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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > The Catfish > Columbian shark
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the

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Colombian shark
Photo courtesy of Aquascape fish imports

Sciades seemanni (Arius seemani)


    Not one of the best choices in aquarium fish the Columbian shark is becoming more common in the trade. Freshwater when young and Brackish when mature the Columbian shark can reach a length of Two feet, although one foot is more the norm.

Quick stats:


    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: 12-14 + inches (30-35cm)
    Tank: 48 inches minimum for young
    Strata: Lower to middle
    PH: 6.8 to 8.0
    Hardness: Medium hard to hard, 8-30 dH
    Temperature: 75°F to 80°F (25-27°C)


    Order: Siluriformes
    Suborder: Siluroidei
    Family: Ariidae
    Genera: Arius
    Species: seemani

photo from Saint Germain tours
photo from Saint Germain tours


Common name:

    Columbian shark Silver-tipped Shark, Shark catfish, Bull shark

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Pacific Rivers from southern California to Colombia

General Body Form:

    The body is elongated and silver in color . The head is broad, with a large mouth. The eyes are large and protrude from the head. The Columbian shark possesses three pairs of barbels, one on the upper jaw and two on the lower area.


    Colombian shark
    photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus


    Not one of the most colorful of fish, the Columbian shark is a basic sliver in color with a white underside. The fins are black and white-tipped. The color contrasts fade with age.


    Although sold as a freshwater catfish, the Colombian shark is best suited for the Brackish aquarium. Like most Brackish species, the young are more tolerant of water conditions than the adults. The water should have some sea salt added and measure a salinity of 1.005 to 1.015. The tank itself must be very large with good filtration and water movement. The tank can be decorated in dark colors with a thin layer of sand. Use rockwork to create caves and other hiding places. They are a predatory fish and should be housed with species that cannot be eaten. Feeding is not a problem as they will accept all types of prepared food. Sinking pellets, live insects, earthworms and small fish are some of its favorites. They have a voracious appetite and if not well fed will harass the other tank mates.

    photo courtesy of Aqualand pets plus
    Colombian shark
    When kept in saltless water, Columbian sharks develop usually lethal skin conditions.


    Rivers and estuaries of their home range


    Has been observed in the wild, but not spawned in the aquarium. It takes places in brackish and freshwater river estuaries. Around 100 large-sized eggs are mouth-brooded by the male.

