11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (2023)

Interest in sharks in freshwater aquariums has grown rapidly in recent years. People can't get enough of it!

There's something so much fun about owning a shark, no matter what species it is. These iconic fish have been a staple of our relationship with the water for hundreds of years.

Watching a freshwater shark swim around in your aquarium is never boring.

So this is what we did:

We've put together a complete list of the best freshwater sharks to keep in your tank. Some are big, some are small, but they are all great!

1.Bala Shark

Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, Bala Sharks are considered gentle giants. They are relatively peaceful and get along with a wide variety of fish. While they may begin to view smaller critters as food as they grow larger, they tend to be respectful of most fish.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (1)

Bala Sharks are very active swimmers. They will swim for hours in the area. When kept in groups, the fish will also exhibit schooling behaviour.

In appearance, these freshwater aquarium sharks are stunning. Usually the shark's primary color will be gray. There are some color variations, but most will look pretty much the same.

The gray color is complemented by striking yellow and clear stripes. The stripes can be found on their forked tail and fins. Like most shark-like species, the Bala Shark's dorsal fin is very prominent. Thanks to its striking coloring, the dorsal fin stands out when lifted.

Bala Sharks are not that difficult to care for. However, they need some strict water conditions and a good diet to stay healthy. The sharks prefer temperatures around 77 degrees at all times. The pH balance should be between 6.5 and 8.

These sharks are omnivores. However, they prefer protein-based snacks such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and more. They have a big appetite and need to be fed three times a day to support their growth.

  • Maat:10 tot 13 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:120 liter

2.Red Tail Shark

Redtail sharks have long been a popular fish species in the aquarist community. They were originally found in freshwater lakes and swamps all over Thailand. However, they are now considered critically endangered in the wild.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (2)

To make matters worse, breeding these fish in captivity is no easy task. It is possible and done by some larger professional breeding facilities. However, no established home growing technique has been found.

(Video) 11 Freshwater Aquarium Sharks For Tanks Of All Sizes

It's not hard to understand why these fish are so revered. The Red Tail Shark is aptly named for its distinctive red tail. It contrasts sharply with the rest of the shark's body, which is dark black. Of course, this strain also has that iconic shark profile that so many fish breeders are looking for.

The good news is that these fish are very hardy. They can adapt well to many environments. Preferred temperatures range from 72 degrees to 79 degrees. A standard pH balance between 6.5 and 7.5 is also good.

Aggressive behavior is common. The Red Tail Shark is highly territorial and will lash out at any creature that enters its domain. To keep fights to a minimum, the Red Tail Shark needs plenty of room to hold its own.

  • Maat:6 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:55 liter

3.Rainbow Shark

Sometimes referred to as Ruby Sharks or Red-Finned Sharks, these creatures provide a beautiful pop of color to any freshwater tank. Like the Red Tail Shark, the Rainbow Sharks have a fiery red tail that stands out against a natural backdrop. However, these fish also have bright red fins.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (3)

The fins are semi-transparent, allowing you to see delicate stingrays. Each fin is colored red. Combine that color with the dark black hue of their body and you have a very intimidating looking fish.

Rainbow sharks are generally not recommended for beginner aquarists. The reason for that is aggression. These are very territorial fish that are known to attack other creatures in the tank. It's an interesting behavioral trait that you don't normally see in the wild.

Despite their aggressive behavior, rainbow sharks can be kept with other fish. They are bottom dwellers, so you can keep them with species of fish that stick to the top of the water column. Aggression is still possible, so always be careful.

Rainbow sharks are natural omnivores. During the day they will chewalgae that they find everywhere in the aquarium. However, this should be supplemented with sinking fish food, blanched vegetables and some high quality live food.

  • Maat:6 inch
  • Difficulty level:Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:55 liter

4.Iridescent Shark

Native to Southeast Asia, iridescent sharks are a big devotion. Not only do they get big, but these fish have been known to live 20 years or more! As a result, they are considered species that only seasoned aquarists should keep.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (4)

If you ever see one of these fish in real life, you may be wondering how they got their name! Adult iridescent sharks are usually solid dark gray in color. The truth is that that muffled tone is something that forms slowly as the fish ages. As juveniles, the iridescent shark is covered in dark glossy skin that glows in the light.

