Your New Bull Shark
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Bull Shark Factoids

Origin

Estuaries of  South America

Other Names

Silver shark, Colombian shark

Size

24” in the wild, 12-14 in large tanks

Temperature

Good candidate for cool water tank

Attitude

Always hungry

Water Type

Brackish water – likes lotsa salt

pH

Not picky,  6 to 8 pH just fine

Clean Water

Needs frequent large water changes

LA Pic
Most bull sharks start out at about two inches.

LA Pic
Bull shark about 2.5 inches.  He's much lighter over this white sand.  Little hippy "beard."

LA Pic
All bull sharks like to school together.  These are three inches.

Appeal.  Drop any type of food into their tank, and small bull sharks swarm about the tank (like actual sharks) eagerly seeking food.  The more sharks in the tank, the harder they work as they attack their food.  Their silvery body with black-trimmed fins makes for a good looking fish.

LA Pic
At eight to nine inches bull sharks lose some of their cuteness.

 

Not a Real Shark.  Nicknamed bull sharks, silver sharks, Colombian sharks, these guys really belong to the catfish family.  Check out those front whiskers.  Like all catfishes, these guys use their sensitive whiskers to find food in murky water or at night.  Whiskers usually mean their owner likes to eat smaller fishes.  Bull sharks ignore equal sized and larger fishes.

LA Pic
Looking like our local bullheads, bull sharks just keep growing in large tanks.

Gets Big.  Bull sharks start out as cute little whiskered scavengers.  Almost as cute as our local baby bullheadsThey grow into fairly large predators -- just like our local baby bullheads (pic#7).  Don’t try to keep them with small fish -- just like our bullheads.  Bullheads have a rounded tailfin and a much larger mouth.  Tank raised bull sharks seem to prefer commercial fish foods over live fish.  But do not mix them with smaller, bite size fishes.

Security.  Lots of catfishes insist on hiding during the day and coming out when the lights go off.  Not these bull sharks.  They’re out looking for food all day long.  They start looking faster when they smell food.

LA Pic
Even in death, this little two-inch bull shark can still stab you painfully.

The “Horns.”  Net these guys carefully.  Those side fins and top fin hide some sharp stabbers.  In addition to the painful stab, their “horns” emit an irritating substance that makes the wound hurt more and longer. Oddly enough, their horns do not catch in nets (like pictus catfish) until they die.

Water.  Hardness and pH make little difference as long as you keep their water clean.  Don’t overfeed your bull sharks – even if they act like they’re starving.

LA
When kept in saltless water, bull sharks develop usually lethal skin conditions.

Special Note:  Bull sharks need brackish water – add at least two teaspoons of salt per gallon, more if your other fish can handle it.  The larger ones will live in full strength sea water.

Space.  The more room you give them, the better.  Small tanks stunt their growth and encourage disease because of poor water quality.  The bigger their tank, the less frequently you need to change their water.  Change it anyway.

Ich Comments.  Most ich remedies contain malachite green.  If you use one of these to treat those little white spots, use it at half strength.  Ich cures can wipe these babies out fast.

Temperature.  Keep your bull sharks at regular tropical fish temp – about 75o plus or minus five degrees.

Foods.  Not picky.  Drop any type of food in the water and these guys will swarm it.  Just avoid overfeeding them.  They eat so much food, you need to change their water often.

Spawning.  Not likely.  They probably spawn in the mouths of rivers – where they mix with the ocean.  Don’t try this at home.

 

Tank Mates.  You can mix these guys with most other equal-sized catfishes.  Bull sharks also mix well with Central and South American cichlids too large to swallow and vice versa.  Their slimy skin and pointed “horns” ward off most bad guys.  They also mix fairly well with koi and goldfishes without fancy fins.  You will raise no baby fishes in a tank or pond containing bull sharks.

LA
Bull sharks love to school with their own kind.

LA
Bull sharks school even better when food hits the water.

LA

LA
Bull sharks looking for food on the bottom.

LA
Same bull sharks before food hits the water.

LA
And after they find the food.

Additives.  None needed except salt – and plenty of it.  Well, and food -- and plenty of it.  LA
 

Erik Wurster, July 11, 2010
Hello, I would like to add to the bull shark section. I have 2 Columbian sharks and one would always get swollen pelvic fins. I finally found out this meant that it's a girl. And every week I do a water change and a freshwater top-off. But this week, I just did the top-off and left the tank. The female got the swollen fins and at 1:30 in the morning I saw eggs! Unfortunately, I woke up in the morning and I guess that they were eaten. I'll attach a picture. Thanks!
Well, basically it's just a picture of the eggs and I'm not sure what the white around it is. I'm guessing it could be the fertilization. About every month the bigger (female) will get the swollen pelvic fins (If you can access this link, there are pictures of the swollen fins -- http://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=323441 ) -- and chase the smaller one around for about 3-6 days. Not aggressively, but it would make the smaller one fairly tired. So just yesterday she was chasing the other one around and I turned off the lights to go to bed, and I wanted to check something on my computer real quick and when I looked in the tank my first thought was "What is that?!" I thought it was some of the filter media, but it's not white..anymore. And then I saw that her stomach was empty, like she hadn't eaten in 5 days. Then I saw the yellow circles and I realized they were eggs. I wish I could have seen exactly what happened, but I guess it happened when the lights were off. I will  try this again in hopes that it will happen and I will isolate the eggs.  They're in a standard 75 gallon brackish tank.

EW

A:  Cool.  I have not heard of anyone else having bull sharks spawn in their tank.  I'm happy to add your report to my bull shark page.  Thanks.  LA

B-LeaVe, February 16, 2011
I recently purchased what was labeled in a local pet store as a "silver-tipped" shark. But being a frequent reader of your page, I immediatly recognized it (after we got it into our tank) as a bull shark. So I was unsure if you wanted to add that to your list of names used for the bull shark.
Also, he has taken to schooling with our 2 pictus catfish aswell. Thanks!

A:  Alright, I'll add your name suggestion to my bull shark page.  LA

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