Iridescent Shark


Common Name: Iridescent Shark
Scientific Name: Pangasianodon hypophthalmus
Adult Size: Up to 4 feet
Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
Tank Size: 300 gallons minimum

The Iridescent Shark is a large, active species of catfish that is not a true shark but gets its name from its shark-like appearance and iridescent coloration. Native to the rivers of Southeast Asia, these fish are often sold as juveniles without proper information regarding their eventual size and tank requirements.

Due to their potential to grow up to 4 feet in length, a minimum tank size of 300 gallons is required for an adult Iridescent Shark. They are schooling fish and do best when kept with several of their own kind, which means even larger tanks are necessary to accommodate a group.

Iridescent Sharks are omnivores and will eat a wide range of foods including pellets, frozen foods, and live foods. However, due to their size and the complexity of their care, they are best suited for advanced aquarists who can provide the significant space and resources needed to properly care for them. They are not recommended for most home aquariums due to their specialized needs and rapid growth.

Origins And Natural Habitat

The Iridescent Shark, known scientifically as Pangasianodon hypophthalmus, is native to the freshwater environments of Southeast Asia. Your knowledge of this species’ origins points to two main rivers: the Chao Phraya and Mekong rivers. Historically, these large river systems have provided the ideal conditions for the Iridescent Shark to thrive.

In their natural habitat, you would find Iridescent Sharks in a tropical climate where water conditions are specific. These sharks prefer a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, which maintains the balance between acidity and alkalinity. The water hardness they require measures between 2.0-29 dGH, indicative of the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in the water.

The preferred temperature range for these fish is 22-26 °C (72-79 °F). You would typically observe them in areas of moderate currents, where they inhabit the middle layer of the water column. This positioning provides access to food sources and the necessary swimming space for their active lifestyle.

While they are called sharks, it’s important to note that Iridescent Sharks are not related to marine sharks. They are a species of catfish, and their “shark” name is derived from their sleek, shark-like appearance. Your awareness of their characteristics can help in understanding their needs and ensuring their conservation in both wild and aquaculture settings.

Aquarium Setup

Setting up an aquarium for an Iridescent Shark demands meticulous planning to replicate their natural habitat and meet their significant space requirements. A correctly sized tank and control over water conditions are fundamental to the health and well-being of these large freshwater fish.

Tank Size And Environment

Your Iridescent Shark requires a minimum tank size of 300 gallons to thrive, growing to 3-4 feet in length. If you plan to keep more than one, an additional 150 gallons per shark is essential. Create an environment that mimics their native large river systems—ample space is critical to prevent stress and aggression which can occur in cramped conditions. Decorations should be minimized to ensure plenty of swimming room, and secure any fixtures firmly as these powerful swimmers can dislodge items.

Water Conditions And Parameters

Maintain water conditions meticulously:

  • Temperature: Keep your tank between 72-79°F.
  • pH Levels: The optimal pH should range from 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Water Hardness: Aim for a general hardness around 5-20 dGH.

Regular water changes and a robust filtration system are vital. Iridescent Sharks are sensitive to nitrogenous waste, so it’s crucial to manage ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels carefully. Monitoring these parameters can prevent health issues and ensure a quality habitat for your fish.

Behavior And Social Dynamics

Iridescent sharks, scientifically known as Pangasius hypophthalmus, display schooling behavior that is essential for their social structure. In their natural habitat, they are accustomed to living in groups, which is a behavior that you should replicate when keeping them in captivity. Schooling allows them to interact socially, which includes activities such as swimming collectively and establishing a social hierarchy.

When setting up your aquarium for iridescent sharks, consider their need for companionship. Grouping them with other iridescent sharks is important as isolation can lead to stress, which may manifest in harmful ways. A group of three or more is usually recommended to ensure they can perform their social behaviors naturally.

In managing your iridescent sharks’ environment, you must monitor the dynamics of the tank carefully. Aggressive behavior can sometimes be observed in iridescent sharks, especially when they are kept in undersized tanks. To mitigate this, make sure your tank is spacious enough; experts suggest a starting size of 300 gallons and an additional 150 gallons for each added shark.

