All About The Banded Cat Shark
Chiloscyllium punctatum is the scientific term for the banded cat shark. They can be naturally found in Australia and the Indo pacific region. They have a unique appearance and are banded with white and black or gray striping. But as the animal matures, the banding fades and adult cat sharks turn a lighter brown color. They have long snake like bodies, with a thicker abdominal area and close set eyes that are located on top of the head. The banded cat shark has whiskers called barbels. These barbels are used to sense aquatic life, food and predators. The whiskers set them apart from other fish and this is why they are referred to as a cat shark.
The banded cat shark is a bottom feeder, which means that it feeds and dwells on the bottom of the ocean floor. Its gills are infested with isopods and they are used as food. These spiracles help the gills remain sand free, while the cat shark is looking for food. They like to live by coral reefs and tide pools, where they can be close to a food source.
It is easy to tell a male banded cat shark from a female. Under the anal fins of a male cat shark you can find claspers. These claspers get bigger as the fish grows and females do not have them. Although these fish are most comfortable in the water, they can live out of the water for a full twelve hours at a time. They feed on crustaceans and invertebrates and these fish can grow to forty inches in length.
Because of its markings and look, the banded cat shark has become popular with aquarium owners. It is not a type of fish that is recommended for novice aquarium owners. It requires special care to be able to live and thrive.
The banded cat shark needs plenty of room to swim. So you must have an aquarium that is larger than one hundred and fifty gallons. The aquarium also should be wider than it is tall. This gives the cat shark all the room it needs as a bottom dwelling fish. The aquarium should have a sandy substrate that mimics the ocean floor. Aquatic plants are fine but make sure they are anchored down because the fish can easily uproot it.
Never keep any rocks or sharp edged figures in the aquarium with the shark. The fins can become damaged by sharp edges and when this happens infection can set in. This type of fish cannot handle any kind of cooper. You must make sure that the water contains not even the slightest race of cooper and never use copper based antibiotics in the tank.
When you first introduce the shark into your aquarium do not be alarmed if it takes a while to feed. You can get the shark interested in food by purchasing feeder shrimp or squid. The banded cat shark should only be fed a few shrimp or squid two to three times a week.
As with any fish in a large sized aquarium, you must learn what fish are compatible with the cat shark. Since they are sharks and they do eat live prey, you may not want to add smaller fish. But just as the cat shark hunts smaller fish, there are a few types of fish that will try to hunt the shark. So never spend money on expensive fish to add to your aquarium, until you know they can live among the other fish you already have.
If you keep your aquarium banded cat shark friendly and make sure that they are healthy and happy, you can enjoy these fish for many years to come.