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Coral Cat Shark, Atelomycterus marmoratus


Marbled Cat SharkIntroduction The Coral Cat Shark has a range from Pakistan to New Guinea, most of Asia, and Indonesia. They are commonly encountered in shallow water at night. Coral Cats are among the best suited sharks for the home aquarium, as they stay relatively small, attaining an adult size of 28 inches. A nocturnal predator, they hunt and prey on several types of benthic inverts and fish.

The Aquarium As you decide on the size aquarium you will purchase, you must keep in mind the ultimate size of the shark you are purchasing and the size of the shark at the time of purchase. For sharks, it will be best to attain a large tank from the beginning. This will keep you from needing to purchase and set up another tank as your shark grows. It will also alleviate stress on the shark as it would otherwise get moved from tank A to tank B to tank C. Sharks can grow to a descent size in their first year. Be sure that the tank's width is long enough to allow animal to turn around as well. For an adult specimen or two, no tank smaller than a 125 gallons will do.

Decorating the tank is personal preference. We recommend using sand instead of gravel as gravel can be very abrasive to a shark's belly. The substrate bed should be 1-2 inches deep. For the most part, one pound per gallon will give you a substrate depth of one inch. Any live rock that is used should be placed directly on the bottom of the tank and not on the top of the sand to avoid it toppling over as the sharks search for food underneath it. Make certain that any structure is sturdy and secure, either using putty or cable ties to fasten them. However you decide to decorate your aquarium, your goal is to provide shelter and security for the shark while keeping the tank easy to maintain and allowing enough space for your shark to swim without many obstacles.

Filtration Keeping in mind that sharks are carnivorous animals and consume a lot of food, they naturally will produce a large amount of nitrogenous waste. Your aquarium's filtration should be designed with this in mind. For the size tank that sharks require, your standard hang on the back filters will not be efficient enough to properly filter the water. We suggest using a sump design with wet/dry filtration. Sumps are capable of moving water through the filter media at rapid rates, ensuring that the tank's water is turned over several times an hour. By incorporating wet/dry or trickle filtration into your sump, you will be increasing the efficiency of breaking down nitrites. It will also increase the total amount of dissolved oxygen in the water which is vital to keeping large sharks alive. Chemical filtration is also very important in the long term keeping of large sharks. This is easily accomplished by placing a bag of aquarium carbon in an area of high water flow within the sump. Carbon will aid in removing impurities from the water such as fats, acids, proteins and dissolved wastes as well as giving the water a polished look by removing discoloration.

In your filtration design, it is strongly recommended that you invest in a quality protein skimmer as they will be the single most important piece of equipment in your aquarium's design and can dictate how successful you are at keeping your sharks for any period of time. A protein skimmer for all intensive purposes is a cylinder that has water pumped into it. At the same time, micro bubbles are also injected into that water column. As the bubbles rise to the collection cup at the top of the skimmer they collect fats, acids, proteins, mucus and a number of other wastes. Ideally, you want to adjust your skimmer to collect a liquid that is the hue of green tea. By doing so, you will keep your nitrites and phosphates lower and remove wastes more rapidly than by collecting a dry foam.

Other types of filtration that you may choose to utilize in your filtration system are fluidized sand beds, diatom filters and U.V sterilization. Fluidized sand beds are no more than an enclosed cylinder filled with fine sand in which water is pumped through the bottom and flows up though the sand and back out. As the water flows through the sand, it keeps the sand suspended and fluidized, therefore allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize each and every grain of sand greatly increasing the surface area for nitrification to occur. Diatom filters are not as popular as they once were and have been replaced with micron filters. The function is still the same while the design differs. For diatom filters, diatomaceous earth is used to cover a filter bag creating a mechanical filter that allows only the absolute smallest of particles to pass through it. These filters are not intended for prolonged use, as they quickly become clogged and backed up and need constant maintenance. Instead they are normally used for short increments of time, such as one day a week for example. The benefit of these filters is providing crystal clear water. They also filter such small particles that they may be useful in eradicating parasites such as ich from the water column. U.V sterilizers are normally, as are the previously mentioned filters, used in conjunction with a main filter. U.V sterilizers pump water though a cylinder and by a light that emits strong U.V radiation. This dose of U.V will kill a number of organisms ranging from various parasites to types of algae. They are very useful in preventing green water in your aquarium.

Lighting and Heating Ideally, your shark's aquarium should be kept between 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your aquarium's temperature as constant as possible is absolutely essential to the well being of your shark. A standard aquarium heater of appropriate wattage (approximately 2-3 watts per gallon) placed either in the tank itself or in the sump/refugium should be sufficient. Since sharks are very powerful swimmers, we strongly advise placing your heater in the sump.

Your aquarium can be illuminated with standard T-12 fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent or T-5's. They can be set on a timer to be on for about 14 hours a day and off at night for 10 hours.

Feeding Coral Cat Sharks will thrive on a diet that is well varied and containing whole food items. Whole food items are animals which have not been prepared, processed, cleaned, gutted etc. but rather are offered to your shark as they were in life; whole. Readily available whole food items include fish, crustaceans, squid, octopus and mussels. For the fish portion of their diet, you should NOT offer common feeder goldfish, rosy reds, guppies and mollies often, as they are fresh water fish and not a natural food; rather you should use silver sides and sand eels. Shrimp, krill, prawn and plankton can all be offered to your sharks. Any food that you offer should be of bite size portions. Ocean Nutrition produces a commercial diet that is made for saltwater sharks and rays that is nutritionally balanced and could make up the bulk of the sharks diet. They also produce packaged silver sides, sand eels, krill, squid, octopus and several other frozen foods that may be applicable in the diet of a shark. All frozen food should be soaked in a quality vitamin supplement prior to use.