What is a Freshwater Shark?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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A freshwater shark is a fish that somewhat resembles a salt-water shark in that it has a large, pointed head and a dorsal fin. They are in fact not related to salt-water sharks at all. Freshwater sharks usually live in rivers and lakes in the southeast Asia countries of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. A few species may be found in Australia as well.

These fish are usually grey, black or purple in color. They are typically a solid color rather than multi-colored. The scales of a freshwater shark usually have a very silvery or shiny appearance. The shark's fins are usually a lighter color than his body, with a black or dark-colored trim around the outer edges.

A few of the more common species include bull shark, red-tailed shark, rainbow shark, river shark, bala shark and black shark. These fish are often sold in pet stores because they generally do well in aquariums where the water is 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 28 degrees Celsius). They also typically prefer a tank with lots of hiding spaces and plenty of green plant material.

Those who are purchasing a bala shark should make sure the tank is at least 30 gallons (1.14 hl) as this fish can grow up to 14 inches (36 cm) in length. Other species of freshwater shark are much smaller than the bala. These fish are generally around three to five inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm) in length.


Freshwater sharks usually eat very small fish or minnows when living in the wild. This can be a concern for those keeping these sharks in a home aquarium. Pet owners should take care not to mix these fish with varieties such as the neon tetra. These fish are usually peaceful and do not disturb fish the same size or larger than themselves.

When they are being kept in an aquarium, a freshwater shark will typically eat any kind of fish food an owner provides. This can be flakes, freeze-dried foods or pellets. Most of these fish prefer a variety in their diet, so an owner may want to change their pet's food often in order to keep the animal satisfied.

The thought of owning a freshwater shark could be intimidating, but in fact these fish do not normally even have teeth. They are usually small, docile fish that get along well with most other species. They also typically have a curious nature which can make them very entertaining care for and to watch.


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