Colombian Shark (Ariopsis Seemanni)
The Colombian Shark is a fascinating fish; despite its name, it's actually a member of the catfish family. Its sleek, silver-gray body, black and semi-transparent fins, and underslung mouth with several pairs of barbels give it a unique appearance. Interestingly, Colombian Sharks can produce audible sounds by grinding their pectoral fins against their sockets, which may serve as a form of communication or echo-location.
Columbian Sharks are also called Silver Tipped Shark, Tete Sea Catfish, White Tip Shark Catfish, Black Fin Shark, Christian Catfish, Jordan's Catfish, and West American Cat Shark.
These fish can reach a size of 10 to 14 inches as adults and even up to 20 inches in larger tanks. While Colombian Sharks prefer small groups and enjoy the company of their own kind, they are more independent in their movements and don't exhibit typical schooling behavior. However, being in a group provides them with a sense of security and confidence.
Colombian Sharks are generally peaceful and occupy the lower and middle parts of the aquarium. They are compatible with similar-sized, non-aggressive brackish fish such as Garpikes, Monos, Arches, Scats, Gobies, Targetfish, and Green Chromides. However, smaller fish should be avoided as tank mates due to the Colombian Shark's prey drive.
As omnivores, Colombian Sharks readily accept a variety of foods, including live or frozen options like shrimp, live fish, krill, mussels, prawns, and sinking tablets. While they may be initially hesitant to take dried foods, they typically learn to accept them over time.
To create an ideal habitat for Colombian Sharks, opt for a relatively barren tank with open spaces. Use a soft sandy substrate to mimic riverbeds and coastal areas. Scatter smooth river rocks and driftwood throughout the tank to provide hiding spots and replicate natural debris. Driftwood releases tannins, subtly tinting the water for a more authentic environment.
Moderate lighting and gently moving water simulate the calm nature of slow-moving rivers and coastal waters. You can also incorporate brackish-tolerant plants like Anubias and Java fern.
Columbian Sharks have a tendency to waste food, leaving behind large amounts of uneaten food, which can sink and decompose, leading to an increase in ammonia levels. To address this issue, it is crucial to have a strong filtration system in place. Additionally, incorporating a compatible brackish water bottom feeder fish can help keep the aquarium clean by consuming leftover food and detritus. Good choices for bottom feeders in a brackish setup include Scats, Gobies, or Monos. These species are known to actively forage and contribute to the overall cleanliness of the tank.
A minimum tank size of around 75 gallons is recommended for a single Colombian Shark, while a small group requires at least 100 gallons. Maintain the water temperature between 75°F and 80°F, with a pH level of 7.0 to 8.0, and a hardness of 10 to 30 dGH. As the fish grows, the addition of marine salt to the water is necessary.
Colombian Sharks may display periods of restlessness as they mature, potentially due to migratory instincts. They might dash around the tank, and adjusting salinity levels can help calm them.
They produce high levels of nitrates and phosphates, be prepared for regular water changes if you plan on keeping a group of Columbian Sharks.
Additionally, since Columbian Sharks are active swimmers and jumpers, it is important to have a lid securely in place to prevent any escapes.
Finally, be cautious when handling these fish, as they have venom-producing glands at the base of the first dorsal spine, which can cause painful swelling if stung. If stung, immerse the wound in hot water and seek medical advice.
To learn more about this fish, be sure to check out the Additional Information tab.