Sharks. They’re not just for scary movies.
In reality, they are some of the most popular aquarium fish. There are hundreds of breeds of sharks and rays, and most sharks are not nearly as large as Jaws.
So don’t fear the water. If anything, sharks can become your favorite wet pets.
5 of the Most Popular Sharks for Aquariums
The scientific name for sharks is selachimorpha. They are part of the Animalia and phylum Chordata families, and rays are their sisters.
Following are some of the most popular breeds of sharks for home and business aquariums.
1. Rainbow Sharks
Even though they only grow to about 6 inches, a single rainbow shark would require a tank that is at least 55 gallons large. The pH level of the water should be 6.8 to 8, and the temperature range is 75 to 85 degrees.
Despite their colorful name and sweet appearance, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies in this tank. These fish are actually rather aggressive and territorial. Because they are bottom dwellers, adding other bottom feeders to the tank is therefore not ideal. They might also get into it with each other, which is why a larger tank is necessary in order to provide them with room to stake their claims.
2. Red-Tailed Sharks
Also growing to only about 6 inches long, red-tailed sharks are among the most popular sharks for home aquariums. They do require slightly cooler water of about 77 degrees, as well as a pH of about 7.
They can live with tetras, gouramis, angelfish, and similar pets that stay near the middle or top of the tank. Red-tailed sharks do require plenty of places to hide, so you should design your fish tank to accommodate their shy nature. When they get older, they may become territorial like other sharks.
This fish is recognizable by, as the name indicates, its red tail. Its body is usually black or dark blue.
3. Bala Sharks
Bala sharks are probably the gentlest of the five sharks on this list, and they love to swim around the tank throughout the day.
They are usually gray, but may have a yellow stripe. The signature dorsal fins are a recognizable characteristic of bala sharks and many other breeds of sharks. Balas can grow to about a foot long.
Bala sharks might not be ideal for beginning hobbyists. They do require meaty foods, as well as a steady water temperature of about 77 degrees. The pH of the water should be between 6.5 and 8.
4. Black Sharkminnows
A black sharkminnow is not for the faint of heart. It really lives up to its name, but it is a fun fish to own. It’s a fast swimmer and can grow to nearly 3 feet long. That means you will need a massive tank that can hold more than 200 gallons of water.
It’s also very aggressive, so you will need to make sure you don’t place other bottom dwellers in the tank with it.
5. Iridescent Sharks
Iridescent sharks are ideal only for experienced hobbyists. Obtaining one of these babies would be almost like adopting a dog or a cat! With loving care and attention, iridescent sharks can live for 20 years.
Requiring tanks that can hold more than 300 gallons of water, iridescent sharks can grow to a whopping 4 feet! They also have big appetites, so be prepared to feed them a whole lot of nutritious, meaty foods.
When they’re young, these sharks are luminous in color, but they turn gray or black with age. Their bodies are somewhat rounder and puffier than other sharks on this list.
The tank should be kept at about 75 degrees with a pH level of about 7.
While pet sharks require serious commitment, they are still some of the most fascinating fish to own. And you also get bragging rights. Tell your friends and family you own a shark, and watch their reaction. You own a shark, after all! …
Okay, okay … we have to stop right there and tell you the truth.
We don’t want to deflate your dreams of owning a real shark, but we have to tell you this: Most of the above are not truly “sharks.” They simply look like sharks and carry that name. True sharks are saltwater fish.
The sharks we name here are typically freshwater species.
Just don’t tell your guests that, and we won’t either.
If these five popular aquarium sharks don’t quite float your boat, see this blog to learn more about several more top breeds.