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What is a bamboo shark?

Another species of shark is the Hasselt bamboo cat shark, widely known among avid fans of aquarium fish. Hasselt's young sharks look very impressive - a dark, almost black satin body with transverse stripes and light spots.

However, the existence of this shark, as a separate species, is called into question by some zoologists. The main arguments are a great external and anatomical resemblance to the species Chiloscyllium griseum - a gray bamboo shark. These two species of cat sharks differ only in the body color of young individuals. What systematizers will come to a decision, we will sooner or later find out, but for now we will consider the Hasselt shark a special kind of bamboo selahii.


Hasselt's bamboo shark lives in the Malay Archipelago, Indonesia, in the southern coastal areas of the Indochina Peninsula. Prefers coastal shallow water with natural shelters - stones, coral buildings, algae and covered with soft soils (sandy, silty-sandy).

This shark can be found in the coastal waters of countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo, Vietnam, near the islands and coral reefs of the Malay archipelago.

A small species of sharks. The maximum recorded length of an individual is 78 cm. The average size is 45-55 cm.

Hasselt's feline bamboo shark has an elongated, lumpy body with a relatively large rounded head. The nostrils are located far from the tip of the snout. Under the nostrils, a pair of short antennae, thanks to which the family "earned" the name feline. The eyes are medium sized, located high, behind the eyes, a little lower and behind - large splashes. The mouth is small, located just below the tip of the snout. The teeth are small, wide, two- or three-vertex - the middle apex is larger than the lateral.

Dorsal fins skeletal, front and rear almost the same size. Dorsal fins strongly shifted towards the back of the body. The pectoral fins are small, wide and round, starting under the second or third gill slits, i.e. shifted forward. The ventral fins are similar in appearance and size to the pectoral ones. Anal fin long, extending to caudal. The caudal fin with an atrophied lower lobe, has a shallow ventral incision near the tip.
On the back and sides there are mild skin ridges.
The dorsal color of the Hasselt bamboo shark is dark brown with small bright spots. In young individuals, transverse light brown spots are pronounced, which fade with age and the color of the shark becomes less colorful. The ventral side is light to white.

The basis of the diet consists of bottom invertebrates (mollusks, sea snakes and worms, crustaceans, etc.), as well as fish trifles.

Behavioral Features

Hasselt's bamboo shark is a typical bottom predator. More active at night, prefers to relax in natural shelters during the day. For food production, it uses, among other senses, a tactile antennae and a buccal pump to capture prey.
Easily splits shells of mollusks and shells of crustaceans with teeth adapted for these purposes.

Threat of extinction

In 2009, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) rated the status of the Hasselt feline shark as vulnerable and in need of protection.
The main factors influencing population decline are habitat pollution, capture for food and keeping in aquariums.
It takes root well in captivity.

Will the shark fit in my living room?

Sharks come in a variety of lengths and sizes. Some sharks reach a length of 15 cm, and some may be 15 meters. There is one misconception that occurs among inexperienced shark enthusiasts. It consists in the erroneous opinion that young sharks do not grow in small aquariums, but this is not so at all. And frankly, this is utter nonsense. However, there are situations when small sharks live in very small aquariums. According to some reports, one woman even contained 5 sharks in an aquarium with a length of about 1 meter. However, if such sharks grow under normal conditions, they need an aquarium much larger.

Types of Bamboo Shark

If someone is going to keep a shark in a small aquarium, then only a couple of species may be suitable for this. One of them is an epolithic shark. Jungle lovers may like another name, because it is called a spotted bamboo shark. Usually, in order to keep them at home, you may need an aquarium of one thousand liters. At first glance it seems that this is a lot, but it will not take more than one cubic meter of the volume of the room.

Also, many do not understand that fish such as a bamboo shark must live in a large enough tank to feel comfortable. A bamboo shark cannot swim in only two directions: backward or forward.

Bamboo shark (like many other types of sharks, for example, aquarium bamboo shark) are very tenacious fish, so some use this feature to buy small and cramped aquariums. It should be understood that in poor conditions they (including a bamboo shark, a bamboo cat shark) will not last long, not to mention their offspring (a bamboo shark egg needs clean water).

Asian cat sharks

This small shark family includes two genera that combine 16 species of predators. Asian feline sharks should not be confused with real feline sharks, which belong to the order of karharinovye selahii. Between these families of fish are only distant family ties. Asian cat sharks belong to the Wobbegon-shaped selahii.

