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Chain Catshark

(Scyliorhinus retifer)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Moderate   • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 24"
• Minimum Tank Size: 180 gallons   • Water Conditions: 55-68° F, dKH 10-15, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.0-8.4
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Western Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea
• Family: Scyliorhinidae   • Species: Sharks   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Chain Catshark native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Chain Catshark is a slender, small bodied shark that is found in deep waters (200 to 2000 feet in depth) off the eastern coast of the United States down to the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean Sea. Chain Catsharks or as they are also referred to as Chain Dogfish have been showing up within the aquarium hobby more and more due to their attractive "shark like" appearance and relative small size.

Since Chain Catsharks only reach an adult size of around 2 feet, they can be comfortably kept in many common aquarium sizes ranging from 180 to 300 gallons. They are also a slow swimming species that is used to living in and around rocky areas of the ocean bottom and can effectively maneuver around rock formations in the aquarium environment.

Their wide range of habitat ranging from the northern Atlantic waters (50°) to Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean waters (68°) has conditioned the Chainshark to a wider range of water temperatures than many small shark species. The depth at which Chain Catsharks live does moderate the difference in water temperatures from the far northern and southern extremes of their habitat, thus a temperature range of 55° to 66° is recommended for keeping Chain Catsharks in an aquarium environment.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Chain Catshark in the home aquarium.

As Chain Catsharks are a deep water species they are more accustomed to cooler water temperatures ranging from 55-68°, in the aquarium environment it is best to keep them in water around 68° as this will allow them to be housed with other more commonly available fish species used to warmer temperatures and still provide them with a water temperature they can tolerate. The modest size (for a shark) and the natural habitat of rocky areas of ocean floor make the Chain Catshark a good species for large aquarium setups. As with other Shark species an aquarium housing a Chain Catshark should have a well covered top to prevent the shark from jumping out.

Strong biological and chemical filtration is also essential to keep up with the bio-load of thick bodied 2 foot long adult specimen. The aquarium substrate should be sand or a sand mix so that the shark does not scratch or injure its underside while swimming along the bottom, as this can create open sores which lead to infections and possibly death. Chain Catsharks are only aggressive towards fish or inverts that they see as food items (small enough to fit in their mouths), so they should be kept with other similarly sized fish species. Caution should be taken when housing sharks with particularly aggressive large Angelfish or Triggerfish as they are known to pick at the fins of small sharks.

Chain Catsharks are Oviparous breeders with egg cases being laid in pairs, typically once or twice a month. The female will swim around the object the egg is laid on until the egg capsule tendrils are securely fastened and the egg is secured in place. 44 to 52 eggs may be laid during each breading season. Egg capsules are vaguely rectangular ovoid's measuring 1 inch x 2 inches in size. Chain Catshark eggs are harvested for the aquarium trade and have been known to successfully hatch within the aquarium.

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Chain Catshark.

Chain Catsharks feed primarily on deep water prey such as small fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods, ranging from crabs, shrimp, mollusks, clams, squid and small fish. In the home aquarium they will readily accept raw marine seafood's including: shrimp, small fish, chopped fish, clams, scallops, squid, mollusks or other similar uncooked marine meaty foods.

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