Aquarium fish that look like sharks are Bala Sharks, Rainbow Sharks, Albino Rainbow Sharks, Silver Apollo Sharks, Columbian Sharks, Roseline Torpedo Sharks, and Violet Blushing Sharks. Other fish that look like sharks but can’t be kept in aquariums are Bowmouth Guitarfish, Black Sharkminnow, Mekong Giant Catfish, etc.
Let’s learn more about these fish.
Shark-Like Fish That You Can Keep In Aquariums
Many aquarists want to keep shark-like fish in their aquarium.
There are numerous shark-like fish, mainly from the Shark Catfish family, also known as Pangasiidae.
Below are the most prominent aquarium fish that share similar looks or behavior to actual sharks.
Bala Shark belongs to the Cyprinidae family. It’s also known as Silver Shark, Tricolor Sharkminnow, Tricolor Shark, or Shark Minnow.
Bala Sharks are found in the midwater depths of large and medium-sized rivers and lakes.
These fish resemble a shark because of their body shape, fins, and silver coloration.
Bala Sharks are one of the favorites when it comes to keeping shark-like fish in aquariums due to their hardy nature.
They can tolerate variations in temperature, pH, and other factors.
These fish grow up to 15 inches in length upon maturity. So a medium-sized tank is sufficient for a single Bala Shark.
If you are housing Bala Sharks in a large community tank, the tankmates shouldn’t be small-sized fish like Guppies, Platies, Mollies, and Tetras.
Rainbow Shark belongs to the Cyprinidae family. It’s also known as the Red-Finned Shark, Green Fringelip Labeo, Whitetail Shark Minnow, Rainbow Shark Minnow, Ruby Shark, and Whitefin Shark.
Rainbow Sharks are native to the basins of Chao Phraya, Maeklong in Indochina, Xe Bangfai, and the Mekong.
Compared to other shark species, these fish are relatively small, reaching up to 6 inches in length.
Many aquarists prefer Rainbow Sharks for their attractiveness. They have bright red fins and long bodies with dark gray to black scales.
These fish are primarily shy when they are small. However, they can become aggressive upon maturity.
Since they are bottom-dwellers, housing them with top-dwelling fish such as Danios and Barbs is a good idea.
Albino Rainbow Shark
The Albino Rainbow Sharks are a variety of Rainbow Sharks.
They are similar to Rainbow Sharks in size and shape, but their physical appearance differs slightly.
These fish have a white body, and their fins are pinkish-orange in color.
They are peaceful when kept in a group of 6 or more in home aquariums.
However, they may prey on smaller invertebrates and dwarf shrimp if kept in a community tank.
So keeping them in a large tank with a lot of territory for each fish can help curb their aggression.
Silver Apollo Shark
Silver Apollo Shark belongs to the Cyprinidae family.
You can find this fish in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It’s a rare fish that’s often mistaken for its larger relative, the Long-Finned Apollo Shark.
However, unlike most freshwater sharks, Silver Apollo Sharks have a pointed snout and very short barbels around their mouth.
Many aquarists prefer them due to their peaceful nature.
However, they need big aquariums as they can grow up to 9 inches.
Besides, they need to be kept in a group of 6 or more, and the tankmates need to be big enough to not fit in their mouths.
Columbian Shark belongs to the family Ariidae. They are found in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, and Nicaragua.
Their swimming pattern and appearance resemble sharks. You can keep them in captivity due to their peaceful nature.
These fish prefer living in brackish water.
So if you opt for Columbian Sharks, they need to be kept in brackish water during the early stages of their life.
Once they get bigger, you can transition them to a saltwater tank.
Roseline Torpedo Shark
Roseline Torpedo Shark is also known as Red-Lined Torpedo Barb or Denison Barb.
They are found in Indian rivers and fast-flowing hill streams of the Western Ghats.
They have a long, torpedo shape body with a base silver color.
These fish grow up to 6 inches on maturity, so they are classified as one of the smallest shark species suitable for home aquariums.
Besides, they are not aggressive when kept in a group of 6 or more.
