FRESHWATER SHARKS – Types, Facts, and FAQs

When most people hear of sharks, the ocean comes in mind. Of course, that is natural since the ocean is the habitat of most sharks. But then, there are few species of sharks that habit the freshwater sometimes called the “River Sharks”. Now, let us talk about freshwater sharks.

Freshwater sharks are a group of freshwater fish species mostly from the Cyprinidae family. In reality, they may not be in the same group as the “true sharks” (saltwater sharks). However, They have high dorsal fins with bodies shaped like a torpedo. This means that their physical appearance gives them a look just like the real sharks. Also, their behaviors such as active swimming and belligerency give them away completely as sharks.

Here are the topics we discussed as we bring you into the world of freshwater sharks.

  • Where to Find a Freshwater Sharks
  • The Adaptations of Freshwater Sharks to Survive in Freshwater Bodies
  • Freshwater Sharks for Your Aquarium
  • Other Sharks that Can Survive in a Home Aquaria
  • FAQ and Answers about Freshwater Sharks

Where to Find a Freshwater Sharks

Freshwater Sharks are mostly found in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Australia. However, these are not the only places you can find them because they also appear in Africa, Central Asia, and China. Due to the difficulty in tracking these fish species, researchers believe there may be more which they are yet to discover around the world.

Most of these freshwater sharks live in large rivers and estuaries of brackish waters. There are also three lakes popularly known for harboring the freshwater sharks. These include Lake Nicaragua, Lake Pontchartrain, and Carbrook Golf Course.

Naturally, the population of freshwater sharks is reducing especially in Southeast Asia. The major cause being due to the developmental activities in freshwaters such as the building of dams. Consequently, leading to the gradual extinction of their breeding spaces.

However, if you happen to purchase a specimen of freshwater shark today, then it must be one produced commercially in fish farms. That is to say, through selective breeding by fish farmers, albino varieties of several freshwater shark species are now available.

The Adaptations of Freshwater Sharks to Survive in Freshwater Bodies

While most shark species may not survive in freshwater, freshwater sharks are the exceptionrarity, they have high adaptation not only survive but inhabit freshwaters.

Freshwater sharks, when compared to their saltwater counterparts, have livers that are denser and fattier. This helps to hold in more oil. Hence, providing extra energy for the sharks and equally keep them afloat.

Sharks that live in freshwaters generally are fattier and stockier than the ocean and sea sharks. They also are not as efficient in hunting as those that live in saltwater. But, they tend to show signs of extra aggression to make up for this and ensure feeding.

The different species of freshwater sharks may show unique adaptations to survive in their environment. This means that they are very adaptive. Thus, they can evolve special characteristics to survive in the environment they live in.

Freshwater Sharks for Your Aquarium

Having seen that there are shark species that enjoy freshwater, the possibility of keeping sharks at home became wider. Of course, many people attest to how relaxing and peaceful it is to watch a fish swimming around in its tank. Now, imagine an active swimmer, a shark in your aquarium.

It is quite obvious that some people are afraid of sharks may be due to the stories they heard. Or, bad events they witnessed. But on the other hand, so many see the beauty and appreciate the nature of a shark that they want to explore into their world.

Now, just like every other pet you keep, there are a lot of questions that must be answered before bringing them into your home. These questions generally hover around size, feeding, and caring activities.

Certainly, you may want to be extra cautious while choosing a shark as a pet knowing it can be a vicious predator.

Here is a list of freshwater sharks that can suit your aquarium. Take note of the maximum sizes and requirements such as the size of tanks, tank mates, and temperature.

1. Red-Tail Shark (Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)

  • Max. Size: 5 to 6 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 55 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Tiger barbs, Tetras, Angelfish, Gouramis, Zebra danios, Clown loaches.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 75 to 80 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.5 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About Red-Tail Shark

Growth Size

The Red-tail Shark is a great example of freshwater sharks for your home aquarium. While the maximum growth length is 6 inches, only a few can grow up to that length. As such, most grows only to 5 inches.

Aquarium Size

This small fish pet may not require a large volume fish tank like most other freshwater sharks. Hence, a small aquarium of 55 gallons will do.


It has an obvious red tail which usually is complemented by a very deep blue to the black color body. This sharp color contrast is a selling point.

Tank Décor

The red-tail shark requires enough tank décor for its wellbeing. As a result, place more wood, tree branches, roots, rocks of various sizes, fine gravels, and rich plantings. these will help also to satisfy their need to hide.


