Top 11 Freshwater Aquarium Sharks For Different Tank Sizes

If you happen to be someone wondering what type of fish you should get and are ready to try something different, then freshwater aquarium sharks are for you. Don’t worry, these are not going to bite, well not until they grow, of course.

I really do think the idea of keeping sharks is awesome. If you are interested in exploring the possibilities, then here is a list of the most promising best freshwater aquarium sharks that you need to see right now.

Before we hop in and start talking about the first shark on the list, I must warn you that you need to give it a second thought before buying any of the fish on the list. Some can grow to enormous sizes and are, therefore, only possible to keep if you can provide them with enough water to swim freely.

1. Bala Shark

To a fresh start, you can begin with the Bala Shark. The looks can be somewhat intimidating, but this fish’s actual behavior is extremely friendly with other fishes. They are considered to be gentle towards other water companions; this fish would get bigger before you know it but not before some time has passed.

It can grow up to almost 35 cm or about 14 inches. This allows them to be more friendly to their neighbors and respect their boundaries. It is definitely more of a reason that this fish belongs to the best freshwater aquarium sharks there are. The fish-like Corydoras, Rainbowfish, Gourami, and Rasbora are the best tank mates for this fish.

Various color variations exist, but you are more likely to find one in solid gray color. There might be a few yellow stripes that can be found on their tail and fins. They are not that hard to care for either; they require precise water conditions and a healthy diet to stay fit. The water temperature for a Bala shark should be 77 degrees at all times with a water pH value between 6.5-8. You would need approximately a 120-gallon aquarium to host this fish.

2. Redtail shark

As you might have guessed, the red tail sharks have a beautiful red tail that looks like a bright red speck of light traveling around the water. They have been extremely popular among the aquarist community, but they are now believed to be critically endangered due to some disparities and poor caring practices.

The fish is a little hard to farm in a home environment, and if you are not an expert or can’t care for the fish, it is not recommended. A silver lining here is that it can adapt to multiple environments quickly. Preferable water temperature can be anywhere between 72-92 degrees with a pH value that is maintained around 6.5-7.5.

You can feed them with flakes, filamentous algae, blanched vegetables, and even frozen foods will suffice. A 55 gallons tank size would suffice for the red tail shark. It can easily live with Neon Tetra, Bala Shark, Honey Gourami, and Sparkling Gourami as tank mates.

3. Rainbow shark

As the name suggests, this fish can give your home aquarium that particular colorful zing that it has been lacking. It has a bright red tail, as in the case of a red tail shark, and specks of red and yellow running all over the body. Other than that, the fins are also colored red or some mixed shade; it is a feisty little fish, to begin with.

This fish is not recommended for beginners due to the aggression that it can sometimes exhibit. It is a bottom dweller, so it can be kept with other fish types that prefer floating on the surface. But still, the chances for a little aggressive behavior are there, especially to intruders, so you should exercise caution. The best tank mates for this fish are danios, loaches, and plecos.

They are omnivorous, which means that they will happily eat any algae growing within the tank; other than that, you can feed them with sinking fish food, blanched food, and other live food. If you have a 55-gallon aquarium, then it is more than enough for this fish.

4. Black Sharkminnow

This shark fish is a close relative of the red tail and rainbow shark, but the growth with this particular fish is rapid and massive. Black shark Minnow is a sought-after fish by fishermen for both sports and food. This fish’s black trade is a common practice in which it is sold to more enthusiastic aquarists who have larger aquariums to allow the fish to grow rapidly.

They have a mixed complexion of striking purled black color that is running all across its body, and it can weigh up to 25 lbs. to begin with. They are classified as cyprinids from the carp family, which makes this fish a close relative of Koi, Barbs, and Goldfish.

They need a lot of space for their growth, and they are usually paired with larger fish.  You need a 180+ gallon capacity to house this fish as it can grow quickly to about 3 ft. or 90 cm; therefore, it is not recommended to keep it in-house. This fish’s nature is omnivorous, which means it will be comfortable with a diverse variety of food. It can better live with community fish species or the New World Cichlids as tank mates.

5. Violet blushing shark

This type of shark doesn’t exhibit any territorial behavior and would do well with the rest of the community it is paired with. You need to be cautious when placing them with smaller fish as they might suspect other fish as food, so it is best if they are paired with medium-sized fish.

The name – blushing shark – finds its source from the transparent body that this fish has. The whole body color is a silver-white combination, and the inner side of their organs are indeed visible. The ambient temperature should be between the range 68-78 degree.

It can go well with Rainbowfish and Botiid loaches as these are medium-sized fish. Plants, rocks, and benches will create a solid welcoming environment for this fish. It would be best if you had a 125-gallon capacity aquarium to house this fish.

6. Roseline shark

It is the kind of shark that has a unique and almost a natural color combination. You can see patches of red, green, yellow, orange, gold, and black running all over the body. They are the barb family and usually one of the smallest home aquarium sharks that you can get right now.

They don’t exhibit aggressive behavior, and you can see the harmony and almost playful behavior when kept in a pair of six. Some of its best tank mates are Emperor Tetra, Rainbow Shark, Cherry Barb, and Tiger Barb.

This fish is found in rivers and streams. Hence, it would help if you replicated a strong pump within the aquarium to create a suitable environment for them to live in, and the temperature between 60-77 degrees is acceptable for their habitat. A 50-gallon capacity tank would suffice for keeping this exemplary shark.

