anything I can or should do immediately to relieve her of pain or improve her condition?  Is it possible that she's just about to lay an egg (she's probably about 3.5 years old)?
<Just patience and hope. BobF>

Dead bamboo shark, no data of use 2/10/09 Hi everyone, <Anthony> I woke up to find my bamboo shark dead in my aquarium this morning and was wondering if any of you could shed some light on what may have happened here... <Given information...> I've experienced several deaths in the past with my tank, but never anything this peculiar. I've attached some pictures that I took once I pulled her out - you can see that one side of her body is all red (I can only imagine internal hemorrhaging?) while the other one seems mostly fine (except for a little blood in her eye. Do any of you know what might have caused this? <...? Not w/o data, no> Thanks, Anthony <This shark is... obviously dead... Petecchial... but... cause/s? System, tankmates, maintenance history, foods/feeding, water quality measures? No sense guessing w/o data... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/shkdisfaq2.htm and the linked files above... to gain insight into your situation and what sorts of input we're looking for. Bob Fenner>

Re: Dead bamboo shark 2/10/09 Hi Bob, thanks for the reply. Sorry I didn't include the typical information in the original email - I was kind of shook up at the time. <Ahh, understandable> The shark was in a 180 gallon tank with a Picasso Trigger, Snowflake Eel, Dog Faced Puffer, Black Spotted Puffer (both of which are extremely non-aggressive), a porcupine puffer (a bit more aggressive towards the other puffers at feeding time but always left the shark alone), and a Queen Trigger. <Yikes... some very tough customers as tank-mates> The system has been running for over 2 years and there were no water quality issues from a chemical perspective. One thing that did happen recently (about a month ago) was that the sump started leaking salt-water, and before I knew what was going on, the leaking water had been automatically topped off by new fresh water. About a week later, the Queen Trigger and Porcupine Puffer both died within a day of each other. <Highly stressed... and reason here for the shark's loss> I attributed this to what happened with the salinity dropping so rapidly the week before. When I spoke to my LFS about it, they were surprised that the shark had survived it - they said if anything, the trigger should have been able to deal with that, but I guess not. <Yes> As for feeding, I fed them frozen shrimp and scallops every couple of days. The food would never hang around for more than 5 minutes in the tank, and with the exception of the porcupine puffer being a little over-zealous when eating, everyone got along very well. There is around 130 lbs of live rock in the bottom of the tank, with two caves at both extremities of the tank where the shark would hang out. The middle of the tank was clear of live rock so she could swim without hitting anything. The marks that you saw on the pictures were never there prior to her death. I did however catch her swimming upside down the night before she died. As I said earlier, all the water quality measures were normal: pH around 8.2 - 8.3, no ammonia, no nitrites, 10 ppm nitrates. The specific gravity was back to 1.023 (it had dropped to around 1.017 when the incident occurred - I brought it back up gradually by filling my ATS with 1.025 salt water over the course of 2 weeks). The protein skimmer was functioning properly. Thanks for your help Anthony <I do suspect that the principal cause here was the sojourn too-much, too-fast into too-low specific gravity. Such effects are not always so straightforward, obvious.. but the internal changes... damage to kidneys, other organs consequently, can be deadly. There are controllers, with alarms that can notify one of deviation from measures as specific gravity. Perhaps you're a candidate for such. Bob Fenner>
Re: Dead bamboo shark 2/10/09
Thanks Bob. I'll look into it. I had a feeling it was because of the salinity drop, but was thrown off by the delayed reaction. <Yes... a useful, though painful lesson here re such delayed responses and what passes for our understanding (terrestrial, homeotherms...) with other animals we're familiar with. Cheers, BobF>