Aside from their color, these are very interesting looking freshwater sharks for your tank. They have that familiar catfish-like head complete with barbs. However, their bodies are quite spherical. The fins are quite large and also fan-like, which gives the fish a unique profile.

In general, iridescent sharks aren't too picky about their environment. They like temperatures between 72 and 79 degrees, standard pH levels between 6.5 and 7.5, and natural decor. That said, feeding can be a bit of a challenge.

These sharks need a lot of food. Not only that, but there should be variety to make sure they get all their nutrients. The fish are omnivores that will eat just about anything, so be sure to mix things up.

(Video) 15 Best Freshwater Aquarium Sharks for All Tank Sizes - Mini Sharks | Lifespan and Care Level

  • Maat:3-4 feet
  • Difficulty level:Expert
  • Minimum Tank Size:300 liter

5. Violet Blushing Shark

Unlike other freshwater aquarium sharks, the Violet Blushing Shark is quite passive. It does not exhibit territorial behavior as you would see in other species. As a result, they do well in community aquariums.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (5)

That said, you should still avoid keeping these fish with smaller creatures that they might consider food. They do best when kept with medium sized fish.

Violet Blushing Sharks get their name from their unique appearance. The fish are covered with a silver-white color. You can see some shine on their body, but only when they are under strong light.

The bodies are transparent, allowing you to see individual organs. The most prominent feature of the shark's body is its gills. The gills are visible through the body, making it look like the fish is blushing!

Keeping a well-maintained aquarium is crucial for these fish. They need stable temperatures between 68 and 28 degrees to stay healthy. That's not all. The Violet Blushing Shark should also have plenty of swimming space.

The biggest mistake newer aquarists make with this species is filling the tank with too many decorations. Plants, driftwood and rocks are all important to make the fish feel comfortable. But so does a lot of open swimming space! You need to find the right balance to keep the Violet Blushing Shark in good shape.

  • Maat:12 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:125 liter

6.Colombian shark

Here is a species that can be very challenging to care for. The Colombian shark has some strict care requirements. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around.

Contrary to popular belief, these are not quite freshwater sharks. As juveniles, they need brackish water to stay healthy. When you set up their tank, you should add some sea salt to make sure the specific gravity is between 1.005 and 1.010.

Colombian sharks also tend to be problematic when kept with other fish. These are predatory creatures that prey on smaller species of fish. So you should avoid smaller passive fish.

Another way to prevent predatory behavior is to keep the fish well fed. The Columbian shark thrives on a high protein diet of live and frozen foods. They also do well on pellets and commercial dry food. However, they prefer live food that they can hunt.

In appearance, these fish are one of the most shark-like species you can get for your aquarium. They have a large sail-like dorsal fin. Their bodies are usually covered in shades of black, gray and silver.

On the heads of the fish you can see that they have several pairs of long barbs. These barbs are used to navigate their environment and locate food.

  • Maat:10 inch
  • Difficulty level:Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:70 liter

7. Black shark

The black shark is a large fish with a semi-aggressive nature. Originally found throughout Malaysia, these fish are very popular for their ominous appearance.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (6)
(Video) 11 Types Of Fresh Water Aquarium Shark

Clad in all black, the Black Shark has that familiar profile that many freshwater sharks share. This includes a huge dorsal fin. When the fish swims, the dorsal fin will usually lie relatively flat against their round body. However, it will also stand upright from time to time while the fish is showing off.

The Black Shark can become very aggressive and predatory. They should not be kept with small fish species. Most aquarists will house them alongside other aggressive species that can handle the black shark's bullying nature. This includes some cichlid species.

Interestingly, these fish do not require a diet based on pure protein. Some proteins are good, but they are omnivores that will eat just about anything. They have a predilection for plant foods. In fact, these fish are notorious for eating plants.

