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From shipping, handling... running into the environment, jumping... possibly from a tankmate

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

Attn Bob Fenner - Regarding black tip Reef sharks     8/2/17
Hello Bob,
So I have a 10 foot 1200+ gallon QT tank being used to house 3 small Juvenile/pup black tip reef sharks (24 inches).
<Need to be moved from here ASAPractical...>

Pup #1 and #2 were received perfectly healthy, pup #3 came in very sick at the receiving facility. It swam with an extreme wobble and dragged the rear half of the body. At one point to laid at the bottom of the tank gasping
for air. The facility specialist gave it steroids and it bounced back to life. We went ahead and accepted all 3 back then
Anyways, 6 weeks of QT had past. The Friday morning while the pups were being feed. The #3 only ate 1 of the silverside and refused anymore food.
Swam with a wobble and in distress. Body became pale towards a light brown color. It refused to eat the rest of that Friday and seemly became more lethargic and constantly running into things. The next morning it was
<Not surprising>
The following week we received another replacement. from the supplier.
Very healthy and ate from the beginning. Its been about 1.5 weeks now and as of a few hours ago, we're noticing the same symptoms with the new shark. I am lost now
<Capture, handling, shipping stress all conspiring here>
This 1200 gal QT gets 400 gallons of water changes per week. it has a jumbo skimmer that pulls out 3/4 - 1 full gallon of skimmate per day. 80 lbs of ceramic media and 100 lbs of live rock.
any ideas? Thank you
<The wear and tear before you received them is at work here. I REALLY wish folks would not sell "sharky" sharks. Stick with the boring epaulettes, bamboos... that spend a good deal of the time on the bottom.
Bob Fenner>
*Wally Do*
Sea Side Aquatics and Tom's Aquatics LLC

Brownbanded bamboo shark sick      12/20/14
I got my bamboo shark when he was in a purse, watched him hatch about 4 weeks ago,
<Ah, congrats>
and have taken care of hi m since. I had him in an 80 gallon
<Will need more room>

tank with healthy levels of pH, salinity, etc., he had healthy eating patterns (three times a week- small pieces of shrimp),
<And more than this. See WWM re Thiaminase and feeding small sharks>

and he was very relaxed (pretty much stayed put during the day, moving sometimes). Then, I brought him into another tank where I could take care of him over break with healthy pH, salinity, etc. However, here he got attacked by crabs overnight, and I took him out in the morning when I saw, put him in a bucket with an aerator, and brought him home to my new tank with nothing but a couple of large rocks to hide under and a pipefish. He seemed healthy yesterday, but today he started looking strange. I fed him some shrimp like usual, but he didn't eat, which I just assumed was because he was acclimating to the new environment, but he looks like his brown bands are discoloring a little bit and he is breathing very deeply, very quickly. I know there is enough oxygen because along with the filter, I put an aerator in underneath a rock. His dorsal fin, anal fin, and tail are chewed up on the back and I don't know if he is in pain or what to do.
<Just provide good care; stable and optimized water quality>
He also is swimming very erratically. He will start swimming back and forth and sort of turn on his side briefly while swimming, then turn back over still while swimming. I am very concerned also because my pH dropped significantly over night from 8.4 to 8.0.
<Not good.. pH is a base 10 log... this is a huge swing>

Also today shortly after I put the food in the tank, he did this weird thing where he lifted up his front and looked like he was throwing up some clear fluid that looked like snot, and a lot of it came out. I don't see any red spots on his stomach. Is it possible that he has ich?

He looks like he has about 5 white spots on his nose that aren't sand. I also don't have any sand in my tank as I had to set it up immediately because of the situation with the crabs attacking him. If you have any advice that would be so helpful because I am really scared that he could be sick, and I don't want him to die.
<Reading for now. Bob Fenner>

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>

Smoothhound snout problem 6/1/08 I have (2) 18" grey Smoothhounds in a 5'x5' sq <Too small> aquarium with wet/dry <Inadequate for chondrichthyous fishes> and protein skimmer filtration. All levels are great <...> since the system is tied in with our 700 gallon reef system. <Oh!> The shark tank has a small island of gulf rock, very round. Also I have a 24" shovelhead shark and marbled Catshark. All but one Smoothhound are doing great. The one looks like the tip of the snout was cut of. At least the front 1/2" is missing. We can see some blood and even the cartilage. He is eating but not healing. Any suggestions for medicine. <Mmm, yes... none. This condition is quite common with captive sharks in small, non-rounded containers... they run into the edge repeatedly... Hopefully yours has learned the physical limits here. Nothing will "treat" the symptom... need to address the cause... too small, square world. Bob Fenner>