The young red-tail freshwater shark is timid. Hence, will always hideout. However, on maturity, it tends to keep territories. A hobbyist may keep away from this species because of this.

This pet fish always prefer solitude and may only look for a companion during mating. Therefore, if you want to keep two or more, you must increase the size of the tank accordingly. At least, a tank of 100 gallons size for two red-tail sharks.

Tank Mates

There are other species that can cohabit with the red-tail as listed above. Nevertheless, be cautious while choosing tank mates. Avoid species with similar characteristics such as body shape and color. Else, they become a point of target.

Also, it is not advisable to choose bottom roamers as tank mates. Instead, choose those that spend more time in the upper part of the tank. And, ensure they form a school, thus, avoiding extra aggression.


An algae accumulation is important in the diet of a red-tail shark. But, never take it as a tank cleaner or feel impressed by the number of algae the fish consumes.

A healthy red-tail food menu should include supplements as maggots, vegetables (e.g. cucumbers and spinach), small crustaceans (e.g. brine shrimps), and Occasional treat of fruit slices.


The Red-tail can live up to 7 years when properly cared for.


Introduce your red-tail shark last in the fish tank. Of course, they are territorial and very aggressive.

However, as the last participant, it can only secure its space without laying claim to most parts of the tank. As such, territorial disputes would reduce immensely.

2. Rainbow Shark (Epalzeorhynchos frenatum)

  • Max. Size: 6 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 55 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Barbs, Rainbowfish, Rasboras, Gouramis, Danios, Semi-aggressive cichlids.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 75 to 85 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.8 to 8.0

Facts You Should Know About Rainbow Shark

Growth Size

The Rainbow Shark is among the tiny species of freshwater sharks that you can keep in your fish tank. Most of the grown-ups reach about 6 inches in length.

Aquarium Size

A single Rainbow shark may not be much of a challenge to house in a tank. This is because a small tank of 55 gallons can comfortably contain your freshwater pet fish.

However, in case you want to keep two or more of this species, ensure to increase the size of your aquarium accordingly. At least, a 100-gallon tank for two Rainbow sharks will be okay.


The Rainbow Sharks have bright coloration which is gradually toned. Of course, the colors make them eye-catchy. The male tends to have brighter colors than the female. Also, the male’s body is relatively thin when compared to the round torso of the female.

Tank Décor

Provide the fish tank with more woods, plants, and caves. This is especially when you keep two or more of these freshwater fish species. By so doing, you give the Rainbow sharks a hiding space so they can claim territory with less aggression.


The Rainbow shark will occupy the bottom part of the aquarium. While they may not be territorial at a young age, they will certainly grow to start claiming parts of the tank as their own.

These freshwater shark species are very aggressive. The odds are high that the male and female would not be able to occupy the same tank without tearing each other apart.

While the rainbow sharks are not nocturnal, they also are not as active in the daytime when compared to darker periods. More so, these species may prefer to swim when the lights are off especially if stressed. And other times, they go into hiding.

Tank Mates

The best move is to choose tank mates that spend most of their time at the upper level of the aquarium. Therefore, avoid goldfish and other bottom-dwellers. Else, you expose them to danger.


Provide Rainbow sharks with foods such as small crustaceans, veggies, maggots, and fruits.


When taken good care of, the Rainbow shark can live between 7 to 10 years. It all lies in the stress level and condition of the water.


While the breeding of the Rainbow shark is possible, a beginner hobbyist should not go for this species. Except he will apply extra caution.

The Rainbow shark can undergo genetic alteration to form a Glofish. That is a fish that can glow in the dark.

3. Bala Shark/Tricolor Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus)

  • Max. Size: 15 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 75 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Tiger Barbs, Clown loaches, Oscars, Gouramis, Angelfish, cichlids. Others are relatively big fishes that cannot fit in the Bala’s mouth but peaceful.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 73 to 83 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.5 to 7.8

Facts You Should Know About Bala Shark

Growth Size

When Setting up a medium-sized tank for freshwater sharks, the Bala shark is a great option for you. An adult Bala can reach up to 15 inches in length.

This Specie of Aquarium shark grows quite fast before it attains a 5-inch growth mark. Afterward, it slows down a bit until it grows fully.

Aquarium Size

For keeping a single Bala shark, a 75-gallon tank will house your shark. However, since the fish is social keeping a school of about 3 Bala sharks or more would be great.

