The Fish Guru

All About Iridescent Sharks: Care Guide Habitat Tank Mates and More

Iridescent Shark

Care Guide

Have you ever considered keeping an Iridescent Shark in your aquarium? Also known as the Pangasius Catfish, these sleek and vibrant fish are a common sight in many pet stores.

They have a unique appearance, a peaceful temperament, and are relatively easy to care for. However, before you bring one home, it is essential to understand their characteristics, behavior, habitat, aquarium setup, tank conditions, tank mates, feeding requirements, and proper care.

In this article, we will guide you through all you need to know to successfully care for an Iridescent Shark.

Characteristics and Behavior

Iridescent Sharks belong to the Pangasiidae family and are native to the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia. They have a long, streamlined body that can grow up to 3 feet in length in the wild, but only reaches around 10-15 inches in captivity.

Their color varies from silver to dark grey, with a metallic luster that gives them their distinctive iridescent appearance. They also have four large sensory barbels on their upper lip that help them navigate their environment and locate food.

As for their behavior, Iridescent Sharks are timid and prefer to be kept in a school of at least six individuals. They are nocturnal and will often hide during the day, relying on their hypersensitive sensory organs to detect any changes in their surroundings.

However, they are not aggressive, making them a great addition to a community tank.

Habitat and

Aquarium Setup

Iridescent Sharks are riverine fish and require a tank that replicates their natural environment. A minimum tank size of 100 gallons is suggested, with ample swimming space and hiding spots.

Adding rocks, driftwood, and artificial plants provides visual barriers that help reduce stress for your Iridescent Shark. It is essential to maintain a gentle current in the tank, as Iridescent Sharks are adapted to slow-moving waters.

Therefore, choosing a filter that creates a soft-water flow and allows for high oxygenation is crucial.

Tank Conditions

Iridescent Sharks prefer soft, acidic water with a pH range of 6.5-7.5. The ideal temperature for keeping this species is 72-82F. It is important to change 10-20% of the water weekly to maintain good water quality, reduce the risk of disease and stress, and promote healthy growth.

The substrate should be fine sand or smooth gravel, as these fish like to sift through the substrate in search of food.

Tank Mates

Iridescent Sharks are peaceful fish and get along well with other large, peaceful species like Silver Dollars, Plecos, Tinfoil Barbs, and Bala Sharks. Avoid keeping them with smaller fish, as they may view them as prey and attack them.

Iridescent Sharks do not tolerate aggressive fish and will become stressed if housed with them.

Feeding Iridescent Sharks

Iridescent Sharks are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet. Offer them a balanced diet of high-quality pellets, frozen, and live foods.

Bloodworms, brine shrimp, krill, and chopped earthworms are some excellent options. The barbels on their upper lips are highly sensitive and help them find food by detecting vibrations in the water.

Therefore, it is essential to maintain good water quality and keep the barbels clean to avoid any infection.

Care Guide

Like any living creature, Iridescent Sharks can get sick, and it is essential to identify the symptoms early to prevent spreading and maintain good health. Keep a close eye on your fish’s behavior and watch for signs of illness such as a lack of appetite, lethargy, discoloration, and abnormal swimming patterns.

Quarantine any new fish for at least 2 weeks to ensure they are disease-free before introducing them into your main tank. Breeding Iridescent Sharks in captivity is difficult, but not impossible.

They reach sexual maturity at around 2-3 years of age, and the breeding process requires specific water conditions and a separate breeding tank.


In conclusion, Iridescent Sharks are fascinating fish to own and care for. They have unique sensory organs, prefer the company of their own kind, and enjoy a varied diet.

Knowing how to maintain good water quality, what to feed them, and how to spot signs of illness is crucial in ensuring your Iridescent Shark lives long and healthy life. With patience, love, and care, keeping Iridescent Sharks in your aquarium can be a rewarding experience.

Habitat and

Aquarium Setup

Iridescent Sharks are native to the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia and prefer deep, slow-moving rivers. In the wild, they spend most of their time swimming in the middle water column, using their barbels to sift through the substrate in search of food.

They prefer open swimming spaces, so when it comes to aquarium setup, it is essential to replicate their natural environment as much as possible.

Aquarium Setup

Iridescent Sharks are active swimmers and require a tank that is longer than it is tall. A minimum tank size of 100-150 gallons is recommended for a group of six or more individuals.

They require plenty of open swimming space to move around freely, and planting the aquarium heavily is not necessary. Adding rocks, driftwood, and artificial plants provides visual barriers that help reduce stress for your Iridescent Shark.

