“Please note: I will do my best to add any additional information over time as I am always doing research on these animals, and make sure that any information I find will be at the ready for you when you have questions.”

General Starting Guidelines:
#1 rule to understand and live by when deciding on keeping a shark:
“If you ask what the minimum tank size is for any given shark, you probably aren’t going to do it right.”


I want to start by explaining the different types of sharks as well as the different species, and then get into the habitat size these species should at a minimum be housed in.
Most sources (from "Aquarium Sharks and Rays" to "Elasmobranch Husbandry Manual") tend to lump all species of benthic sharks together.
From what I've found in my research there should be at least 3 types of Benthic Sharks.

Inactive Benthics - most notably the wobbegongs - which are basically classified by long periods (12 hrs+) of inactivity and are only active for brief periods each day (up to 2 hrs)

Walking Benthics - most notably Eppies & bamboos. This group basically gets around by mostly walking on their pectorial fins. But they are also known to ocassionally swimming.

Active Benthics - most notable in this grouping would be Bullheads & Catsharks. This group's primary mode of moving around is by swimming. And they tend to swim more often than the two previous groups. Also I would put Nurse Sharks into this group as well.
But on the subject of swimming sharks - the Elasmobranch Husbandry manual is the closest to being correct -IMO.

They separate the swimming sharks into the following groups - Semi pelagic, Pelagic (non-ORV), and Pelagic (ORV).

I personally prefer the following grouping for swimming sharks available to Private Aquarists.

Swimming, non-ORV: - which includes smoothhounds, Whitetip Reefs & Lemon Sharks. These sharks are active swimmers, but do not need to swim constantly in order to breath.

Reef ORV Swimming: - which includes Blacktip reefs. Sharks which require constant motion in order to breath, but are highly flexible or turn quickly because of their habitat. As such they can be kept in tanks/ponds with a modest amount of decor.

Coastal ORV Swimming: - Which includes coastal requiem sharks like Atlantic Sharpnose, & Finetooths. These sharks are ORV that requires lots of open space and little or no tank decor.

I will say these are the 5 factors I look at when going for tank foot print and volume (both need to be considered).

- Biological load of the animal (waste production)
- Amount of swimming space needed for the current physical size of the animal
- Amount of time the particular animal spends moving
- Shape of the pool to allow proper swimming / glide patterns
- Purpose of the pool that animal is in (Quar vs grow out vs life time)

And one thing I'll toss in as a discussion point right off the bat is something I think tends to get over looked - and that is even bottom dwelling (carpet) sharks need to get up and swim, and they all need enough space to swim and glide. Just enough room to turn around isn't enough. Many of the sharks we see as carpet sharks are swimmers / glider during the night, and we need to account for that.
To a certain point, higher temps increase metabolism, so they become more active. Warmer water also means the need for more food as well. Once you reach the top end, you'll see activity drop off and they start to lose signs of life. Sharks can be a lot like people: low activity and over fed leads to fat animals that die early from heath complications (fatty liver disease being one fo them, renal failure/blood poisoning/brown blood disease being another).

Tank Formulas:
The following information is basic tank size formulas that I have used as a guideline when trying to figure out the best suitable tank for the species. Obviously the bigger the tank, the less stress there is on the shark.

Inactive Benthics - Tank/pond length = 3 x shark's length, Tank/Pond Width = 1.5 x shark's length.

Walking Benthics - Tank/Pond length = 3.5 x shark's length, Tank/pond Width = 1.5 x shark's length.

Active Benthics - Tank/Pond length = 4 x shark's length, Tank/pond width = 1.5 x shark's length.

Note - Active Benthic formula is based off the formula used in "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert Fenner.

Non-ORV Swimming - Tank/Pond Length = 5.5-6 x Shark's length, Tank/pond Width = 2.5-3 x Shark's Length.

Reef ORV Swimming - Tank/Pond Length = 7-7.5 x Shark's length, Tank/Pond Width = 3 x Shark's Length.