A larger tank of 200 gallons or more will keep your sharks comfortable.


The Bala shark is silver in color. Also, it has a somewhat black color lining along the tip of the fins.

Tank Décor

Provide Plantings, tree roots, branches, gravels, and Rocks of various sizes in the tank. A rich décor will be great for your Bala sharks.


The Bala Shark is unlike most other freshwater sharks for aquariums. It is relatively social, at least it prefers the company of its species.

Tank Mates

In addition to being able to live in a school of its own kind, the Bala Shark can live in the company of many other fishes.

Make sure that the tank mates you choose are not aggressive species. More so, they should be relatively large fishes.

Do not also choose small fishes as tank mates, else they would get eaten.


This Silver Shark is not selective when it comes to feeding. In other words, it can eat anything given to it.

Feed it small crustaceans (shrimps, earthworms, small insects, blood worms) mosquito larvae, algae, blanched veggies, and quality flake foods. The Bala shark will accept all. Certainly, it is an omnivorous species.


The Bala shark in a stress-free environment and with proper care can live beyond 10 years of age.


Bear in mind that the Bala shark has records of jumping. As a result, ensure a spacious tank and a tight lid.

4. Roseline Shark (Sahyadria denisonii)

  • Max. Size: 5 to 6 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 75 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Tiger Barbs, Zebra danios, Siamese algae eaters, Black skirt tetras, Fast-swimming cichlids (e.g. Bolivian ram).
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 77 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.6 to 7.6

Facts You Should Know About the Roseline Shark

Growth Size

The Roseline Shark or Denison Barb (another name) does not grow so large. In fact, a full-grown Roseline shark is about 6 inches in length. It is among the smallest freshwater shark species for aquariums.

The rate of growth is slow also. As such, when fed properly it could take a couple of months to gain just about 1.5 inches.

Aquarium Size

A 75-gallon tank can house a single Roseline shark. But, these species are better kept in schools of about 5 sharks. Thus, a larger tank of about 125 gallons and above will be great for a shoal of Roseline sharks.


The Denison barb otherwise known as the Red-line Torpedo is a colorful shark. It is among the most beautiful freshwater shark species.

When in school, they make a great addition to a home aquarium.


The Roseline shark is a fast swimmer. It will speed back and forth in the fish tank. Thus, the need for a long tank.

These shark species will not show signs of aggression when in a school of at least 5 sharks.

Tank Mates

Choose tank mates of active and fast swimming fishes. For example, tiger barbs, Siamese algae eaters, zebra danios and so on.

Slow swimmers will not make good tank mates. Obviously, the fast movement of the sharks will stress them out.


Your Red-line Torpedo is an omnivore. Therefore, live foods such as shrimps, cyclops, bloodworms, and daphnia will be good for them.

More so, do not forget vegetables that will your sharks with digestion.


Your sharks with the right care and no stress will live up to 5 years or more.


If you add many Denison barb in a tank all at once, there would be chasing and bullying. Therefore, try adding a few at a time.

5. Silver Apollo Shark (Luciosoma setigerum)

  • Max. Size: 9 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 75 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Barbs, Loaches, calm Plecos, Bala Sharks, and other cyprinids of about the same size.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 78 F.
  • Water Ph: 6 to 6.5

Facts You Should Know About the Silver Apollo Shark

Growth Size

The two species you are likely to get with the name Silver Apollo shark include the Luciosoma setigerum and Luciosoma Pellegrini

These two species grow alike. And, their full-grown reaches about 9 inches in size.

Aquarium Size

A single Silver Apollo shark will live comfortably in a 75-gallon tank. But then, these sharks are the schooling type. As such, a larger tank of at least 150 gallons should give them enough comfort.


Silver Apollo sharks are noticeably silver-colored species. They may be classified as medium-sized freshwater sharks.


These shark species are best when in a school of 6 or more members. They like playing around underwater structures. For example, dead trees, driftwood, etc.

The Silver Apollos will spend most of their time in the middle and top part of the tank. Also, they need some level of water movement and high-end water filtration to survive.

They are quite as peaceful as home pets.

Tank Mates

Tankmates that are bottom feeders would make good companions. More so, ensure that these mates are not too small to fit into the mouth of the sharks.

Except your tank is big enough, do not place the Silver Apollo sharks with the Red-tail and Rainbow sharks.


