There are many freshwater sharks that can be kept as pets in tanks from 50 gallons (189.27 liters) to 70 gallons (264.97 liters). Tanks of this size are easier to set up because they can be purchased as complete “kits” that come with all essential equipment.
A 50 gallon (189.27 liters) rectangular acrylic aquarium sold as a complete package costs around $500 (£318).
(It is actually a good idea for a beginning hobbyist to have a large tank because it is easier to maintain adequate water quality.)
Equipment For A Freshwater Tank
When you buy a freshwater kit or purchase the parts individually, you will need:
1. A filtration system, either an “under the gravel” filter or a power filter mounted on the back of the tank.
If you use an “under the gravel” system, you will want to make sure that the air pump and powerhead are large enough for the volume of water in the tank.
If you choose a power filter, make sure it is large enough to circulate the volume of water at a rate of 5 gallons per hour or about 18.93 liters per hour. Therefore, a 50 gallon/189.27-liter tank would need a filter with a capacity of 250 gallons / 946.35 liters per hour.
2. A heater, which must be fully submersible for ease of use.
You must use a heater with an adjustable thermostat. In terms of power, you will need 3-5 watts per gallon of water, so a 50 gallon (189.27 liters) tank would require a 150-250 watt heater. Although it varies by species, most fish like water between 70-80 ° F (21.1-26.6 C).
3. Sufficient sand or gravel substrate to place 2 to 3 inches (7.62 cm) at the bottom of the tank.
Always make sure the substrate matches the needs of your fish. Some sharks are bottom dwellers with sensitive bellies.
The kit will also include a lighting system, possibly a hood(some fish are jumpers) and decorative items like plastic plants and suitable structures for the fish to use as hiding places.
Placing The Tank
Not only will you need adequate floor space for your tank, but you want to avoid an area with too much sunlight, as this will promote excessive algae growth, which means a high level of maintenance for you.
Try to find an interior wall away from bright light.
Also, consider the weight carrying capacity of the area.
- 50 gallons (189.27 liters) of water weighs 400 lbs. (181.43 kg)
- 70 gallons (264.97 liters) of water weighs 560 pounds. (254 kg)
You will need an electric outlet nearby and will carry water for weekly maintenance. Consider all of these factors.
Check For Leaks And Fill The Tank
Thoroughly rinse the gravel under running water in a strainer before creating the “floor” of your aquarium. You can also add all the decorative elements and plants (real or artificial) at this time.
(If you are using an “under gravel” filtration system, it will be placed first and the gravel will be placed on top of the equipment as instructed).
Then fill the tank with about two inches of water (5.08 cm) and let it sit for half an hour. If there are leaks, they should appear in that time period.
Always try to catch leaks before filling the aquarium completely. There won’t be an enormous mess, and it’s best to return the tank to the store before you’ve done too much with it.
When you have determined that there are no leaks, fill the tank at a height of 1 inch (2.54 cm) below the rim. If you are using an external power filter, please configure it at this time. Let the tank run for 24 hours, monitoring the operation of the equipment and continue to look for signs of leakage.
Managing The Tank Population
Once the fish are added, manage the population by size and temperament. Small shark-shaped fish are better suited to fish of their own size.
Many species are aggressive and can only be the sole “shark” in the tank. Others like to school and will happily coexist in the community.
Top 10 Freshwater Sharks For Aquarium
1. Bala Shark
Also known as the “Silver Shark”, these shark fish have a semi-aggressive temperament and have a moderate level of care. They reach a maximum size of 1’4 “(40.64 cm) and require a minimum of a 70 gallon (264.97 lit) aquarium.
Bala sharks are omnivores and are found in black, white, and yellow colorations.
They are active and visible during the day, with striking silver metallic bodies and black dorsal and caudal fins. Bala sharks are relatively passive.
Bala sharks need dense vegetation, driftwood, and rocks. They do it better in groups of 3 or more, and they like to school.
- Flake foods, plant-based foods, and freeze-dried blood worms are good food options for this species.
- Ideal water conditions: 72-79 ° F, (22.2 – 26.11 ° C) KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
2. Redtail Shark
The redtail shark fish (also known as the whitetip shark) is a semi-aggressive omnivore, requiring moderate care, and at least a 50-gallon (189.27-liter) tank.
These beautiful fish have an impressive black body with a bright red tail and a white-tipped dorsal fin. Typically they reach a maximum length of 4 ”(10.16 cm).
Red-tailed sharks work best as the only sharks in a tank with fish of a similar size. They are quite territorial and like dense vegetation, and features like driftwood and rocks.
- Appropriate foods include lyophilized blood worms, plant-based foods, and flake foods.
- Ideal water conditions: 72-79 ° F (22.2 – 26.11 ° C), KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
3. Siamese Algae Eater
Siamese algae eaters are peaceful fish that require only moderate care. They do very well in tanks of 30 gallons (113.56 liters) or more, but they like aquariums planted with many plants with wide leaves to rest.