The appearance of these small marine fish is quite complacent: an elongated, lumpy body, often variegated, with small fins and a rounded and relatively large head. At the tip of the snout, near the nostrils, these predators have short antennae, which are the organs of touch. As befits bottom sharks, they all have spiracles (spatter).
Bamboo sharks do not at all resemble swift and bloodthirsty predators, the image of which is entrenched in the human subconscious under the word "shark."

All Asian cat sharks are bottom dwellers, spending most of their lives in the lowest layers of the sea. Here they use a motley body color to mask among algae and bottom soil, hunting for their favorite prey - small bottom animals, for example, sea worms, crustaceans, mollusks of various types and species, as well as small bony fish. For humans, these creatures do not pose a danger - they are too small to cause a serious wound with teeth. And the nature of bamboo predators is not aggressive. The maximum sizes of these fish rarely exceed a meter mark.

Asian cat sharks are highly survivable and have the ability to remain active outside water for a long time. Perhaps these small predators have well-developed skin respiration, helping them survive in the air. Without water, some species of these sharks can do up to 12 hours.
All of them reproduce by oviposition, like reptiles and birds.
All Asian cat sharks live in the warm regions of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, not found in the Atlantic and in cool latitudes.
More often they are found in tropical latitudes, in shallow water, in the Indo-Pacific region. They live in the tropical seas of the western Indo-Pacific - from Madagascar in the west, to Japan, the Philippines and the Australian region in the east.
Almost all species are endemic to limited habitats.

To the family of Asian cat sharks belong:

The genus Hemiscyllium, or epaulette shark.
These sharks were called "epaulettes" for the presence on the sides of the body (behind the head) of large dark spots with a light fringing, reminiscent of epaulets. The species of these sharks have much in common in color, differing only in the size and location of spots on the body.

  • Indonesian Carpet Shark - Hemiscyllium freycineti (Quoy & Gaimard, 1824)
  • Walking Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium galei (Allen & Erdmann, 2008)
  • Papuan Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium hallstromi (Whitley, 1967)
  • Triton Bay Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium henryi (Allen & Erdmann, 2008)
  • Milne Bay Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium michaeli (G. R. Allen & Dudgeon, 2010)
  • Ocular epaulette shark - Hemiscyllium ocellatum (Bonnaterre, 1788)
  • New Guinean Carpet Shark - Hemiscyllium strahani (Whitley, 1967)
  • North Australian Speckled Shark - Hemiscyllium trispeculare (Richardson, 1843)

The genus Chiloscyllium unites 8 species of small bottom sharks, which are often called bamboo sharks. The body color of these predators often includes transverse stripes against the general background of the body, but there are also species that have a low-contrast color. Especially colorful and brightly colored young individuals of Asian cat sharks. With age, their color becomes more monotonous.
A distinctive feature of Asian cat sharks is the underdeveloped and narrow caudal fin, and the pectoral fins, on the contrary, are very well developed. Many Asian cat sharks use pectoral and abdominal fins for support during daytime rest and even bottom movement.

  • Arabian or Persian cat shark - Chiloscyllium arabicum (Gubanov, 1980)
  • Burmese bamboo shark - Chiloscyllium burmensis (Dingerkus & DeFino, 1983)
  • Blue Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium caerulopunctatum (Pellegrin, 1914)
  • Gray Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium griseum (Muller & Henle, 1838)
  • Hasselt's Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium hasseltii (Bleeker, 1852)
  • Graceful or Indonesian bamboo shark - Chiloscyllium indicum (Gmelin, 1789)
  • White-spotted bamboo shark - Chiloscyllium plagiosum (Bennett, 1830)
  • Brown Shark - Chiloscyllium punctatum (Muller & Henle, 1838)

One of the characteristic representatives of the genus of epaulette sharks (Hemiscyllium) - walking epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium galei) This small predatory fish lives only in some areas of Papua New Guinea, being endemic to these places.
This shark was called “walking” or “walking” for its ability to move along the bottom, using pectoral and abdominal fins as legs. It is amusing to watch how a predator quickly moves on its legs-flippers, wriggling with its whole body, like a lizard. By the way, this shark also knows how to swim.
A walking (walking) shark lives at a shallow depth (not more than 4 meters), preferring shallow water, where water only slightly covers its body. For living, he selects sites near reefs.
The walking shark is a very small predator - its record size barely exceeds a half-meter mark. From other epaulette sharks, it is distinguished by the presence of subtle dark stripes around the body and the alternation of white rounded spots with black spots on the back. In related species, white spots are usually absent.
It feeds on small bottom prey, which is composed of invertebrates and larvae of marine animals. If you are lucky, you can grab a gaping fish.

