Small Sharks For Fish Tank | Ten Sharks Under 10 Inches 

Jul 1, 2022

Small Sharks For Fish Tank

Image Credit: Anandarajkumar (CC License)

Wouldn’t it be cool to invite friends over to showcase a gigantic aquarium with a couple of great white sharks swimming around? Just so you know, it’s illegal. 

But even if it was legal, do you think we have the time, money, and guts to raise a great white shark at home?

However, not all sharks are enormous and blood-thirsty like the ones we watched in Jaws. Some of them are so small that you’d be surprised to know. For instance, spined pygmy shark grows 11 inches long at max, while Panama ghost catshark barely grows over 9 inches long. 

But guess what? It’s illegal to own these sharks, too, no matter how small they are. These are protected species. If you happen to raise one by chance, you will land in some legal trouble. 

So, here we are – when you said small sharks for fish tanks, I hope you were talking about shark lookalikes. But unfortunately, no matter how small, real sharks aren’t available for the aquarium hobby. 

We will have to make do with tiny shark lookalikes that bear some resemblance to true sharks in terms of appearance and, sometimes, even temperament. 

Sorry if I disappointed you, but none of the fish listed and explained below are real “sharks .” Instead, they’re all freshwater doppelgangers from the shark catfish, minnows, or carps family. 

Nonetheless, I’m sure these fish will help you achieve the ‘shark-y’ look you want to create in your aquarium. 

All of the fish featured on our list today are smaller than 10 inches in length. So, they don’t need massive tanks or hearty meals thrice a day to survive. 

Without further ado, let’s begin! 

Small Sharks For Fish Tank (Under 10 Inches)

Roseline shark4.5-5 inches
Red-tailed black shark5-6 inches
Glofish Shark5-6 inches
Rainbow shark6 inches 
Albino rainbow shark5-6 inches 
Flying fox shark6 inches
Harlequin shark6 inches
Siamese algae eater6 inches 
Apollo shark8-9 inches
Columbian shark10 inches

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Now, let’s have a detailed look! 

Roseline Shark 

roseline shark
Credit: Anandarajkumar (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Sahyadria denisonii
  • Origin: India
  • Size: 4.5-5 inches
  • Temperament: Active and curious 
  • Diet: Omnivore

Roseline sharks barely grow over 4 or 5 inches long, making them the smallest ‘sharks’ on our list today. I think they are one of the top fishes to bear an uncanny resemblance to real sharks. 

These fish have long, torpedo-shaped bodies that make them look like miniature sharks. While the rest of the fins are small, the forked caudal fin at the rear is quite prominent. 

The primary body color is silver, with a black lateral line running horizontally up to the middle. And just on top of this black stripe is a bright red line that runs across the first half of the body. 

Lastly, these fish display a luminescent emerald green color on their head. 

I’d used the words active, curious, and social to describe their temperament. At worst, they’d nip the fins of small fish that wiggle too temptingly like a guppy or a betta. But, as long as paired with similarly-sized peaceful fish, these fish don’t cause any trouble. 

They primarily snack on algae, small invertebrates, and insect larvae in the wild. In captivity, it is more convenient to feed flakes and pellets, but make sure you’re purchasing from a reliable brand. 

Live and frozen food like brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms make excellent choices of food to give as treats occasionally. 

The water temperature should be around 60-77 degrees F, the pH should clock in between 6.5-7.8, and the general hardness should be about 5-25 dGH. 

Red-Tailed Black Shark

Credit: Rino Porrovecchio (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos bicolor 
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Size: 5-6 inches
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore

Red-tailed sharks have the classic shark-like body, but I’d say their appearance is more unique than any true shark species. From the color standpoint, there are just 2 colors – black and red. 

And what’s striking about these fish is that the body is entirely black with no patterning or deviation anywhere. But right at the end of the caudal peduncle, the color changes to bright red from black. No, there’s no gradient – the color change happens abruptly. 