7. Iridescent shark

These are native fish that are found in Southeast Asia. It not only gets bigger as time passes by but is also known to live for about 20 or more years. It can grow up to 130 cm or 4.3 ft. in size. They have a solid dark gray color that shines when the lights get reflected over it. It is definitely an interesting-looking shark but most likely not suitable for your aquarium.

The fins on this fish are large and fan-like, which gives the fish a unique appearance. When they’re smaller, they can pair well with Plecostomus, Synodontis catfish, Pearse, and Silver dollars.  However, as soon as anything that’s in their tank fits in their mouths, it is considered food to them.

The environment temperature in which it can survive is about 72-79 degrees and a pH level of 6.5-7.5. This fish needs a lot of food but a diverse variety of it to make sure that it is getting all the necessary nutrients to remain healthy. You need about a 300-gallon aquarium capacity to store and house this fish, but soon enough it will also outgrow these large tanks.

They are often considered as monster fish, and only a few people can care for them the right way.

8. Harlequin shark

This fish resembles the red tail and rainbow sharks in terms of the overall appearance and care requirements. This fish likes to live most of its life in solitary, making it one of the best freshwater aquarium sharks out there.

The fish doesn’t like to be around other types of fish because it loves to protect its region, so it marks its territory, which is why you can’t keep them close to other fish types. But if you have some fish species that are large and are floating around the surface, you can definitely pair this fish with them as it is a bottom-dwelling fish and would like to spend most of its time there.

There is no need for a large water aquarium as a tank with 40 gallons capacity would suffice. The larger Danios would make a great companion for this fish.

9. Columbian shark

They are silvery bluefish that are often small and would eat any food offered to them. They have deceptively large mouths and are predatory, which means that you can’t pair them with other small fish because they will assume the small fishes to be food.

Along with their pectoral and dorsal fins, these fish have venomous spines, but their sting is not life-threatening; however, it gives a lot of pain. It would be best if you had more than 75-gallon aquarium to house this fish in your home, and some of it best tank mates are Arches, Garpikes, Gobies, and Moonfish.

10. Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark

Keeping this fish is only viable for public aquarium installations or for an aquarist who has a special aquarium built for large fish. This fish is extremely docile, which means that it will do just fine with the others. You can keep this beautiful fish with others without worrying about it having aggressive behavior with the fellow fish. These are best kept with Koi fish, most types of goldfish, and some of the loach species as well. 

They don’t want to live in solitude at all, and one of its requirements that you have to follow keenly is to keep this fish in large numbers. Its fry is brown with three vertical stripes, but the color would start to fade away slightly once the fish start getting bigger.

The ultimate size can be about 1.35 meters or 4ft 5 inches long. You need more than 800-gallon aquarium to house this fish; thus, it is not recommended to purchase for a home aquarium setup.

11. Siamese Algae Eater

Last on the list, but definitely not the least, is the Siamese Algae Eater. I absolutely love how this fish looks, and I put it on this list because it looks like a shark to me.

Unlike most monsters that I mentioned earlier, this fish is perfectly suitable for a home aquarium. They’re schooling fish so make sure to keep at least 5 of them. Size-wise they need a tank of 40 gallons or more. Preferably, you’d want to keep these fish in an aquarium that’s 60 or 80 gallons.

When these fish are young, they’re known to eat algae. When they get bigger, they stop eating algae and will only eat fish food. They’ll grow to be about 6 inches long.

A reminder that sharks need large tanks

Some of the fish on the list might not be a potential candidate for keeping at your home, but other smaller ones will make a great choice. Consider all the requirements that have been mentioned above regarding their housing requirements, the temperature, and pH regulation if you want to house them properly.

Keeping these smaller freshwater aquarium sharks might prove to be a challenge, so make sure that you are up for the challenge before deciding which one to get.      

My Favorite Fishtank Products to Make Life Easier

Over the years I’ve found a variety of products that make the fish keeping life so much easier. Whenever someone asks me what products I recommend buying, these are the first 5 items that come to mind. I’ll briefly list them below and state why I love them so much. I’m 100% sure you’ll love them!

1. A good gravel vacuum; Without a gravel vacuum, cleaning the substrate of your tanks is near impossible. Whenever I want to remove some of the sunken detritus from the bottom of my tank I’m happy I’ve got one of these. They’re available here on Amazon.

2. Liquid plant fertilizer; It’s no secret that I do not like nutritious aqua-soil. It makes a mess and only works a given amount of time. Instead, I always use a liquid aquarium plant fertilizer. Everyone who keeps live plants needs it, it’s not that expensive and makes your plants grow better. This is the one I use and recommend.

3. A set of aquascape tools; I love keeping plants, but planting and reorganizing my aquarium was difficult until I got a set of these tools. It’s much easier to plant any kind of plant compared to using my thick fingers. They’re also available here on Amazon.

4. Good but affordable LED lights; Quality LED lighting can be expensive and is dominated by brands such as Fluval and Kessil. I can not afford to pay that much for lighting, which is why I was so excited when I found this cheaper alternative. I’ve got 2 of these freshwater Asta 120 lights and one smaller Asta 20 light.

5. A liquid-based water test kit; ever since I’m able to accurately test my water parameters, keeping fish became less stressful. Before I was always stressed that my water parameters were wrong, but using a kit such as the API Master kit, which is available here on Amazon, I can measure this. It really is essential to successful fishkeeping.

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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