The Fish Keeping & Aquarium Guide.

Freshwater Sharks for Fish Tanks

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What is Freshwater Shark?

The majority of freshwater or aquarium sharks aren’t sharks but are a part of the Cyprinid family. This family also consists of Barbs, Danios, and Rasboras. Certain catfish have been dubbed ‘shark’ due to the way they look and eat. If you have any of these fish, you can expect activity and movement in your tank.

They look like sharks due to their body’s shape (torpedo-like), and they have high dorsal fins. They are active swimmers and, in some cases, they are very aggressive, all shark-like characteristics.

Their swimming habits and appearance are very similar to an actual shark, making them very interesting to shark lovers. Freshwater sharks have many shapes, different colors as well as various sizes.

In most cases, they eat both flesh and plants, but they eat only flesh in some rare cases. In some situations, people can descend freshwater sharks are from the Pangasidae family, or Cyprinidae, or some other similar family.

In most cases, they eat both flesh and plants, but they eat only flesh in some rare cases. In some situations, people can descend freshwater sharks are from the Pangasidae family, or Cyprinidae, or some other similar family.

Tank mate

You should know that rearing a freshwater shark can threaten the fish in your aquarium, especially if there is a small fish population in your aquarium.

Some freshwater sharks are predators and consider small fish as a source of food. It doesn’t usually happen until they are bigger, though. Some cases show that the freshwater shark isn’t a predator but still poses some aggressive competition to other fishes in the aquarium.

With this in mind, you should carry out appropriate research before buying a freshwater shark or other sharks you will place in your tank. Find species that can coexist without too many problems.

Tank size

If you are thinking of rearing a freshwater shark, you would need a massive tank. Ranging from a 55-gallon to a 400-gallon as a freshwater shark can grow to be very large.

Type of Freshwater Shark

Even though it is not feasible to rear a real shark, you can still have a shark by getting a freshwater aquarium shark

1) Bala Shark

Shaped like a torpedo, this shark is one originating from the Cyprinidae family. Some of its other key features include anal, dorsal, pelvic fins, silver body color, and striking black edges.

While a young Bala shark is less than 5 inches, it can grow to be as long as 20 inches. The average Bala shark grows to be about a foot long. For storage, a tank that holds at least 75 gallons is appropriate for a single fish. In the case of multiple fish, a tank of about 400 gallons is suitable for three fish.

This species of freshwater sharks are not aggressive and tends to be very interactive. Uninterrupted, people usually found them in shoals. You should, however, tread lightly as this species can be a predator when they reach adulthood.

A Bala shark can spend most of its hours in the day swimming; hence, the aquarists tagged them as ‘active swimmers.’ Their preference is to swim in open water, with no disruptions.

Bala sharks are omnivores and maintain a diet that includes plankton and larvae in their uninterrupted habitat. In captivity, on the other hand, they maintain a diet consisting of blood worms and tubifex. You can also feed them with commercially sold formulas created specifically for them.

The Bala shark thrives in temperatures ranging between 72⁰F and 84⁰F. In terms of pH, maintain the water between 5.8 and 7.8.

2) Columbian Shark

This particular freshwater shark is not easy to cater to, so it is suitable for experts. The ‘silver tipped shark’ as it’s popularly referred to as a predator.

This particular species is as close as you can get to having an actual wildlife shark in your tank. The black, grey, and grey colored sharks are effective hunters thanks to a large dorsal fin that looks like a sail and long barbels appearing in several pairs.

Young ones are less than 5 feet long but can grow as long as 20 feet in adulthood, sometimes longer depending on if they are well fed and healthy. When it comes to catering for this fish, you will need a tank holding at least 75-gallons of water, as they are recreational swimmers.

This species of fish is not suitable in freshwater. While they are still in infancy, they are well in brackish water. The older they get, the aquarists should gradually introduce them to saltwater environments. Without this, they will contact and die from diseases.

It would be best to keep a Colombian shark with other fish as they are predators. If you do, they will hunt and kill the other fish in the water body. You can, however, keep them with larger fish.

You can avoid dealing with the predatory relationship by keeping your Columbian shark well-fed. You fed Columbian sharks with live and frozen food that is high in protein content. Their personal preference is to hunt and kill their food. You can, however, combat this with pellets and another commercial shark feed.

3) Red Tail Shark

This particular shark has a stunning appeal. The shark is very common in the commercial shark industry. The shark’s color ranges from dark blue to black, with its tail offering variation having colors ranging from red to orange.

