Brownbanded Bamboo Shark

Brown-spotted Cat Shark, Brown-banded Catshark

Family: Hemiscylliidae Picture of a Bamboo Shark or Brownbanded Bamboo SharkChiloscyllium punctatumPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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Hi i need help i have a bamboo shark she was eating anything i gave her she it 3-4 months old always active she is in a tank with 3 other sharks they all get along... (more)  Matthew venth

  The Bamboo Shark is also called the Brown-spotted Cat Shark or Brown-banded Catshark. Juveniles like the one pictured here have the bands and occasionlly spots. The adult Bamboo Shark are often plain gray or brownish in color.

   This is one shark that is successfully kept, but needs a large aquarium for room to swim in and excellent filtration! These are among the smallest of sharks at about 40 inches. Adults of the Bamboo Shark, Brown-spotted Cat Shark, or Brown-banded Catshark can be kept reasonably well in a 150 gallon or larger aquarium.

For more Information on keeping marine fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

Geographic Distribution
Chiloscyllium punctatum
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Actiniform
  • Class: Elasmobranchii
  • Order: Orectolobiformes
  • Family: Hemiscylliidae
  • Genus: Chiloscyllium
  • Species: punctatum
Survival of the Stillest: Predator Avoidance in Embryonic Bamboo Sharks

Report Broken Video
Bamboo Shark (Chiloscyllium punctatum)

This video was incredible! It shows the birth of a Bamboo Shark, the juvenile stage then the adult coloration. What was very interesting is how the Bamboo Shark, while still in it's egg will react when a predator is near! The Bamboo Shark, while needing a large tank, is a great pet. Please do not think you can make this a freshwater fish, since this will slowly kill it over time. Let's keep are cool Bamboo Sharks alive and well, since we are the ones that bought it, we need to be the ones to care for it properly.

Maintenance difficulty:

   The Bamboo Shark, Brown-spotted Cat Shark, or Brown-banded Catshark gets too large for most aquariums but is otherwise easy to keep.


   Feed all kinds of large meaty foods like small pieces of fish, squid, shrimp, and live goldfish. Best to feed small amounts several times a day.

Habitat: Natural geographic location:

   Bamboo Shark, Brown-spotted Cat Shark, or Brown-banded Catshark are found in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically, the east coast of the Indian Peninsula to northern Australia and north as far as Japan..


   See 'maintenance' above.

Social Behaviors:

   Gets along with other fish as long as they are large enough not to be thought of as food!

Sex: Sexual differences:

  The medial edges of the male's pelvic fins are modified to form claspers. The claspers are tubelike organs designed to deliver sperm into the female's reproductive tract. As the males grow older the claspers become more pronounced. The females do not have these.

Light: Recommended light levels:

   No special requirements.


   Egglayer, sometimes shark eggs are available for sale. More information on breeding can be found here: Banded Cat Shark.

Picture of a juvenile Blue-striped Angelfish
Banded Catshark (Adult) Photo Courtesy: Callie Mathews


   No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:

   Bamboo Shark, Brown-spotted Cat Shark, or Brown-banded Catshark adults can grow to 104 cm ( 40 inches).

Minimum Tank Length/Size:

   A minimum 175 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water Movement: Weak, Moderate, Strong

   No special requirements.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom

   Usually found resting on the bottom.


   This fish is available from time to time.

Lastest Animal Stories on Bamboo Shark

Matthew venth - 2015-09-03
Hi i need help i have a bamboo shark she was eating anything i gave her she it 3-4 months old always active she is in a tank with 3 other sharks they all get along fine but Yesterday i came home and went to feed the sharks and she wasnt moving so i picked her up her eyes were and still are closed she moves here tail back a fourth very slowly but cant swim and wont eat if any one has a answer please let me know thank you

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-09-06
    Be sure you water chemistry is within the proper parameters and watch the tank closely to see if there is some aggression going on. You must have a huge tank to house 4 sharks amd may possibly want to move the ailing bamboo into a tank of its own. You can try variety in its diet to entice it to eat, like human quality marine foods including squid, prawns, krill pieces, smelts, and anchovies. You can also try an appetite stimulant like soluble Vitamin B12. I hope your fellow starts feeding soon!
Paul Harkin - 2015-05-26
Hi Paul here from Montreal. Took 4 months for my bamboo shark to hatch he is in a small bucket with sand and holes for current. In my 90gallon ( preparing him a 300gallon) he is only 5days old and still has a big (oak sac) due to me helping him out a little early. He is breathing fine and swimming good, but my question is that he often flips on his backside and I feel the urge to help him back over. Is this normal for him to do so? Any advice would be great

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-05-31
    Great going, glad to hear your shark egg has hatched. Though its said they can hatch in around 6 weeks, there are reports of 6 months in some cases. I hope you can keep him going, the biggest problem is getting the new baby to eat. Once they reach about 7 inches, they are generally stable and they should grow about 9 inches a year.

    The flipping over on his back is concerning. I'm not a vet, but it sounds like it could be some kind of neurological disorders. Hopefully it will grow out of this, but you may want to talk to a fish vet or contact a public aquarium that has success with hatching out and rearing these sharks.

    Keep in mind that this animal will get very big. 36 inches is normal and it can get that big in about 4 years. A 300 gallon tank, with 500 gallons being optimal, will be needed for it to thrive.
  • Paul Harkin - 2015-06-01
    Thank you apreciate your reply :) I have been doing a lot a lot of research about him flipping on his back side. I'm going to try feeding him in a couple days since his (sack) has shrunk a bunch. Hopefully he will thrive I'm excited to get him a buddy and see where it goes.
  • Clarice Brough - 2015-06-01
    Well I'm excited for you and your baby shark! Keep us posted as he grows. Just a thought... if you register for our Pet Talk Facebook app when you add your comments, you can then upload some pictures for us to see too.
David Jones - 2009-12-05
Chiloscylliums need to be feed once to twice WEEKLY, not daily. This is covered in publications such as Scott Michael's "Aquarium Sharks and Rays" as well as many online resources. Keeping one in a tank as small as a 150 would be very inhumane, considering this shark is capable of getting large enough that it couldn't even lay straight by the end of it's 20+ year natural lifespan. Using goldfish as feeders will ultimately cause a very malnourished shark with an incredibly short lifespan, and it does NOT do well with mixed communities of fish... these sedentary sharks tend to fall prey to many agile fish (angels and tangs will peck their eyes)

  • chris - 2010-09-02
    Thanks for the info, I am recently looking into buying a bamboo shark and your information is and was very helpful.
  • Sabastian Knight - 2014-12-12
    yeah, TRY NIGHTCRAWLERS, you know worms that you would go fishing with, the sharks of this breed seem to go nutt's over them, BUT only give half of the nightcrawler at each time, not the whole thing.
samantha - 2010-12-13
I've had a banded cat shark for about 4 to 5 months now and he just all of the sudden stopped eating he won't eat the food he normally eats (frozen krill) so I thought changing the food might help I tried shrimp won't eat that tried guppies he won't eat that and on top of everything he went from black to brown in over 24 hours can someone please explain to me why this is happening to my baby?

  • Sabastian Knight - 2014-12-12
    try feeding it nightcrawlers, mine was doing the same thing, and then I tried that, and he's been eating them like they where going out of style, hope this helps.

jason - 2011-10-09
Just wondering were am I able to purchase one of these beautiful fish as I live in Australia?