Jeremy Gay advises on whether it’s wise to keep a shark in a home aquarium.
Q: Is it feasible to keep any species of shark in a home marine tank? I’d love to hatch a shark egg out and rear the youngster. I have space for a tank of approximately 3x1.5m in my garage, with room for a sump underneath.
B. STEVENS, VIA EMAIL
A: Jeremy says: The eggs of the Brown-banded bamboo shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum, are available from specialist marine wholesalers and they will hatch in your tank, but the baby sharks hardly (if ever) feed, so if you hatch one and it dies, that’s one less shark in the oceans. If it lives and you manage to rear it successfully, they look and behave a lot like our native Dogfish, growing to a metre in length, with very flexible, very bendy bodies, and are bottom-dwelling.
Epaulette sharks are available as adults and probably a better choice as they naturally inhabit cramped rockpools and shallow, tidal waters, and they look great, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of any marine shark or ray being kept outside of public aquaria.
Definitely steer clear of Blacktip reef and Whitetip reef, Nurse and Lemon sharks, as they are the real deal and need swimming pool-sized aquaria with dedicated shark experts looking after them. I interviewed the curator of London Aquarium once and he told me that a Blacktip reef shark requires 100,000 l of water, just in glide space. While a 3x1.5m tank may seem large, at approximately 5000 l, it’s only a 20th of the minimum tank size needed for a shark.
Public aquaria neither need nor want sharks that have outgrown home aquaria.