Iridescent shark

Aquarium fish: Iridescent shark (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus)
Size: 90 cm
Origin: Asia
Water temperature: 22-26 ° C
Aquarium volume: 7000 l

Iridescent shark (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus) – one of the largest fish found in aquariums and also consumption fish of the Pangasiidae family .


It comes from Asia. In nature, it inhabits the main canal and larger tributaries of the Mekong River, which flows through Thailand, Laos, Combodia and Vietnam. A species also found in the Chao Phraya River in Thailand.

Characteristics and disposition

In its natural environment , it reaches 130 cm in length and over 40 kg in weight, but the breeding form rarely exceeds 90 cm.

It is characterized by a gray-graphite, sometimes blackish coloration and a light underbelly. The body of the Sum shark is elongated, ending in a forked, light-edged caudal fin. Dorsal fin in the shape of a triangle. Anal fin long and wide. The gender of young fish available in stores is indistinguishable.

Adult females are rounder and have a slightly lighter coloration. The shoal species is therefore less skittish in a larger group. Of course, to keep a few individuals you will need a huge tank. In aquarium shops it is sold as a tiny silver-blue fish , most often without adequate information about the size and requirements it can achieve. In this way, it most often ends up in a small aquarium for a beginner aquarist.

The common name of the fish – Catfish Shark – as used in commerce does not improve this situation. For aquarium purposes, even a special form with a grossly distorted, shorter balloon body and an albino variety were bred. According to the wiser part of aquarists, this fish should not be considered an aquarium fish at all . It is a myth that it will only grow to the size of the reservoir. It is worth mentioning that the shark catfish often lives over 20 years.

Some people buy a fish with the intention of buying a larger aquarium later. Most often, however, this does not happen and he looks for a new home for her, which, due to its size, can be very difficult.

Nutrition and feeding

Catfish sharks ingest any available food. Young animals need a high-protein diet to grow properly. They can be given, for example, chopped earthworm, bloodworm and dry food.

Adult fish should have a variety of dietary plant foods – vegetables such as spinach, peas, fruit or dry with the addition of spirulina.


Catfish sharks are very active fish. An adult individual needs an aquarium of about 14,500 liters with dimensions of 450 x 180 x 180 cm. It is not a fish suitable for home aquariums. No decorations are needed in the tank, but if you want, you can add a few large roots or smooth stones.

However, you should leave a significant amount of space for swimming and make sure the decorations are heavy enough so that the fish will not tip them over or move them. You will also need an efficient biological filter, a strong water current and good oxygenation. The aquarium should be covered and all devices should be outside if possible – an adult catfish can easily break the heater, thermometer, etc. They are not aggressive fish, but smaller fish will sooner or later be eaten. Calm fish will be disturbed by their active lifestyle, and aggressive fish may be dominated by them.

The best choice will be large, calm bottom fish, such as Cuirassis and shoals from the middle or upper parts of the water, such as Piranha Pacu.


Reproduction at home is impossible. In the wild, catfish sharks migrate upstream in summer to spawn. The commercial fish come from huge livestock farms in the Far East.

Additional information

Fish bred on an industrial scale.

In Poland, it is sold as frozen fillets under the trade name Panga . Catfish shark sold in Europe for human consumption, farmed in Vietnam, and consumed over an extended period of time, can be harmful to your health. Especially pregnant women should not eat it, because in order for fish to reproduce in artificial conditions, they are given the hormone chorionic gonadotropin or Ovaprim. Due to the breeding methods used in production, the nutritional value of these fish is questionable (high concentration of fish in frequently contaminated waters, the use of antibiotics, bactericides, hormones, etc. in breeding).

Compared to sea fish, carp and trout, pangasius meat contains minimal amounts of ingredients appreciated by nutritionists. Iridescent shark meat is low in essential fatty acids and vitamin E.


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