Re: Smoothhound snout problem 6/1/08 Hello Bob, <Tom> Thank you for the response. However, I do not think this is a case of rubbing against the corners as I have seen that happen many times before. <I see> This looks as if some cut of the front of the snout of. <Yikes! It sure does> Also, this happened within 2 days of the shark living in this tank. It started with a good junk missing and now it seems as if progressing further. I did have a few local "oyster rocks" in the tank which are really sharp and I think he may have cut the snout of while searching around for crabs living around the rocks. Can I use Methylene or Lugol's and apply it directly to the cut using a q-tip. <Yes... a good use here. Full strength> I could do this many times per day if I had to. The shark is still eating but the snout looks really bad. Please see the attached photo and let me know what you think. Thank You Tom M <Does look like a physical injury... I do hope this cool/cold water animal rallies in your care. BobF>

Re: smooth hound snout problem 6/3/08 >>Thank you for your response. I will use Methylene twice per day using a q-tip. Will keep you posted. <Oh! And one more bit... in other times I've used the old timey "mixer" of zinc oxide... to prevent nose-sunburns... to coat such wounds. The curatives can be mixed in with. BobF> <<

Re: Smoothhound snout problem 6/16/08 Hello Bob, <Tom> Just want to keep you updated. The shark is still eating and getting better. I keep him in an empty 60x24x24 aquarium, part of our reef system. He is easy to remove for daily meth. blue q-tip rub. Looks like it will heal but will have a blunt nose. Thanks. Tom <Outstanding... I do hope you have larger quarters for this fish in mind. Thank you for this update. Bob Fenner>

Banded Cat Shark HELP ME PLEASE 1/17/11
Hello, love the site BTW, I've had my banded cat now for about 4 months (well longer, but he was an egg ). Last night we checked in on the tank and all was well, about 20 minutes later I was heading to sleep and my shark was M.I.A. I searched and searched only to find him on top of the glass that covers the tank.
I immediately put him back in the water, and he began breathing ( a little fast, I figured he's stressed). The shark does enjoy laying on the two power-heads near the top of the tank, could his fins have got caught by one?
<Not likely>
He made it through the night, but I don't know what I can do for him. Is there anything I could do? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!!
Thank you,
<I would lower the specific gravity, density of the water a few thousandths... and not feed, keep the lights off... for a few days. Bob Fenner>

Bamboo Cat Shark Question 7/22/11
Hi guys, I am a big fan of your site and appreciate all the knowledge.
I have an adult Bamboo Cat shark that has a white film over his entire eye.
<Mmm, an injury... this fish "swam into" something...>
The other eye is missing (purchased from a pet store this way). His eye has been completely white for over 3 months. He currently resides in a 300 gallon aquarium with 0 ammonia, 0 nitrates, low nitrates. Several puffer fish reside in the aquarium with him and never seem to bother each other.
If given the change he will eat everyday numerous silver sides, shrimp, mussels, shrimp, etc and acts completely normal.
<This diet may be an issue. Read here:
Do you use/administer vitamins? Are you familiar w/ Mazuri.com?>
Do you have any insight what this white film could be. Potentially an injury or parasite?
<The former almost assuredly>
Thanks for the help. Zach
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Open Sore on Horn Shark   3/4/06 Hello I have a 1 yr old Horn Shark and just last week i noticed an open sore on his front right fin.  I figured one of the other sharks might have bit him, but then today i saw an it was bleeding a little bit, he's breathing normally and swimming only when some walks by to feed him.  Could you please tell me what it is and how could i treat this.      Thank You <... Mmm, depends on the cause... if "just a bite", it will likely heal... Given the system is fine (large enough, filtered, chilled...). If it has progressed to an infection... See WWM re: The sections on Shark Disease, Port Jackson and Coldwater Sharks. Bob Fenner>
Re: Open Sore on Horn Shark... Non-native speaker?  - 03/05/06
thank you, the tank i have is a 300 gallon, and i have a wet dry and a UV and a protein skimmer rated for 600 gallons, i don't have a chiller but my water is at 69 degrees, i believe that's ok right cause in scott Michaels book it says horn shark can stay in temperatures from 65 to 70 degrees. <Should be fine>   i contacted the natl aquarium in Baltimore and one person said to put iodine on the fin, idont know if i should or not. <I would not... unless you have cause to otherwise restrict, handle this animal. The further stress, possible physical trauma is not worth it. Please fix your English before sending correspondence... Bob Fenner>

