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What is an Iridescent Shark?

Marjorie McAtee
By Marjorie McAtee
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The iridescent shark, also known as the Pangasius catfish, is a large tropical species native to Asia. These fish often reach an adult size of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters), and may therefore not be suitable pets for most hobbyists. They typically require a very large tank, ranging in size from a minimum of 300 gallons (1,336 liters) to 2,000 gallons (7,751 liters). They usually feed on smaller fish, and can live for up to 20 years.

These fish can grow quite large, so they can be difficult for many hobbyists to keep. The iridescent shark typically requires a very, very large tank, since they are usually quite active. A tank size of 300 gallons (1,336 liters) is considered minimal for these fish. They are, nevertheless, generally affordable and easy to acquire, and they are usually bred on fish farms.

The females of this species are generally wider in body than the males. Both males and females may have stripes, the males generally have darker stripes.

Though often referred to as a catfish, the iridescent shark is not usually a bottom-feeding fish. It typically prefers to occupy the mid-range waters of its habitat, whether in a tank or in the wild. These fish will usually feed on whatever small fish are provided them. A varied diet of fish flakes, pellets, and live or frozen blood worms, shrimp, and feeder fish is generally recommended. The iridescent shark isn't usually aggressive and can, in theory, be kept in an aquarium with other tank mates. This fish's sheer size, however, often precludes keeping it in an aquarium environment with other fish.

The Pangasius catfish is known as an easily startled breed. When frightened, these fish may fly into a panic and injure themselves against the side of the tank or against decorations inside the tank. They may also present a danger to other fish in the tank when panicking.

People wishing to keep this fish in an aquarium environment are generally advised to avoid starting the fish, and to offer it shelter in the form of aquatic plants. Young specimens normally form schools in the wild, so an immature iridescent shark may find comfort in the presence of others of its species. As they grow into adults, however, these fish generally begin to prefer more solitude.

The typical iridescent shark is an albino with very poor vision. They can be sensitive to light, and generally prefer a dimmed environment. Some enthusiasts believe these fish are calmer when kept in a dim environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Iridescent Shark?

An Iridescent Shark is a species of freshwater fish native to the rivers of Southeast Asia. Despite its name, it is not a shark but a type of catfish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus). It's known for its sleek, shark-like appearance and the iridescent stripe that runs along its sides, which is especially visible in juveniles.

How big can an Iridescent Shark get?

Iridescent Sharks can grow quite large, with adults typically reaching up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) in length in the wild. However, in captivity, they often grow to about 12 inches due to space limitations. According to aquarists, providing ample space is crucial for their growth and overall health.

Is the Iridescent Shark suitable for home aquariums?

While Iridescent Sharks are often sold as small juveniles for home aquariums, they are not suitable for most tanks due to their potential size and active swimming behavior. They require large tanks, at least 300 gallons, to accommodate their growth and to prevent stress and health issues associated with small environments.

What do Iridescent Sharks eat?

Iridescent Sharks are omnivorous and have a varied diet in the wild, including algae, plankton, and small fish. In captivity, they should be fed a balanced diet of high-quality pellets, vegetables, and occasional live or frozen foods to ensure proper nutrition and health.

How do Iridescent Sharks behave in captivity?

In captivity, Iridescent Sharks are known for their skittish nature. They are prone to stress, which can lead to erratic swimming and potential injury. They are schooling fish and prefer to be kept with several of their own kind to feel secure. Proper tank mates and a well-structured environment can help mitigate stress.

Are Iridescent Sharks endangered?

The Iridescent Shark is not currently listed as endangered, but it faces threats from overfishing and habitat degradation in its native environment. Conservation efforts are important to ensure the species' survival, as their natural populations have been impacted by these human activities.

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Discussion Comments

By anon992377 — On Sep 03, 2015

So why does anyone keep this fish if they require so much care and a sizable tank?

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