Exotic Animals: Can You Keep a Shark as a Pet?

In the wonderful world of social media, you can often see people posting videos of their pet tiger or lion cubs. In the UK it’s more likely to be animals such as foxes or snakes that are on the more exotic side of pets that people can and do keep. Most exotic pets require a license to keep if you are able to keep them at all (some animals such as foxes tend to be rescued that can’t be released into the wild). But for aquatic animals, regulations are a little bit stricter. Fish are hard to care for as it is, with most people replacing Goldfish every couple of years even though their lifespan can be 10+. But for the experienced owners, could they keep something exotic, such as a shark, for a pet?


Yes! And No

Well established aquariums such as Blue Planet can keep sharks, as they have the right tools and facilities to keep these animals cared for and happy. Even places such as SeaWorld, with their massive budget, don’t keep their wildlife in suitable habitats and have come under much criticism for this. Sharks can swim hundreds of miles in a day, and as such, they need a large enough area to get this swimming in, and their habitat needs to represent their natural habitat for them to be happy. This means a full-sized shark is not something you’d likely be able to keep as a pet. However, if you know what you’re doing with your fish tanks and aquariums, you could keep a Bala shark.


Bala Shark

A Bala shark isn’t really a shark, it’s a fish which originated from lakes and rivers in Asia and is considered endangered, so it certainly isn’t a fish for the amateur pet carer. However, with a dorsal fin and elongated body, it certainly has the looks of a shark and, much like its namesake, they are eager eaters. However, unlike sharks, they are shoaling fish and prefer to be in groups and enjoy hiding in plant life. In the right conditions, these fish could live up to 8 years, and grow to 12 inches in length!

If you are considering owning one of these, you need to make sure you are fully informed on their care, such as how to feed your bala shark and the plants needed in their environment, or other fish they do or don’t get along with (considering the size they can grow to they may eat smaller fish in their tank – something to keep in mind!) If you have all the right components in place, this could be a good fish to keep, as they are quite active and expressive, who dart about and even can jump out the water when they are particularly happy.

And although they aren’t really are a shark, you still get the satisfaction of telling people you own a shark, even if it is under technicalities.

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