In the tank, these fish grow anywhere between 5-6 inches long. 

Temperament-wise, they have a lot in common with the actual sharks. Red-tailed black sharks are aggressive and territorial as they come. They often fight intensely with other family members if they share a habitat. 

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to only house one of these fish per tank unless you have a really huge tank. Also, avoid keeping them with docile and peaceful fish. 

You have plenty of options for feeding a red-tailed black shark. These are omnivores and not fussy about what they put in their mouth. 

In the wild, they snack on plants, crustaceans, and insects. You can give them pellets and flake food in the tank and occasionally fortify the diet with treats like tubifex, bloodworms, and brine shrimp.

Lastly, the water temperature should be between 72-79 degrees F, the pH should be maintained between 6.5-7.5, and the water hardness should fall between 5-15 dGH.

Glofish Shark 

Credit: Ccm272 (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum 
  • Origin: Captive-bred
  • Size: 5-6 inches
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore 

Measuring 5-6 inches long, glofish sharks look precisely like miniature sharks. Even better, they glow. These long-bodied and flat-bellied fish have erect dorsal fins and a pointed snout that lend them a shark-like look. 

The body is rounded near the head and tapers off as it reaches the tail. They grow anywhere between 5-6 inches long. 

These fish glow thanks to genetic modification and come in beautiful and patented shades of sunburst orange, cosmic blue, galactic purple, and electric green. 

Glofish sharks share some similarities with the great white sharks regarding temperament. These fish are aggressive and territorial. Therefore, keeping more than 1 glofish shark in the same tank is not recommended. They’ll fight to the death. 

Although glofish sharks have the look and temperament similar to true sharks, do you know they love eating algae? These are omnivore fish that love nibbling on some algae all the time. 

However, algae shouldn’t be the only source of food. You can feed them boiled veggies, pellets, flakes, worms, and crustaceans for a varied diet. 

Speaking of water parameters, the temperature should fall between 75-81 degrees C, the pH should be maintained between 6-8, and the general hardness should be stable somewhere between 5-11 dGH. 

Rainbow Shark 

Credit: MerlinSenger (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum 
  • Origin: Indochina 
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive 
  • Diet: Omnivore

Rainbow shark – what a pretty name, isn’t it? They’re just as pretty as their name. The body color is black, gray, or blue, accentuated with vibrant orange or red fins and a red/orange tail. 

Growing around 5-6 inches long, these fish, too, have a cylindrical body with a pointy snout, long but flat tummy, and upright dorsal fins. And this is why they’re known as ‘sharks.’ 

The tail is forked, while the dorsal fin has up to 11 branched rays. 

A rainbow shark’s temperament is hard to describe. It can differ from one fish to another. In the wild, they’re pretty docile and passive. However, in captivity, they display aggressive and territorial tendencies. Therefore, keeping more than 1 rainbow shark in the same tank is not recommended unless the tank is super big. 

These omnivore fish love to snack on insect larvae, zooplankton, algae, decaying plants, insects, and crustaceans. 

In the tank, you can give them pellets or flakes as a staple diet and occasionally fortify their diet with boiled veggies, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. 

The water temperature should be maintained between 72-79 degrees F, the acidity should clock in between 6.5-7.5, and the water hardness should be kept stable between 5-11 dGH. 

Albino Rainbow Shark

Credit: Verawald (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos frenatum
  • Origin: Indochina
  • Size: 5-6 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive 
  • Diet: Omnivore

Albino rainbow sharks are captive-bred cousins of the wild rainbow shark. As the moniker suggests, the body is a stunning shade of white, whereas the fins are colored bright red or orange. 

Like rainbow sharks, these fish have long, torpedo-shaped bodies with a pointed snout, upright dorsal fin, and a flat belly. All of these features lend them the signature shark-like look. 

When fully grown, albino rainbow sharks reach around 6 inches long. 

