10 Freshwater Aquarium Sharks For Tanks Of All Sizes

Sharks have been called “living fossils,” as they seem to have remained unchanged throughout time. There are over 400 different species of this ancient fish. Most sharks live in saltwater, but some can adapt and live in brackish or even freshwater.

One of the questions we often hear is whether or not sharks are compatible with a freshwater aquarium. Short answer: yes, you can keep them in freshwater. Longer answer: it will depend on what kind of shark you are talking about.

If you’re a fish lover and want to add some variety to your tank, consider adding freshwater aquarium sharks! Imagine a shark swimming in your tank. It’ll be like a mini-jaws movie in your living room!

You need to take into account the size of your tank and choose accordingly. But don’t worry – We have made that easy for you by providing information on each shark so that you know what is best suited for your needs.

With these 10 freshwater aquarium sharks, there is something perfect for everyone on this list! So read on if you want to learn more about these wonderful creatures and see which ones are right for you…

Bala Shark


Bala sharks are one of the most peaceful freshwater aquarium sharks out there. Despite their look, these sharks are very safe to keep in a home aquarium.

They spend a lot of time swimming throughout the environment so they won’t stay confined in one place. In fact, if you’re looking for a shark that likes to zoom around your tank, this is the one for you.

Bala sharks are very social and will get along well with multiple companions of their own kind. In this case, they develop scholar-like formations, which can be really interesting to watch.

These sharks do not get too big but have quite a temper! They will only get aggressive if they are provoked or worried.

They can grow up to about 10-13 inches long, so consider this when planning for your tank.

In terms of appearance, these sharks are not the most impressive. They are really plain and gray, with little variance in their color pattern. The grey color is complemented by yellow stripes that run down their tail and fins.

Sharks are agile and sleek, with long, slithery body with a dorsal fin that is always clamoring for attention.

When fully grown, smaller critters could become food for them, but they are not aggressive.

They love to eat protein snacks like bloodworms, krill, and brine shrimp, and feeding them three times a day is important to support their growth.

These sharks are not difficult to care for, and many people enjoy keeping them in an aquarium because of their docile nature. All you need to do is keep a constant temperature of 77 degrees and water alkalinity between 6.5-8 pH.

  • Size of the shark: 10 to 13 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 120 gallons

Red Tail Shark


Founded in lakes in Thailand, the Red Tail Shark is one of the preferred species among all aquarist enthusiasts.

Nowadays, these sharks are critically endangered in the wild. In addition, these species are challenging to breed, and for now, it is impossible to breed at home.

The extraordinary red tail fin makes this animal a fantastic addition to every aquarium. Add the astonishing shark profile, colored in jet black, and you are looking at a beautiful masterpiece. These factors combined make this shark a very desirable choice for aquarists.

Even though they are endangered in the wild, these fishes are very hardy and can thrive in your aquarium, adapting to almost every environment. As long the temperature of the water in the tank is around 72 -79 degrees F, and the alkalinity is between 6.5-7.5 pH, they will do just fine.

The Red Tail Sharks are very territorial and aggressive towards other species. They will attack anything that crosses them, so they need lots of space to call their own.

  • Size of the shark: 6 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 55 gallons

Rainbow Shark


The Rainbow shark, also known as the Red-Finned Shark or Ruby Shark, is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium sharks.

Like the Red Tail Shark, the color of the tail fin is red, and the fins are transparent red. These colors combined with a dark-black shade body is a stunning sight.

They are fast swimmers and often spend a lot of time defending their territory from other tank mates, specifically if they have already established themselves in an area before any others come along.

These sharks spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank and can be kept with fish who prefer to live on top.

They are not easily intimidated either and will fight with other fish. In a tank that is larger than 55 gallons, they can be kept with more peaceful tank mates.

During the day, Rainbow sharks rest at the bottom of the aquarium, usually in one area. They are also known to hide between rocks, driftwood, and plants. At night, they are most active looking for food.

Rainbow sharks are omnivores and will eat both plant-based foods as well as meaty foods. In addition to algae found at the bottom of the tank, these sharks can be fed with blood worms and brine shrimp to supplement their regular diets.

  • Size of the shark: 6 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 55 gallons

Iridescent Shark


An Iridescent Shark is a freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia.

When you first see this type of shark, you may ask yourself where it got its name. Adult Iridescent sharks are dark-grey in color. This color is formed slowly through the years. As juveniles, the color of their skin is dark and shiny.

The color of this shark is not the only extraordinary thing. The shape of the head is a strange mix between catfish and barbel. Compared to the head, the fish’s body looks bulbous with a huge tail and fins. The unique profile of this shark makes it one of the most sought-after aquarium fish.

These fish are very peaceful and do not require extra maintenance.