Port Jackson Shark... eye trouble... lack of useful info.  - 1/6/06 My port Jackson seems to have some type of growth on its eye? Any ideas as to what it is or how I can remove it? All the LFS suggest either rubbing it of with a finger or rag, <No> medicating the whole tank (penicillin?), <Negative> to actually putting Neosporin on the eye? None of those seem logical or safe for my shark/ tank mates. Any ideas would be great. <... Is this a Heterodontus francisci? What re its system, tankmates, history of husbandry, water quality, nutrition... Bob Fenner>
Re: important port Jackson questions   1/11/06
Will it hurt a shark if I put Neosporin on its eye? It has a bacteria eye infection? or will to go away by itself? <... I would not apply this material to a sharks eye... If you can discern the root cause/s of the eye opacity/injury... I'd solve them. Have you read re shark systems, heterodontids on WWM? Bob Fenner>
Re: important port Jackson questions  - 01/12/2006
Bob, <Bill> I have read re shark systems, heterodontids on WWM. I am just looking for the solution to my port Jacksons eye. The whole eye appears to be cloudy. The sharks behavior is as follows: he still eats like nothing is wrong, however all he seems to do it just lie there. <Par for these species...> Usually he is swimming about. I rearranged the rocks a few days ago and his eye was messed up the following day. I assume he scraped it on a rock?!? <If unilateral... one-sided... likely so...> Thank you for your time. I just want to get him all fixed up. Bill
Re: important port Jackson questions  - 01/12/2006
Bob, You said that you would not put Neosporin on my sharks eye. Is the because it would not work or would it cause water problems? <Both. Topicals can be applied to chondrichthyous fishes eyes for some maladies... but in this case, providing a good environment, nutrition is about the best/only means I'd advise... Chilled, large quarters, no discernible organics, use of vitamins... Bob Fenner>
Re: important port Jackson questions... learning to use WWM  - 01/12/2006
Bob, <Bill> Thank you for you your reply. So time its self, vitamins and good water quality will be all my shark  needs for his eye to clear up? What type of vitamins and which is the best method to give them? <... this is posted... on WWM... please learn to/use the indices, search tool there> Sorry to keep asking the same question over and over, I just want to make sure I do this right and my shark gets better. Bill <Please. Bob Fenner>

