Aquarium Fish

Nurse Shark

posted: 05/15/12
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Nurse Shark
Courtesy of Drs. Foster and Smith
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The most common color form of the Nurse Shark is gray to brown, but occasionally it will be yellowish-tan. As a juvenile, it may have spots. In an aquarium, it can grow more than 7 inches per year.

The Nurse Shark is commonly kept only be very experienced hobbyists in zoos and public aquariums. This is due to the need for a very large tank. It is best suited for a 250 gallon or larger aquarium as a juvenile, and as an adult, it will require several thousand gallons to thrive. The Nurse Shark requires sand as the substrate in the aquarium, since the abdomen is easily scratched by a coarser substrate, which may cause a wound and subsequent infection. It should never be exposed to copper-based medications. In the wild, it typically hunts at night, feeding on invertebrates and smaller, sleeping fish. It may do the same in an aquarium.

It may be difficult at first to coax the Nurse Shark to eat. This can usually be overcome with a little bit of patience from the keeper and some pieces of cleaned squid. Feeding it squid and fish twice a week will keep its growth under control.

Fish Facts

Name: Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Family: Orectolobidae

Range: Western Atlantic

Size: Up to 14 feet

Diet: Carnivore

Tank Set-up: Marine: Sand, plants

Reef Compatible: No

Tank Conditions: 72-78°F; sg 1.020-1.025; pH 8.1-8.4

Minimum Tank Capacity: 3,000 gallon

Light: High

Temperament: Aggressive

Swimming Level: Bottom

Care Level: Experts only

Reproduction: Egg Layer

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