Coral Catshark breathing a little fast and keeps swimming to top of tank... Reading... 2/27/08 Hi, I just purchased a 18 inches coral Catshark today. While I was acclimating him he kept swimming around the foam bucket. <I hope you had "heavy" aeration going on during...> After an hour I put him in the tank 150 gallon tank. <... too small a volume> After about 10 minutes he starts swimming around like crazy going up to the top of tank. He would do this and then go back down for a while. I checked the water before I bought him and everything was at 0 and the salinity was .025. <... no> The store owner did tell me his water salinity is .016. <!? Much too different...> He also said the only thing he fed him was silversides. <... a very poor diet> Do you think that's the reason. <Reason for?> He fed him before I bought him so I can see he eats. He said he had him for about 5 months. Oh I have a vtail grouper 5 inches and a Miniatus grouper 4 inches. I unplugged the heater out of the sump and took the glass cleaner out of the tank and the thermometer out. I have some live shrimp in the tank but he doesn't try to eat them. I have a uv, protein skimmer, wet dry/sump. Should I buy a pump for more air. I don't want him to die, what can I do to save him. Did I do something wrong ? Please help <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm  The second tray... the Articles and FAQs files on Sharks... You should have done this ahead of this purchase. I would return this fish, pronto... it won't live for long in the circumstances you describe. Bob Fenner>

Sick Shark/Stray Voltage in Tank - 10/17/06 Greetings crew, <<Hello>> I am in dire need right now.  I have a 3-month old banded bamboo shark that I raised from an egg.  She was eating well and acting normally until 2-3 days ago.  I hatched her in a fifty-five gallon tank and planned to move her in December when we move into her new tank, a 225 gallon tank that we have. <<Ah, good>> She started curling out in the open.  I didn't think anything of it because she does this when she goes under a rock.  She is now flipping over and swimming erratically. <<Not good...is there the possibility of stray voltage in this tank?>> I checked the water.  The ammonia, pH, nitrite, is OK but the nitrate is a little high. <<Need to bring this down...add some Poly-Filter to the filter path...perform a water change...>> Long story short, after checking this FAQ several times and removing the power-head and heater I found that the thermometer was giving off some kind of electric shock. <Yikes!>> I don't know how long it's been giving off this shock because it just shocked me yesterday and my wife today. <<Yikes again!>> It was removed as soon as we realized that it was that. <<Good>> Do you know if the shark can recover from this and does this sound like the culprit or should we be looking for something else also? <<This very well could be the issue...and the shark should recover.  In the meantime, keep reading on our site re this species/general "shark" care.  Regards, EricR>>

Leopard Shark Diseases Could you please tell me what are two common diseases of the Leopard Shark (symptoms, treatments, and prognosis)?  Thank you <Without a doubt they are both environmental: being kept in too small and non-chilled systems. I take it you've read my bit on Triakis posted on WWM. Bob Fenner> 

Leopard Sharks in a small world I have two leopard sharks in a 180. I have had them for 1 year and everything was doing great until my baby nurse was getting red on the bottom and just stopped eating and dies in two days. The same thing is happening to my leopard shark. <Typical...> Just one of them just stop eating and is turning red on the bottom and is not moving. All levels are perfect and my filtration is excellent with two wet dries, protein skimmer, and UV. It like a host that attacks the fish and kills them in two days. I really need help with this it makes me sick that am going to lose both of theses sharks. Any question please call me at XXXX Thanks Darrell <We don't "do calls"... Please read my articles archived on WWM re coldwater sharks, Leopards, Nurses... the inappropriateness of their hobbyist keeping... Bob Fenner>