As omnivores, the Silver Apollos will eat both vegetables and small animals. Hence, floating foods such as flakes, small crustaceans (shrimps and prawns), krill, and vegetable pieces are ideal for these species of freshwater sharks.

On the same note, treating them occasionally with worms and insects will complete their diet menu.


These shark species under the best condition can live up to about 6 to 7 years.


Watch out for great jumping skills. The Silver Apollos will jump especially when it feels threatened. Hence, endure the lid is adequately covered.

Be careful also when you go to purchase a Silver Apollo shark. Watch out for another species sold under the same name the Luciosoma spilopleura (long-finned Apollo shark).

These species are bigger and definitely more aggressive. More so, they are not schooling species.

In fact, if you mistakenly add a long-finned Apollo shark in the school of other Apollo sharks, it will end up killing the others.

While it might be difficult to tell the species apart, have in mind that even at a young age, the long-finned Apollo shark is larger when compared to others. Therefore, keep an open eye.

6. Violet Blushing Shark (Labeo boga)

  • Max. Size: 12 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 125 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Rainbowfish, Clown loaches, Devarios, and other larger peaceful Cyprinidae.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 68 to 78 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.6 to 7.9

Facts You Should Know About the Violet Blushing Shark

Growth Size

The Violet Blushing Shark grows up to 12 inches in length when fully grown.

Aquarium Size

This species of freshwater shark for aquariums will require a tank of at least 125 gallons to thrive. The large tank will give your pet freedom and fell restricted.


The Violet Blushing shark has a somewhat silver color with blushes of violet. While the colors of this shark are quite bright, there are others that will win the prize of the most outstanding colors.

It looks similar in structure to the Red-tail and Rainbow sharks. But, their kind is usually longer and larger.

Tank Décor

Add some tree branches, rocks, and gravels of various sizes in the tank. Also, introduce water currents. All these will make the tank look like a flowing riverbed. And, the Violet Blushing sharks enjoy such.


The Violet Blushing shark is a very peaceful and cool freshwater fish. As such, they are not as territorial as most other pet sharks.

When in the right environment, they do not show aggression.

Tank Mates

This Aquarium fish species tolerates other large and peaceful fish species as tank mates.

However, be sure not to add tank mates from the same genus (Labeo). Or, any fish that have a similar shape. Else, this may cause aggression and fight for territories.


Feed your pet small crustaceans, frozen bloodworms, and dried fish. It will surely be happy.


The Violet Blushing shark can be either alone or in school. But then, ensure the school is made up of at least 5 or more members. Lesser number of members will lead to territorial disputes.

7. Siamese Algae Eater (Crossocheilus siamensis)

  • Max. Size: 6 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 20 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Barbs, Gouramis, Tetras, Angel Fish, Swordtails, Guppies, Corydoras, and if you have a school of 4+ fishes, Danios can make good tank mate.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 76 to 80 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.6 to 8

Facts You Should Know About the Siamese Algae Eater

Growth Size

A full-grown Siamese Algae Eater will grow up to 6 inches in length.

Aquarium Size

This shark pet can maintain a small tank space of 20 gallons. However, it is always better when the tank is bigger.


A Siamese Algae Eater is among the small-sized freshwater sharks for aquarium. Generally, the look like the Chinese Algae Eater and the Flying Fox

Tank Décor

Introduce woods, tree branches, roots, rocks, and gravels in the tank. these would be great for the wellbeing of the pet shark.


This species of aquarium sharks are very peaceful and calm naturally. Also, they are social. As such can relate with other community of peaceful fishes.

They are not aggressive like most others discussed here.

Tank Mates

An appropriate tank mate for the Siamese Algae Eater must be peaceful and non-aggressive. More so, do not employ the Red-tail and Rainbow Sharks as tank mates.

This pet shark may not get along with freshwater sharks of similar shape.


The Siamese Algae Eater is popular for munching on algae. Thus, it can finely clean up an algae infestation.

As a pet in your home Aquarium, feed it worms, crustaceans, vegetables, and fruits.


Always cover the lid of your tank tightly as these freshwater sharks are terrific jumpers.

8. Iridescent Shark Catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus)

  • Max. Size: 47 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 400 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Oscars, Common Pleco, larger carps and minnows, and Pacu fish. Avoid smaller fishes that can fit in the mouth of the shark.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 80 F.
  • Water ePh: 6.2 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Iridescent Shark Catfish

Growth Size

The Iridescent Shark Catfish can grow quite large. Hence, the adult pet shark can reach up to 47 inches in length.

