There tends to be a fascination, with many avid aquarists, to stretch the limits of their comfort zones and explore uncharted territories, so to speak. Progressing from the standard tropical fish aquarium, to a planted one, then advancing to African Cichlids. Once these tanks have been created and maintained, it is time to move on to a saltwater fish only aquarium on to a full blown reef biotope. It is after this scenario has unfolded that we tend to want to unleash our energy and expand our horizons by focusing our attention on other unique animals. Mantis shrimp, octopus, jellyfish and …shark, perhaps! I think we have all seen Peter Benchley’s rendition of what many had previously thought about sharks. They need to be killed as these maneaters were killing machines! All they do is eat, make babies and eat some more with man being part of their diet. The bad rap that sharks received back in the 1970’s by Peter Benchley’s “JAWS”, was later explained by Peter that he was wrong about sharks and that they shouldn’t be destroyed and portrayed as “Maneaters”!
Ok, so now we go from all sharks are bad and should be killed to how about purchasing and maintaining a shark successfully in an aquarium as close as your living room! Most species of shark are either too aggressive or grow too large for most aquariums. Some shark species can attain a size of up to 18 feet or more, weighing several hundred pounds making them poor choices for an aquarium environment.
There are a couple choices when it comes to sharks that have atleast a fighting chance at success in an aquarium that isn’t in the hundred of gallons range. Although large tanks will allow for the best success and enable the shark to move around and feel more comfortable while reducing stress and abstinence from eating eventually leading to death.
The Cat, Epaulette and Horn sharks make the best species of shark for an aquarium setting since they remain small for the most part as far as sharks are concerned. These species of shark normally will not grow larger than two and a half to three feet in length and under twenty pounds.
There are a few pertinent issues that need to be addressed to help to ensure the shark will be healthy and have the best chances at success.
First of all, it is necessary to use a substrate that is fine grain sized. This will help to reduce the chance of the shark cutting or irritating its sensitive skin, especially around the belly region. If the shark cuts its skin, many times this will lead to infections or worse, so reducing the chance of this carrying out is essential.
Proper nutrition is another important matter that needs to be addressed for proper health of the animal. Cut up squid, fish, crustaceans and mollusks will make a suitable food regimen. You can also add some vitamin and minerals to the food by letting the food soak in the supplement so that the shark receives as much of these supplements as possible without the liquid supplements being removed through the protein skimmer or various other filtration means.
Water parameter issues will need to be monitored religiously. Avoiding at all costs, drops or spikes in alkalinity, pH, salinity, ammonia and nitrites are a must as these delicate animals don’t tolerate these alterations very well. If their happens to be a problem with water parameter issues, a water change is the first thing that should be considered. Also, making corrections to the water issue should be made slowly over time to not further complicate things and effect your shark more than needs to.
I would refrain from adding medicines to sharks water as these often become detrimental to them in one form or another. Thoroughly inspecting the shark before purchasing it will be the best thing in terms of making sure it is healthy, with no blemishes, cuts, abrasions, body sores or issues with it Mouth or fins.
Inspecting your shark before hand for abrasions, cuts, fungus, eye and mouth region, bloody sores and fin problems, will help to increase your chances of success with the shark in question. I would definitely do some research regarding the species of shark with its husbandry and compatibility requirements. Learning as much as you can about the animals puts you higher up and makes your chances and those of the animal greatly increases.
Very interesting from a behavioral standpoint these sharks can offer a lot of enjoyment, and entertainment as well as learn interesting and beneficial behavior and personality skills as well as feeding and others possibly beneficial info into the future.