Hemiscyllium ocellatum not eating, rapid breathing?  9/5/05 Hi, we've been keeping sharks for several years. We have a pair of coral cat sharks and a pair of Epaulette sharks. They were really doing well and eating well when they were in a 150H. <... ridiculously too small a volume, shape...> As they grew we knew we needed to upgrade them. We built 4x8x2 pond for them. <Ah, much better> It had a large pond filter on it (until yesterday when it started leaking, now there are two canister filters on it). <Very large ones I hope/trust... and a big skimmer...> Has live sand and live rock in the tank. Salinity is good, and we checked water quality, which is good (we've been doing this long enough that we truly know what "good" is). When we moved them into the lagoon, their behavior changed. However, we kind of expected this a little bit, as there is always an adjustment period. That was 6 weeks ago. They slowly stopped swimming and eating. Was a gradual decrease in eating and now they're not eating at all. We have tempted them with live hermits living in their lagoon, live night crawlers, live shrimp, live fish, frozen squid, frozen krill, frozen silversides. To no avail. We have been researching ideas for weeks as they slowly deteriorated and we have exhausted the options we came up with. <Something wrong here... what is the "pond" made of? Did you "test it" with other livestock?> Now they are breathing heavier than usual. I cannot see any lesions, discolorations, patches of any kind. other than rapid respiration and lack of energy they seem the same. My husband "thought" that maybe they had goiter, cause they got a little swollen around their necks, so we switched their diet over to heavy squid. <Mmm, not likely... not all the animals at once... Something toxic or missing... I would change out a good deal of the water, add aeration, circulation, activated carbon and Polyfilters in the filter flow path> We had been feeding silversides pretty regularly until we realized that can contribute to it, so we stopped. However, in spite of our efforts, we cannot get them to eat anymore. Do you have any ideas on if there is a disease how to treat, or if not a disease, how to get them to eat? I would be in your debt. Tracey in Mechanicsville <Please read through our "Shark" section: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/fishes/index.htm Do the water change, add... Bob Fenner>
Re: Hemiscyllium ocellatum not eating, rapid breathing?  9/5/05
Bob, <Tracey> Thank you very much for taking the time to write us back. The "pond" is made of 4x6 pieces of wood stacked so they could be held together by a wooden dowels. We did not use glue or metal rods to hold it together. We put in a large outdoor pond liner, <Made for pond use... not swimming pool> flattening it out and shaped it to the footprint of the frame. Then we folded the ends over and held them down using a 1x4 piece of wood screwed down onto the 4x6, in effect sandwiching the liner edge in between. In effect no part of the frame is in contact with the water. <Good...> The pond liner is made of vulcanized rubber and "designed" for fish ponds. <Ah, very good.> While initially concerned that this would not be safe because of the vulcanization process (sulphur) we have seen sharks kept by the vendor in ponds made by this liner - two of the same animals for at least a year.   <Yes, am very familiar with this material... safe and tough... enough for sharks et al> It may be important at this point that the sharks we observed over that year were not Epaulettes... Not having seen that they are particularly sensitive to sulphur I ask maybe this is the cause of the problem? <No, not likely... all about the same sensitive> Live sand and live rock were added to the pond from either the tank the sharks had been in and from existing reef tanks.  Water from the existing shark tank was mixed with newly prepared and filtered seawater (from a mix that the sharks had been in).  The sharks were acclimated to the pond water before actual full "release" into the new enclosure. <Sounds good> The pond is heavily filtered and we do have a large protein skimmer in use since the beginning of the set-up.  No mechanized or electrical equipment (such as a heater) is in the pond with the sharks. <Is there detectible ammonia, nitrite? Are you monitoring, bolstering pH, alkalinity?> Will increase water changes and change the carbon in the filter.  Will introduce PolyFilters to the system. <Good> Based on this do you believe the issue could be caused by the liner? <No... not likely directly involved> It has been in the back of our minds recently that this is the only "unknown" quantity that is in contact with the sharks other than the filters we added as we increased the volume of water. Tracey in Mechanicsville <Much more likely the change of systems is the single largest factor at play here... Established sharks do not "like" changes... in their environment, foods... Am hopeful yours will "come around". Thank you for the further input. Bob Fenner>
Re: Hemiscyllium ocellatum not eating, rapid breathing?  9/12/05
Bob, Well, wanted to give you an update. When we got your last email we were kind of at a loss. If it wasn't the liner then what could it be? We noticed some behavior improvement with the water changes, so we followed that trend. Well it turns out once we increased the ph up to 8.2+ they improved dramatically. Our coral cats are not at such a high ph, nor were the Epps in their glass tank, so we didn't think that was the issue. BUT we had tried everything else. So, that combined with water changes combined with tripling the flow in the lagoon seems to have made the difference. Both animals ate frozen squid last night, and both animals have gmm's down under 35 at rest (used to be over 50). They were cruising all over the lagoon hunting the hermits and crabs that have been living with them for weeks. Thank you for your support. Tracey in Mechanicsville <Thank you for this good news, report of your success. Cheers, Bob Fenner>