Therefore, the Black Shark is recommended for tanks that are scarce in the plant department. They do best with plenty of open swimming space. Numerous caves are also recommended so that they have resting places.

  • Maat:24 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:125 liter

8.Roseline shark

These striking fish are absolute eye-catchers! The Roseline Shark is covered in several bright colors that look great against a natural background. You see stripes of red, black and gold. Patches of green and yellow are also quite common.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (7)

Like all freshwater sharks, these fish have a pronounced dorsal fin. In the case of Roseline Sharks, the dorsal fin is accentuated with a vibrant fiery red stripe.

Roseline sharks are actually part of the barb family and are some of the smallest freshwater aquarium sharks you can get. However, this can be a good thing when it comes to temperament.

For the most part, these sharks won't pose a problem in terms of aggression. They are quite peaceful and will not pay attention to other fish in the community. When kept in groups of four to six, the fish will sparkle even more and will show some playful behavior.

Roseline Sharks can tolerate a wide variety of conditions. They can stay healthy in temperatures between 60 and 77 degrees, although somewhere in the middle is preferred. One thing they do need is a strong current. The fish are naturally found in rivers and streams, so mimicking that with a strong pump is essential.

  • Maat:4,5 inch
  • Difficulty level:Beginner
  • Minimum Tank Size:50 liter

9. Harlequin shark

Known scientifically as Labeo cyclorhynchus, Harlequin Sharks are an interesting addition to freshwater tanks. They are quite beautiful. However, the fish is known to lead a very solitary life.

They don't like to be around other fish. They are even known to be very territorial against similar species. That means you can't keep them in groups or with other freshwater sharks.

However, you can house them with some fish if you have enough space. The harlequin shark is a benthic fish that will spend most of its time submerged. This allows them to be kept with larger species that remain at the top of the water column.

In the wild, these fish are found throughout the Congo River Basin. Their natural habitat is densely planted forest streams. To really thrive, harlequin sharks need lots of hiding places. Hardy plants and a series of hiding places made of driftwood or rocks are a must.

Feeding harlequin sharks isn't that bad. They are algae eaters and spend their time eating whatever they can find at the bottom of the tank. This includes algae, microscopic animals and plant debris.

(Video) Top 15 Freshwater Aquarium Sharks 🦈

You should also replenish their snacks. The fish do best when kept on a variable diet consisting of sinking pellets, blanched vegetables, and live or frozen food.

  • Maat:6 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:40 liter

10.Chinese striped shark with high fins

Chinese High-Fin Banded Sharks are a species only viable for extremely large aquariums or public aquarium installations. They are docile creatures that do fine with others. They can be kept with a wide variety of fish without worrying about aggressive behaviour.

11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes (8)

A requirement is that they must be kept in large groups. These are schooling fish that prefer to stay in the company of others of the same kind. Many aquarists have encountered problems keeping these fish alone. Some have even died when kept in solitude!

The Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark has a very iconic appearance. But that look only applies to younger fry. When young, these sharks are brown with three vertical stripes.

As you might have guessed by their name, the dorsal fin is also very prominent. Most of the dorsal fin is very long. Following the sail-like shape, the fin tapers to a more modest size.

The interesting thing about the Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark is that those defining features fade as the fish gets bigger. The coloring is starting to fade a bit. Some specimens are solid colored. The dorsal fin also does not grow with the fish, making it look smaller when mature.

  • Maat:4 feet
  • Difficulty level:Expert (recommended for public installations only)
  • Minimum Tank Size:800+ liter

11. Silver Apollo Shark

While most freshwater aquariums are sharksits bottom dwellers, the Silver Apollo Shark likes to stay on the surface. It is a very active fish that will spend its time skimming the top of the waterline in search of food. They will also venture to the bottom to find prey.

Speaking of which, the Silver Apollo Shark can be quite aggressive. It is a predatory fish that will look for smaller prey at every opportunity! As such, they should be kept in tanks with larger semi-aggressive species.

