Sharks are beautiful creatures which inspires many people to want to keep one for themselves. To keep a shark, you must provide the optimum conditions required for you shark to thrive. Before getting a shark for your aquarium, there are many things you need to know.
If you have never kept fish before, do not keep a shark. Wait until you have acquired the knowledge and habits of a good fish-keeper before buying a shark.
Own one shark or a few. Stronger sharks dominate others, which leads to high stress levels within an aquarium. In higher concentrations, there are too many sharks for one to dominate and they get along better.
Observe your shark and where it comes from. Check the shark for any sign of ill health – spots and blemishes, cuts, missing scales, fins held close to the body, inactive? Check the tanks of the aquarium store or breeder – are they clean and well-maintained? Is the person selling you the shark knowledgable and a shark enthusiast? It is best to have a reputable person to consult who can advise you of the most appropriate shark for you.
How was the shark caught? It is important to ensure the shark was caught in a responsible way which does not harm the shark, shark populations and the environment. While sharing your passion for sharks with others by keeping a shark is a way of helping to stop shark finning, the removal of the shark from the wild must be carried out in a sustainable way. Supporting a sustainable aquarium industry is essential.
Provide the right kind of tank and tank environment for your shark. Is your tank large enough to allow your shark to carry out it's natural behaviours and grow? Does your tank have a cover to prevent the shark from jumping out of the tank? Do your tank lights emulate natural day/night rhythms in the sharks natural environment? Does your shark have caves, rocks or plants where it can hide?
Filter your tank water. Use a good electrical aquarium filter to keep your tank clean, with a focus on biological filtration. This kind of filtration ensures there is a greater amount of beneficial bacteria than harmful bacteria in tank water, keeping your aquarium clean and healthy for it's inhabitants. Keeping a thin layer of gravel on the bottom of the tank also aids filtration by providing a surface area on which good bacteria can grow.
Regularly maintain your water quality. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the health of any aquarium. This includes a partial (15-20% water change once a fortnight, the removal of any algae off tank walls, removal of any dead fish, checking to see that your equipment is working properly, water tests to monitor water quality issues. If you are not prepared to maintain your shark tank on a regular basis to ensure the health of your shark, do not get a shark.
Keep water temperature within the optimum range for your shark. Position your tank away from direct sunlight or vents. Temperatures below or above optimum range can stress your shark, make it more susceptible to disease and if left unmonitored over prolonged periods, kill the shark. Do not overfeed your shark. Feed your shark a variety of foods recommended for it's species, but do not feed it too much. Either the shark will produce too much waste, or the food will nor be eaten by the shark and simple decompose on the bottom of the tank, compromising your water quality.
Regularly observe your shark for signs of ill health. Symptoms of sickness indicate that the conditions within the shark's environment are not optimum for their health. Remain observant of any changes in appearance or behaviour which could signal that it is not healthy. Most often the cause of diseases such as infections or parasites is poor water quality and destabilisation of tank conditions. Set up a quarantine tank to transfer of any sharks which show signs of disease out of the main tank for treatment, especially until you know what is wrong with it. This prevents disease from spreading and allows you to only treat the shark that requires it.
Love your shark! Sharks are beautiful creatures. Allow your friends to see for themselves how beautiful they are.