As a child, whenever I heard of sharks, all I could imagine was the "Great White Shark" - the largest and the primary predator of marine animals. Merely looking at it sent shivers down my spine. And I presume that most people had the same notion about sharks. However, as I came to know more about these swimmers, this notion of mine got blurred with time. Not all sharks have the characteristic features as the Great White, and not all of them are born as fierce predators. In fact, there are so many hobbyists around the world who fancy keeping sharks in home aquariums. All they are required to keep in mind is the temperament of the creature, its size when it is matured, and the aquarium's size. And of course, experience as a shark owner is an added advantage.
Sharks as Pets
The following contains information of some of the most popular and common shark breeds, which are raised as pets by most people around the world.
"Can sharks be pets?" I always had this question in my mind, until I came across this lovely fish called "Bala Shark". After studying about its basic characteristic features, I was certain that sharks can definitely be raised as pets. This shark breed is known particularly for its silver body, lined with a black trim. It is known as Balantiocheilos melanopterus scientifically. The shape of its body mimics that of a torpedo, and it has an upright dorsal fin. Due to these features, this fish is commonly attributed as a "shark", although it is not a true shark. Bala Shark is considered as a successful predator because of its large eyes, which help it to see better. This fish can attain a length of 12 inches, and thus requires a larger aquarium, if you intend to keep it as a pet. However, its growth process is slow and so you can make out when it is outgrowing the space of the aquarium. The Bala is known to be a lively fish, and usually make good companions with other sharks and many types of tropical fish. Another important fact about the Bala that you must be aware of, is its nature of being a jumper fish. So it is always advisable to keep the aquarium closed, otherwise it may end up lying down on the floor. A 6 foot tank is usually considered to make a proper home for this fast growing fish. Small crustaceans, insects and their larvae form the primary diet of this pet shark. To add to this, this "shark" has the ability to adjust to various temperature changes. Also, it does well when kept with at least one of its kind.
Coming to the second one in this list of the types of pet sharks, we have with us another gorgeous swimmer of the sea, known by the name "Iridescent Shark". It is scientifically known as "Pangasius hypophthalmus". True to its name, this fish attracts most hobbyists due to its shiny, iridescent color. This feature causes the fish to have varying colors when seen in different lights or from different angles. As experts have observed, this species of shark does well in captivity when kept in the company of five or more of its own kind. An adult fish can grow up to 4 feet in length, in the wild, and can gain a maximum of 97 lb in weight. This is why, the minimum tank size required to keep the shark as a pet, should be 40 feet. Smaller tanks tend to stunt the growth and the internal organs of the Iridescent Shark thus, making it unhealthy, and shortening its life span. The bottom line is, this species is not meant for small aquariums. Main food source of this popular pet shark includes flake food, stick food, algae discs, and worms.
The Red-tailed Shark is scientifically known as Epalzeorhynchos bicolor. This species of shark is fancied by most people due to its deep black body, complimented by a conspicuously pronounced red or orange tail. An adult can attain a length of 6 inches. Unlike the other two sharks described above, this one has a territorial attitude towards other sharks. The aquarium that you must go for, to keep this fish as a pet, must be of the size of at least 45 gallons or 55 gallons. An interesting fact is, despite its aggressive nature, the shark does well in the company of 5 or more of its own kind. However, then you may require a larger aquarium. This fish is omnivorous, and is an opportunistic hunter in the wild. It feeds on a wide range of food; the favorites being flake food, worms or vegetable pellets. A varied diet is recommended for this species.
And coming to my personal favorite, it is the Rainbow Shark. Epalzeorhynchos frenatum is its scientific name. The main benefit of keeping this shark as a pet is that it keeps the aquarium clean. This species prefers to dwell in the mid and bottom regions of the tank, and consume leftover food. This makes it an immaculate tank cleaner. The Rainbow Shark has an elongated body, and is generally black and greenish. Some species may also be light orange with vivid red fins, while some are white with bright orange fins (albino). The fish can adapt to a wide range of water conditions, and can grow up to 6 inches. Experts suggest not to keep a Rainbow Shark with another of its kind, due to its extremely aggressive and territorial behavior. Even when kept with other sharks, results may not be quite pleasant. A 55-gallon size tank is a general recommendation for this kind of shark. Omnivorous in nature, this fish thrives on various kinds of foods including insect larvae, zooplankton, aquatic insects, and especially, algae.
So, there you have some basic information on the common and popular pet sharks, which are easily available in most pet stores. Before you make up your mind on any one of them, it would be wise to learn more about them from shark enthusiasts, and from the store you are planning to get it from. All the best!