Iridescent Shark Care, Tank Mates, Diseases & Diet

Last updated on December 24th, 2022 at 11:06 am

Iridescent Shark Care Guide: Tank Mates, Tank Size & more

The iridescent shark is just as majestic as the name suggests and is also known as iridescent catfish, pangasius catfish, striped catfish, Siamese shark, and Sutchi catfish. 

This kind of fish only considers if you have experience and space, as they are much larger than the freshwater fish that many fill their aquariums with. 

It does not depend solely on the tank’s area but also on the genus Spangasianodon, which belongs to the Pangasiidae family. These avid swimmers hail from some rivers in Southeast Asia. 

Interestingly, this tropical shark is not a shark at all, although the name suggests that it is a shark, but rather a large fish like a freshwater shark.

Basic information

When it comes to iridescent shark care, there are a few things to consider before getting one. The best way to make an informed decision about your aquarium is to do your research well in advance. 

You have to consider the size of the aquarium and the temperament, personality, and behavior of the Sutchi catfish to make sure you can provide everything it needs. It is not necessarily challenging to maintain, but it does require additional thought and knowledge.

It is essential to know what to expect before adding fish (and catfish in particular) to an aquarium. Iridescent sharks should also be considered. They can live up to 20 years, which is a very long time for a fish. 

So make sure you can provide him with proper iridescent shark care for as long as possible before investing time, effort, and money in this peaceful fish. When these formidable animals are kept alone in an aquarium, it is not uncommon for them to suffer from stress and anxiety. 

A caring aquarium owner should always keep more than one dazzling shark or provide suitable tank mates.8


The dazzling Pangasianodon shark inhabits the Chao Phraya River and the Mekong Basin, and in these regions, this gigantic fish is often used as food for its meat. 

The name “Swai” is why iridescent shark meat is sold and is considered a delicacy in many areas. In recent years, pangasianodon exophthalmos has gained popularity as an aquarium fish and is now found in aquariums worldwide.

The name might sound difficult as it is a catfish and not a shark, but there is actually a reasonable explanation after it. It bodily resembles a shark despite being a fish, and the name is also inspired by how the teenage catfish Sutchi shines. 

Steps are being taken to ensure that the dazzling shark continues to thrive in the wild due to its unique breeding behavior. However, it has also become a popular type of aquarium for those with space and time to devote to maintenance.


The catfish’s body is usually covered with bony plates, but this Siamese shark is different from other similar fish and is sometimes referred to as a naked catfish. They are showy and iridescent, especially when they are young, and there are two parallel black stripes below the sideline. This is unique to teenagers and a great way to tell a fish’s age, which turns increasingly gray as it ages. 

The fins are black or dark gray. More than just a visual detail, the lines on their body have nerve tissue that is beneficial to the Siamese shark when perceiving changes in the water. The reason is not that they have low vision, but that they often swim in murky waters.

The female Siamese shark is often slightly larger than the male, and the body shape tends to have more volume, which makes the female fish easy to distinguish. 

This is especially useful when you want to make the sharks shimmer. Iridescent sharks also have long barbels that resemble whiskers, which is more characteristic of most fish of this species. Your barbels are distinctive and make them look attractive, and it’s difficult to confuse this fish with any other species.

Iridescent Shark appearance


You need to know about fish like this because they are generally peaceful and calm but quickly get scared, which can keep them moving for some time.

Some inexperienced aquarists may believe this is a sign of fish aggression, but aggression in Sutchi catfish is considered uncommon. A large tub is essential to know how nervous you are as it needs space to swim. 

Sutchi catfish are large and surprisingly powerful, and when scared, it’s not uncommon for them to break glass or even jump out of the tank. For this reason, you should always try not to scare them.

That being said, iridescent sharks are pleasant and friendly, get on well with other fish of similar size, and most importantly, need adequate space, right tank water conditions, and proper care for iridescent sharks. 

If you provide everything they need, you can see a safe and exciting fish – one that seems to have its personality and quirks, and many who have such fish affirm that their nature can be greater than life even.

These fish do best when shipped out with other fish for the company, and while they can be kept on their own, you’ll quickly realize how much larger they appear to be. Confident, sociable, and curious when swimming with friends. 