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Janine
I have had my Columbian Shark Catfish for about three years. He was one of the original fish I got when I first set up my aquarium. I originally had two, but one got a little too enthusiastic in his swimming one night and managed to leap out through a tiny opening. "Sharkie" is a beautiful fish and I love him, but recently he has eaten a couple of his tank mates; a molly and an American flagfish. He is currently in a 50 gallon aquarium. Specific Gravity of water is 1.006. He is about 5 inches long. I don't want him to go, but I think it is time he needs to move on to a bigger tank, with higher salinity, and larger tank mates, preferably some other CSC he can swim with. I have been asking around, trying to find him a new good home where he'll be happy and well taken care of with no luck. I just saw the post on this forum dated 5/6/16 from Weston. I think "Sharkie" would be a great addition to his tank(s) and he sounds very knowledgeable in how to care for these fish. I have no idea where Weston lives, but if it isn't too expensive I have no problem paying to ship "Sharkie" to him. I don't want money, I just want him to have a good home. Could you contact Weston and, if interested, could you pass on my name and email so he could contact me? Thank you.
From: Weston
I currently have 2 juvenile Colombian sharks close to 5 inches in length that I house with a few similar sized Monos and Scats in a 75 gallon brackish setup. I originally picked up three of these catfish however none of these fish were in the best of conditions when I got them and one didn't make the transition from fresh water to brackish along with one of my three Scats. These fish have been great up to this point, since I've gotten them healthy and they have put some size back on, they are all good eaters and growing fast together however the catfish have been growing slightly faster then their tankmates I doubt they will become large enough to eat or harm these fish anytime soon but if keeping with the wrong stock these guys definitely could outgrow small fish and become a problem. I plan to switch this tank over to full marine conditions once these fish have a little more size on them and upgrade to a 6 ft tank at least. When first researching I thought all my plans and actions were great but could still be better after reading these comments I'm wondering weather or not anyone even knows these catfish and their needs it seems like hardly any of the individuals who commented before me followed correct husbandry or even tried to meet the needs of these fish and I'm assuming IF their fish didn't die, their live expectancy was cut extremely short. Please research and provide for or return your fish if you purchase these without the proper tank the fish doesn't deserve to die. Thanks
From: Paul
I purchased this fish from a local fish store, where it was just described as another catfish. Size was not specified and I really just wanted another bottom feeder for my community tank. Some platys turned up missing, no parts found in the tank, and I decided it must have been this newcomer as the culprit. I moved it to a larger tank in the house with a few of the semi-aggressive and I've had no losses so far. This website actually helped me identify what this fish actually was and gave me insight on why it was so aggressive. Do not house this fish with anything that will fit in its mouth, or close to fitting in its mouth. Double the size is really the size of tank mates it should have.
From: TheBrohem
I have two Colombian sharks, but I actually have them in a 55 gallon salt water tank. They are doing really well in there. I have had them for a little over a year now and though they can eat everything, they do not rule my tank, since they are in with a lot of semi-aggressive fish. They are not super big yet, but one is about 10 inches. They are an easy way to go from freshwater tanks to salt water tanks.
From: Scotty
I had my Colombian Shark (CS) for over five years. He grew to over 1 foot. When he got this size, he became very territorial and began stinging my blood parrot cichlids He also stung me when I was doing tank maintenance. CS's have a stinger in their top fin. I don't recommend them. They get too big and become very aggressive.
From: Tara
I have 2 silver tip sharks in a 55 gallon tank along with 1 algae eater, 1 angel fish, and 2 dojos. They all get along great but it is obvious who rules our tank. The dojos tend to hide from the sharks. We got them about a year ago when they were about 3" long, now they are 13" long and we are currently shopping for a 200 gallon tank. They are playful and beautiful fish. They are a lot of fun to watch. They will eat flakes, but have found that chicken liver is their favorite. Since we started feeding them the liver, they have grown 3" in the last 2 months.
From: Kevin
I have 5 Colombian Sharks in a 55 Gallon tank. I bought the sharks when they were only 3 inches long, now they are about 8 inches in length and love to eat tropical fish flakes. At first they didn't eat much, but my persistence paid off. Now they are swimming upside down to eat the flakes from the top of the water as the flakes are floating. They are absolutely in love with the flakes and eat 3 times a day. I'm trying to grow them to full length as soon as possible and to do that I need to feed them often (I feed my Colombian Sharks during meal times). I keep my Colombian Sharks in my aquarium with some aquarium salt and with 1 Silver Bala Shark. When I first purchased my sharks I did not put salt in the water and noticed the sharks were not active. After putting in the correct amount of salt (not too much) the sharks became more active.