Remember, fostering the right social conditions is just as critical as maintaining water quality and other physical aspects of their environment. Your iridescent sharks will thrive in a setting that closely mimics their natural social framework, encouraging a harmonious aquatic community within your tank.

Compatibility And Community

When selecting tank mates for your Iridescent Shark, you should consider their peaceful nature. These sharks often coexist well with other non-aggressive fish, an attribute that makes them suitable for a community tank. It’s critical, however, to pair them with fish of similar size to prevent them from viewing smaller species as prey.

Compatibility with goldfish is commonly highlighted as both species generally display docile behaviors. However, remember that Iridescent Sharks grow quite large and require ample space. Hence, ensure your tank is sufficiently large to accommodate the growth and activity levels of these fish.

Suitable tank mates include:

  • Large tetras
  • Barbs
  • Larger cichlids with a calm demeanor

Avoid housing with:

  • Small fish that could be mistaken for food
  • Overly aggressive species that may stress the Iridescent Shark

During breeding periods, monitor interactions closely as Iridescent Sharks can exhibit different behaviors. A spacious environment, routine monitoring, and compatible species selection are key to a harmonious community aquarium.

Health And Maintenance

Maintaining the health of your Iridescent Shark is pivotal, requiring rigorous cleaning routines and vigilant disease management. Your commitment to their environment and well-being directly influences their health.

Cleaning And Maintenance Routines

Regular cleaning is essential to provide a healthy habitat for your Iridescent Sharks. Weekly maintenance should include:

  • 25% water change to maintain water quality.
  • Cleaning of the tank to remove waste and uneaten food.

This routine helps prevent stress and aggression, which can be common in cramped conditions.

Disease Prevention And Management

Iridescent Sharks are resilient but can be susceptible to common freshwater ailments. To prevent disease:

  • Quarantine new fish before introducing them to your tank to avoid the spread of diseases.
  • Monitor water parameters such as pH, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates.

In case of illness, immediate isolation of the affected fish and consultation with a vet are recommended for appropriate treatment.

Diet And Feeding

Your Iridescent Shark, scientifically known as Pangasianodon hypophthalmus, is an omnivorous species, requiring a well-rounded diet to stay healthy. In captivity, you should aim to replicate their natural dietary habits, which include both plant and animal matter.

What to Feed:

  • Animal-Based Foods: Offer brine shrimp, bloodworms, and small fish as protein sources.
  • Plant-Based Foods: Supplement their diet with spirulina, algae wafers, and blanched vegetables like zucchini.
  • Commercial Foods: High-quality pellets and flakes formulated for omnivorous fish can serve as the base of their diet.

Feeding Schedule:

  • Feed juvenile Iridescent Sharks 2-3 times daily with small portions to support their growth.
  • Adult Iridescent Sharks should be fed once or twice a day, avoiding overfeeding to prevent health issues.

Water Hardness and Diet: Iridescent Sharks can adapt to various water conditions, but a general hardness (dGH) ranging from 2 to 20 is suitable. Always ensure the tank water is clean and well-maintained to support optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Incorporate variety into their feeding regimen; this approach promotes a robust immune system and contributes to the overall well-being of your Iridescent Shark. Regular monitoring of their response to different foods is essential for maintaining a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.

Breeding And Reproduction

Breeding Iridescent Sharks (Pangasius hypophthalmus) is known to be quite challenging in captivity. The process requires very specific conditions that mimic their natural habitat closely.

Gender Identification And Breeding Behavior

Gender Identification: Determining the gender of Iridescent Sharks can be subtle, as sexual dimorphism is not pronounced. Generally, females tend to be plumper than males especially when viewed from above. During breeding seasons, males may develop a slightly more intense coloration.

