Pangasius Shark (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus also known as Iridescent sharks, Naked catfish, Siamese shark or Sutchi catfish) is actually a catfish native to Thailand (the Mekong River). These fish thrive in deep rivers and stay in the middle of the water column to search for food. One unique thing about these fish is the fact they are “naked catfish”, meaning they do not have bony plates over their body. They do however have skin and choose to live in the middle of the water column. They have long, whisker like barbels, that help them to sense the environment. There are a lot of sensory organs in fish like this and the reason stems from the water quality they are used to in the wild. Waters may be murky so they are not able to use their eyes all the time. In the aquarium, they provide a lot of schooling activity. They are favored for their behavior and appearance.
The biggest challenge when keeping these fish is having the right size aquarium. While a 380 litre tank for juveniles will be OK, 1100 litres will be needed as they begin to grow. Pangasius sharks are fairly timid and can be easily scared. When this happens, they may hit their head on the glass or decor. You can help keep them calm by placing the tank in a fairly quiet area, somewhere they aren’t likely to be scared by loud noises or people passing by. They are also likely to get harassed from more aggressive fish. Therefore, keeping them with large peaceful fish is important. There is an emphasis on large because any fish that can fit into the shark’s mouth will likely become food. As juveniles they school together and separate as adults. Pangasius sharks are not like most catfish, who are active at night, they are active during the day.
Their bright flashy colors have made them popular for aquariums. They are hardy fish and eat a wide variety of food. Like most catfish or even goldfish, these sharks will eat anything they can find and as often as possible; this is what allows them to grow to such enormous sizes. In the home aquarium they will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, flake and pellet foods. These fish must have a balanced diet of green and meaty foods.
To keep these fish stress free, make sure the water parameters do not fluctuate so much. As with most fish, they do not respond well to changes in these conditions even though they are hardy. To make sure your fish are happy and healthy, the water needs to be as clean as possible. Iridescent catfish are messy by nature and need a strong filter. You can help with the filtration by changing 25% of the water weekly. In terms of disease these catfish are susceptible to skin fungus and Ich. Being scale-less, it is harder to treat catfish with Ich than most other fish.
Be cautious! The Pangasius Catfish have bad eyesight and they are a nervous fish that can be easily spooked. Don’t tap on the glass or startle the fish as it is likely to injure itself in its mindless flight. They can get hysterical when frightened and dash madly around the aquarium. They will often bash into the sides of the aquarium, ornaments or other fish.
These fish have sensitive barbels so a soft substrate is needed. This will also replicate the river conditions they are used to in the wild, which usually have a soft muddy bed.
|Adult Size:||130 cm|
|Aquarist Experience Level:||Advanced|
|Minimum Tank Size:||400 litres|
|Aquarium Hardiness:||Moderately Difficult – delicate skin easily damaged|
|Lifespan:||Up to 20 Years|
|Temperature:||22 to 26°C|
|pH:||6.5 – 7.5|
|Hardness:||2-20 dGH (soft)|