They also provide ‘territories’ for individual sharks and help reduce aggression in the aquarium. Provide hiding spots like caves or tunnels for each shark as they require their own space to retreat and acclimate to new surroundings.

While Iridescent Sharks require a gentle current, they must not be so strong that it creates high turbulence in the water. Too much current can cause them to strain and weaken from swimming against it constantly.

Thus, choosing a filter that creates a soft-water flow and allows for high oxygenation is crucial.

Tank Conditions

Water Parameters

Maintaining stable water parameters is incredibly important for the overall health and well-being of your Iridescent Sharks. They prefer soft, acidic water with a pH ranging from 6.5-7.5, with a water hardness between 2-6 dGH and 4-8 dKH.

It is recommended to use a water testing kit regularly to ensure the water parameters remain stable. Temperature is another critical factor in keeping Iridescent Sharks healthy.

Their ideal temperature range is 72-82F. Using a heater is essential in maintaining this temperature range and ensure that there are no rapid swings in temperature.

Filtration and Water Changes

Strong filtration is necessary for maintaining a healthy aquarium for your Iridescent Sharks. Investing in a powerful filter is essential, as Iridescent Sharks can produce a large amount of waste, making their aquarium dirty quickly.

Despite excellent filtration, it is imperative to change 10-20% of the water weekly to maintain good water quality, reduce the risk of disease and stress, and promote healthy growth. Use of a gravel vacuum during the water change process helps to rid the substrate of accumulated waste.

Disease and Treatment

Iridescent Sharks are relatively hardy, but like any fish, they can get sick and require treatment. Common diseases include skin fungus and ich, but many other health issues can arise due to poor water quality or stress.

Prevention of disease is the best approach. Regular water changes, excellent filtration, and maintaining stable water parameters are crucial in this task.

It is also essential the quarantine of new fish for at least 2 weeks before adding them to the main tank. In the worst-case scenario, certain medications can be used to treat diseases like funguses, bacterial infections, and parasites.

However, the use of medication should be done with caution and discretion, following the instructions on the package, and as guided by a veterinarian in the case of severe infections.


In conclusion, proper habitat and aquarium setup, tank conditions, and disease prevention is essential factors when it comes to maintaining a healthy Iridescent Shark aquarium. Replicating their natural habitat and providing the perfect water parameters is the foundation to keeping your Sharks happy and healthy.

Along with regular maintenance routine, and quarantine guidelines followed for new fish and caution while treating illness will ensure a beautiful display of Iridescent Sharks in your aquarium.

Tank Mates

One of the most important aspects of keeping Iridescent Sharks is choosing the right tank mates. Their peaceful temperament makes them an excellent addition to a community tank, as long as they are not housed with smaller fish that may become prey.

Suitable Fish

Plecostomus: Iridescent Sharks can share their aquarium with other catfish species, such as Plecostomus and Synodontis Catfish, who have similar temperaments. Silver Dollars: These peaceful, active fish are another great tank mate option for Iridescent Sharks.

They thrive in schools and are often kept with Iridescent Sharks in large community aquariums. Cichlids: Iridescent Sharks can exist peacefully with larger, peaceful cichlids such as Oscars and Green Terrors.

However, avoid keeping them with smaller cichlid species, as smaller fish species may become prey. Bichir: These prehistoric-looking fish coexist well with Iridescent Sharks as they swim at differing levels with their long, eel-like bodies.

Incompatible Fish

Tetras: Smaller fish like Tetras can become targets for Iridescent Sharks and make poor tank mates. As Iridescent Sharks are known to occasionally pick on smaller fish that may fit in their mouths, it is best to avoid them.

Danios: These small, active fish are not suitable tank mates for Iridescent Sharks because of their fast movements and small size. Barbs: Similar to Tetras, Barbs are active swimmers, but their small size poses them as possible prey to Iridescent Sharks.

Crustaceans: As Iridescent Sharks are opportunistic feeders, they may mistake crustaceans such as shrimp and crayfish as prey.

Feeding Iridescent Sharks

Iridescent Sharks are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet. They require food rich in protein to help them thrive, especially young Sharks who require more protein than adults for growth and development.

Omnivorous Diet

It is important to provide them with a balanced diet that includes high-quality dry food, frozen food, and live food. Good quality pellets should form the backbone of Iridescent Shark’s diet but supplemented with a range of live and frozen foods.

