Updated August 6, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Columbian Shark seems to be one of those fish that are always at the pet stores, often incorrectly identified and/or with misleading or incorrect information. For the majority of home hobbyists (95 percent or more of us) the Columbian Shark is not a good fish to keep. Let me explain why...
They usually get lumped in with the freshwater fish species but this fish is not purely a freshwater fish. It is actually a brackish water species as juveniles that will slowly need to be acclimated to a full saltwater tank as they get bigger. The potential adult size of this fish is also often misrepresented. They can reach 20 inches (51 cm) or more in size if taken care of properly.
The other thing to keep in mind with the Columbian cats is that they are predators and will eat smaller tank mates (like tetras) once they get big enough. In fact, some hobbyists will feed them small feeder guppies as an occasional treat.
The Columbian Shark can be fairly active and will need lots of swimming room. Couple their activity levels with their potential adult size and you can start to realize that you will need a pretty big tank to keep these guys happy and healthy.
They should accept most fish foods including flakes, frozen, freeze dried and live foods. Drop in some sinking shrimp pellets or catfish pellets when the lights are turned off and let them scavenge around for them.
Colombian Sharks also have venomous dorsal spines, so be very careful when performing your tank maintenance. It's probably a really good idea to get some of those long rubber aquarium gloves.
Columbian Shark Fish Care Details
Scientific Name : Ariopsis seemanni
Common Names : A very long list of common names: Silver Tipped Shark, Tete Sea Catfish, White Tip Shark Catfish, Black Fin Shark, Christian Catfish, Jordan's Catfish, West American Cat Shark
Care Level : Moderate, needs a very large tank as adults
Size : Anywhere from 10 - 20 inches (25-51 cm) and sometimes even larger!
pH : 7 - 8
Temperature : 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)
Water Hardness : 5° to 20° dH
Specific Gravity : 1.005 - 1.010, saltwater as adults (1.020 - 1.025)
Lifespan : 10 - 15 years or longer
Origin / Habitat : Wild caught specimens originate from Central America, Guatemala, South America and Southern Mexico. They are often found in coastal waters and brackish rivers.
Temperament / Behavior : Mostly peaceful but may eat smaller fish as it grows larger. Avoid keeping them with small fish such as neon tetras and guppies.
Breeding : Very difficult, not sure if it has been accomplished in an aquarium. Males are mouth brooders.
Aquarium Size : 75 gallon (284 liters) minimum for one, much larger for multiples. This fish needs a large tank not only for it's size, but because it is a fairly active swimmer.
Tank Mates : Fish that tolerate brackish water conditions. Scats, Monos, Targetfish. When this freshwater/brackish shark gets big enough, it will start to eat much smaller tank mates.
Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment
Diet / Foods : Being catfish, they are primarily scavengers. They will constantly be looking for bits and pieces on the bottom of the tank. Give them sinking shrimp pellets, catfish pellets, prepared sinking foods and supplement with live or frozen foods such as blood worms.
Tank Region : Sometimes middle areas, but mostly on the bottom.
Gender : Hard to determine by external features.
Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk
Fish Lore Forum : Columbian Shark ForumForum Avatar :
Latest Columbian Shark Forum Discussions:
Columbian Shark Comments
The data on this "shark" is not entirely correct, don't waste your money on sinking pellets. This fish loves to eat on the surface I know because I'm watching mine eat from the surface right now, unless he's eating live food then it's just fun to watch. He rarely, I mean rarely swims near the bottom.
More Catfish Profiles
Striped Raphael Catfish
This is a medium to large sized catfish (up to 9 inches) that is very active. Being nocturnal, it comes out mostly at night, though they are known for getting adjusted to daylight.
This catfish gets way to big for the majority of home aquariums. You're looking at a tank in the thousands of gallons here. Think large backyard ponds or leave them in the wild or public aquariums.