Iridescent sharks are very social, and it is recommended not to try to keep them alone, isolated from others. An unfortunate fish is likely to have a shorter lifespan, but with proper care, the iridescent exophthalmos of the Pangasinan shark can live up to 20 years.

Tank conditions

A dazzling shark needs a nice large tank to swim in, and you should give these fish an aquarium of at least 300 gallons. This should make it clear that the Siamese shark is not suitable for regular small aquariums.

 So consider the size of the tank and whether you have room for one before proceeding. The recommended 300 gallons are for just one fish, too, and you should expect to add 150 gallons for extra fish, which quickly adds up. The main challenge in caring for a dazzling shark is the space it takes up.

Once you have a suitable tank, it’s time to install it. As a robust fish, the iridescent shark can often survive in a variety of conditions but prefers water with a pH of 6 to 8 (with a slightly low pH of 6 and a relatively high pH of 8) and a hardness of 2 up to 20 dGH to keep the water at a minimum temperature of 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit and so that the aquarium conditions resemble their natural habitat.

Since dazzling sharks are as large as they are, you may even want to keep them in a pond instead of an aquarium (but this requires additional knowledge and precautions).

 However, if you’re going to keep them in an aquarium, you can’t be excited enough to see the importance of having one big enough to give them the freedom to swim. As previously mentioned, a dazzling shark doesn’t like being alone, and each fish you add will require more space and more water.

Plants and vegetation

When it comes to plants, this is less important for the iridescent shark! Their natural habitats are shallow parts of rivers. So your goal should be to provide the fish with good tank bottom material, driftwood, and some large rocks as this will help mimic the life and prosperity of the iridescent shark in the wild. 

Some plants are always a good idea as they can help improve water quality, but even if it seems to you that it is covering the bottom of the shark tank with various plants, your iridescent shark will do little to take advantage of it.

The same goes for the placement of larger plants that reach the surface or swim to the body, as they usually take up space and limit the area of the glittering shark to swim.

A good compromise is to add some carefully selected plants to the tank, but don’t overdo it because they are not fish that need hiding places with dense vegetation. For those who dream of managing an aquarium with a lot of greenery, a dazzling shark may not be the option for you.

Maintenance and care

The dazzling shark can be a somewhat secondary clutter creator, and they tend to get their aquarium dirty quickly.

For this reason, you need to make sure you have a strong filter and clean the water regularly, as these fish (albeit messy) do not thrive in dirty water. 

Many experts recommend changing about 25% of the water in your tank every week, which will inevitably take time, given the large tanks that require fish like these. 

Knowing what you’re signing up for when you get dazzling aquarium sharks is key to being successful as you can keep them for up to 20 years.

Be careful and careful when you change the water and clean your tank because, as previously mentioned, the iridescent shark is easy to scare away, which can cause damage to your tank or even harm to your fish. 

It would help if you also kept the tank in a quiet area of ​​your home with minimal disturbance whenever possible. These are fish that look very large and impressive but can get badly injured if startled. 

If they jump out of the tank when you are not there, your fish will likely die. So make sure you have a quiet environment, especially when you’re not around to monitor.

Iridescent Shark Diseases

Iridescent sharks are not prone to certain diseases, but they can sense some skin problems if they are unlucky.

 This is usually easy to see on your body (discoloration, etc.) and may require special handling. Medicines for skin diseases and fungi are available for these fish

However, because they are scaly, the dosage may need to be adjusted.

However, the best thing you can do as an owner of the iridescent shark is to prevent it so that you don’t have to treat it again. This can usually be achieved by merely monitoring the water quality and providing high-quality water. 

Quality diet. Diseases and diseases typically have a cause. It’s not uncommon for that cause to be environmental, which means you can probably prevent them by taking better care of your aquarium.

Food and Diet

Like most catfish species, the dazzling shark prefers a varied diet. It is, therefore, advisable to provide foods that stimulate the natural desire for food. 

The iridescent shark is an omnivore, which means that it eats both meat and vegetable foods. Some studies seem to show that while the dazzling shark is young, they tend to eat more meat and then gradually switch to a more plant-based diet as they age.