Sick coral banded shark  9/5/05 Hi, <Hello>     I've had my coral banded since he was still in his egg-sac, On April 11th he hatched and has been doing great ever since. No problems eating, swimming around a lot, very alert. I have a 92 gallon corner tank which is basically a little hang out for him until I get a larger one to keep him happy and healthy. <May be too late> I have a protein skimmer, an 8-volt Lifegard UV sterilizer, and an underground wet/dry. As of this morning levels are Ammonia-.50, <... trouble. Should be zero, always> pH, 8.3, Nitrite 0.2, <Also trouble> Nitrate >10. His tank mate is a juvenile snow-flake moray which was also purchased as a baby and is rather small (foot long, less the 2 inches around), they get along just fine.    On August 28th, I was doing a weekly water change when I noticed he had red spots on his belly. I went ahead and did a large water change (about 35-40 gallons), At this point he was still swimming around and eating, he was flashing a bit though. About 2 days after this i saw his behavior start to change, since then he hasn't eaten, is staying in one spot for most of the day, his breathing is slow and deep. I took him to my most knowledgeable LFS and was told that it was probably a parasite infection; <What? Where would this parasite come from?> he gave me something called PraziPro a liquid medication used to treat parasitical infections. <Praziquantel... used to treat certain for worm groups...> (Not sure if you are familiar with this kind). I administered it into the tank last night after doing another water change. He really hasn't moved much but his breathing has gotten a little better. I just want to know what else I can do to help him survive, while I was reading all the FAQ's there was some contradicting advice as to whether or not I should give him a FW bath, also is there any other sort of medications/supplements I should be adding in the tank other than that PraziPro that I bought for him. <... you need to first fix this environment... your fish may be suffering from a nutritional disorder, improper substrate, but is definitely being mal-affected by poor water quality> This little guy is the star of my tank, I would be devastated if there wasn't anything else I would be able to do to help him out, and he was to die. <Uhh, then apply yourself... what is the source of the ammonia, nitrite... how would you fix this?> Any further advice is greatly appreciated.    Thanks,     Heather P.S. Please excuse the redundancy of this question, I know that there are many questions about this sort of thing on the FAQ page but I just couldn't find one the matched up close enough with my situation. <I understand... however, the apparent redundancy is likely what you, others "need"... to understand the principles, possibilities of what might be missing, causal in their problems. Is your substrate fine, rounded? Do you have sufficient biological filtration? Maintenance? Are there avitaminoses issues here? Read on... Bob Fenner>

Sick Epaulette shark? Please Help Hi Bob: <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a epaulette shark (about 18") that has been with me for 2 years in a 125 tank. I introduced a clown tang and grouper on Friday and some of the other had been fighting with the clown tang. Other tank mates that have been with the shark are a Niger trigger (4") bi-colored angel (4") brown tang (5") lunar wrasse (5"). All had lived tougher with no problem. The Shark was always a good eater and he ate on Friday and sat, I am not sure if he ate Sunday (shark food, the food fell off the stick and was near him he may have got it) Since the introduction of the new fish the shark seems sluggish.  <may be unrelated> I tried to be careful not to get the pet shop water in my tank, but may have failed.  <always a good move, but please be certain to quarantine such new fish first away from the main display when you have such a great investment in money and lives in the tank proper> Do sharks go through sluggish periods?  <not likely> I checked the ph last night and it seemed a little low 7.7 and salt at 1.021 could that make the difference?  <holy cow!!! 7.7 pH if tested with lights on means that it could have been 7.4 or lower in the middle of the night (tank respiration)... and that is assuming your test kit is accurate and not reading high!?! The pH is a problem but do not bring it up too fast. A water change (dilution) and then gradual daily supplementation with a Seabuffer is in order. Your 2 week goal should be 8.3 or higher. The salinity is also indeed low for sharks. Most Elasmobranchs suffer a bit on the low end of the SG scale. Have you noticed very deliberate and or labored breathing? Aim for 1.024-1.026> What are the ideal conditions for the shark- temp, ph, salt, etc.. and if it is cooper poising can I make him well.  <not sure why you mentioned copper... but it is scary toxic to sharks, rays... use a PolyFilter routinely for such species and never dose metals like copper deliberately. Best regards, Anthony> Thanks for any help you may be able to give me. Joe

