How to Raise a Baby Shark
If you frequent saltwater aquarium stores, you have probably come across one of these:
This is a Brown Banded Bamboo Shark egg. Inside, you can see the baby shark breathing and moving around. You can also see the yolk sack here which is where the shark gets it’s food from while it’s developing in the egg:
Once the shark has consumed all of the yolk sac, it will leave the egg through the opening here.
These sharks are one of the most common ones that you will find in an egg in a store. They reach a maximum length of 3.5 to 4 feet and they can live up to 25 years of age in captivity.
So I will say the same thing that I say in all of my shark content, keeping a shark as a pet is a very big commitment. It is very difficult to re-home them and they will grow to full size regardless of the aquarium that they are in.
Most of the time they will pass away from being in too small of an environment. On my channel you will find quite a few shark rescue stories where myself and my good friend Matt Heyde rescued outgrown pets from people’s homes. There have been many and some luckily we had the room for to keep for several years before we found a suitable home for them. So just be sure to do your research and ensure that you are able to make the commitment that is required in order to have these species thriving in captivity as they deserve nothing less.
Ok, so how do you raise one of these? This is a captive bred Epaulette Shark Egg.
The former inhabitant of this shark egg in particular we are going to use as an example while I show you how to raise a baby shark in captivity. There are 5 main things that you need to know:
1. How to handle the shark egg
The shark egg has an opening here:
This allows for circulation of the water. If you take the egg out of the water, the egg will drain and air will fill the egg. This is not good for the shark. So in order to avoid this, be sure to always have the egg fully submerged. If you happen to get an air bubble in the egg, very gently squeeze the egg case under the water on it’s side to push the air bubble out. Be very careful, you only need a slight amount of pressure in order to get the air out of the egg. Only handle the egg if you need to check on the shark, otherwise, the less you handle it, the better.
2. Where to put the egg
Some people like to hang them from a clip like this one:
If you do, be sure to clip it from the side or the bottom so that the shark will easily be able to swim out once it is ready to. In the wild, they are usually resting on a rock or on the sand bed. This is probably the best place to put it, if it is in an aquarium on it’s own.
3. How to figure out when the shark will hatch from the egg
Each species has its own gestation period. You can look them up online. The Epaulette Shark is 130 days. This is also dependent on the water temperature. So be sure to do your research and maintain stable conditions to ensure a successful gestation period.
Another way is to see if the yolk sac is completely consumed or not. Under no circumstance should you ever cut the shark out of it’s egg unless you see it having a hard time exiting the egg case. If the shark gets out of it’s egg too early, you are putting it at risk for infection and premature death. The shark will wait until the umbilical cord sight is 100% healed before it will exit the egg. Sharks that do not have that area healed can easily get an infection.
4. Where is the best place to raise the shark?
In my opinion, the best place to raise a shark is in a grow out aquarium so that you can easily observe it, it can get used to seeing you and you can easily monitor it’s food intake. You can keep it with another baby shark, but I would recommend waiting until it is regularly eating. Larger sharks will eat smaller sharks. It’s just what they do. Even if it is the same species. So never raise a baby shark with a larger shark. A good general rule of thumb is if it will fit into its mouth, it will probably end up there. Only introduce sharks to one another once they are large enough to not fit in the other one’s mouth.
5. How to get the shark to eat
If the shark does not eat frozen food right away, you will want to get some of these:
Image Source: The Aquarium Guide
They are called a number of things, but Ghost Shrimp and Grass Shrimp seem to be the most common names. They are a freshwater species so they do lack certain nutrients. This is meant to stimulate the shark’s appetite, not to be a long term feeding solution. You want to get them to eat frozen as soon as possible. I like to soak the frozen food in this stuff.
It contains a ton of vitamins and nutrients that will help to supplement the frozen food and ensure that the baby shark is getting what it needs in order to develop properly. Sticking to the if it fits in it’s mouth, it will eat it rule, ensure that the food that you are feeding the baby shark is small enough to easily fit in it’s mouth.
And those are the 5 essentials that you need to know when raising a baby shark. I have an entire online course on keeping sharks if you are interested in learning more. Here is a link to it: https://aquapparel.teachable.com/p/aquarium-sharks-101