At the time of purchase, your Siamese algae eater will be 1.25 “to 1.5” (3.175 -3.81 cm) long and will not grow more than 6 “(15.24 cm).
- In addition to eating algae in the tank, they require a typical diet of flake and pellet foods and freeze-dried blood worms.
- Ideal water conditions: 75-79 ° F (23.88 – 26.11 ° C), KH 5-10, pH 6.5-7.0
4. Columbian Shark
The Colombian shark (or blackfin shark) is a peaceful catfish with long “whiskers”. They are easy to care for and peaceful by nature but are best suited for 70 gallons (264.97 liters) and larger tanks as they can reach a maximum size of 10 “(25.4 cm).
These fish like an environment with many plants and rocks. They will eat smaller tankmates and can survive in fresh and saltwater. (They do pretty well in brackish tanks.)
- Appropriate foods include high-quality algae, blood worms, and catfish pellets.
- Ideal water conditions: 74-79 ° F (23.3 – 26.11 ° C), KH 10-12, pH 7.0-7.5
5. Black Shark
The Black Shark (or Black Labeo) reaches a maximum size of 2 (0.60 meters) and you need a tank of 70 gallons (264.97 liters) or more.
They are aggressive fish that requires moderate care. They do not do well in community tanks and should not be kept in planted aquariums as they will eat the plants. Because Black Sharks are jumpers, always use a hood on the tank.
- Feed black sharks plant-based food, freeze-dried earthworms, and flake food.
- Ideal water conditions: 75-81 ° F (23.88 – 27.22 ° C), KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
6. Albino Rainbow Shark
Also called Albino Ruby Shark, Albino Red Fin Shark and Iridescent Shark. This fish is semi-aggressive. They are best kept as sharks alone with fish of a similar size.
With a general pink coloration and bright red fins, they make a beautiful addition to an aquarium.
Keep an Albino Rainbow Shark in a tank with patches of dense vegetation, rocks, and driftwood to accommodate its territorial nature.
- Good food options are flakes, plant-based foods, and freeze-dried blood worms.
- Ideal water conditions: 72-79 ° F (22.22 – 26.11 ° C), KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
7. Chinese Hi Fin Banded Shark
Also known as the Chinese or Sailfin Sucker, Asian Sucker, and Entsuyui. This fish has no teeth in its mouth but has a row of teeth that forms a comb in its throat.
When kept in a tank, they routinely reach a length of 18 “(45.72 cm), so they need at least 125 gallons (473.17 liters) and are best suited for aquarists who are comfortable with handling Advanced tank well-oxygenated water is a must for this species as is good water flow.
They are peaceful and do well as algae eaters in garden ponds, tolerating temperatures as low as 40 ° F (4.44 ° C).
- Essentially an herbivore, this fish lives off invertebrates and bottom-dwelling algae but also eats frozen or frozen earthworms.
- Ideal water conditions: 59-82 ° F, (15 – 27.77 ° C) KH 4-20, pH 6.5-7.5
8. Silver Apollo Shark
An active fish that loves to school, the Silver Apollo Shark is relatively passive but works best in a well-established and planted aquarium of 30 gallons (113.56 liters) or more. They are usually jumpers, so expect to use a hood.
- These fish take a very standard diet of flake and pelleted plant-based foods and freeze-dried bloodworms.
- Ideal water conditions: 68-77 ° F (20-25 ° C), KH 5-8, pH 6.0-6.5
9. Rainbow shark
The rainbow shark (ruby shark or redfin shark) grows to a maximum length of 6 ”(15.24 cm). They are semi-aggressive and should be the only shark in a tank with fish of the same size.
Rainbow sharks are beautiful, with red fins against a dark gray to black body, but they will eat smaller fish and are territorial, wanting rocks and dense vegetation in a tank of at least 50 gallons (189.27 liters).
- They have no special dietary needs and do quite well with flaked plant foods.
- Ideal water conditions: 72-79 ° F (22.22 – 26.11 ° C), KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
10. Rose Line Shark
Alternative names for this fish include Denison Barb and Red Lined Torpedo Barb. They are long fish, but not especially large, reaching only 4.5 “(11.43 cm).
They are silver with a black line on their bodies. A red stripe runs through the eye to a point just below the dorsal fin, which has a red leading edge and yellow and black accents.
This peaceful fish grows very well in a large community aquarium. They are jumpers and prefer to stay in groups. A tank of at least 50 gallons (189.27 liters) with a high level of oxygen is best for this species.
- Rose Line Sharks will eat meaty, vegetable foods with brine shrimp and bloodworms for a change.
- Ideal water conditions: 60-77 ° F (15.55 – 25 ° C), KH 4-10, pH 6.8-7.8