Sharks in stingrays in a small tank - 3/15/04 I have an 80 gallon saltwater tank; it has been set up for about 2 years. I had a Blue spotted sting ray, and a black banded cat shark. <Much too big in the long run> The sting ray we have had for about a year. I don't know how old he was. The shark was about 2 months old; he was born into our tank from an egg. All of a sudden the sting ray just died no signs of foul play, only a small green mark on his belly. The shark died 2 days later. <Sorry to hear. Your description does nothing to implicate anything concrete> I could tell something was wrong with the shark a couple of days before he died, he was swimming erratically, and bumping into things, as if he couldn't tell which way was up or down. <Electrical current or magnetic field, metal poisonings, inadequate water chemistry, many things could be the issue here or a combination of them> The water tested fine. <Means nothing to me> The only thing I could think of is, it has been a while since I changed the filter in the wet dry, (about 2 months) apparently the filter needs to be changed every 3 weeks, I did not know that. <Hmmm.....maybe but not entirely convinced> If that is the reason why then why didn't my blue damsel die or my maroon clown fish? <That is easy. These are typically very hardy fish. Cartilaginous fish are very sensitive to water quality.> Looking forward to hearing from you. <Not sure what I can tell you here. Please read through our ever expanding section on sharks and rays for more information on nutrition, water quality needs, tank sizes, etc. Sorry I couldn't be of more help ~Paul> Cindy & George

Blacktips with issues - 3/30/04  hi there  I have three Blacktip sharks in aquarium, I have 3000 litre (750 US gal) aquarium. One of them (sharks) has a very thin white layer on his right eye <Besides the obvious here...that your tank is entirely too small for a Blacktip let alone three I would need more information on your setup, water chemistry, pictures would be a great help>.... what to do? <not really ringing a bell> How to treat? <Need to know more about the symptoms and environment first> the others have a white scratch on there bodies. <Picture would be a big help here. Again, this is too ambiguous a description for me to be of any help> pls help. <More info on the environment, pictures will really help. From what you describe it could be physical damage. Other than that, I really can't offer any more help, sorry to say ~Paul>

Coral Cat Sharks 5 Aug 2004 Hi, <Hello Adam, MacL here with you this fine day.> Today I got my Coral Catsharks in the mail, <Congratulations, they are great aren't they!> since the only place I could find them was on the internet.  Pretty good quality except for one thing, they have red blotches on their stomachs. <Hmmm that doesn't sound so good. Tell me were they shipped separately?>  I have medium fine live sand topped with fine live sand but some of the medium is on the top, is this going be a problem? <I don't think that medium sand is large enough to be a huge problem.> Also is their any way to get rid of the red blotches or will they go away since I have sand? <The blotches could be indications of various things. Are they eating, swimming fine? Did the water they came in seem to be highly polluted? Are they hanging out together and swimming quite a bit. I have to tell you that these guys are notorious for getting sick and the signs that show up first are a reddened belly.  Please make sure your water conditions stay ideal, keep it to 0 Nitrates because they are very sensitive to nitrates.> One last question is do the cloacas stick out at all, because I didn't think so and I think they are both males but wasn't sure? <Yes they do, generally its pretty obvious if they are male or female because of that.> Thanks Adam Siders