The shark gets its name from its fin that looks red, with the fins bearing dark colors, usually black.

They are up to 6 inches long at full maturity, but the average length is 5 inches. In captivity, they can live as long as ten years, given optimal conditions.

When growing, infants are shy and tend to hide away from sight. By the time they are older, they tend not to get along with other sharks and are often aggressive.

An appropriate tank is a 55-gallons minimum for a small aquarium and up to 90-gallons for a bigger aquarium. You can house more than one of these sharks in a tank as they will stick to different regions. However, you shouldn’t add other sharks or catfish or any other long-finned fish as it likes to bite fins.

The red-tail shark-like their home to have many hiding places made of plants or open caves. They are mostly at the bottom of their water bodies, where they are seeking food.

For optimal conditions, the habitat would need to have a pH between 6.5 and 7.6 with a temperature between 72⁰F and 80⁰F.

They are omnivorous, hence feed on plants and animals. You can keep them on a pellet-based diet, but if you mix it up with brine shrimp frequently, your shark will be happy.

4) Rainbow Shark

The rainbow shark is mostly similar to the red-tail shark. This shark has colors, body shape, and fin shape identical to the red-tail shark as well. However, the rainbow shark usually is a more cylindrical body than the red-tail shark.

The shark has rays that are visible through the semi-transparent fins. The fins of this shark are all colored red while the body is black. It makes the fish look somewhat scary.

This species is, however, smaller than other sharks and can grow as long as 6 inches.It is a relatively small species of fish, reaching up to 6 inches in length. The minimum tank size is 55 gallons. If you keep more than one, suggest to have a large tank of at least 100 gallons with plenty of hiding spaces.

As a hobby, rainbow sharks can get aggressive. As a result, they are territorial, especially when they are grown.

If you can isolate the rainbow shark or create a habitat with many hiding places like caves, you can have a peaceful tank. You can also achieve this by having a tank of non-aggressive fishes. For optimal results, though, it is best to keep only one shark in one tank. Do not attempt to keep more than one shark in one tank.

Rainbow sharks reside and feed at the bottom of the tank, so if it is to be a community tank, don’t house them with other bottom feeder fishes. To protect your shark from injuries, make sure you use the proper smooth substrate.

These sharks feed on tubifex and blood worms as they are omnivorous. They are bottom feeders that also feed on algae, resulting in a reduction in algae population everywhere in the tank.

Rainbow sharks are pretty sensitive when it comes to environmental fluctuations, so you should change out the tank’s water frequently to prevent this. The optimum condition for rainbow shark is 73° to 80°F with a pH of between 6.0 to 8.0.

5) Roseline Shark

The best part about this shark is that it can fit in with other sharks. Sometimes referred to as the Denison Barb or Red-lined Torpedo barb, this shark is among the most common sharks found amongst aquarists. This shark is also stunning to look at, making it a great attraction.

This shark is considered medium-sized and can grow to as long as 6 inches. It is one of the smallest sharks you can rear in a freshwater habitat.
This particular species of shark is one that thrives in a community. When they are in groups, people categorized some communal interaction as ‘play.’

They are a peaceful species and will ignore other fish of a different species. To create a positive environment for this shark, you need a tank that contains at least 125 gallons of water and is at least 6 feet long. There should also be an active community of fast swimming fish present.

It would be best if you didn’t put in any slow swimming fish like angelfish, as other fast-swimming fish’s actions will make it uncomfortable for them. Some examples of good community members for a Roseline shark include; Bolivian ram cichlids, black skirt tetras, Siamese algae eaters, tiger barbs, etc.

Same as the other freshwater sharks, Roseline sharks have large dorsal fins. The difference is that Roseline sharks also have a pronounced red stripe on the fin.

The ideal conditions for a Roseline shark include; temperatures between 60°F and 77°F; somewhere in the middle is the best option. When found in the wild in areas that are flowing, these sharks, such as rivers and streams. When placing them in a tank, you need to have a strong pump to replicate this current.

The diet of these sharks includes shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworm. They also eat vegetables as they are helpful in digestion; hence Rosaline sharks are omnivores.


There are different types of freshwater sharks. They also have the same problems that are associated with marine sharks. They are either huge or aggressive and, in some cases, both. Some of the sharks, however, do not display aggressiveness.

In most cases, people choose based on their appearance, but it is essential to know if you can handle them as they can be demanding. Sharks have a long life span and can grow bigger than an aquarium and easily frustrate you.

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