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With that out of the way.

In the article below we’ll share eleven of the best freshwater aquarium sharks that you can (with a big enough tank) keep at home.

Here’s what you’ll learn;

  • What species of fish look like sharks
  • Types of Freshwater Shark Species For Your Home Aquarium
  • Small Fish That Look Like Sharks
  • Care tips

and more…

Lets do it.

What is a Freshwater Aquarium Shark?

While the majority of the species fall into the ocean-swimming category, there are a few that one can keep as pets in a freshwater aquarium or pond, and these are widely known as freshwater aquarium sharks.

All the fish that fall under the Aquarium shark category are Native Tropic Catfish or Cyprinids. They are mostly mid-water or bottom dwellers, and they are all active fish.

All aquarium sharks have dorsal fins and forked tails and are generally easy to keep and breed as long as they are provided ample space to swim around.

Most Common Types of Freshwater Shark Species For Your Home Aquarium

Though all aquarium sharks are generally easy to keep and are pretty low maintenance, not all are ideal for new aquarists. Sharks, no matter how small, definitely need their space.

Many also tend to prey on other smaller fish!

So, if you don’t want your pet to eat your other pets, you may want to choose who to pair up with your sharks very wisely, and we are here to help you.

Here, we bring you the 11 most common types of freshwater aquarium sharks.

1. Red Tail Black Shark – Epalzeorhynchos bicolor

Red Tail Black Shark

Red Tail Black Shark Swimming In Aquarium

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Average adult size: Up to 6 inches
  • Average lifespan: Up to 6 years
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 75 Gallons
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

The Red Tail Black Shark makes for a striking addition to the tank. It has an all-black body with a bright red tail; thus, the name red tail black shark. It originates from the rivers of Thailand but is unfortunately almost extinct.

Some even claim that the fish is truly extinct in the wild, while others claim that the Chao Phraya River continues to house a few beauties. They are, however, quite readily available in pet shops.

If you like the way they look, buy them by all means, but make sure you place them in a large tank. They thrive best in 55-gallon tanks when they have plenty of space to move around as they get aggressive and are quite territorial, especially as they age. They do not have very sharp teeth, but they attack the fins and flanks of other mid and bottom dwellers, so choose their tank mates wisely, as they are true omnivores and eat everything from algae to other live creatures.

Though they are easy to keep, they thrive best in large tanks.

2. Rainbow Shark – Epalzeorhynchos frenatum

Rainbow Shark Sitting Laying On Gravel

Rainbow Shark Sitting Laying On Gravel

Rainbow Shark Sitting Laying On Gravel

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Average adult size: Up to 6 inches
  • Average lifespan: Up to 5 to 8 years
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 55-gallon tank
  • Temperament: Aggressive – semi-aggressive

Rainbow Sharks are bottom dwellers that are quite similar in temperament to red tail black sharks. They are also quite similar in appearance, but their bodies are dark gray, and their fins are pink to red. Rainbow sharks are readily available at the pet store, and you can also find albino varieties if you aren’t a fan of the sharks’ intense look.

When housing rainbow sharks, make sure you provide them plenty of hiding spaces, especially if you want to place them with other rainbow sharks. You can keep Rainbow sharks with tank mates but there are some rules you should follow. To learn more check out our list of fish that are compatible with Rainbow sharks.

They also need ample room to swim in, so ideally, you should get a 55-gallon tank or at the very least a 30+ gallon tank.

Because they are bottom dwellers, you must provide them food or flakes that sink to the bottom. Rainbow sharks tend to munch on algae all day long, so consider placing that in the tank.

3. Black Shark Minnow – Labeo Chrysophekadion

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Labeo chrysophekadion
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Average adult size: Up to 35 inches
  • Average lifespan: Up to 10 – 15 years
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: More than 180 gallons
  • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

As the name suggests, Black Shark Minnows are black. They are quite rare as they are massive in size and can outgrow most average sized aquariums. They can grow up to 24 inches if bred in the largest fish tank. In the wild, they can even grow up to 35 inches.