This freshwater shark species grows a bit slowly. Even while it has enough space and fed adequately.

Aquarium Size

Large tanks of not less 400 gallons can just okay for the Iridescent shark. However, for optimum concern use about 1200 gallons.

This will give your pet shark enough room to swim around and not feel confined.


These are big freshwater shark species that can survive in a home aquarium. They have the roundish torso and are lengthy too.


The Iridescent shark not minding the size is an active swimmer. In fact, it can swim to a very far location when left in the wild. As such, expect constant swimming from these species. Thus, the need for very large tanks.

They are quite peaceful and prefer to occupy the middle and top part of the tank.

Tank Mates

Choose tank mates that are peaceful and larger. Consider Pacus, Oscars, and larger Cyprinids as good companions.

Also, bottom-dwellers as plecos will make good tank mates.

Avoid smaller fish species. Else, you want them preyed on.


Feed your Iridescent shark catfish with insects, worms, dried fish, and other food supplements for a pet shark.


This freshwater shark species will live long enough between the age gap of 15 to 20 years. Of course, this when the shark feed well, lives in a comfy space, and not stressed.


While the Iridescent Shark Catfish can be kept in a home aquarium, you must make enough preparations. That is to say, you must provide large tanks as recommended here.

Do not place this pet shark in a small tank. Else, it will feel confined and not grow as expected. Above all, it will die untimely.

So, while you can easily obtain the Iridescent shark catfish, know exactly what to expect.

9. Columbian Shark (Ariopsis seemanni)

  • Max. Size: 22 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 125 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Mollies, Moonfish, Scats, others include marine fishes that are semi-aggressive.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 80 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.5 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Columbian Shark

Growth Size

An adult Columbian shark (Black Fin shark) can reach up to 22 inches in length. They are relatively large aquarium fish.

Aquarium Size

Make sure to put this species in a tank not less than 125 gallons. Although when they are still small you may get away with a smaller tank of 75 gallons.

However, do not forget to transfer to a larger tank as they grow bigger.


With the slender body and black fins, the Columbian shark appears quite great. Certainly, they are good to look at.


These sharks are fast swimmers. And, they can also swim far. They can maintain a group of 4 members and above.

They likely occupy the bottom part of the tank more of the time. Though, they can still get to the top in search of food.

The Columbian shark is quite aggressive. May like a well-setup water current.

Tank Mates

A suitable tank mate for this Aquarium fish should be semi-aggressive. For example, the moonfish.

Also, large marine fishes such as Scats and Mollies will make good companions.

Avoid smaller fishes that can fit into the mouth of the Columbian shark. Else, they will turn to prey.


The Columbian shark is omnivorous. Therefore, you should feed it both plants and meat materials.

These food materials may include shrimps, small crustaceans, pellets of catfish, quality flakes, frozen worms and so on.


In good aquarium conditions, the Columbian shark may live up to 10 years.


Of course, the Columbian shark can be kept as an aquarium pet. But, it is quite important to know that this is not a true freshwater shark.

In fact, this species is a saltwater fish. Although, when still at a young age, this fish can survive in brackish water. However, be sure to transfer it to full-blown saltwater before it is late.

A group of 4 or more is quite preferable for a Columbian shark.

10. Chinese High-fin Banded Shark (Myxocyprinus asiaticus)

  • Max. Size: 50 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 300 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Koi fish, Loaches, Goldfish
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 55 to 75 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.8 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Chinese High-fin Banded Shark

Growth Size

The High-fin Banded Shark grows really big up to 50 inches which is more than 4ft. Of course, this is if the aquarium or pond is large enough. And, in good condition.

This freshwater shark species is a fast-grower. And, may get to its full length in just 3 years.

Aquarium Size

Never keep the High-fin Banded fish in an aquarium less than 300 gallons. If you are not ready to provide a large space for this shark, don’t go for it.

When you notice your pet shark growing immensely big, it is a great move to transfer it to a koi pond. For knowledge, this freshwater shark has a behavior similar to the koi fish.


With the contrasting black and white lines circling its body, the High-fin Banded shark looks quite stunning.


This freshwater shark is calm and not aggressive in any way. It is not that active. In other words, it does not swim regularly.

Also, this fish likes cold temperatures. That is the likes of the koi pond.