Coastal ORV Swimming - Tank/Pond Length = 8-9 x Shark's Length, Tank/Pond Width = 4 x Shark's Length.


Tank figures for swimming sharks are based on combination of several sources include Elasmobranch Husbandry Manual, and small to medium sized Public Aquariums.

Also note that increasing the number of sharks in a tank will alter the amount of space needed for the group.

Specie Specific Rules:
I have listed several species with their relative information from what I have found. The information provided shows suggestions for the minimum tank size at maturity and full adult (large adult). This information also includes the optimum water temperature ranges for each species as some require colder water than warmer water.

Atlantic Sharpnose Shark - Rhizoprionodon terraenovae , Maturity at about 2.5-2.8ft. Average Adult Size is about 3.2-3.5ft. Maximum Size is about 4ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 240 sq.ft or 24ft x 11ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 520 sq.ft. or 36ft x 16 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 3ft for juveniles, 4ft + for adults.

Blacktip Reef Shark - Carcharhinus melanopterus , Maturity at about 3-3.6ft. Average Adult Size is about 4.9-5.4 ft. Maximum Size is about 5.9-6.5ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 254 sq.ft or 25ft x 11 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 740 sq.ft. or 45ft x 18ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 3 ft for juveniles, 5-6ft for adults.

Blacktip Shark - Carcharhinus limbatus , Maturity at about 4.5-6ft. Average Adult Size is about 6.4-7.5 ft. Maximum Size is about 8-9ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-84F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 950 sq.ft or 48ft x 22 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 2,300 sq.ft. or 75ft x 34ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 4 ft for juveniles, 8 ft for adults.

Bonnethead Shark - Sphyrna tiburo , Maturity at about 2.5-3ft. Average Adult Size is about 3.6-4.2ft. Maximum Size is about 5ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 200 sq.ft or 22ft x 11ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 500 sq.ft. or 35ft x 16 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2.5-3ft for juveniles, 4ft + for adults.

Common Nurse - Ginglymostoma cirratum , Maturity at about 7-7.8ft. Average Adult Size is about 8.5-9.2ft. Maximum Size is about 10+ft .
Preferred Water Temperature - about 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 650sq.ft or 40ft x 18ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 1,200+ sq.ft. or about 55ft x 25ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2-3ft for juveniles, 5ft for adults.

Grey Smoothhound - Mustelus californicus , Maturity at about 2-2.4ft. Average Adult Size is about 3-3.3 ft. Maximum Size is about 4ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 59-68F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 80 sq.ft or 15ft x 6ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 240 sq.ft. or 24ft x 11 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 3ft + for adults.

Whitetip Reef Shark - Triaenodon obesus , Maturity at about 3.3-3.6ft. Average Adult Size is about 5.0-5.6 ft. Maximum Size is about 6.4-7 ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 200 sq.ft or 22ft x 10 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 650 sq.ft. or 40ft x 18ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 3 ft for juveniles, 5ft+ for adults.

Arabian Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium arabicum
, Maturity at about 1.5-1.8ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.1-2.25ft. Maximum Size is about 2.5ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 74-82F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 14-15 sq.ft or 6ft x 2.5ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 28-32 sq.ft. or 8ft x 4 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2ft + for adults.

Brown-banded Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium punctatum , Maturity at about 2.1-2.4ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.9-3.2 ft. Maximum Size is about 3.5ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 25-28 sq.ft or 8ft x 3.5 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 64-70 sq.ft. or 12ft x 6ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 2 ft for juveniles, 2+ft for adults.

California Horn Shark - Heterodontus francisci , Maturity at about 1.8-2.4ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.8-3.2ft. Maximum Size is about 4ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 64-75F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 29-32 sq.ft or 9 ft x 3.5ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 85-90 sq.ft. or 16ft x 6 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2ft + for adults.

