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Triakis semifasciata (Leopard shark) - Part I






Upper picture : Triakis semifasciata. Lower picture : A Pterois volitans (lionfish) at the top, a Triakis semifasciata (Leopard shark) in the middle and Rhinomuraenia amboinensis (Blue ribbon eel) in Mike Iannibeli's tank.

 
Triakis semifasciata (Leopard shark)

You tell me; what's kind of gray, has a big mouth, never sleeps, and takes in most everything it comes across? The Internal Revenue Service! Well, besides them; that's right, the polyglot of fishes we call sharks share these traits and more.

Quick; what are the two largest species of fishes? The whale and basking sharks of course. Most of us mere mortals, other than the likes of Warren Buffett 
and Billy Gates can only dream of having a tank big enough to house these forty foot plankton eaters. For lots of reasons we'll chat up, most shark species make inappropriate to very challenging aquarium selections.

Let's review who the sharks are, which can be adapted to captive care and what's known concerning what does work to keep them alive.

Classification: Taxonomy, Relation With Other Groups

Not those puny little freshwater Minnow family (Cyprinidae) pseudo "Sharks" like the Bala or Tri-Color, Red-Tail, Red-Fin, etc.. Here we're dealing with the largely marine cartilaginous sharks, you know, Jaws and company.

Let's whip through the appropriate 'higher' classification of our favorite vertebrates, the fishes. The living 'back-boned animals' (vertebrates) comprise seven classes, three of which are the fishes. The other four, let's hear it, are the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The jawless fishes, the lampreys and hagfishes make up the Class Agnatha ("away from jaws). The cartilaginous fishes, the sharks, rays, skates and really weird chimaeras are contained in Class Chondrichthyes ("cartilaginous fishes") in reference to their lack of skeletal bone; and the bulk of "true" "boney" fishes, Class Osteichthyes ("boney fishes"), eels, herrings, cichlids ad nauseum are in the last living Class.

In more detail for the group we're interested in, the cartilagionous fishes (Class Chondrichthyes) are further sub-divided:

SubClass Holocephali. ("whole-head", the chimaeras), The only cartilagious fishes with a single gill slit.

SubClass Elasmobranchii. ("plated-gills", sharks, rays and skates) Five to seven gill slits.

Superorder Batoidei (Rays, skates) With gill slits placed lower than their pectoral fins. (Rays, skates) With gill slits placed lower than their pectoral fins.

Superorder Euselachii (Sharks) 5-7 sets of lateral gill openings extending higher than the pectoral fins. Some eight living Orders, twenty nine families and 359 described species. (Sharks) 5-7 sets of lateral gill openings extending higher than the pectoral fins. Some eight living Orders, twenty nine families and 359 described species.

Class Osteichthyes: The bony fishes, the other twenty some thousand sources of our daily joy.

Natural and Introduced Range

Sharks are found worldwide in all seas, and in way upstream in several rivers 
(the Mississippi, Amazon, among others). The bull shark, Carcharhinus leucas  
is landlocked in Lake Nicaraqua.

Size:

Adult sizes range from about a foot and a half to some reports of forty-five, 
fifty feet for whale sharks. You want to acquire the smallest specimen practical,
and strive through proper feeding to "bonsai" it; i.e. keep it small through proper feeding..Selection:

Selection: General to Specific, Examples

Except for the smallest species (while they're small) that have sedentary (bottom sitting) behavior, the vast majority of sharks are poor candidates for aquarium specimens. They're just too active, too big, too messy for all but the largest of systems.

If you're not dissuaded by this discussion, please do carefully consider 
only one of the tropical species suggested here; or better a developing embryo/egg case... or best go see them at a public aquaria, or CD ROM, video, the boob tube, or why not.... the sea! you're not dissuaded by this discussion, please do carefully consider only one of the tropical species suggested here; 
or better a developing embryo/egg case... or best go see them at a public 
aquaria, or CD ROM, video, the boob tube, or why not.... the sea!

 

My Choices For "Okay/Possibly" Captive Shark Species: 

Bamboo Sharks, family Hemiscylliidae. Family Hemiscyllidae, the Bamboo, Epaulette Sharks, often misnomered as "catsharks". Excellent as juveniles and eggcases. Including the very commonly imported banded bamboo shark, Hemiscyllium indicum, and Chiloscyllium punctatum.

     Madagascar, North Indian Ocean, Southwestern Pacific. Two genera, eleven species. The smaller members of this family constitute the most suitable
aquarium species of sharks, given attention to filtration, arrangement of decor (space around the circumference), careful feeding...  

Chiloscyllium plagiosum (Bennett 1830), the Whitespotted Bambooshark. Indo-West Pacific. Males to 69 cm., females to 95cm. Here are images of a one foot juvenile in captivity and some near maximum size individuals in the Hong Kong Aquarium. 

 

Chiloscyllium punctatum (Muller & Henle 1838), the Brownbanded Bamboo Shark. Dull brown as an adult. Indo-West Pacific. To three feet eight inches overall length. Aquarium image.

 Continued in next page

With the permission of Robert (Bob) Fenner webmaster of WetWebMedia (bobfenner@aol.com) Photos by Mike Iannibeli (with permission) 

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