They are quite aggressive; thus, you should only accommodate them with fish that are either just as large or can swim away fast enough. You will also have to ensure you provide ample hiding spaces or other decorations such as a cave allowing the shark to claim and defend its territory.

4. Silver Apollo Shark – Luciosoma Setigerum

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Luciosoma Setigerum
  • Origin: Borneo
  • Average adult size: Up to 8”- 9”
  • Average lifespan: Up to 14 years
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: Around 120 gallons
  • Temperament: Aggressive, Active

Unlike other aquarium sharks, the silver apollo shark likes to stay near the surface. They have a beautiful olive green colored body, with snout-like noses and whiskers. Their dorsal fins are situated towards the end of their tails and are quite large.

They are shoaling fish and need to be kept in large numbers; thus, you will require a large tank to house the silver apollo shark.

The Silver Apollo are active fish that can be quite possessive and territorial, especially if housed with other fish their size. To ensure they remain peaceful, you need to accommodate them with other larger, semi-aggressive fish that the silver apollo cannot bully or prey on.

5. Bala Shark/ Silver Shark – Balantiocheilos melanopterus

Bala Shark

Bala Shark Swimming Near Plants

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Origin: Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula
  • Average adult size: Up to 10” – 13”
  • Average lifespan: Up to 10 years
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: around 120 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Bala is a beautiful fish with a grey body. The fish features bright yellow spots and stripes on the tails and the fins. They are omnivores that prey on smaller creatures when they are young. But as they age, they become more passive and harmonious, portraying a respectful attitude towards other fish.

Bala isn’t difficult to care for as long as you can provide them ample moving space as they active fish and grow quite big. They also have big appetites, so you will have to feed them three times a day. If you want, you can even keep them in groups as they are quite adaptable.

6. Iridescent Shark (Catfish Shark) – Pangasianodon hypophthalmus

Iridescent Shark

Iridescent Shark Swimming With Tinfoil Barbs

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Pangasianodon hypophthalmus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Average adult size: Up to 36” – 48”
  • Average lifespan: Up to 20+ years
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: More than 300 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

True to their names, iridescent sharks are beautiful iridescent fish that make an attractive addition to the fish tank. They are quite active, can grow quite large, and are schooling fish; thus, you will need as large a tank as you can get if you want to keep iridescent sharks as a pet.

You have to be extra careful when choosing tank mates for iridescent sharks, as they will eat other fish or creatures that can fit into their mouths. Do keep in mind that they have very long lifespans and are quite a long-term commitment.

Other common names for Iridescent Sharks include Pangasius Catfish, Striped Catfish, and Sutchi Catfish.

7. Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark – Myxocyprinus asiaticus

Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark

Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark Resting On Sand Substrate

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Myxocyprinus asiaticus
  • Origin: China
  • Average adult size: Up to 48”- 60”
  • Average lifespan: Up to 25 years
  • Diet: Herbivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 300+ gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark is quite interesting appearance-wise. When they are young, the fish feature three white stripes over their brown bodies. These stripes fade as the fish ages, and some even become one solid color. They have prominent fins and a cigar-shaped mouth that helps them suck algae, their primary food source.

The Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is relatively peaceful, but they are not ideal as pets as they are high-maintenance fish. They grow to be quite large; thus, you will need to install a commercial-sized tank to accommodate them.

8. Columbian Shark – Ariopsis seemanni

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Ariopsis seemanni
  • Origin: Central and South America
  • Average adult size: Up to 12 inches
  • Average life span: Up to 10 – 15 years
  • Diet: Carnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 100 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Columbian Sharks go by many names, including Silver-tipped Shark, White Tip Shark Catfish, Tete Sea Catfish, Colombian Shark Catfish. They are a beautiful silvery blue color that adds a beautiful pop of color to the tank. They are schooling fish so that you will need a big tank. If kept outside of a school, they can get quite aggressive towards their tankmates, so you will have to wisely choose their tank mates.

