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Leopard Shark

(Triakis semifasciata)

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 Quick Care Facts

• Care Level: Expert   • Temperament: Semi-Aggressive   • Maximum Size: 66"
• Minimum Tank Size: 6500 gallons   • Water Conditions: 62-75° F, dKH 8-12, sg 1.020-1.025, pH 8.1-8.4
• Diet: Carnivore   • Origin: Pacific, Oregon to Mexico
• Family: Triakidae   • Species: Sharks   • Aquarium Type: Fish Only

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Native Habitat and Species Information

Leopard Shark native habitat, distribution, behavior & aquarium compatibility.

The Leopard Shark is unique in the aquarium hobby in that it maintains the classic shark look of its larger more aggressive cousins, while still maintaining an adult size that is manageable in a large aquarium environment. In fact if fed properly a Leopard Shark can take close to 10 years to reach its adult size, making it suitable for many large marine aquariums. Leopard Sharks are often sold as juveniles ranging from 10 to 14 inches in size and can over time (8 to 10 years) reach sizes of 5 to 6 feet depending on sex.

While the Leopard Shark is an aggressive species, it is very compatible with other large marine species such as, large angelfish, triggers, groupers and large tangs. While the Leopard Shark will appreciate some rockwork in the aquarium, it is important to provide lots of open swimming room as this species is an avid swimmer that swims continuously, even when sleeping.

Being true Sharks, Leopard Sharks are very powerful and should not be underestimated in both their ability to jump from a improperly secure aquarium or their ability to topple loosely constructed rockwork within the aquarium. Overall, the Leopard Shark is a very interesting and rewarding species, but one that should be treated with a lot of care.

Leopard Sharks are a very distinctive species with their leopard like pattern and classic shark shape. Unlike many sharks found commonly in the aquarium trade, the Leopard Shark has the classic shark shape more commonly associated with larger more aggressive species. Leopard Sharks can attain adult sizes of 5' for males and 6' for females; they are not overly bulky and have a very long lean profile.

The skin of the Leopard Shark can range from a silvery grey color to a grayish brown color, while the leopard spots are a darker brownish / black color. The fins of the Leopard Shark have the classic shark appearance with a pronounced dorsal fin and strong pectoral fins. The Leopard Shark is also outfitted with a mouth full of small sharp teeth and classic shark eyes, giving it an ominous appearance.

Aquarium Care

How to successfully keep Leopard Shark in the home aquarium.

The Leopard Shark is a very active species with its leopard like pattern and distinctive shark shape; however, it does require a large amount of open swimming space within a large aquarium (500 gallons plus) to thrive. It is extremely important that the Leopard Shark be provided with an aquarium that is at least as deep (from front to back) as the Leopard Shark is in length.

Typical shark tanks are often square or very large circular tanks in order to accommodate the size and swimming needs of most shark species. Even when young, Leopard Sharks are very powerful fish and can easily jump out of an aquarium where the top is not securely covered. Be sure that when keeping this species that the top is securely covered at all times. While Leopard Sharks are not overly aggressive, they should not be kept with small or delicate fish species, or most invertebrate species such as shrimp and crabs (unless they are intended as food).

Feeding & Nutrition

How to feed and provide proper nutrition for Leopard Shark.

The Leopard Shark should be fed meaty marine foods such as; clam, shrimp, mussels and chopped fish. It is important that these foods be uncooked and without any added preservatives, if purchasing from a grocery store. The food should be separated and frozen in order to preserve it, and then thawed in a separate container using tank water. It is important not to feed Leopard Sharks foods such as goldfish, as they have little to no nutritional value.

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