Tank Mates

This fish can stay with smaller species such as the loaches. Also, koi fish is a great tank mate for the Chinese High-fin Banded shark.


Your Chinese High-fin is an algae eater. So, a vegetable diet is important.

Give your pet also crustaceans and invertebrates that occupy the bottom of the tank. By so doing, you are expanding its menu.


Expect a lifespan of 15 years or more from the Chinese High-fin shark.


While this species may look like a shark, it is among the true freshwater shark species. Instead, this is more of a catfish.

If you are not absolutely ready for a giant pet shark, it is advisable to stay away from the High-fin.

11. Black Sharkminnow (Labeo chrysophekadion)

  • Max. Size: 35 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 250 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: Any top-dwelling fish and avoid shark look-alikes.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 82 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.6 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Black Sharkminnow

Growth Size

The Black Sharkminnow (Black Labeo) grows really big. They can reach between 30 to 35 inches in length when fully grown.

Aquarium Size

Do not go below 250 gallons tank. Well, a single species with no tank mate may survive in a 200-gallon tank.

However, when considering tank mates, anything bigger such as 300 to 400 gallons will be okay.


A completely black and big fish. Of course, with nice scales, if I’m to say.

Tank Décor

Introduce fine sand in the tank as a substrate. Also, do not use a sharp object as décor. This may cause damage to your pet shark.


The Black Sharkminnow is a very aggressive freshwater shark species. Once kept with smaller species, it will make the tank uncomfortable for them.

This shark prefers highly oxygenated water and frequent water changes.

It will occupy the bottom part of the tank.

Tank Mates

A suitable tank mate for this species should be large. Must not be a shark look-alike. And, should spend most of its time at the top of the tank.


Feed your Black Sharkminnow crustaceans, worms, fish pellets, etc.

In a day, make sure to feed it 2 times.


While going for the Black Sharkminnow, make sure to introduce it last in the tank. Else, it will become aggressive to newcomers.

As a newbie to shark keeping hobby, either avoid this species or take extra caution and care as you proceed.

12. Harlequin Shark (Labeo cyclorhynchus)

  • Max. Size: 6 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: 55 gallons and above.
  • Suitable Tankmates: a relatively large fish that swims fast. Also with a temper as the Harlequin. For example, minnows, carps, danios, and barbs.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 72 to 82 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.5 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Harlequin Shark

Growth Size

The Harlequin sharks are among the small species of freshwater sharks. As such, an adult will grow to about 6 inches in length.

Aquarium Size

Keep your pet shark in a 55-gallon tank or bigger. At least, they will feel comfortable.


With quite an unusual coloration, they still look cool for aquarium. This coloration of somewhat black spots is brighter when they are still young. However, it will fade somehow as they attain maturity.

Tank Décor

Add rich plantings to your aquarium. Also, introduce driftwoods and rocks of various sizes. As such, you are providing enough place for your Harlequin to hide.


Absolutely aggressive and territorial. They will never tolerate anything of its kind. They prefer being alone.

A typical shark behavioral pattern. They will probably kill anything that gets close enough to them. Certainly, they are mean!

They will roam the bottom of the tank. And, it prefers water currents.

Tank Mates

Any suitable tank mate should be a top or middle tank dweller. It should equally swim fast and have a similar temper as the Harlequin.

Examples include species of larger barbs, danios, carps, and minnows.


Apart from the normal food supplement, you can give your pet shark, the Harlequin sharks feed on algae, biofilms, and detritus.

It is an aufwuchs grazer. therefore, ensure you keep the lights shining for longer periods.


Introduce this pet shark in the tank last. By doing so, it will not claim all the spaces as its own.

Do not introduce anything that will reach the bottom of the tank that is not food. Else, you are looking for trouble.

Use a strong water filter to produce the desired water current in the tank.

13. Paroon Shark (Pangasius Sanitwongsei)

  • Max. Size: 120 inches.
  • Size of Tank Required: Not recommended for domestic fish tanks
  • Suitable Tankmates: Any fish as large as the Paroon shark. Must not be of a similar kind.
  • Optimal Tank Temperature: 76 to 80 F.
  • Water Ph: 6.5 to 7.5

Facts You Should Know About the Paroon Shark

Growth Size

The Paroon Shark is a giant freshwater fish. On full growth can get up to 120 inches. However, it is unlikely they reach the length.

Aquarium Size

The tank size is not available because of the size of the shark. While you can keep it as a juvenile, it will finally grow out of hand.