From: Ray Kilgore
Recently I purchased a c-shark for my girlfriend on a whim not one I usually go on. I breed angels and discus and decided to throw this sleek 4 incher in not worrying overly for my largish fish in my 100gal tank. Boy was I sad when my smaller fish starting disappearing along with several convicts (which overly surprised me if u know about convicts u know why). When one of my overly feather finned angels turned up half dead I had to remove this one to a tank of his own. A beautiful fish but one that needs his own tank to be king for sure. If your going to keep one of these guys make sure to place them with larger fish of a aggressive variety for sure. (btw I managed to save my angels tho the convicts and some cichlid - golden rams are forever lost).
From: Ady
Definitely, a crazy fish with a style of it's own. I got 4 CS's in 46G tank with one rainbow shark, small pleco and a raphael catfish. Feed them everything from mutton, chicken, bloodworms, plankton, brine shrimp etc. They get really aggressive with each other and act territorial taking up the 4 corners of the tank. They're about 4 inches but I will most certainly need a larger tank in the near future. Not to forget to add sea salt for these guys are brackish water type, I have approx. 3tbsp per 5 gallons and keep increasing that everytime I do water changes(biweekly).
From: Eric
I have 3 Colombian sharks bought a year ago at 2". They are now 7.5". They live happily in my 90 gallon tank with 3 balas, 3 clown loaches, 3 albino cories, 2 gold gouramis, 1 pink gourami (kissing fish), 4 Australian rainbows, 1 pleco, and a blue lobster. They all get along well. The only one who chases is the kissing fish and the albinos. I think the kisser thinks they are same species. I feed them a large variety of food. Frozen foods are mysis shrimp, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, blood worms, plankton, and beefheart. I also feed sinking carnivore pellets, shrimp pellets, tropical crisps, dried krill, other treats and recently live ghost shrimp. I added a figure 8 puffer to my tank which died in a week, but it bit a hole in the head of one of my Colombians. It swam around with a flap of skin hanging from it's forehead and you could see it's skull. I felt so bad. To mention the health of my fish, it completely healed in 6 days. No scar. I love my sharks and I have gotten one to eat from my hand. Any questions e-me at
From: Eddie
I have had two Colombian Sharks for about 16 months now. They have grown from about 1.5 inches to about 9 inches. They love each others company. I have gouramis, clown loaches, a pleco, and a cory cat in a 55 gallon tank with them. Any small fish will get eaten, but they do not bother any of the larger fish. They are great fish to watch. Everyone that comes to visit is fascinated by them. I feed them sinking shrimp pellets in the morning. At night, I alternate between frozen brine shrimp, frozen blood worms, and frozen beef heart. They occasionally get some small fish to eat, but not too often. I perform 20% water changes twice a week. Every three weeks, I add aquarium salt - one tablespoon per five gallons. This makes the salinity fluctuate as I have heard occurs in the wild when they swim in the ocean and rivers.
From: Paul
A great fish, best kept in groups of at least three, but you are going to need a very big tank for them when they grow. Take care not to overfeed as they will eat as much as they can get and this can cause health problems, particularly when first introducing them and changing their diet.
From: Michael
Great looking fish, a good fish to keep. I keep mine in a species only tank, currently holding 5 sharks at about 8 inches each. Remember to add lots of salt as the mature right up to full saltwater if you like. Feed lots of meaty foods. I started mine off on guppies when the sharks were about 2 inches and have moved up to comet goldfish feeders. I find this brings some life to the fish, and showcases the fishes natural predatory instinct. Be careful though, as feeding live fish can and most likely will increase the fishes aggressiveness to the point where any new comer added to the established tank will be considered prey, small or large. I've experienced this first hand as I have kept this species of shark for about 10 years. Once you start them on a monthly diet of live fish they will attack and kill any other fish you attempt to put in the tank, I've had them kill: 1 oscar, 1 redtail shark, 1 electric yellow and 1 pacu, all of these fish being almost double the sharks size. However this behavior is only contributed to a columbain shark species tank ONLY. Keeping one or two will not induce this aggressiveness. All and all great fish to have.
From: Casey
I bought this fish and fell in love with it, even though it ate all of my neons. I now keep it in a tank with a three spotted gourami and they get along great. I feed him small guppies and he is growing quickly. But I am giving him away to someone with a salt water tank. I have converted him from a brackish water to salt and he seems to love it. This is a great fish for a tank with other fish that can not be eaten.
From: Kye
I have two columbian sharks in a species only tank-they are great-I love to watch them -they have so much fun......I have had them for about 3 months and they have grown at least an inch-I feed them pellets and flakes-but am getting them onto neon tetras this week, I cannot wait to get a larger tank for them then I would like to add a couple more- they are growing rapidly, they are definitely my fav to watch and I have alot of diff species of fish-I would love to converse with another shark owner/lover -my addy is





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