Unhappy and not feeding banded bamboo shark - emergency!! Hi there. <Hi, MikeD here> I've found the wealth of information on this site extremely handy, so thanks already! I've now had a brown banded bamboo shark for nearly 3 months (hatched him early June)<Congrats...mine hatched a year ago August and is nearing 3'>, and has been feeding very well since about 5 days after hatching (could see no sign of umbilical cord etc).  He's in a 60x20x20 tank (for another 2 months until we can build a 10ft x 5ft x 2ft high tank) at the moment with a few fish and inverts. He's not touched anything in the tank other than his food that he's given.  The tank has a red sea Prizm pro deluxe skimmer (for 1k litres), UV, carbon, ozone, several canister filters (wet/dry Eheim and standard), small refugium and nitrate reductor, and two powerheads. Anyhow, about 10 days ago I noticed one of the fish had ich, ugh.... So I decided I would try Kent Marine RxP.<Oh, NO!> Yes, I know sharks don't do well with meds, but it was a natural product, and I only half dosed it.<there's no such thing as a "natural product", and my first suggestion is to NEVER treat your main tank proper!> However, the shark stopped eating that day, for the first time ever. He has not eaten since (10 days now)<Can't say that I'm surprised>. He really didn't seem to like it, and tried jumping out of the water at least twice. I've done a 25% water changed (buffered and temp/sal the same etc), put in new carbon etc to get rid of the meds. The water quality is pretty good, the salinity is a little high though (1.024 to 1.025), but I try to keep it from changing.<Your specific gravity is fine, but you need to boost partial water changes ASAP. The jumping is a REALLY bad sign> The only thing I could ever get him to eat is frozen octopus cubes (the Dutch stuff), but haven't found any shark food yet (until today, about to go out and get a load of shark food and vitamins that the local shop just got in).<Mine is a bottomless pit, with its FAVORITE food being well rinsed moist cat food! (seafood variety**grin**) It also eats raw shrimp, fish and squid  I also started to dose and test iodide, yes a little late maybe. The readings were 0.0 as far as I could see, so it can't have helped. The shark is still moving around a little, however this morning he's laying on his back (wasn't an hour ago when I last checked, but is now). I can't see any external problems, no redness or lumps. What should I do? I presume it's important to keep the iodide (I've heard iodine itself is as toxic as chlorine?)<Very true, but use great care.....a good reef supplement at MINIMUM dosages is all that's needed> levels up (and at what level should they be? the test kit says 0.06 to 0.08ppm). Is it a bad idea to drop a few drops of the iodide booster to the shark's food, or should I just use the shark food alone?<DO NOT put iodine or iodide on the food. This can be immediately FATAL!> Is there anything you can suggest to help to get him eating again? I've literally put a cube of octopus under his mouth with tongs and he's just ignored it, he seems much more docile than normal, and is very worrying seeing him on his back. Is there anything you can suggest? As I write this he's just swam around, "flashed" and turned upside down again on the sand. He's breathing fairly deeply about once every 1.5 seconds, is his breathing normal? Until today, it was just not eating and slightly odd behaviour, but now it's got a little more serious, I've heard isn't not uncommon for them to stop eating, so I ordered in that shark food, I'm going to nip out and get it and try him on it, but I don't see him suddenly wanting to eat. Lastly, I've just put a grounding rod that I made (from titanium bike spokes - cleaned thoroughly first, connected to ground, and sealed so no copper from the cable will touch the tank water) yesterday as there was a shocking (excuse the pun) 50V AC between the tank water and ground. I'm sure this hasn't helped the poor shark, and I think it's been like that for some time (possibly months before I realized it). The voltage difference has dropped to 0.3V AC which seems much more acceptable. Thanks for the help <I held off until here because all of this is vital. Sharks are EXTREMELY sensitive to electricity, and you need to find the source of the problem and eliminate it COMPLETELY! Check for a deteriorating pump, heater or electrical cords against the tank frame, including those of the lights. Any trace current can result in RIP!  I suspect the diet problem and hesitating to feed is actually a symptom of a larger problem. Likewise, NEVER treat your main tank. I'd start doing VERY frequent water changes (don't worry about % but rather watching the reaction of your animals, possibly to the amount of 5 gal/day until they show improvement.) If you improve water quality, remove medication and eliminate electricity you ought to see a MAJOR improvement unless the shark is too far gone!> Regards, Tom Worley
Unhappy and not feeding banded bamboo shark - emergency!!
<MikeD here> Thanks for the reply, Unfortunately the shark was too poorly by the time I got back from the shop. He was swimming in circles and upside down, and I picked him up very gently with my hands and he offered no resistance at all. I held him up at the top of the water (Still under water) and tried to feed him with a syringe of bits of blended frozen food (krill, brine shrimp and shark formula food), however I couldn't get any down him and didn't want to force him. He died shortly after :-( <Truly sorry. It's a feeling I know all too well.> I have eliminated the voltage in the tank with the titanium ground probe, and have increased to 10% water changes weekly. I do hope to get another some time, but I have learnt the hard way (even after much research), I will in the future never put any meds of any sort in the tank.<That may have made the lesson and sacrifice worthwhile all by itself.> I do think that the voltage didn't help, but it was the Kent Marine RxP that stopped him eating. Do you have any tips for feeding them, as I've talked to other banded bamboo shark owners who just drop food in the tank and they eat it, but the tank has a fair bit of clean-up-crew, so it wouldn't last in mine.<I suspect that your shark was pretty far gone when you got it, and possibly nothing that you could have dome would have made a difference.  A healthy shark would DEFINITELY get his/her share, with no clean up crew able to stand in the way.  As with many creatures, IMO a varied diet is the key, and while I've never used the product and may be speaking unfairly, I'd use caution with "special" foods such as the shark diet that you mentioned.  All too often the appeal is directed at the human purchaser and what you end up with is actually an inferior product designed to do one thing and one thing only...garner profits for the manufacturer. "Shark diet", "Betta diet", etc., etc.....research the animal in question's natural diet and come as close as you can and the results will likely be MUCH better.> I was feeding him with tongs, but he wouldn't touch anything but octopus.  I'll wait until we have the big tank setup, and not have any (or less) cleaner shrimp!<don't feel guilty about that, as it was entirely your fault...had you gotten a healthy animal the shrimp would have ended up cleaning from the inside.> Thanks for the help. Tom.