Most of all, any tank you decide to use should be the size of a swimming pool. The reason you should not keep one in your home aquarium.


A large silver-colored fish.


Not minding the size, the Paroon shark is still very active. Thus, it swims a lot.

The adult Paroon may show signs of nervousness and panic when startled.

This species is amid water swimmer.

Tank Mates

A tank mate should be a large fish as the Paroon shark. However, must not be of its kind.

Any smaller species will eventually become prey.


As a young shark, they may accept foods of wider ranges as pellets, flakes, frozen foods, and small live foods. But, as they grow, they tend to become predatory.

Adults will prey on other fishes. Also, they scavenge for dead animals as food.


The Paroon shark is not for domestic aquaria. As a result, do not think of getting one for your home.

The only reason this fish appeared on this list is that some fish stores sell it as a freshwater shark. Although they may not issue the necessary warnings.

This fish is a known predator. And, apart from the growth size, it is really difficult to breed. No one has bred a Paroon shark in domestic aquaria.

Other Sharks that Can Survive in a Home Aquaria

The following sharks are saltwater species that can serve as an Aquarium pet. Their sizes are considerably manageable.

However, their activities remain that of a predator.

These include:

14. Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum)

The Epaulette Shark is a long-tailed saltwater shark. It is slim and usually with 2 spots right above its pectoral fins.

This shark species is small and fit for a home aquarium. In fact, they prefer a small confined space. Well, they feel safe in such spaces.

They are bottom-feeders and may not need to feed quite often. This is because they prefer to fast before feeding.

15. Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum)

The adult Bamboo Shark grows up to 37 inches in length. They are harmless to humans. And, they get along well with other tank mates.

But then, note that this saltwater shark eats voraciously. As such, it will feed on other fish that appear tasty to it.

This species is quite active. Therefore, a larger tank of about 200 gallons will be enough.

Feed the Bamboo shark a few times in a day. By doing so, it will stay cool.

It is mostly nocturnal and might be more active in the dark.

16. Wobbegong Shark

The Wobbegongs are from the carpet shark family. They have many species under this name. Of course, some species grow much big up to 120 inches. For example, the (Orectolobus maculatus) and (Orectolobus halei). Thus, they are not fit for home aquaria.

On the other hand, other smaller species that are fit for domestic aquariums grow about 49 inches. For example, the tasseled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) and Ward’s wobbegong.

The Wobbegong shark is not an active species. Its metabolism is very slow. As a result, you may need to feed it only 2 times in a whole week.


These last three sharks listed here are specifically for saltwater aquaria. Hence, never make the mistake of putting them in freshwater.

They are on this list because they are sold in fish stores as pet sharks too! So, know what you are going for before you do.

FAQ and Answers about Freshwater Sharks

Are Freshwater Sharks Really Sharks?

Freshwater sharks are not real sharks. However, because they look like real sharks and often behave like them, it is safe to call them “sharks”.

While the real sharks habit the saltwater, the freshwater sharks live in freshwater. They are mostly from the Cyprinidae (groups of carps and minnows) and the Pangasiidae family.

Are Freshwater Sharks Aggressive?

As stated in the characteristics of the freshwater sharks listed above, most of them are quite aggressive. Although, especially to their kinds (for those that do not socialize) or a smaller tank mate they can bully.

This is why you need to take precautions why choosing tank mates for your pet freshwater shark. Also, watch out for the spaces you provide for them as this may trigger their aggression if too small.

However, some species are also quite peaceful and calm. So, not all species will show signs of aggression.

Are Freshwater Sharks Dangerous?

Most freshwater sharks are predators. And, they attack their prey. Of course, they are dangerous to their prey.

So, if you go doing things not part of the care-sheet, these sharks might be dangerous to you! And, watch out for the aggressive and territorial ones.

Will an Expected Larger Specie Outgrow its Tank on Maturity?

When you put the young of a larger freshwater shark species in a compacted tank, it may not outgrow the tank. Instead, the shark will experience stunted growth.

Some will feel stressed and die prematurely.

This is usually due to the lower oxygen level in a home aquarium. And, equally the nitrate build-up.

Concluding Thoughts

It is a nice sight having a freshwater shark in your home aquarium. But then, make sure that your tank setup is up to requirement.

Think also about the tank companions of your shark before choosing.

Do the right things and enjoy a world of “SHARKS” in your home.