Who called it the shark face and not the ‘star face’ of our aquarium?

Freshwater sharks have been getting the attention they deserve. For all we know, we have a bunch of them ready to grace up our tanks.

To ensure that you get the best-of-the-best, we have prepared a list containing the top 12 freshwater aquarium sharks for all tank sizes. Get through the whole selection to grab the details. 

What are Freshwater Sharks?

Although petting an actual shark baby in our water tank is next to impossible, we have their look-alikes almost as fascinating as them. Freshwater sharks are not true to their origin; instead, they are regular fishes that look just like real sharks.

Belonging to the catfish family, these are omnivore creatures dwelling on live food, algae, and commercial fish food. Being active swimmers, you can watch your aquarium coming back to life as soon as you get them inside. Here are the top picks for your tank.

Ranking Chart – Our Top Picks

Type of Shark Care Level Temperament Price Our Rank
Bala Shark Moderate Non-Aggressive $6 – $12 #1
Roseline Shark Moderate Non-Aggressive $8 – $11 #2
Siamese Algae Eater Intermediate Non-Aggressive $3 – $6 #3
Chinese High Fin Banded Shark Easy-to-Moderate Non-Aggressive $40 – $50 #4
Rainbow Shark Moderate Semi-Aggressive $3 – $6 #5
Red Tail Shark Moderate Semi-Aggressive $8- $10 #6
Harlequin Shark Easy-to-Moderate Aggressive $5 – $10 #7
Iridescent Shark Advanced Non-Aggressive $18 – $22 #8
Black Shark Moderate Aggressive $10 – $13 #9
Silver Apollo Shark Advanced Semi-Aggressive $11 -13 #10
Columbian Shark Advanced Semi-Aggressive $10 – $13 #11
Albino Shark Advanced Aggressive $5 – $8 #12

1. Bala Shark

Not all freshwater sharks are aggressive in behavior; some do tend to be gentle towards their mates. One of them is Bala Shark. Being the least aggressive shark, it has a grey-colored body with a prominent dorsal fin, and these are the most common shark fishes you find in home aquariums. They are also known as the Tricolor Shark and grow up to 12 inches long.

These are not your regular freshwater sharks for small aquariums. Due to their size, they are often kept in ponds by professional keepers rather than tanks. However, if you wish to keep it in a tank, make sure the size is at least 150-160 gallons. Further parameters include temperature that can be set to 75˚F and pH anywhere between 6.5 to 7.5. Besides, you can decorate your home shark tank with plants and toys.

Being an active shark fish, you will find your pet cruising through mid-waters and eating anything you feed. That being said, these are omnivores in nature. Means your food can be diverse enough to include shrimps, worms, pellets, and specific veggies. Though these keep business-to-business, they can still attack a smaller freshwater fish.

The greyscaled, black eye fish is often termed as the schooled fish as these go well in groups. You can start by having a quadruplet. The small size can cost you anywhere near $1, while the bigger they are, the costlier they get.

  • Shark Size:10 – 12 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 140 – 150 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes
Freshwater Aquarium Bala Shark

2. Roseline Shark

If you are looking for a freshwater shark that keeps your eyes from blinking, you have come to the right spot. Claiming the 2nd spot, Roseline Sharks are stunning, mesmerizing, elegant, and whatever term you use to define beauty. Having shades of red, yellow, golden, accompanied with green and blue patches, these small shark fishes are a great breed to have.

When it comes to their temperament, they are a peaceful community. Why community? Because they are better off when they are schooled in groups of 4 to 6. With the tank’s temperature set to 65˚F odd, pH at 7.0 – 7.6, and a strong current, you can well and truly make this dwarf shark happy.

Growing to a size of 5 odd inches, these require a 50-gallon tank minimum. However, if you are planning to have 4 or 5 of them, we recommend you keep at least 85 gallons ready. Further, the shark tank or aquarium can have plants and exciting toys. Make sure you have a hood over the tank, as these can jump out of the tank. Frozen and Live Food are great choices to have.

  • Shark Size: 4 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 40 – 60 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes

3. Siamese Algae Eater

The name does suggest what this freshwater shark is all about. Siamese Algae Eater could be your prime choice when it comes to adding a nice shark to the already established peaceful tank. Growing to a max length of 6 inches, these have a prominent dorsal fin and fairly shining body.

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Though they are put under the peaceful-companion tag, they still enjoy nipping the fins of other fishes. Hence, slow swimmers deserve no space where these are already in. Coming to the specialty of it, this small aquarium shark feeds on dreaded black hair algae, and its capability to clean your tank is unmatchable.