Marbled Cat Sharks Good afternoon. I am new to this forum and unsure where to retrieve answers from questions. I apologize in advance for my ignorance on the following. I have inherited (2) Marbled Cat Sharks from someone who could not care for them. They are currently in a 75G which I know is too small. They are 9" at the most right now. I am planning on a custom 350-400 tank for these guys with rounded sides. My question is this...they have some pinkish/red coloring on there bellies right now...it seems to come and go. <Not so much danger, a problem if transient. To be expected with such small shark specimens> It was not there yesterday but was the day before and is back again. I have live sand as substrate which I read was fine. I have kept the temp at 77.7-77..2... best I can get it currently. Ammonia is 0, nitrites 0, nitrates 0, ph 8.2, alkalinity 3. They ate once for me but have not eaten in 2 days and the pink coloring has me worried a bit. I am using a 125G wet/dry for filtration with no skimmer until I have the new tank set up and done for them. <All sounds good to okay. Feeding strikes of a week or less would not worry me> I have searched the site and have not seen much on the marbles cat as far as bacterial infections which I thought the pink color was from. Any advice on this and the proper care of these animals? <The physical and chemical parameters, size, gear of the present system and the fact that you're planning on upgrading to a larger system all sound fine. There are some antibiotics you might consider "sneaking" into these animals feed if they re-start feeding... or the possibility of having to force feed them if they persist in their hunger strike. If this time is getting close, and the animals appear emaciated, I would at least execute a large water change (25%) and add a vitamin admixture directly to their water (like Selcon). Bob Fenner> I want them to survive and give them the best chance possible. Money is not an issue. I apologize if that sounds arrogant. Just wanting to make sure they have what they need. Please advise on your suggestions and how to follow the replies to this email on the boards. Thank you for your time. Todd Hornsby
Re: Marbled Cat Sharks
Thank you for the response Bob. It is really appreciated. The sharks are feeding again as of tonight. They each ate 2 silversides a piece and would not take anymore. <This is a considerable amount of food for these animals> I did not push the issue either. I feed them with a pair of plastic tongs. The pinkish/red still comes and goes, but looks to be less severe each time I do see it. So whatever the issue is with that, it appears to be clearing itself up on it's own. I did add some Zoe to the food for vitamins as they did not eat for awhile. I will keep you posted on the status. <Real good> I am trying to land a deal on a nice custom tank for these guys. Any recommendations on a vendor for this? <Which part of the U.S. (or world) are you in? Have you tried the "classified ads" yet? A small weekend ad often finds a wanting system of size> Thanks again for your time Bob. Very appreciated. Todd Hornsby <A pleasure to serve. Bob Fenner>

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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