Pangasius sanitwongsei, the Hi-fin tiger shark, or Paroon shark is arguably one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species in terms of size and weight. It is an extremely large catfish that grow to almost 10 feet in length. It has been exported in increasing numbers for the aquarium trade in recent years. The Paroon shark populations have declined drastically in recent years due to overfishing, and it is now considered Critically Endangered in the wild.
The giant pangasius, paroon shark, pangasid-catfish or Chao Phraya giant catfish (Pangasius sanitwongsei) is a freshwater fish species in the shark catfish family (Pangasiidae) of order Siluriformes, found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins in Indochina. Its populations have declined drastically, mainly due to overfishing, and it is now considered Critically Endangered.
The specific name sanitwongsei was chosen to honor M. R. Suwaphan Sanitwong (Thai: ม.ร.ว.สุวพรรณ สนิทวงศ์) for his support of fisheries in Thailand.
The Pangasius sanitwongsei is native to basins in Southeast Asia and has been found in Central Anatolia, which is not native and was implemented illegally. The P. sanitwongsei was also recently found in South Africa and is suspected to be brought and released illegally.
The Pangasius sanitwongsei is tolerant of poor quality waters and prefers to live at the bottom of deep depressions in freshwater rivers. Fish live in rivers but are in danger due to dams’ construction, making them trapped and unable to migrate.
Life expectation: 20 years and older
Maximum size in nature: 300 cm, 10 feet
Maximum published weight: 300 kg
Minimum Tank Size: 1,000 gals
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-81°F, 24 – 28°C, 5-8 °d, pH 6.5 – 7.5
Color Form: Silver Black, White
Origin: Southeast Asia
Care Level: Difficult
Aquarist Experience Level: Advanced
They are difficult fish to care for, despite their being easy to acquire. They grow very large and easily outgrow even large tanks. As they are fairly active swimmers, they need a lot of open space in their tank. Floating plants seem to reduce this fish s nervousness, as they provide shade. Bright lighting is unnecessary and even harmful, as it will make the fish skittish. Not recommended for home aquaria because of the large size they attain.
Because of the size of sexually mature fish and the fact that they are a migratory species, breeding Paroon Sharks in an aquarium environment is not feasible. Although they are bred commercially in far Eastern fish farms as a food source, their spawning conditions are virtually impossible to replicate in an aquarium of any size. It is believed that these farms also supply the juveniles we occasionally see for sale in the hobby.
Even though they rarely reach their maximum size of over 10 feet in captivity, Paroon Sharks can still grow several feet long.
There is a good reason you never hear of any tropical fish-keeping enthusiast keeping a group of adult Paroon Sharks. Paroon Sharks are definitely not recommended for home aquariums. If you should inadvertently purchase one as a juvenile Iridescent Shark, be prepared to continuously upgrade tank size until you must transfer it into a pond or donate it to a public aquarium. When confined in Aquarium, it is easily startled and tends to jump out of its tank when spooked. In Aquarium can lead to problems with the fish banging into the tank glass and items of decor, often resulting in injury.
If you want to feed them. Min Tank size: 2000 Ltr. The aquarium should be large and very well filtered, include a sandy substrate, and be lightly planted. Provide shelter using lots of driftwood, adding clay plant pots with smooth edges, and even some small ceramic pipes will work well for hiding places for young Paroon sharks during the daylight hours. They also require a soft flow of water current, and good water conditions are necessary to maintain them in top condition.
Paroon Shark vs. Iridescent Shark
When these shark catfishes are young, one can easily confuse the two species. This is due to the similarities in their appearance. It is therefore important to note the difference between them.
The clear difference is in the fin and tail tips of these sharks. Paroon sharks have longer and sharper tips compared to iridescent sharks. An adult iridescent fish is a grey. The juvenile has a black stripe on its lateral line and another black stripe underneath the lateral line. It is easy to differentiate Iridescent shark from Paroon shark when they mature. Moreover, Paroon sharks are bigger than Iridescent sharks at full maturity.