Chain Catshark - Scyliorhinus retifer , Maturity at about 1.1-1.3ft. Average Adult Size is about 1.4-1.6ft. Maximum Size is about 2ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 48-62F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 9-10 sq.ft or 5ft x 2ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 22-24 sq.ft. or 8ft x 3 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 1.5ft for juveniles, 2ft for adults.

Common Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium ocellatum , Maturity at about 2-2.3ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.9-3.2 ft. Maximum Size is about 3.5ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 25-28 sq.ft or 8ft x 3.5 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 64-70 sq.ft. or 12ft x 6ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 2 ft for juveniles, 2 ft for adults.

Coral Catshark - Atelomycterus marmoratus , Maturity at about 1.6-1.8ft. Average Adult Size is about 2ft. Maximum Size is about 2.25ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 19-21 sq.ft or 7ft x 3ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 29-32 sq.ft. or 9ft x 3.5 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2ft + for adults.

Dusky Smoothhound Shark - Mustelus canis , Maturity at about 2.6-3.3ft. Average Adult Size is about 3.8-4.2ft. Maximum Size is about 5ft .
Preferred Water Temperature - about 59-72F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 130sq.ft or 18ft x 8ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 350 sq.ft. or about 30ft x 13ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2-2.5ft for juveniles, 3.5+ft for adults.

Northern Wobbegong - Orectobolus wardi , Maturity at about 1.5-1.75ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.1-2.3 ft. Maximum Size is about 2.6-2.9ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 72-82F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 12 sq.ft or 5ft x 2.5ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 28-32 sq.ft. or 8ft x 4 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2ft + for adults.

Ornate Wobbegong - Orectobolus ornatus , Maturity at about 2.2-2.6ft. Average Adult Size is about 3.1-3.4 ft. Maximum Size is about 3.8-4ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 63-77F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 28-32 sq.ft or 8ft x 4ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 64-70 sq.ft. or 12ft x 6ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2ft + for adults.

Papuan Epaulette Shark - Hemiscyllium hallstromi , Maturity at about 1.5-1.8ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.1-2.3 ft. Maximum Size is about 2.5-2.6ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 14-15 sq.ft or 6ft x 2.5 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 32-36 sq.ft. or 9ft x 4ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 2 ft for juveniles, 2 ft for adults.

Port Jackson's Shark - Heterodontus portusjacksoni , Maturity at about 2.6-3.2ft. Average Adult Size is about 3.6-4.2ft. Maximum Size is about 5.5ft.
Preferred Water Temperatures - 56-70F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 60-64 sq.ft or 13ft x 5ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 164-176 sq.ft. or 22ft x 8 ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 2ft for juveniles, 2.5ft + for adults.

White-spotted Bamboo Shark - Chiloscyllium plagiosum , Maturity at about 1.7-2.1ft. Average Adult Size is about 2.4-2.6 ft. Maximum Size is about 3ft.
Preferred Water Temperature is about 74-82F.
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 19-21 sq.ft or 7ft x 3 ft oval
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 45-50 sq.ft. or 11ft x 4.5ft oval
Minimum Water Depth - 2 ft for juveniles, 2+ft for adults.

Bull Shark - Carcharhinus leucas
, Maturity at about 6.5-7.5ft. Average Adult Size is about 8.2-9.2ft. Maximum Size is about 13ft .
Preferred Water Temperature - about 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - 1,300sq.ft or 60ft x 24ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 3,500 sq.ft. or about 96ft x 40ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 3-6ft for juveniles, 12ft for adults.

Lemon Shark - Negaprion brevirostris , Maturity at about 7-8ft. Average Adult Size is about 8.5-9.5ft. Maximum Size is about 11-12ft .
Preferred Water Temperature - about 74-84F
Minimum Tank Size til Mature - about 970sq.ft or 49ft x 22ft oval.
Minimum Tank Size for Full Adult - 2,300 sq.ft. or about 75ft x 34ft oval.
Minimum Water Depth - 3-6ft for juveniles, 10ft for adults.