Injured Leopard Shark - If You're Gonna, This is The Way! >I have Two leopard Sharks in an 1800Gal oval shaped custom built aquarium. The aquarium is located in my home Gym. The aquarium was custom built out of solid concrete with fiberglass reinforcements. The filtration on the tank consist of three independent system the first system is a 4,000gph Biotech 10 pond filter, the second filtration is a little more complicated. The water leaves the tank fed by gravity into a modified Ocean clear canister filter, then through an in-line heater before it goes into a 200gal aquarium filled up with live rock and Two 3" homemade Protein Skimmers >>I think you mean 3' skimmers, yeah? >..copied from a Red Sea Berlin Turbo. The water leaves the 200gal tank and goes into a large 30W UV Bio Pond Filter before it is pumped back into the tank. The third simulates wave motion [set up on timer] the water just leaves the tank goes thru a 500gph EHEIM Canister filter and is pumped back into the tank with a 3600gph pump. The aquarium is in an air-conditioned room and the water during the summer stays around 71 degrees but during the winter it gets around 68 degrees. >>Great description of setup (though I've taken the liberty of shortening some passages). >In the center of the 1800Gal aquarium is a combination of live Rock and Hard coral, approximately 150-200lbs. The substrate is about 450lbs of Florida Crushed Coral. For The sunlight simulation I have 4 streetlights. For moonlight simulation I have two 48" blue moon fluorescent lights. All the lights are on timers. >>And now to the real issue at hand (send pics, please, as we have MANY queries on how to set up for sharks, and though you didn't give exact dimensions you've got other issues covered quite well). >The Leopard Sharks are around 28" and I had them for around three years now.  They have never had any health problems, neither have any of their tank mates. The tank mates are two 18" Panther Groupers, Two 12" Naso Tangs and one 9" blue tang. Now the problem that I have is that my female Leopard Shark sustained an eye injury last week. How I really don't know but I suspect she cut it on some hard coral while feeding because they get very destructive. >>Indeed. >I can't find any information on how to treat the injury nor can I find a person experience with this.   >>Likely you won't outside of public aquarium staff and most likely the staff vets (that vet the animals, not the staff). >I don't won't her to lose her eye and it's not looking good. At first a blood-filled blister appeared at the top of the eye I think where the cut was. After that a film covered the eye now the eye is filled with blood and has a white film.  I've used Garlic Xtreme, Stress Guard, and made sure the water parameters are next to perfect. >>I would expect the first two courses of action to do very little, but the last course is positively your best course.  Injuries are commonplace for sharks in the wild, and they appear to have excellent repair and recovery systems.  Along with near seawater parameters, I would strongly suggest (if possible) separating her physically from the other animals, and feeding her food soaked in a good supplement, I very much like Selcon.  You haven't mentioned what you feed, though I suspect/hope it would be something akin to what she would feed on in the wild. >Her swimming behavior has changed, she hardly swims anymore, only when feeding and when she feeds she appears to be herself. >>She is conserving her energy and "removing" herself from "the herd", so to speak.  She knows she's injured is basically hospitalizing herself.  If you can erect a physical barrier this will be helpful. >I need help please.  I've removed the hard coral from the Aquarium but will she ever see from her eye again? >>I cannot, nor can anyone from our crew, predict whether or not she'll see again.  She would have to be examined by a vet to make that determination.  However, you can certainly continue with the high water quality, section her off from the others, soak the food for best nutrition (which WILL help her help herself), and give her time.  You have described no signs of infection, so I would not recommend treating her with any antibiotics, especially because this would necessitate her removal from the main display--may be more traumatic than it's worth.  I expect her to heal, barring any other interference.  I do hope this helps, and if you can send up webpage sized jpegs (no bmps, please) of anything and everything it would be quite helpful, plus it would allow us to share with others how sharks should be housed (sans that coral though, yeah?).  If you are in need of good quality, SAFE, attractive decorations for the system now, I strongly suggest you look up Walt Smith, in Los Angeles area, as his company makes some AMAZING models of living coral reef specimens that are quite safe for the animals housed with them.  If I recollect, the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific used much of his wares to stock their systems.  Marina

6 Week old Banded Bamboo Shark Accident Hi, <hello> I hope you can help I do not know what to do? Last night my Zebra moray eel mistook my shark for a peace of squid at feeding time (they have never acted aggressively towards each other before) the eel grabbed the sharks by the head and pulled him into his cave. I think he let go of him straight away and I managed to recover the shark about 1 minute later. The shark appears to have been injured quite badly, one of his eyes is slightly out of socket and although he is moving round the tank he is always on his side and cannot bottom himself, his breathing is about twice as fast as normal and he has a small cut to his head, when the lights are off he tries to swim around as he would of before, Also the eye shutters still open up at night. Please help! What should I do, I do not think I could bring myself to put him out of his misery! <this is what is best for the animal.> In your opinion will he ever recover from this ? <the injuries sound bad. there is nothing you can do.> Should I try to keep feeding him? <you can try, but I do not think he will eat.> Your prompt help would be much appreciated I have reared this shark from its egg and grown quite attached to it. <Give him a little time and see what happens. MikeH> Regards Darren
6 Week old Banded Bamboo Shark Accident
Hi, I hope you can help I do not know what to do? Last night my Zebra moray eel mistook my shark for a peace of squid at feeding time (they have never acted aggressively towards each other before) the eel grabbed the sharks by the head and pulled him into his cave. I think he let go of him straight away and I managed to recover the shark about 1 minute later. The shark appears to have been injured quite badly, one of his eyes is slightly out of socket and although he is moving round the tank he is always on his side and cannot bottom himself, his breathing is about twice as fast as normal and he has a small cut to his head, when the lights are off he tries to swim around as he would of before, Also the eye shutters still open up at night. Please help! <Well I am sorry to say there is really nothing that you can do to save this fish. First of all I believe its a mistake to house bamboo sharks with eels which have very poor vision and usually mistake their tankmates for food> What should I do, I do not think I could bring myself to put him out of his misery!<If it gets worse I would remove the shark from the aquarium and place him in a Ziploc bag and freeze him...a fast and painless death. Its the humane thing to do. :( > In your opinion will he ever recover from this ?<I highly doubt it> Should I try to keep feeding him?<I wouldn't even bother...From what you tell me he seems like he is in very bad shape> Your prompt help would be much appreciated I have reared this shark from its egg and grown quite attached to it. Regards Darren<I am very sorry this occurred...but life is about lessons. and this one was a bad one. "Don't kick yourself, everyone makes mistakes. But I do advise you to either keep the eel or shark. and NOT BOTH. Good luck, IanB>