Being a mini shark pet, these require a tank as tiny as 25 gallons. Digging into the parameters, you can set the temperature to 75˚F and the pH 6.5 to 7.0. Also, please avoid having a school of these as any infringement into one’s territory can spark a clash. Having an omnivore diet, you can feed pellets, commercial food, live food, and a whole load of selection. These range around $4 in the market.

  • Shark Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 20 – 30 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes
Freshwater Aquarium Siamese Algae Eater

4. Chinese High Fin Banded Shark

As evident from the name, the Chinese High Fin Banded Shark is an alluring cold water shark to have. Though their beauty goes through changes as they age, yet their juvenile age keeps you on edge. Talking about the beauty, their body is peach in color, containing dark brown to black bands that are generally 3 in number.

Further, the dorsal fin is a prominent one. It doesn’t take long for this creature to reach its maximum size- 50 inches. After that, the only thing you witness is a body with blurred stripes and a dorsal fin that isn’t in proportion with the body size (It stops growing). Being an omnivore creature, this docile shark likes to have a wide variety served to them. Commercial food is preferred. Further, the organic matter present on the bottom is no less than a treat.

Its age being the striking feature, raises many eyebrows. Yes, it can live for 25 years if kept in good condition. Talking about these, you must have a 300-gallon tank minimum. Plus, the temperature need not be that high as it enjoys natural cold water. How much does this shark cost? Well, a whopping $40 – $45.

  • Shark Size:  3 – 4 ft.
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 300 – 350 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No
Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

5. Rainbow Shark

Often called Ruby or Redfin Shark, Rainbow Shark is one of the elegant shark fish

you can add to your aquarium. Growing up to 6 inches max, their price ranges from $7 to $11. Unlike redtail, it has all of its fins painted red. Going across its grey body, they set the contrast really pleasing. Being small in size, this shark can be a perfect fit for your tiny aquarium as small as 55 gallons.

This shark likes to dwell at the bottom in a fish tank. While they look amazingly beautiful, they are equally aggressive. It is advised to pair them with fishes that stay close to the brim. Otherwise, the best you can do is put in some live plants and toys that mark the territory of these. After that, the leftover part is for the enjoyment of others.

Pro Tip: If you are thinking of pairing it with another rainbow shark, it is not a good idea. You can witness clear signs of aggression right from day 1.

Another striking feature of this is its translucent body. You can have a view of delicate rays at a specific light angle. Further, the species being an omnivore, like to feed on shrimps, algae, veggies, and even commercial fish food. While adding them to the tank, you must keep water parameters up to the mark. For the numbers, set the pH between 6.0 – 8.0 and temperature between 65-80˚F.

  • Shark Size:4 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 35 – 40 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No
Freshwater Aquarium Rainbow Sharks

6. Red Tail Shark

The red tail shark will probably be the first fish asked about whenever a new visitor enters your home. The reason is this small shark’s extraordinary appearance. With a dark black to navy blue body complemented with a charming red tail, these are undoubtedly, the most popular freshwater sharks that rank on top in our list.

Found in parts of Thailand, this name has now been listed under the endangered column. Back when dams were constructed in 2011, their number witnessed a downfall. However, these are now bred by the experts in large tanks. Breeding these pet sharks at home is next to impossible.

As for the water parameters, the preferred pH ranges from 6.0 to 8.0, and the temperature lands between 72˚F to 79˚F. Holding an aggressive nature, you are advised to keep them alone or provide them with a giant space to enjoy. With these being bottom dwellers, a suitable tankmate would be a barb or any kind of fish that stays in up or mid-waters.

When it comes to feeding this freshwater shark fish, it enjoys a wide variety starting from blanched vegetables to shrimps and live food. Further, commercial shark food is also a good option. Growing to a length of 6 inches odd, these can cost you anywhere around $9.

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Quick Fact: Their bright red-tails have derived them the exciting name – Fire Tail.

  • Shark Size: 4.5 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 35 – 45 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No
Red Tail Shark
Image Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

7. Harlequin Shark

A tremendous addition to the list of sharks you can own, Harlequin is indeed a beauty! When you set your eyes at this little shark fish, you look at a vibrant creature having black patterns flowing through its orange body. Just like any other fish in their family, Harlequin Sharks also have a prominent dorsal fin and an aggressive nature.

With that said, you must keep other real little sharks away at all costs. Any creature that it finds similar to it gets an attack in advance. Being a bottom dweller, you will see this shark feeding on algae, plant detritus, and tiny animals. Further, the diet can be extended to veggies and frozen food.