Feeders and Supplements

Bloodworms: These make an excellent additional diet to keep your Sharks healthy. Brine Shrimp: They are high in a protein and fatty acid- which helps keep your Sharks active and healthy.

Crickets and Worms: These can be provided as occasional treats. The Iridescent Shark can eat an adult cricket or earthworms whole, so it is good for their digestive system.

Live Feeder Fish: Another significant component to their diet is live feeder fish. Small, whole, live fish like Goldfish and Guppies make great feeders for your Iridescent Shark.

But keep in mind that, live feeder fish may carry the risk of disease and should be quarantined before feeding to Iridescent Sharks. Supplements: Adding vitamins to the fish’s diet can also help maintain their health and prevent disease.


In conclusion, choosing suitable and incompatible tank mates and offering an omnivorous, varied diet of high-quality fish food, live and frozen foods, and occasional cricket or earthworm treats will keep your Iridescent Sharks happy, healthy, and fed. Remember, while Iridescent Sharks have a reputation for being peaceful and industrious, they are still predators who enjoy opportunities for hunting or catching prey – choose their tank mates wisely and avoid overfeeding them.

When fed and kept well, Iridescent Sharks provide an aesthetically beautiful and peaceful addition to your aquarium.

Care Guide

Iridescent Sharks are fascinating fish to keep and observe. To ensure their longevity and good health, it is essential to provide them with the right care.

In this section, we will discuss how to care for Iridescent Sharks properly, including tank size and growth, conservation, and breeding.

Tank Size and Growth

When it comes to tank size and growth, it is essential to understand the difference between juvenile and adult Iridescent Sharks. Juvenile Iridescent Sharks can reach up to 4 inches within the first few months, while adults can grow up to 3 feet in the wild and around 10-15 inches in captivity.

This difference in size means that juveniles can be kept in a smaller aquarium initially, but they will quickly outgrow it. A minimum tank size of 100-150 gallons should be considered to accommodate the eventual size of adult Iridescent Sharks.

It is also important to note that Iridescent Sharks grow fast; therefore, regular water changes and filtration are necessary to maintain high water quality. Falling behind on maintenance can lead to stunted growth, which puts a strain on their organs, lowers immunity, and reduces their life expectancy.

Conservation and Breeding

Iridescent Sharks are native to the Mekong River Basin, where they play a vital role in the ecosystem. They migrate to specific locations during certain seasons and move through the lower Mekong during the rainy season to spawn.

However, hydropower development, overfishing, and the destruction of river habitats have significantly impacted their population. In recent years, there have been several international efforts to preserve Iridescent Sharks and restore their habitats.

As a responsible aquarium owner, you should learn about the issues surrounding the conservation of this species, and your support towards conservation efforts can contribute to the protection of these beautiful fish. Breeding Iridescent Sharks in captivity is challenging, and most commercially available juveniles are caught from the wild.

However, captive breeding will not only reduce pressures on their wild populations but also provides an opportunity to observe their life cycle and behaviors. Notably, no evidence says captive-bred specimens carry significant health or behavioral issues.

When it comes to breeding, it is essential to maintain good water quality and provide a separate breeding tank. The breeding tank should include a breeding cone, which provides a suitably dark location for the female to deposit her eggs.

After the breeding process is completed, the parents should be separated from the eggs, and a rotifer-based feeding regimen is recommended for newborn fry.


Iridescent Sharks are beautiful and fascinating fish to keep and care for in the aquarium. Recognizing their natural habitat, growth conditions, tank mates, and unique behaviors are crucial to maintaining a healthy environment that will enhance the experience of Iridescent Shark keeping.

As an aquarist, it is important to recognize our responsibility in helping to preserve the species and its natural ecosystem, keeping your Iridescent Sharks healthy, and understanding their behaviors and breeding habits will ensure these fish thrive in captivity, providing us with a living window into their underwater world. In conclusion, proper care for Iridescent Sharks in the aquarium requires an understanding of their characteristics, behavior, habitat, and feeding requirements, as well as providing an adequate aquarium setup and selecting suitable tank mates.

Maintaining proper tank conditions, disease prevention, and responsible conservation efforts also play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of these fish. As a responsible aquarist, it is essential to learn about their natural habitat, growth conditions, and unique behaviors, and recognize the importance of preserving their species and natural ecosystem.

By following these guidelines, we can provide a healthy and thriving environment for these beautiful, iridescent fish to display their natural behaviors and bring joy to any aquatic enthusiast.

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