9. Violet Blushing Shark – Labeo boga

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Labeo boga
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Average adult size: Up to 12 inches
  • Average lifespan:
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 125 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

The Violet blushing shark is a beautiful silvery grey color that emits a lovely sheen when in the tank. What sets the fish apart are its red-colored gills visible through the body, making it look as if the fish is blushing, thus the name.

The blushing violet shark is very easy to keep. They are generally quite passive but make sure you place them with like-sized fish when placing them in community tanks as they prey on smaller fish.

10. Roseline Torpedo Shark (Dension Barb)

Roseline Torpedo Shark (Dension Barb)

Roseline Torpedo Shark (Dension Barb) Swimming Fast

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Sahyadria denisonii
  • Origin: India
  • Average adult size: Up to 6 inches
  • Average lifespan: 5 years
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 75 gallons
  • Temperament: Peaceful

If you are a beginner aquarist, the Roseline is the perfect freshwater aquarium shark for you. They are quite readily available in pet stores. Their demand is fast-growing because they are stunning.

The Roseline torpedo features bright red and yellow stripes down the middle of the body. The tail is a work of art, with each fish featuring a different but equally attractive pattern. However, they are schooling fish, and you need to keep at least six of them together to keep them happy.

11. Harlequin Shark

Quick Care Facts

  • Scientific Name: Labeo cyclorhynchus
  • Origin: Africa – Congo River basin
  • Average adult size: Up to 6 inches
  • Average lifespan: 4-6 years
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 50 gallons
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive

In terms of appearance, the harlequin shark is similar to the rainbow and red tail shark. They are beautiful with dark, grey bodies and colorful fins and make an attractive addition to the tank. However, they do not like being around other fish and are quite territorial and aggressive, especially if kept with others of their kind.

You will have to provide them ample hiding spots in the tank as they like to hide. Other than that, they don’t have many requirements. As long as there is algae in the tank they can munch on; the harlequin shark will remain happy.

Note: Check out our Pinterest board for lots of cool images of freshwater aquarium sharks.

How Big Can Freshwater Sharks Get

Freshwater aquarium sharks can get quite large, with some of them growing to around four to six feet as well. Thus, you cannot keep all the species in freshwater recreational aquariums.

What Is The Biggest Species Of Shark You Can Keep In Your Aquarium?

It depends upon your aquarium size. If you can get yourself a six-million-gallon aquarium, you can even keep a whale shark. However, that is not advisable, nor is it practical. Some of the largest freshwater aquarium sharks you can keep in your home are Bala Sharks, Iridescent Sharks, and the Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark. But you will have to get the largest available tank to house these fish.

Are There Any Small Fish That Look Like Sharks?

Essentially, sharks cannot live in freshwater. All of the fish mentioned above belong to the catfish category. You can either get the smallest ones from the list, which grow up to around four inches, such as the Roseline torpedo shark. Or you can look at other fish from the catfish family.

Care Tips for Your Pet Sharks

Different sharks have different requirements. To ensure your shark thrives in your aquarium, you need to understand their requirements, including water pH level and habitat requirements.

Most sharks are territorial and aggressive, so make sure you provide them plenty of space to move around in. You will also have to include plenty of hiding spots, such as caves or greenery, to offer them hiding spots. As long as you ensure they are with like-minded tank mates, who they cannot prey on, and feed them timely, caring for your most sharks is relatively easy.

We suggest that you consult the pet store owner before purchasing sharks, as handling them can be quite challenging for beginner aquarists.

Key Takeaways

Freshwater aquarium sharks come in all shapes and sizes. They are quite temperamental, active, and large, so to handle most of them requires a certain level of expertise.

Once again, we suggest you consult a professional before purchasing an aquarium shark, especially if you are a new aquarium owner.

Tank on!

References

  • tankarium.com
  • aquanswers.com
  • animals.mom.com