Being omnivores, Roseline Torpedo Sharks feed on algae, insects, and small invertebrates in their natural environment.
So you can feed them diverse meaty protein and vegetable matter in captivity.
Violet Blushing Shark
Check out how Violet Blushing Sharks look over here.
Violet Blushing Shark belongs to the Cyprinidae family, native to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Myanmar.
These fish have a unique appearance.
They are colorless except for a violet color tint visible around the gills. Hence, they are called Violet Blushing Sharks.
These fish eat small crustaceans, worms, and algae in their natural habitat.
Violet Blushing Sharks are relatively docile fish when kept in captivity in a group of 5 or more.
They prefer soft gravel with some rocks and mild currents resembling a flowing river bed.
Fish That Look Like Sharks But Aren’t Suitable for Aquariums
Sharks are marine species. However, some shark-like fish live in freshwater and saltwater. They have a unique look that resembles actual sharks.
Given below are the fish that look like sharks but aren’t suitable for aquariums.
Bowmouth Guitarfish belong to the family Rhinidae.
They are found in the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific from East Africa to Papua New Guinea, north to Japan, and south to Australia.
This fish is a type of ray but is highly mistaken as a shark.
However, they have a distinctive shape that resembles a ray and a shark.
The front body of the Bowmouth Guitarfish is flat and wide like a ray.
In contrast, the rest of the body and the large dorsal fins are like a marine shark.
These fish feed on mollusks and crustaceans in their natural environment.
Besides, they are critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Black Sharkminnow belongs to the Minnows and Carp family. It is also known as Black Shark or Black Labeo.
These fish are mainly found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong River Basins, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Java, and Borneo.
Black Sharkminnow fish are not suited for home aquariums as they grow huge. Besides, they are highly aggressive.
If kept in captivity, they need at least a 200-gallon tank. The tank water also needs to be well-oxygenated.
Mekong Giant Catfish
Mekong Giant Catfish is a large and critically endangered species belonging to the Pangasiidae family.
These fish are native to the Mekong Basin in Southeast Asia and China.
They have a shark-like appearance due to their large head with low and wide-set eyes. In addition, they have a toothless gaping mouth.
Mekong Giant Catfish is gray on top with a pale belly. Unlike other fish, these fish are entirely scaleless.
They are now critically endangered due to pollution and overfishing. Sadly, only a few hundred of them are left in the wild.
Chinese High-Fin Banded Shark
The Chinese High-Fin Banded Sharks belong to the Catostomidae, native to the Yangtze River basin of China.
Young Chinese High-Fin Banded Sharks have brown bodies bearing three dark-colored slanting bands.
They mainly inhabit the main river sections, except during the spawning season when these fish migrate to relatively fast-flowing shallow headwaters.
The population of these fish has now declined drastically due to pollution, overfishing, and collection for the aquarium trade.
So they are now an endangered species on the Chinese list and are a state-protected species.
Moreover, these fish grow very large to about 1.35 m (4 feet 5 inches) long.
Therefore, they are mostly not preferred for home aquariums.
Iridescent Sharks belong to the family Pangasiidae, native to the rivers of Southeast Asia.
These fish have a distinctive appearance due to their shiny iridescent color.
Adult Iridescent Sharks are uniformly gray.
In contrast, the smaller ones have two black stripes — one along the lateral line and the second one below the lateral line.
These fish are not suitable for a home aquarium as they can grow up to 130 cm (4.3 feet) in length.
Also, these fish are accustomed to rivers and need ample space.
Moreover, they have poor eyesight. So they conceive any outside noise as a threat.
Check out how Harlequin Sharks look over here.
Harlequin Sharks belong to the Proscylliidae family.
They inhabit the lower and middle Congo River basin of the Republic of Congo. In addition, they are also found in the Ogowe River in Gabon.
These fish have intense coloration when they are small. However, their color fades a lot once they mature.
Harlequin Sharks resemble actual sharks due to their elongated body and stiff fins.
However, they are not ideal to be kept in captivity due to their highly aggressive nature. Besides, they prefer to be in solitude.
If you keep them in a community tank, these fish can attack other species, even other Harlequins.