While setting up a tank for this stunner, you need to have a fair number of hiding spots. Subsequently, toys, driftwood, and small live plants can also find a spot. Talking about tank parameters, you should have at least a 30-gallon tank ready with a pH on the slightly acidic side. Growing to a maximum size of 6 inches, this small shark breed finds maximum comfort in the top and mid-waters. They derive a value of $6 to $9 in the market.

  • Shark Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 30 – 35 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes
Harlequin Shark for Aquarium

8. Iridescent Shark

Much has been spoken about tiny sharks; maybe it is time we hop on to the giant of the family- The iridescent Shark. Native to Southeast Asia, these fishes can grow up to 40 odd inches in size. Hence, the only time one must think to add this shark in a fish tank is when the tank’s size is at least 350 gallons. Not only this, these live well in schools. So, you do need extra space to add a new member.

With prominent dorsal fins, dark grey color, and a shiny skin that shimmers whenever the light strikes, Iridescent Sharks do not get left behind when it comes to beauty. If you have bought this tropical shark fish, we recommend you keep the temperature close to 75˚F and pH to 7.0. Having a large bulbous body requires large portions of food multiple times a day.

Claiming the 8th spot in our list, their lifespan is one remarkable feature to notice. It stretches over 15 to 20 years. Hence, you get an opportunity to see it grow and change its patterns. These are sold for $20 or more in the market.

  • Shark Size: 40 – 45 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 400 – 450 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No

9. Black Aquarium Shark

Originating from Southeast Asia, black shark minnows are much like any typical freshwater shark pet. Their size tops the list of its striking features. Growing around 3 ft. or 36” in length, these can weigh as much as 25 lbs. Their black body is accompanied by a massive flowing dorsal fin that stays relatively flat and only gets raised when trying to show off.

Being one of the aggressive home aquarium sharks, they will try to eat anything that comes in their way. Hence, you need to be very sure of the tankmates you are picking. The window for plant-based food is always open for this species. Further, if you are hoping to contain it in a tank, make sure you have 250+ gallons of water ready.

Pro Tip: Black Shark Minnows are known to bully and prey on other fishes. Hence, it is strictly recommended for it to be the last member added to the pond.

  • Shark Size: 35 – 45 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 200 – 300 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No
Black Aquarium Shark - freshwater

10. Silver Apollo Shark

As they say, Silver Apollo Sharks are made for swimming! Yes, unlike other freshwater sharks that stay close to the bottom, these are found on the top swimming and looking for food. Having a powerful swimming tendency due to fast-moving streams, these also demand a pool of space for them to enjoy.

With a torpedo-shaped olive-green body, this shark fish carries a huge dorsal fin that runs through its whole body. Also, whiskers around this shark’s mouth are more prominent than others. Growing to a maximum size of 8-inches, the Silver Apollo Shark will be a peaceful addition to your water tank. However, one should not add small fish as they can rapidly become their next meal.

Being a schooled fish, your baby shark fish tank needs to have 3 or 4 of these together. Further, you need to be very cautious of the environment they are living in. Any deviation in the water parameters can lead to stress. Mark these, the temperature should be close to 75˚F, the pH around 7, and the tank size around 160 gallons per fish. Its omnivore diet allows you to put in pellets, live food, shrimps, and various other options. They cost you anywhere around $11 – $13.

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From the Experts: Make sure you buy the right Apollo Shark. The long-finned silver Apollo is a close cousin and often gets mistaken for the silver Apollo, and the former grows up to be 12 inches long and is far more aggressive.

  • Shark Size: 8 – 9 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 70 – 80 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes
Tropical Silver Apollo Shark
Photo by pics_pd on Pixnio

11. Colombian Shark

Ranking 11th in our list, Colombian Sharks are truly a unique creature to be added to your tank. However, these demands advanced-level care to be offered. With a tall dorsal fin, silverfish-grey belly, and white strips on top of their fins, these resemble sharks in every way, though they are not.

Being a saltwater aquarium shark, these go well with brackish water. Therefore, you need to add marine salt to the water. Also, being hyperactive, you need to be very careful of the aquarium’s lid being opened. When it comes to feeding, you have dozens of options. To begin with, you can opt for the commercial food, followed by pellets, and on to the live food such as shrimps and worms.

Being aggressive in nature, these are the kind of shark fish that can prey on any creature smaller than them. Having a mouth of significant size, their one bite is enough to injure its prey. To prevent it from doing so, you must try to keep it full. Growing up to a foot long, these require 75 gallons of water minimum. A Colombian shark for sale would land anywhere between $10 to $13.

