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Description
Port Jackson Shark
(Heterodontus portusjacksoni)
Quick Care FactsCare Level: Expert
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Maximum Size: 60"
Minimum Tank Size: 1200 gallons
Water Conditions: 60-72° F, dKH 8-12, pH 8.1-8.4, sg 1.020-1.025
Diet: Carnivore
Origin: Southern Australia, Port Jackson
Family: Heterodontidae
Species: Sharks
Aquarium Type: Fish Only
Species Information
Port Jackson Shark (Heterodontus portusjacksoni) are a member of the Heterodontidae family of bottom dwelling sharks, which is found living in the temperate waters off the southern coast of Australia. While Port Jacksons can tolerate a range of temperatures between 58°F to 79°F, they prefer water temperatures between 60°F - 72°F. Port Jackson Sharks are a very attractive species of Horn Shark, that due to its slow swimming, slow growth and ability to acclimate well to aquarium life, have made them a mainstay within the aquarium hobby.
While they have many desirable traits for aquarium life, Port Jackson do require a very large aquarium as they reach adult sizes of between 4 and 5 feet in length. The Port Jackson Shark is a good beginner shark for experienced marine aquarium hobbyists with very large (1000 gallon or more) aquariums.
Aquarium Care
Like most shark species available within the aquarium hobby the Port Jackson Shark can be housed in aquariums as small as 100 gallons while a juvenile, but must be moved to larger aquariums as it matures and increases in size. Adult Port Jackson sharks reach sizes upwards of 5 feet in length and will require a tank of at least 12x6x3 feet in size and totaling roughly 1200 to 1300 gallons.
Being a temperate water species, Port Jacksons prefer cooler water temperatures ranging from 60°F to 72°F; however, they can live in warmer more tropical water conditions with water temperatures in the mid 70s. Port Jackson Sharks kept at warmer water temperatures will have a more active metabolism, thus will consume more food and grow more quickly. In fact Port Jackson Sharks kept in temperatures about 75°F have been known to grow upwards of twice as fast as specimens kept in water conditions closer to 60°F.
Bottom dwelling shark species like the Port Jackson do best with a soft sandy substrate that will not irritate their abdomens and provides them with a more natural habitat. Like other sharks species, the Port Jackson requires high levels of dissolved oxygen, clean well filtered water and no stray electrical currents in the tank. Keeping heaters, skimmers, circulation pumps and other equipment in a sump will help to eliminate electrical currents in the display tank. Lastly, the Port Jackson Shark has a very peaceful disposition for a predator species, and can be successfully kept with a wide range of medium sized peaceful to semi-aggressive fish species.
Feeding & Nutrition
In their natural habitat Port Jackson Sharks feed on bottom dwelling invertebrates and crustaceans with the occasional small bony fish. Port Jackson are nocturnal hunters that move about the ocean bottom looking for urchins, mollusks and other similar prey buried in the sand or moving about the rocks.
The Port Jacksons mouth and teeth are well designed for grabbing hard shelled prey and breaking through their outer shell in order to access the soft flesh inside. Port Jackson Sharks that are new to the aquarium environment can be enticed to eat by feeding them with the aquarium lights dimmed or by offering live saltwater feeder shrimps or fresh meaty marine items like squid or mussels.
Once acclimated they will readily accept a variety of meaty marine foods like shrimp, mussel, squid, clams, silver sides and other similar fare. Begin by feeding 4 to 5 times per week while keeping an eye on the sharks overall body girth. Adjust feeding accordingly so that the sharks body maintains a healthy round proportion, without the belly bulging out.
Additional Photos