Their temperament is comparable to that of a captive-bred rainbow shark, meaning they’re just as aggressive and mean. Therefore, keeping more than 1 albino rainbow shark in the same tank is not a good idea. If you want to, you’d need a massive tank with plenty of strategically placed hiding places. 

In the wild, the rainbow shark is an omnivore who’s not picky about the choice of food. They snack on decaying plants, insects and their larvae, zooplankton, algae, and crustaceans. This same behavior is translated in captivity too. 

While it’s not very practical to cent percent replicate their diet from the wild, you must give them varied food for optimum nutrition. Supplementing the pellet/flake diet with occasional veggies, bloodworms, and brine shrimp sounds like a good idea. 

Although bred artificially in the tank, their water parameter needs are identical to that of a wild rainbow shark. The temperature should fall between 72-79 degrees F, pH should be maintained between 6.5-7.5, and the hardness should clock somewhere between 5-11 dGH. 

Flying Fox Shark

  • Scientific Name: Epalzeorhynchos kalopterus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore 

A fully grown flying fox fish is around 6 inches long. Their torpedo-shaped long bodies make them look like miniature sharks, complete with a flat belly and erect fins.

In terms of color, the dorsal area has a dark brown to olive shade. The lower half of the body has a beautiful yellowish-white hue, and a black line runs from the mouth to the caudal fin. 

Flying fox sharks have a peaceful temperament as long as they have plenty of space to themselves. They usually love keeping to themselves, making them great candidates for a mixed community tank with plenty of swimming space. 

However, it’s best to avoid bottom-dwelling species with these fish as they love spending most of their time at the base. 

In the wild, these fish primarily feed on algae. But in captivity, you should occasionally fortify their diet with sinking pellets, tubifex worms, crustaceans, and aquatic insects. 

The water parameter should be maintained between 73-81 degrees F, the pH should range between 6 to 7.5, and the general hardness should be maintained between 2 to 12 dGH. 

Harlequin Shark 

  • Scientific Name: Labeo cyclorhynchus variegata
  • Origin: Central Africa
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore

Harlequin sharks also grow only up to 6 inches long in captivity. These fish have a signature long and tapered body and stiff fins that make them look like tiny sharks. 

The dorsal fin comprises 12 soft rays with a prominent curve on the upper edge. 

The base body color is creamy yellow with black blotches or gray markings. These markings extend to their translucent fins and are pretty prominent when the fish are young but fade as they mature. 

When young, harlequin sharks spend most of their time hiding around. However, as they grow, they become increasingly territorial and aggressive. Therefore, you should be cautious about choosing their tankmates. They’re known to be particularly mean towards other fish that look like them. 

Harlequin sharks feed mainly on aufwuch, algae, detritus, and small critters in the wild. For the fish to develop the best colors, you should offer nutritious and varied meals consisting of food items like daphnia, artemia, and bloodworm. Of course, you can give good-quality pellets or flake food for a staple diet. 

As for water conditions, the temperature should fall between 70-81 degrees F, the pH should range between 6.0-7.5, and the general hardness should be stable in the 3-25 dGH range. 

Siamese Algae Eater 

Credit: Chiroptera man (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Crossocheilus oblongus
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Diet: Omnivore

Siamese algae eaters too grow 6 inches long as adults like most fish featured on our list today. They have a long and slender body, and honestly, that’s the only thing in common with true sharks. 

The fish is identified by the signature bold black line that runs over the entire length of the fish’s body – right from the nose to the tail. 

One interesting fact about their anatomy is that they don’t have the swim bladder common in most fish. Therefore, the fish needs to constantly move around, so it doesn’t sink to the bottom. 

Besides the black stripes, these fish are best known for their calm and gentle temperament. These characteristics make them a great addition to any community tank. They get along quite well with other fish in an enclosure. 

Since they don’t have a swim bladder and graze on algae, you’ll find them constantly moving from one place to another. 

Their diet mainly comprises different algae forms, phytoplankton, and periphyton in the wild. If the opportunity arrives, they also munch on dead fish and insects.