Quick Fact: Colombian Sharks have stings on their dorsal fins. Hence, the owner needs to be very cautious while taking it out from the tank. If possible, avoid the net and use a jug to do so.

  • Shark Size: 9 – 12 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 70 – 90 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: No  
Catfish  Colombian shark
Image credit: Reddit

12. Albino Shark

Entering at the number 9 is the cool Albino Shark. The name, however, is a clear representation of what it is. It is closely related to the rainbow and redtail shark, and thus, its temperament, care level, and tankmates all go the same. One issue that keeps many aquarists from keeping this is its sensitivity to water conditions.

A slight change in the pH level can trigger the aggressive behavior of this freshwater shark. It is strictly advised never to keep a fish that looks like a shark in the same tank as this. Any fish that barges into its territory has to go through its aggressive tackle. Hence, keeping it alone is feasible.

Talking about their bodies, you cannot get a more graceful nano shark than this. Having an orange color morphed with pink gives out pleasant bright colors that are a treat to your eyes. A 60-gallon tank is recommended for this breed. Any extra company of the same type needs to have 50 more gallons to live freely. These are omnivore in nature and sold for around $6.

  • Shark Size: 5 – 6 inches
  • Minimum Aquarium Size: 45 – 55 Gallons
  • Beginner Friendly: Yes
Best Freshwater Aquarium Albino Sharks

FAQs

Q. Are freshwater sharks actually real sharks?

A. No, freshwater sharks are not real sharks, and the reason they are put in this category is their appearance. With their size, prominent dorsal fin, and torpedo-like body, they do resemble the big creature in the ocean.

Q. Are freshwater sharks generally aggressive by nature?

A. Yes, you will find your pet attacking its tank mates if they are smaller in comparison. Due to their aggressive behavior, these sharks are the last pets to be added to home aquariums to prevent unnecessary bullying.

Q. What is the most peaceful freshwater shark for a fish tank?

A. Though it is hard to find a peaceful shark fish to pet, you can still get a non-aggressive shark in. The Roseline Torpedo Shark is one. Its peaceful nature and easy maintenance make it the most favorable shark fish for aquarists.

Q. Which freshwater shark is the best for a small aquarium?

A. When it comes to looks, size, and maintenance, Rainbow Shark is more than suitable for a small aquarium. A mere 40-gallon is sufficient for you to begin. However, you need to be aware of the aggression before adding a new mate.

Q. What do freshwater sharks eat?

A. Freshwater sharks are omnivores in nature. This means there are countless options to feed this species. To begin with, veggies, frozen food, and pellets do great. Subsequently, shrimps, worms, and algae are their favorites.

Q. Are freshwater sharks challenging to breed?

A. Well, breeding is a bit tricky with these. Since many of them directly attack every creature that resembles their appearance, creating an aquarium with just a couple of sharks becomes rather daunting. It requires strategies to get them in one space.

Q. Can aquarium sharks be considered fish?

A. Belonging to the Cyprinid Family that contains barbs, minnows, and rasboras in the list, aquarium sharks are considered fish. However, their connection with actual sharks is that of mere resemblance.

Q. Why don’t aquarists have great white sharks?

A. Well, we do have whales kept in captivity, but there exist all sorts of trouble while managing the white shark fish in the aquarium. They generally feed on living preys and get stressed whenever they are put inside a huge glassed aquarium. We have had several instincts where white sharks did not manage to go past a few days in tanks and eventually died.

Final Thoughts

There is no reason why you shouldn’t be adding this astounding species to your tank. They can grace up the aquarium like nobody else. Further, they are low maintenance and highly active. If at all you are thinking of adding one, make sure you go through the list above.

About the Author

Shelby Crosby

Shelby is a passionate fishkeeper who has been writing about fish for over 5 years. She is a pro aquarist and holds a BSc Honors Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. She creates her own beautiful aquarium layouts and loves to share her knowledge of tropical fish with other hobbyists.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

  • BSc Honors in Wildlife and Fisheries in 2011 (University of Northern British Columbia)
  • Completed her undergraduate thesis on the effects of zoochlorella supplementation on the growth and health of fish.

Writing Experience

Miss Crosby is a Freelance blogger; many of her articles are posted online on various blogs. She has also written a few short articles for "Tropical Fish Hobbyist Magazine" in the past. She is a regular contributor to FishParenting.com. Her education, first-hand experience with fishkeeping, and in-depth knowledge in aquaculture make her one of the most competent writers in the industry.

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