The smarter choice is to feed them a high-quality flake diet from a reputable company, as this will ensure they receive all the nutrients they need for up to 20 years of life. 

A lack of essential nutrients could shorten the fish’s lifespan, so providing flake food as a base is a good idea. Also, you need to add various extras like marinated shrimp, fish food, worms, and even bloodworms so that they don’t get bored eating.

Iridescent Shark Tankmates

If you have fish like the iridescent shark, we recommend having more than one as they are used to living in pairs or groups in the wild and usually do not get along well on their own. 

There are good and bad teammates, and it is generally recommended that you choose teammates of similar size. Why is it? Because if you add small fish like danios, grouse, and barbs, these will likely become the iridescent shark dinner. Instead, consider more than one iridescent shark or one of the following fish breeds:

  •  Bichir
  •  Synodontis catfish
  •  Fire eel
  •  Plecostomus
  •  Kiss the gourami
  •  Pearsei
  •  Texas cichlid
  •  Loach Leptobotia elongata
  •  Oscar

Aggressive fish should be watched to prevent one fish from bullying another. If you notice this type of behavior in your aquarium, it is probably best to eliminate the aggressive resident to restore peace and order. 

The iridescent shark does not enjoy the disease; an aggressive fish could cause and could cause permanent damage to its health and well-being. Whichever tank companion you choose for your dazzling shark, make sure you have enough space in the tank.

Iridescent Shark

Train the Dazzling Shark

Living alone in the water is not easy for these fish and they can become stressed and even depressed if left alone for too long. This shouldn’t be what you want for your aquarium. 

Therefore, it is advisable to have a school of around 4-5 iridescent sharks in an aquarium for them to do well. Other tank mates are also good options, but studies show education is essential for the Dazzling Shark.

Iridescent Shark Breeding

Finding the right pals is one thing, but you should also consider whether or not you are interested in breeding your dazzling shark. If so, you’d need a rigged shark and a stunning woman, but then the bad news comes.

 It is considered near impossible to breed the iridescent shark in captivity, and this is due to the difficulty of restoring the right conditions for it. The iridescent shark is a migratory fish, which means that the fish migrates upstream during the breeding season (late summer) as the water rises and spawns there.

No aquarium size is big enough to make this possible, and it appears that the iridescent shark has no interest in breeding, even if there are fish, unless they can migrate—males and females in the aquarium. Your aquarium size doesn’t matter as even the most extensive available size may not encourage your dazzling shark to reproduce.

Since this species cannot be bred in captivity, it is essential that it is preserved in its natural habitat and allowed to migrate and reproduce. So, if you were hoping to produce your iridescent shark anywhere on the line, sadly you are ready for some disappointments.


There is undoubtedly still a lot to be done to have dazzling sharks in your aquarium, but the biggest challenge is providing them with a large enough tank that is just the right size to swim and thrive. 

Yes, it is considered a fish for the seasoned aquarium owner, but most of it has to do with the space and distance anyone can adequately support such a large animal. If you can provide an aquarium the size you need, you will likely find great pleasure in swimming these fun catfish.

Do iridescent sharks eat fish?

Yes. This fish is omnivorous and eats both animal and vegetable foods. He likes to eat small fish even though he is not an aggressive fish.

Do the iridescent sharks pretend to be dead?

Sometimes, and mostly when scared, it’s a fish that chooses to pretend it’s dead. When your fish are swimming in the water, double-check that they’re not just pretending to be them take out of the water.

How big are iridescent sharks?

Expect an adult height of up to 4 feet.

Are iridescent sharks aggressive?

These large fish are generally not considered an aggressive species and live peacefully even when kept in an aquarium with other fish. However, it is always a good idea to be vigilant, especially if you have just introduced a new fish to your aquarium and are considering bringing back any fish that have repeatedly displayed aggressive behavior.

How do you care for an iridescent shark?

As long as you have a generous tank with plenty of room for your fish, water at 72-79 degrees (F), water at pH 6 and above, your dazzling shark needs more than just high-quality food and nutrition. A clean tub and proper tub mates.

Are iridescent sharks nocturnal?

Catfish are known to be nocturnal, but the dazzling shark is an exception! It is most active during the day and is generally considered entirely inactive at night.

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