The optimal water temperature should be between 72-79 degrees F. The alkalinity of the water is also standard – 6.5-7.5 pH.

Iridescent sharks require an elaborate aquarium because they need plenty of floor space to move around and an environment with lots of rocks or live plants because these animals will keep miles-long distances.

Iridescent sharks are a big commitment because these fishes live up to 20 years.

These sharks are one of the hardest sharks to keep in a tank because of their unique feeding requirement and long life span. Iridescent sharks are omnivores, meaning they feed by consuming animals and plants. There are a few special considerations when caring for these types of fish, which require quality food and lots of it.

  • Size of the shark: 3-4 feet
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Expert
  • Minimum aquarium size: 300+ gallons

Violet Blushing Shark


Violet Blushing Shark is not like the other freshwater aquarium shark. In fact, it is quite peaceful and beautiful.

They are not territorial and can be easily kept with other similarly-sized fish in the same aquarium. You should still avoid keeping these sharks with small creatures because they might be considered as a meal for the shark.

The shimmer of their skin is perfect for accentuating a tank. It may only be seen under powerful light, however.

Their unique coloring and appearance define the name of these sharks. The skin is transparent with silverly-wite color. All of the fins are also transparent.

The most determining thing for these sharks is that you can see their gills through the gill cover, making them look like they are blushing.

Since the skin is transparent, you can see through it and observe individual organs in the body.

Almost all of their organs are visible, including the heart, bladder, and stomach.

The maintenance of the aquarium is essential for these fishes. To stay healthy, the Blushing sharks need stable temperatures between 68-78 degrees F and normal alkalinity of the water.

One of the most common mistakes the Violet Blushing Sharks aquarists make is overfilling the tank with decorations. They do much better with enough space to swim than if the tank is crowded.

The tank should be decorated in such a way that it resembles the sharks’ natural habitat. Be sure that no sharp or rough decorations are present since these sharks have delicate skin.

Their diet includes dry food pellets and flakes. You can also offer your Violet Blushing Shark live brine shrimp, bloodworms, and tubifex worms.

  • Size of the shark: 12 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 125 gallons

Columbian Shark


This is not the perfect starter fish for a freshwater aquarium with live plants or bog-style aquascaping. To be able to grow this fish, you need to follow some specific requirements.

The Columbian shark is not exactly a freshwater shark. As Juvenals, these sharks should grow in brackish waters to be healthy. When you set their aquarium, you’ll need to add some marine salt, so the specific gravity should be somewhere between 1.005-1.010. This means that it has about half the salinity, or strength, of regular seawater.

Its aggressive hunting behavior can make it unappealing as a community resident, and it should be housed in either a species-only tank or a semi-aggressive community tank environment. Another solution to this problem is to keep the shark well-fed.

Since it’s a predator, this shark thrives on high-protein intakes. These fishes prefer food that they can chase and consume quickly.

What we have here is an apex predator so that it will see any other fish as potential prey. You’re only safe if your aquarium layout has plenty of hiding spaces or strong and fast fish that can stand up to it.

Columbian shark diet also includes various meaty foods, including raw meat, fish fillet, shrimp, blood worm, prawns, and cichlid pellets, to name just a few possibilities. This species should also be kept in a spacious tank with lots of hiding places: it’s a strong predator!

With an elongated body colored in black-grey and silver and with a huge dorsal fin, this fish profile is the closest you can get to a real shark in your aquarium!

To navigate through the environment, these fishes have a pair of barbels located on their underside. These allow them to smell and taste the surrounding water for food and to hunt down their prey.

  • Size of the shark: 10 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Beginner-Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 70 gallons

Black Shark


The Black Shark is an all-black freshwater fish that is an excellent addition to any freshwater aquarium. They are also effortless to take care of. Black Sharks look like other freshwater sharks. Yet, they have unique characteristics that set them apart from sharks, such as the Red Tail Shark and other members of its family.

Black Sharks have very special fins that make them exceptional freshwater fish.

Their dorsal fin usually stays flat against the body, but when the fish needs to show off or show power, the dorsal stands tall and strong.

Their caudal fins are very forked, and their pectoral fins are much shorter than those of other sharks. Their skin is black, smooth, and shiny; their slender body is slightly torpedo-shaped.

These sharks can be very aggressive predators. They are very territorial and will drive away any intruders. Growing them with smaller fish is not recommended, as they will generally hunt them. It is best to house them with other aggressive fishes or species that can withstand the bullying of the Black Shark.

They usually grow about 24 inches long and do not eat a straight protein diet. As a matter of fact, they even prefer plant-based meals. However, they do need to eat a varied diet, so be sure to give them some proteins as well.

Even if these fish are famous for plant-eating, they need a lot of swimming space in tanks. Installing a few underwater caves is important so the sharks can rest undisturbed.

