Shark catfish

© User:Lerdsuwa, Iridescent Shark Catfish, CC BY-SA 3.0

Shark catfish are predominantly freshwater fish that are at home throughout Southeast Asia and can grow to several meters in length. Here in Europe it is known as Pangasius and is now also known as a particularly inexpensive food fish. Altogether the genus comprises around 30 subspecies, of which only a few are suitable for keeping in very large aquaria.

What distinguishes the shark catfish?

Small shark catfish of the species Pangasius hypophthalmus or Pangasius sutchi are often offered in the trade. However, the cute young fish grow up rapidly and can quickly become too large for an average aquarium. A fully-grown specimen of Pangasius hypophthalmus can grow up to 120 cm in the aquarium.

Other shark catfish reach lengths of up to 300 cm. In addition, they will eat almost all the smaller inhabitants of the aquarium sooner or later. The purchase and keeping of Pangasiidae should be well considered. If you own a truly large aquarium and are sure you will get an active and interesting fish into your home with a shark catfish.


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The appearance of the shark catfish

As young fish they look narrow and dashing. The sporty and shark-like physique lasts until a certain age. Then the animals become a little more sluggish and roundish, especially at the back. The flattened broad mouth also reminds of the shark.

With increasing age the shark catfish shows pronounced barbels. Striking and also name-giving are the pointed and very stable fins. The shark catfish is dark grey to dark green or silver along the upper line and light beige to white on the underside. From the swim fin to the anal fin a light line can be drawn. The shark catfish has very large expressive and strikingly bright eyes.

  • young very similar to the shark
  • Topline dark and belly very light
  • becomes more rounded in old age

Husbandry conditions for shark catfish

A small shark catfish seems uncomplicated and you may not even imagine how fast the journeyman grows. In the beginning, moving it to larger tanks can help, but when it measures half a meter or more, it becomes difficult to keep it in the hobby. In nature shark catfish are sociable fish, which also get along well with similarly large fish species.

If you can offer a shark catfish a large home, you should not only have space for the fish itself, but also provide sufficient exercise possibilities. If kept individually in a too small aquarium the fish become fat quickly and become sluggish.

  • Keeping for professionals in large aquaria
  • needs a lot of space
  • is only peaceful towards other big fish

Sex differences in shark catfish

Males and females hardly differ externally.

Water values for the shark catfish

The shark catfish is tolerant of water quality. However, the temperature should never drop below 23°C for the Asian fish.

  • Water type: Fresh water
  • Temperature: 23° to 27°C
  • PH value: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Total hardness: 2° to 29°dGH

Food and nutrition for the shark catfish

Shark catfish are basically omnivores. You can get them used to pellets and they take frost food, larger insects or soft vegetables. If you want to keep the vitality in your shark catfish, you should offer fish meat from time to time.

The ideal aquarium for the shark catfish

A species-appropriate keeping for the shark catfish is only possible from 5000 liters capacity. The fish will soon outgrow everything below that. In order to do justice to the joy of swimming, round pools are best suited. Since this form of keeping in private households is rather difficult, this fish should be reserved for professionals or true enthusiasts with plenty of space. The fish are very sociable and are not happy alone in a too small tank.

If you have a large aquarium, you can decorate it with stones and some robust aquatic plants. Sand and gravel are suitable as floor covering.

  • from 5000 litres
  • from a smaller aquarium this fish grows fast
  • Decoration with stones and robust plants

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