Silver Apollo sharks are also schooling fish. They do best when kept in large groups. The fish swim together and remain safe from other aggressive species in the aquarium.

Free swimming space is a must for Silver Apollo Sharks. They live in fast-flowing streams in the wild, so they are powerful swimmers. They can often be seen darting through the tank for hours.

The fish are built to swim. They have a torpedo-shaped body that is usually olive green in color. A dark horizontal line also runs the length of the fish. The snout of the fish is pointed and has some short whiskers.

The dorsal fin is quite large, like other sharks in freshwater aquariums. However, it is set far back on the body, bringing it much closer to the tail.

  • Maat:7 inch
  • Difficulty level:Intermediate
  • Minimum Tank Size:120 liter

To block

Now that you've seen the full list of popular freshwater aquarium sharks, it's time to choose the one you're most interested in.

While some of them may be too large to consider for your home setup, many of the smaller sharks on this list are completely viable.

(Video) Types of Freshwater Shark for Aquarium

No matter what your experience level is (or the amount of time you want to spend), there should be a strain for you!

If you have any questions about any of the strains on this list, we're happy to help. Freshwater sharks are some of our favorite fish!


11 freshwater aquarium sharks for tanks of all sizes? ›

A shark in a fish tank will only grow 8 inches, but a shark in the ocean will grow 8 feet. The shark will never outgrow its environment and the same is true about YOU.

What does a shark in a fish tank quote? ›

A shark in a fish tank will only grow 8 inches, but a shark in the ocean will grow 8 feet. The shark will never outgrow its environment and the same is true about YOU.

How big do freshwater aquarium sharks get? ›

Others, like bala, black, harlequin and Colombian sharks can reach over 12" in length and will require an aquarium of at least 100 gallons when full grown. It should be pointed out that Chinese banded and red-finned cigar sharks can achieve 36", and iridescent sharks exceed 48" in nature.

Are there any freshwater aquarium sharks? ›

The Roseline shark is probably the most colorful freshwater shark. They have also a funny name- 'the roseline torpedo shark'. They are silver with bold black stripe from nose to tail and bright red markings. These are the example of freshwater aquarium sharks that stay at manageable size.

What is the big size shark fish in the aquarium? ›

Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus)

The large Bala Shark comes from Southeast Asia and is a popular choice for freshwater aquariums. As an adult, they grow up to 14 inches and have a life expectancy of 10 years when cared for properly. These fish require a tank size of at least 120 gallons.

How do you write a Shark Tank speech? ›

A great pitch presents with the present and excites with the future. Therefore, include a measurable and attainable plan of growth that's going to excite the sharks. This plan should include how much investment you're asking for and what you're going to do with it.

What is the metaphor in shark in the water? ›

The song is a metaphorical record about anxiety, and was inspired by Brown's experience with infidelity by a past boyfriend who liked to stalk her in his free time.


1. Can You Keep a SHARK in an AQUARIUM? 4 Types of Freshwater Shark Fish
(Everyday Aquarist)
2. Top 10 Amazing Aquarium Sharks / For Beginners And Profis
(BJ aqua tips)
(Finding Fishes)
4. Top 19 Freshwater Aquarium Sharks Specie- For Fish Keepers
(Your Pro Fisher)
5. Top 7 WORST Beginner Fish! (BEWARE)
6. Full Grown Bala Shark in Aquarium!
(More Palmer Aquatics)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ms. Lucile Johns

Last Updated: 09/30/2023

Views: 6267

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ms. Lucile Johns

Birthday: 1999-11-16

Address: Suite 237 56046 Walsh Coves, West Enid, VT 46557

Phone: +59115435987187

Job: Education Supervisor

Hobby: Genealogy, Stone skipping, Skydiving, Nordic skating, Couponing, Coloring, Gardening

Introduction: My name is Ms. Lucile Johns, I am a successful, friendly, friendly, homely, adventurous, handsome, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.