  • Size of the shark: 24 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 125 gallons

Roseline Shark


This fish is absolutely amazing! Roseline shark naturally lives in rivers and streams with strong currents and a lot of oxygen.

One of the most important things for these sharks is to represent these strong currents in the aquarium with a strong pump.

What makes these fishes unique is their bright coloring. They have black, red, and gold stripes, which cross the body and are on both sides. Other common colorings are patches of green and yellow.

Like all other freshwater sharks, these also have a noticeable dorsal fin and prolonged body, with pectoral fins forward on each side of the head.

The Roseline shark is one of the fastest freshwater sharks because its body structure is ideal for speed. Roseline sharks are the smallest freshwater shark you can find, which is good for living with other fishes.

These sharks peacefully cohabit with smaller fishes and rarely show aggression toward other community fish. In fact, when growing in groups of four or six, they are more relaxed than if they are in pairs and show playful behavior.

This fish is an excellent choice for the beginning aquarist because it requires no special care. Even if these fishes can withstand a wide variety of conditions, you need to respect some technical parameters when keeping this fish to protect them from diseases and parasites:  temperature between 60-77 degrees F and alkalinity of 6-7 pH. The tank size for this species is a minimum of 60 gallons, with plenty of plants and hiding places.

  • Size of the shark: 4-5 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Beginner
  • Minimum aquarium size: 60 gallons

Harlequin Shark


Harlequin sharks are not the typical addition to every freshwater aquarium. Scientifically called Labeo cyclorhynchus, the Harlequin shark is a species of shark that once was found along the Congo River basin and in forest streams with lots of plants.

The Harlequin shark is a beautifully colored fish. Its coloration has a unique pattern, resembling that of a harlequin. As the name suggests, this fish has a spherical (cyclorhynchus) nose with an overall blue coloration.

It possesses a cylindrical body that tapers towards the tail fin. Like other sharks, Harlequin has two dorsal fins and one ventral fin, but the presence of these fins is not very prominent, unlike in other fish species.

These sharks live a very lonely life. They are territorial fish and will attack any fish that’s nearby. This behavior is exclusive to similar-looking fishes.

However, if the tank has enough space, you can pair them with large species that prefer the top of the water column. This is because the Harlequin shark spends most of its time hiding in the tank bottom.

Since they spend so much time on the bottom, Harlequin sharks eat mostly algae, microscopic creatures, and plant detritus. Feel free to complement their snacking with live or frozen food, sinking pellets, and flakes.

Harlequin sharks are timid fish who hide under cover when threatened. When they’re ready to eat, they leave their hiding spot, sit on the bottom, and search for food.

  • Size of the shark: 6 inches
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Intermediate
  • Minimum aquarium size: 50 gallons

Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark


These big fish are viable for massive aquariums or public installations. They are also very docile and peaceful fishes that live fine with various other species.

The High-Fin Banded Shark is one of the largest species in its family, next to the Walking Catfish. This fish can reach up to 4 feet long and weigh about 40 pounds. This is why these sharks should not be kept in anything less than an 800-gallon tank because of their size and appetite.

If you are looking for a very aggressive shark, this fish will not do it. These big boys are quite shy and timid by nature and would rather live peacefully than quarrel with other tankmates. They are also swift and have been known to literally walk across the aquarium floor when seeking food (another reason why they need a huge tank).

The Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark is a schooling fish that prefers to live in a company of its own kind. If you try to grow this fish alone, you’ll experience many problems. These fishes often die when kept in solitude.

These fish have specific coloring and patterning. They are black with bands of yellow or gold on their flanks. They have a white belly and a very tall dorsal fin, like most other sharks in this family.

The dorsal fin of this fish is really tall. In fact, it’s the highest of all sharks in the aquarium trade.

It is very unusual that the specific coloration fades as the fish grows. The dorsal fin slows its growth and doesn’t look that big when the fish is fully grown.

The High-Fin Banded Shark is an excellent jumper, and you should ensure your aquarium has a lid, so this fish can’t escape. These big guys grow to be big and heavy, so your aquarium should have a strong lid to support this fish’s weight.

  • Size of the shark: 4 feet
  • Difficulty in caring for them: Expert
  • Minimum aquarium size: at least 800+ gallons


When choosing your newest addition to the aquarium family, remember how large they’ll grow and what environment they’re used to! It is important to consider the size of your tank before buying any freshwater aquarium sharks.

Remember that no matter what species you choose, keeping them with other fish who share similar water parameters or behaviors will be best.

If you have any questions about freshwater aquariums or need help selecting a specific type of shark for your size tank, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment! We’re happy to answer any questions and provide expert advice on how to care for these lovely creatures.

We hope our recommendations helped you choose which kind of freshwater shark would work best for your home aquarium!