Asian cat sharks are rarely found in home aquariums. They are demanding on the volume of water for living. For a young individual, an aquarium of at least 500 liters is required, with age - even more. However, they are quite common in aquariums, because they tolerate bondage well and have a beautiful appearance.
As we already know, Asian cat sharks do not pose a threat to humans, are unpretentious, safe, sometimes even eaten with their hands.

Relatively recently, in 2008, the species was discovered the epaulette shark Triton Bay.
She lives, like most epaulette sharks, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, living in the shallow areas of coral reefs, not far from the coastline.
The Triton Bay shark lifestyle has not been sufficiently studied, but it can be assumed that it differs little from the lifestyle of related species.
This is a small shark, the largest instance of which barely exceeded 80 cm in length. The body color of the predator is beautiful - dark, almost black spots are scattered on the tan background, and epaulettes in the form of double black spots with a light narrow rim flaunt behind the head (on the “shoulders”).

The gray bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium griseum) is another species of predatory fish of the genus Chiloscyllium of the Asian cat shark family.
This shark has two dorsal fins without spines, strongly shifted to the tail, the anal fin is also located close to the caudal fin.
Young individuals have dark brown stripes on the body and head, adults are solidly colored in gray or light brown. Body length reaches 0.75 m.
It lives in the coastal waters of the North Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf.
It feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates.
Propagated, like all bamboo sharks, egg-laying.
It does not pose a danger to a person, but can bite if disturbed.

Another characteristic representative of Asian cat sharks is the brown-striped bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum) This is a medium-sized bottom shark with a massive flattened head, on the upper side of which large bulging eyes are located. In adult sharks, the posterior margin of the pectoral fin is straight or slightly concave. The anal fin is shifted back, and almost closely adjoins the caudal. On the lower lobe of the caudal fin closer to the apex there is a triangular notch.
Young individuals are characterized by a pattern of wide dark transverse stripes on a light background, often between the bands a certain amount of large scattered spots is noticeable. With age, the bands blur and gradually disappear, leaving room for a plain reddish or light brown color.
Females reach a length of 105 cm, males - up to 120cm.
Distributed in the Indian and Western Pacific. It occurs from the coasts of India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore to Japan, the Philippines and Northern Australia.

It lives on coastal coral reefs. Often it can be found in puddles remaining after low tide. Thanks to this, it is accustomed to drying, can withstand more than 12 hours without water.
Leads a secretive nocturnal solitary lifestyle, usually hiding in the cracks and caves on the reef during the day.
It produces food on soft soils, probing the soil with antennae and sucking prey from coral chips and sand. The basis of the diet is invertebrates, but on occasion this brown-striped bamboo shark does not refuse small fish.

Due to their relatively small size and sedentary lifestyle, these sharks are often kept in large demonstration aquariums. For one individual, a volume of 1000 liters is required. The scenery in the aquarium, forming a variety of shelters for sharks, should be combined with free areas of the bottom. Good filtration is required, water temperature 24–26 degrees C *.
The diet of bamboo sharks consists of various seafood of animal origin. Usually, frozen shrimps are used to feed these sharks: squid, crustacean, bivalve mollusks, and also sea fish fillets.

Bamboo and epaulette sharks can be kept with other medium-sized bottom sharks, such as some species of cat sharks. In one spacious aquarium with a large number of shelters, several individuals of the same species can get along. With large sharks and other large active predators, they should not be settled. As neighbors, fast, able to stand up for themselves, but not aggressive pelagic fish, for example angels, surgeons, karanks, snappers, are suitable.

Choose an aquarium

Some tell stories about how one person bought a large aquarium and installed it. After that, the aquarium flooded not only the office, but also the house. This means that performing accurate technical calculations is very important. The aquarium must withstand a lot of pressure so that there are no such emergencies.

Shark buyers are often forced to choose between glass and acrylic. These are the materials that make aquariums. Glass weighs more than acrylic, but is easier to clean. However, acrylic also has its own advantage, which is that acrylic is not afraid of mechanical damage, but there is also a minus: it can easily be scratched.

Which sharks are best for home?

This is an urgent issue for many people. There are a lot of species of sharks, so answering this question is quite difficult. You need to choose based on your financial capabilities, otherwise the aquarium will not be in a very good position: the fish will be crowded and uncomfortable. Bamboo shark is the most suitable species for home living. She gets along well with humans, uses artificial feed, is not afraid of enclosed spaces.

This article should be the source of information that will be noted for many people who want to become owners of aquarium sharks. Someone might conclude that sharks are not for them. Such a conclusion will not only save money, but also save the lives of these predatory fish, which is very difficult to live in cramped home conditions.