Friday, June 7, 2013

Shark Week: Pet Sharks?

Some people like menageries. They love having exotic animals that nobody else on the street has, and they happen to show off a lot of them. 

So what if one of those animals happens to be a shark?

It's hard to find a shark that will not get at least ten feet long.  You're looking at a whole room's worth of an aquarium. Oh, and you should have handled saltwater tanks before; the best sharks are in the oceans, and for regular fish, saltwater tanks are hard enough to maintain. How about feeding a shark? They aren't going to take fish flakes. In other words, for pretty much any shark, you're looking at a millionaire's investment.

So, let's say you do have the insane funds to provide for a shark. What types of sharks are good for relative beginners, seeing as some undoubtedly make better pets than others?

Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that there's no "ball python" to the nurse shark's "Burmese." In English: there is no pet shark that the average person can keep on a whim. There are freshwater fish called "sharks," but those are not true sharks. The good news is that there are some sharks that make better pets than others. Don't start with a great white, now.

This handy little site has some details on the best types of "starter" sharks. I'm going to save you all some research and post a little bit more on its recommendations...with pics.

Source. This image is amazing.

Wobbegongs: I want to say that this blog has already done an entry on wobbegong sharks. To my great surprise, these oddball sharks from the waters of the Pacific and Indonesia are some of the best pet sharks for the average, research-loving schmuck. Some wobbegong sharks get only 4.1 feet long, and they have slow metabolisms, needing only to be fed twice a week. Not a bad deal if you want to say you own a shark, but still requires some aquarium knowledge. The tasseled wobbegong (Eucrossorhinus dasypogon) above is one of the better wobbegongs, if a shark suits your fancy. Alas, it looks more like a bunch of seaweed than an actual shark.

Bamboo sharks: Again, these are bottom-dwelling sharks from the Indo-Pacific like wobbegongs, except they look a lot more like miniature sharks. They can "walk" on the bottom of the sea, or your tank, with their surprisingly dextrous fins. The largest species is roughly 4 feet in length. FYI, the shark the wobbegong is eating is a bamboo shark, but here's a better pic of the thing while it's alive.


  Epaulette sharks: THESE are so worth their own entry in the future! I'm just looking at a video and being totally charmed by it. The ocelli (big black "eye" spots) above the pectoral fins make these sharks very pleasing to the eye. These are, again, Indo-Pacific bottom-feeders. They can be fed raw shrimp, which is fairly easy to acquire and handle. They are not as small as wobbegongs and Bamboo sharks, however, so please make sure you can handle these slender sharks before taking one home!

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