In the tank, you should ideally grow tropical algae that these fish love. However, that’s not the only thing they should eat. You need to fortify their diet with varied protein and plant-based food.

Lastly, the water temperature should be kept between 75-79 degrees F, the pH should fall between 6.5-8.0, and the water hardness should range between 5-20 dGH. 

Apollo Shark

Credit: OpenCage (CC License)

  • Scientific Name: Luciosoma spilopleura 
  • Origin: Thailand, Indonesia 
  • Size: 8-9 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore

I don’t want to sound vain, but I think apollo sharks are the prettiest fish on our list today. Growing over 9 inches long at max, these fish have a torpedo-shaped body, a pointed snout, and erect fins, making them look like scaled-down sharks. 

A bold black line runs vertically across their body, dividing it into two distinct shades. While the upper half of the body is slightly green, the lower half has a solid silver color. 

Deriving from what most aquarists think, these fish are used to fast life. They are peaceful and do well in community tanks, but they’re also very active fish. Thus, while choosing tankmates, you must find those that match an apollo shark’s energy level. 

Since these are schooling fish by nature, they do not fare well when kept alone. They should be kept at least in a group of 6-12. As for other tankmates, you can add bala sharks, gouramis, barbs, and tinfoils. 

Refrain from adding small fish in an apollo shark tank. Although small, these fish have a sharp predatory instinct. Thus, they’ll assume small fish as food. 

Since these fish remain active throughout the day, they need a generous serving of nutritious food daily. Apollo sharks are omnivores who love binging on both vegetable matter and meaty food. 

Besides the staple pellets and flakes, you can give them brine shrimp, bloodworms, blackworms, krill, and mosquito larvae. They also love tubifex. The fish should be fed twice a day. 

The water temperature should clock in between 72 to 81 degrees F, the pH should be maintained between 6.0-7.8, and the general hardness should be kept between 5-8 as these fish love soft water. 

Columbian Shark

  • Scientific Name: Arius jordani
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: 10 inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Diet: Omnivore 

Columbian sharks are the largest specimen on our list today, reaching up to 10 inches in length on average. Some specimens are even known to grow 14 inches long. 

These fish, too, have a long body, flat belly, and erect fins that make them look like fun-sized sharks.

The overall body has a silver-gray appearance, whereas the underside is white and the pectoral fins are black. 

An interesting fact about their anatomy is that their dorsal spines are connected to a venom-producing gland. Therefore, you need to err on the side of caution while cleaning the tank. 

These are schooling fish. Therefore, they don’t fare well when kept alone. You should aim to keep 4-6 of these fish together. Then, you can also observe their schooling behavior. 

Columbian sharks communicate through specific noises they make by rubbing their pectoral fins against their sockets. The friction produces a grinding and clicking noise. 

Like the rest of the fish featured on the list today, these fish are natural omnivores. They will readily accept both meaty and plant-based food. They mostly binge on smaller fish, carrions, insects, and crustaceans in the wild. 

In the tank, besides the regular pellets or flakes, give the fish nutritious live and frozen treats like brine shrimp, mussels, earthworms, brine shrimp, and bloodworms. 

Finally, the temperature should be maintained between 71-79 degrees F, the pH should fall between 6.8-8.5, and the general hardness should clock between 10-30 dGH. 

Bear in mind that while these fish survive in freshwater as juveniles, they will require saltwater as they mature. 

Final Words: Small Sharks For Fish Tank

So, we have come to the end of the article. I hope you aren’t disheartened that none of these are actual sharks and have made up your mind on what “shark” fish to bring home. 

It’s not just illegal to raise a marine shark at home; it also requires a tremendous amount of labor, time, and guts to raise the fish, whether it’s someone as big as a great white shark or someone as small as a Panama ghost catshark. 

All of the fish featured on our list bear some resemblance to the true sharks in terms of appearance and, sometimes, even temperament. 

Let us know if you’ve decided on any of these fish! Happy fishkeeping! 

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.