Freshwater aquarium sharks aren’t actually sharks at all. Most freshwater shark species are actually barbs or minnows and are called sharks due to the shape of their bodies.
They often have pronounced dorsal fins and long slender bodies, similar to their full-size saltwater counterparts.
There are many freshwater fish species sold as sharks in the aquarium trade and they can be well suited for aquarium life if you have a large aquarium as they typically grow large. Several "Freshwater Sharks" include:
The Bala Shark is characterized by its silver body with fins outlined in black. It reaches over a foot long when fully grown. It is recommended that an aquarium of at least 100 gallons be used to house the Bala Shark. It also is a semi-agressive schooling fish and does best when kept in groups of 3 or more.
The Red Tail Shark has a jet black body with a bright red tail. As they mature, the black bodies can fade into a dark brown color. The Red Tailed Shark is aggressive towards its own species and towards other sharks in the freshwater aquarium. It is best to keep it with other similarly sized semi-aggressive fish (not sharks). An aquarium of 50 gallons is more than enough for a Red Tailed Shark.
The Hi-Fin Banded Shark are a sucker fish species, and are often found in the bottom third of the water column. It gets rather large, even in captivity – an adult size of almost two feet long is not uncommon. They are mostly algae/detritus eaters, but will take typical omnivorous food offerings as a juvenile. Due to their large size, they are best suited for established ponds or aquariums of over 125 gallons.
The Columbian Shark is actually a catfish, and can even be kept in saltwater aquariums (if slowly acclimated). For the most part, successful owners keep it in brackish freshwater tanks. It can reach nearly 12 inches in length in captivity, and does well in aquariums of at least 90 gallons. It is more peaceful than other freshwater sharks and can be kept with other fish of similar or slightly smaller size. It is a bottom feeder and will readily eat foods designed for bottom feeding catfish.
The Rainbow Shark is semi-aggressive, and is similar in appearance and size to the Red Tailed Shark – the main difference being that all of the fins are red on the Rainbow Shark instead of just the tail. Many specimens are dark gray rather than black. There is also an albino variant that is commonly available. At maturity, the Rainbow Shark gets to be about 6 inches long. A tank size of at least 75 gallons is appropriate. It is a semi-aggressive fish that is best matched with other fish of equal size.
Click on any of the images below to view our Sharks gallery.