Port Jackson - Fin Rot ? Hi, don't know who I'm talking with today, but I love your website and the information it has. <Hey Larry, MacL here with you today. Hope you are well.> Couldn't find anything on it or with my sharks & rays book to answer this question though. Yesterday I received a port Jackson shark from Jeff's exotic fish. <Lovely kind of shark.>  He had a batch of 8 of them on sale (baby 8 inchers) and so I got the last one available.  He shipped fine (very good job by them) and after acclimation (about 90 min.s) he was in the tank and he actually ate about 10 min.s later, which was good. <They are hearty eaters when healthy.> The problem I noticed this evening was the top of his fin behind his head and the top of his tail fin looks like it's rotting or shredding a bit. <Not good at all, is it potentially some type of ph burn or ammonia burn from the shipment in? or does it look more like a bacterial infection?> He even ate very well today, a full cube of ocean nutrition shark formula diced up with Vita Chem drops I add, as well as Garlic guard. I added 1.5 capfuls of Kent Marine Tech-I, trace elements, and a calcium dose as well tonight.  He's temporary in a 40 breeder mini reef tank I have setup (about a year running) until I get that 330lb monster Oceanic 210 gal (7x2x2) out of my garage and into the basement in a couple of months.  I have to clear out a monster size G-scale train layout down there which will take some time...but at least I have the tank in my possession anyway. <Sounds like a good plan, in the meantime this tank can serve as a good quarantine tank.> I rearranged the tank a day before he was shipped in to give him a 4  inch perimeter "swim way" around the rocks on all corners.  The part that bugs me though, is he is nothing like my 1 year-old banded shark in my 75gal reef tank (will be moving to the 200 as well with a Gigas clam getting to big in there, lol) in that he doesn't hide in a rock cave I built for him, like the banded does during the day.  He just sits on the bottom in a corner day or night...total bummer.  Is this just because he is new to another environment?  I know it's not a fish doing this, because the only critters I have in this setup is a coral beauty, clown, red reef lobster, Nassarius snails, and reef hermits.  <Just a note sharks are very intolerant of any type of nitrates whatsoever in my experience.  I would really really get your nitrates to 0> LPS typical setup in here... Tank params: SG: 1.024 NH3/NO2: 0 NO3: 5 PH: 8.3 CA: 420 Alk: 4.5m/L Skimmer: Prizm on this smaller tank, emptied about every 4 days. Emperor 400 polishes the water. (2) penguin 1140 powerheads Weekly water changes of 1.5 buckets, and weekly additions of Trace, Coral Vite, Stront/Moly, Tech-I, and Calcium Tech A+B. I was thinking maybe it was still the tank size and was thinking of moving him in the 75 gal which I really didn't want to do since that Gigas moves around to the front.  Charlie, my banded shark, knows him all too well for a year and knows just to swim over him at night, but this port Jackson seems a LOT more clumsy!  <I'm a lot worried about this new shark, his behavior is not typical. Please take a look at this article about shark health and see if his movements fit any of these descriptions.> Well hopefully there is an easy fix for this, something that an LFS has  in stock, or maybe it will just get better since I'm feeding him well every day.   Really pretty shark, and seems healthy other than the very top of the fins, and an absolute PIG that loves to eat.  Let me know if you have heard of this on the specie before. <The problem with treating him in a tank with corals is that you can damage your corals with the antibiotic treatment as well or your bacterial bed. But at a guess I think your shark isn't quite as he should be.  Good luck, MacL and let me know what you think after looking at that article.> Thanks, Larry
Shark Death
Thanks for your reply.  I was so bummed when I got home from work the next morning he was dead.   Never seen that one coming that quick, he probably had a major disease of some kind I still can't find. <Soooo sorry to hear that.  Please accept my condolences, I know how hard it is to lose them. MacL> Charlie will have to do for now, and he gets usual cleanings from a shrimp that rests over him all the time. Thanks anyway.

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

New Print and eBook on Amazon

by Robert (Bob) Fenner
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