Columbian Shark

Columbian Shark Fish
Species NameAriopsis seemanni
Common NameColumbian Shark, Tete Sea Catfish, Silver Tipped Shark
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan15+ years
Adult SizeUp to 14 inches (35 cm)
Minimum Tank Size150 gallons
Temperature72°F – 79°F (22°C – 26°C)
Water ConditionspH 7.0-8.0, Brackish water (early life in freshwater)

About the Columbian Shark – Species Summary

The Columbian Shark, also known as the Silver Tipped Shark or Tete Sea Catfish, is a captivating species originating from the Eastern Pacific coastal regions. Contrary to its name, it is not a true shark, but rather a catfish. While starting life in freshwater, as it matures, it requires a transition to brackish and eventually marine conditions, mirroring its natural migration from freshwater river habitats to the saltier oceanic regions.

Columbian Shark Lifespan

Typically, with good care and appropriate water conditions, the Columbian Shark can live for over 15 years. Proper diet, regular water checks, and a stress-free environment can contribute to this longevity.


The Columbian Shark boasts a sleek, elongated body with a silver hue, accented by pronounced black-tipped fins, which lends it the “silver-tipped” moniker. Its barbels or “whiskers” near the mouth, characteristic of catfish, act as sensors, helping them detect food and navigate their environment.

Average Size

While juvenile Columbian Sharks are often sold at a size of 2-3 inches, they grow rapidly and can reach lengths of up to 14 inches (35 cm) or more in captivity.

Columbian Shark Care

Tank Size

Considering their potential to grow sizable, a minimum tank size of 150 gallons is suggested for an adult Columbian Shark. Bigger is always better, especially if housing multiple individuals or other species.

How To Set Up Their Tank

When setting up a tank for the Columbian Shark, ensure it mimics their natural habitat. Start with a sandy substrate, add driftwood and rocks for hiding spots. As juveniles, they thrive in freshwater, but as they mature, it’s essential to transition them to brackish water, gradually increasing the salinity over time until they are in fully marine conditions.

Lighting Requirements

Moderate lighting is suitable for the Columbian Shark, and they appreciate some shaded areas provided by decor or plants.


A pH level of 7.0 to 8.0 is ideal, but it’s crucial to monitor and adjust the water’s salinity as they grow.


A consistent temperature ranging between 72°F and 79°F (22°C and 26°C) is optimal for the Columbian Shark.

Water Parameters

Besides pH and temperature, regularly test the water for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. As they transition from freshwater to brackish conditions, it’s vital to use marine salt and not table salt to achieve the desired salinity.

Disease Potential

The Columbian Shark, like all aquarium fish, is susceptible to various diseases. Regular observation, maintaining water quality, and quarantining new tank additions can prevent most ailments. Common issues might include parasitic infestations, bacterial infections, and fungal diseases.

Food & Diet

Omnivorous by nature, Columbian Sharks appreciate a varied diet. High-quality pellets can serve as a staple, supplemented by live or frozen foods such as shrimp, worms, and small fish. They also benefit from occasional plant matter.

Behavior and Temperament

While generally peaceful, Columbian Sharks are active swimmers and can be slightly territorial. They are nocturnal by nature, so don’t be surprised to see increased activity during the evening or in dimly lit conditions.

Tank Mates

When choosing tank mates, consider similarly-sized, non-aggressive fish that can tolerate brackish water. Possible companions include archerfish, monos, larger mollies, and scats. It’s essential to avoid very small fish, as they might become an unintentional snack.


Breeding the Columbian Shark in captivity is rare and not well-documented. In their natural habitat, they migrate from saltwater to freshwater to spawn. If attempting to breed, it would require a controlled environment mimicking this migration, with ample space and monitored water conditions.

Columbian Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)