Columbian Shark (Arius jordani)

Columbian shark

Last updated on August 24th, 2022 at 08:22 pm

Arius jordani, more commonly known as the Columbian shark or the black fin shark, is one of the most popular species of sharks that are kept in home aquariums and public displays around the world. However, these dangerous creatures can cause damage to homes and people if they are not taken care of properly.

When you hear the word shark, images of cold-blooded killers immediately come to mind. However, not all sharks are that way—in fact, some are even cute and harmless! One example of this type of shark is the Columbian shark (Arius Jordani or black fin shark).

Its body makes it look like an adorable catfish or something else rather than a predator. Despite its appearance, however, you still need to treat it with care if you plan on keeping one as a pet—it’s still a shark, after all!

If you have one of these beauties at home, or if you’re planning on getting one soon, this guide will tell you all about how to best care for your Columbian shark so that it stays healthy and safe during its time with you.

Origin and descriptions

Columbian shark

Native to South America, from Venezuela south to Peru, Arius jordani also has been captured in Florida waters. It’s a black fin shark, with a brownish-gray coloration on its upper body. Its belly is white and lacks any markings. Similar species are Carcharhinus leucas and Carcharhinus obscurus.

These three sharks look very similar in terms of their shape, but they have different patterns of spots on their skin and different ways of swimming compared to each other. Arius jordani grows up to 14 inches long and weighs up to 160 pounds.

Like most large fish, it has no natural predators besides humans. Black fin sharks live mostly near shorelines in tropical areas; they’re found at depths between 2 feet and 60 feet deep. They swim slowly, usually moving just above or below sea level. They eat mostly squid and small fish, although some researchers believe that larger specimens may eat mammals such as dolphins or even bony fish like tuna or swordfish if given an opportunity.

Mono argentus (Silver Moony Fish)

Species profile

The Columbian shark belongs to the family Ariidae. They are also known as black-fin sharks, and are closely related to zebra sharks. This species can be found in both shallow and deep waters of tropical seas around South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, and Peru. This species is one of only two shark species that live in estuaries along with river dolphins.

They have been found as far north as New York harbor and as far south as Tierra del Fuego at 41 degrees south latitude. Unlike most other shark species, they prefer freshwater to saltwater. In fact, if a freshwater source is not available nearby, they will move on in search of it.

Black fin sharks tend to stay close to shore and near islands where there are plenty of food sources such as small fish and crustaceans. These sharks have an average lifespan of about 15 years, but some individuals may live up to 20 years or more.

Scientific name

The scientific name of the columbian shark is arius jordani


Columbian Sharks inhabit a wide brackish water area. From Guatemala to the Gulf of California, they can be found both south and north. Since they are found in rivers and tributaries that empty into the Pacific Ocean, they require a distinctive care regimen. This species is fairly common in the fishkeeping industry.

Columbian shark size

Columbian shark

The average size of the Columbian fish, when fully grown, is 10 to 14 inches (25-36 cm) in length.

Tank size

Due to their size, the minimum recommended tank size is 75 gallons (284 liters)

Tank requirements

The Columbian shark (arius jordani) can grow to 14 inches in length and require an aquarium tank with at least 75 gallons of water. The reason they need so much room is that they have a tendency to waste food, leaving behind large amounts of uneaten fish, sinking and decomposing into ammonia.

Dalmatian Lyretail Molly (Poecilia latipinna)

This means that you will need strong filtration equipment and lots of live rock rubble to break down all that excess ammonia. In addition, since these sharks are very active swimmers and jumpers, you will also need a lid on your tank.

It’s also important to note that although some aquarists report success keeping these sharks in pairs or groups, others claim it’s best to keep them alone as they tend to fight amongst themselves when kept together.

Keeping only one male per tank may be a good option for those looking to keep multiple Columbian sharks. You should be prepared for regular water changes, however; they produce high levels of nitrates and phosphates.

Columbian shark tank mates

Columbian sharks are not aggressive towards other tank mates. While it may be safest to keep them away from all other species, they’re especially compatible with catfish and other aquatic invertebrates. Bacteria, algae, and fungus will develop on your shark’s skin within a few days, so you’ll need to regularly wash him off.

This isn’t only for his sake; without proper cleaning, these microorganisms can enter his gills and harm him.

They can be housed with fishes like Targetfish, Monos, Gobies (we like the Bumblebee), Arches, Garpikes, Green Chromides, and Scats.


Columbian shark

In captivity, it is very difficult to breed Columbian Sharks. Only a few manage to breed successfully because of the unique spawning process (adults breed in the open ocean).

The male will fertilize the eggs after they have been laid by the female. The eggs will then be carried in the male’s mouth until they hatch. The fish fry is held in his mouth until he can swim upstream and deposit them in the freshwater environment.

In captivity, it is nearly impossible to replicate those changes in the environment.

However, as opposed to offering general guidelines on how to breed these fish (like some other sites do), we urge you to refrain from doing this until a proven track record has been established. Even if you are unsuccessful in breeding, the process will wear your fish down over time.

Dwarf Indian Mudskipper (Periophthalmus novemradiatus)

Are they aggressive or peaceful?

Columbian Sharks are quite peaceful, as long as they have their own space. Columbian Sharks should not be housed with other shark species unless they are on opposite ends of a tank. If you decide to house Columbian Sharks with another species of shark, it is important to have an extremely large tank and not keep them together for too long.

Columbian shark care

Columbian shark

Columbian sharks are very delicate when first brought into an aquarium. They require cold water and a stable tank environment in order to thrive. Keep your Columbian shark in a 75-gallon tank with a sand or fine gravel substrate, and plenty of smooth rocks or driftwood for hiding places. Make sure there is plenty of open swimming area as well as areas to hide.

A tight-fitting lid is necessary to keep them from jumping out of their tanks. Columbian sharks can be kept singly or in pairs if they are introduced at about 6 inches long. When keeping multiple Columbians together, it’s best to have them in larger groups so that they will be less aggressive towards each other.

What they eat

Columbian sharks are strict carnivores, with a diet of fish and other aquatic life. Offer your pet Columbian shark a varied diet, consisting of feeder goldfish, feeder guppies, krill or brine shrimp, nightcrawlers, earthworms, or bloodworms. Adjust these ingredients based on your pet Columbian shark’s health; for example, some pets will require added calcium if their feeding schedule involves primarily frozen food options.


They can live up to 10-15 years in captivity if cared for properly. However, in the wild, they can live for more than 20 years.

Parasites and diseases

Like most aquarium fish, Columbian sharks are susceptible to diseases, particularly fungal infections caused by white spot disease and parasites. They can be treated with medications such as formalin or malachite green. Most Columbian sharks have a low resistance to ammonia poisoning; stocking more than three in a tank is not recommended without extensive filtration.

Pelvicachromis Pulcher (Kribensis Cichlid)

The best way to prevent illness is proper water quality maintenance. Weekly water changes of 10-15% should be done using dechlorinated water. Filtration should also include activated carbon filters to remove toxins from chemicals that may build up over time in your tank’s substrate and décor. A strong biological filter will help keep your water clean and healthy for your fish.


The Columbian shark can be preyed upon by larger fish such as tuna, barracuda, and even other sharks.

Do they make good pets?

The Columbian shark is a very shy and docile animal, which makes it a good pet for both children and adults. However, due to its voracious appetite and tendency to live for many years, make sure you have enough space for one in your home! It also makes sense to consider getting two Columbian sharks so they can keep each other company. Although solitary in nature, they will not harm one another or their owner.