Breeding Behavior: Iridescent Sharks exhibit timid behavior when introduced to new environments, but you’ll notice increased activity and engagement as they settle in. If your fish become more active and start chasing each other, it can be a sign of breeding behavior. Breeding itself, however, is rarely observed in home aquariums due to their need for large spaces and group dynamics which are difficult to replicate in captivity.

Creating Optimal Breeding Conditions

Environment: To potentially encourage breeding, you need an exceptionally large tank; some suggest a capacity of several hundred gallons. It should be well-oxygenated and have a strong current to simulate their natural river habitats.

Water Parameters: Maintain high water quality with precise parameters—temperature around 22-28°C, pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and soft to medium-hard water.

Diet: Nutrition plays a critical role. Ensure your Iridescent Sharks receive a varied diet rich in vitamins and proteins to keep them in optimal health for breeding.

Tank Setup: It should mimic a riverine environment with ample space for swimming. Decorations and substrate are not primary concerns as these fish are mostly focused on the mid to upper levels of the water column.

Breeding Iridescent Sharks involves significant preparation and care, with no guarantee of success. However, with the right environment and attentive care, you can increase the likelihood of creating favorable conditions for reproduction.

Growth, Development, And Lifespan

Iridescent Sharks, known scientifically as Pangasianodon hypophthalmus, exhibit significant growth throughout their life. As juveniles, you may find them manageable, but they can grow to an average length of 3-4 feet in a spacious environment.

In terms of lifespan, with proper care, your Iridescent Shark has the potential to thrive for 15 to 20 years in captivity. To support their development and longevity, your aquarium should provide adequate space — they require a minimum tank size of 12 meters (39 feet) for a natural growth pattern.

Here is a brief glance at their growth and lifespan characteristics:

  • Initial Growth Rate: Fast as juveniles, slows with age
  • Full Size: Up to 1 meter (3.3 feet), depending on tank conditions
  • Lifespan15-20 years with optimal care

It’s crucial to note that cramped spaces and poor conditions can significantly reduce their maximum size and lifespan. To prevent stunted growth, you must ensure a large enough tank and a diet that meets their nutritional needs. Furthermore, maintaining high-quality water and a stress-free environment by avoiding aggressive tank mates is key to their healthy development.


Where Do Iridescent Sharks From?


What Is the Natural Habitat of a Iridescent Shark?

The Iridescent Shark also referred to as the Pangasius Catfish, the Sutchi Catfish, and the Striped Catfish, is commonly misidentified as a shark due to its various names. Notably, there exists an albino variant of this species. Originating from Asia, it is our belief that this particular fish is not suitable for most hobbyists. Growing to nearly 4 feet in length (120 cm), and occasionally even larger in its natural habitat, these fish are highly active swimmers. It begs the question, who possesses a tank spacious enough to properly accommodate this colossal creature?

The Iridescent Shark exhibits a considerable level of skittishness and is susceptible to being easily startled by abrupt movements in the vicinity of its tank. Such nervous tendencies can result in harm to both themselves and their tank companions. To mitigate this behavior, it is advisable to maintain a group of at least 5 individuals, as this may contribute to a sense of tranquility. Additionally, the presence of floating aquarium plants can provide a sense of security for these fish. It is worth noting that they have been observed to leap out of tanks, thus necessitating the use of a securely fitting hood to ensure their safety.

It is recommended to provide a varied diet for these omnivorous fish, including flake foods, frozen foods, algae wafers, and catfish pellets. Some experts suggest incorporating more carnivorous type rations for juvenile iridescent sharks and increasing the amount of greens in their diet as they grow. However, it is important to note that these fish are very active swimmers and may eat smaller fish, making them unsuitable for most tanks. If you have already purchased an iridescent shark and it is in a smaller tank, it is advised to consider returning it to the pet store and selecting a more appropriate fish.



What Do Iridescent Shark Eat?


Are Iridescent Sharks Aggressive?

Tank Size

How Big of a Tank Does a Iridescent Shark Need?


What Are the Best Tank Mates For Iridescent Sharks?


How Big Do Iridescent Sharks Get?