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Will a Shark Outgrow Its Tank? How Big Will It Grow?

The best place for sharks is undoubtedly the sea because it is what they are accustomed to. You might be wondering if a tank can accommodate it or if it will end up outgrowing the tank. It is crucial to be more informed about this. 

Will a shark outgrow its tank? How big will it grow?

Sharks will outgrow their tank and not continue to be the same size. You must keep them in tanks of the right size because if you don’t give them room to grow they will end up losing life. The size of its growth does depend on the food and temperature but it will grow to its predetermined size.

Sharks only growing to the size of their tank is simply just a myth. You have to do your proper research about the growth of the particular species that your shark is and keep it inside a tank accordingly. 

This is very important because keeping them in a tank not suitable to accommodate their growth will not allow the sharks to develop properly. This can not only make the sharks very miserable it can also end up leading to your shark’s life loss. 

The water, food, and temperature that you provide your shark with alongside the accommodation all cater towards the size the shark ends up growing too. However, it is not true that your shark will be small and not the size of wild sharks in the ocean. 

From birth, your shark has a fixed size the muscles will grow to. The environment does play a part and sometimes the wrong environment also leads to stunted growth which can even cause life loss. 

However, your shark’s muscle will continue to reach the predetermined size even if the tank is small which means it will outgrow its tank at one point. 

How long will a shark get in a fish tank?

It depends on the species of the shark. For example, you will never see a Great White shark surviving in a fish tank despite providing it with all the ideal conditions. 

The longest time it has survived in an aquarium is a hundred and ninety-eight days and particularly in the tank that mimicked the exact conditions that sea creatures live in holding millions of gallons of water and having a depth of over ten meters. 

On the other hand, more domesticated sharks will reach their exact size and live a much longer time compared to white sharks. If they are provided with all the necessities and kept under idealistic conditions they will survive almost as long as they would in oceans. 

This is why it is always best to opt for domesticated sharks because wild sharks are not yet suitable to live in tanks. They stop eating their food when kept in tanks and cannot swim properly either. This leads to their life loss. 

What are the factors that affect sharks’ growth?

There are some factors to keep in mind that might end up affecting the growth of your shark so that you can take better care of it. 


This is one of the biggest factors that can not only lead to your shark having stunted growth but can also end up causing the life loss of your shark. When they are free in the sea, they can select and feed on their prey as they will. 

However, in tanks, they are not free to do that and only eat what their owner provides. Usually, the food provided by their owners is not something a shark would usually feed on in the sea. 

This is also one of the major reasons why many sharks stop eating when kept in tanks. You must monitor its feeding habits and give it what it likes to eat. 


It is very common for nitrate to build up in tanks. If you do not change the fish tank water regularly your fish will not develop well and it can even lose its life. Furthermore, it can also trigger the production of algae which you must avoid. 

Therefore, always keep in mind to keep the nitrate level below twenty-five mg in the tanks to allow your fish to grow properly. 


This is one of the major reasons which are usually overlooked. In their natural environment, sharks naturally get their growth hormones which allow them to mature quicker, mate properly and lead their pack. 

This is often missing in fish tanks and people do not realize that it is a big cause for stunted growth. 

Too much ammonia:

Sharks excrete ammonia which you must avoid from building up in the tank. Too much buildup and the shark staying amongst it for a long period of time can end up harming their breathing organs and restrict them from breathing properly.

Not getting proper oxygen can harm their development. 


Excess ammonia and nitrates are the main reason why you must frequently change the fish tank water to avoid stunted growth or life loss. The frequent changing of water depends on the size of your shark. 

The lack of growth hormones also means you have to work harder to provide your shark with ideal conditions. 

Since ammonia builds up really quickly and it is not viable to change the water every single day, you must extract the ammonia from the water instead. 

You must use the water as a means to replicate its natural habitat as much as possible or your shark may go through stress.


It is natural and because of genes that some sharks grow smaller than other sharks. Aquarium-bred sharks can tend to produce smaller sharks over time due to the influence of the environment on their growth date. 

Can you keep a shark in a small fish tank?

This depends from species to species. Domesticated sharks or sharks that genetically do not grow much can easily be kept in smaller tanks as long as there are no small fishes or creatures around. 

Wilder or bigger sharks must never be kept in a small fish tank as they need the space to grow and move. Too much of a restricted tank can end up leading to their life loss so you must keep them in one according to their size. 

Is it true a shark will never outgrow its environment?

A shark will certainly outgrow its environment if it is not kept inside a tank that can accommodate its size properly. It is a false assumption that sharks kept in tanks will only grow to the size of their tanks. 

A shark will grow as much as it is supposed to grow that is fixed from its birth. It will not outgrow its environment only if the tank is according to its size or if the shark is left alone in its natural habitat. 

Is it true a shark in a fish tank will grow 8 inches?

This is not true and is simply a myth. It is true that there are a lot of environmental factors that end up affecting the growth of the shark. However, from birth, there is a predetermined size that their bones will grow to. 

Not providing ideal conditions can somewhat stunt their growth but they will certainly grow more than eight inches unless it is a genetic call or genetic defect. 

How does a shark grow?

Like any other living organism, sharks grow through the nutrients that they feed on. When they are small they prey on smaller fishes as it is more than enough nutrients for their small bodies.

As they get older and their muscles start to develop, they prey on much bigger fishes to acquire more nutrients to help them move and develop bigger in size. 

Do sharks stop growing?

It can take many years for sharks to reach maturity which means they keep growing throughout the period that it takes for them to achieve maturity. However, even when they reach maturity some sharks such as the white shark will continue to grow. 

It is worth noting that their growth slows down significantly but there is still one growth provided that they are under all idealistic conditions. 

Do great white sharks outgrow their aquarium?

No, the great white shark has ever survived in an aquarium long enough to outgrow it. This is because they do not have space to race around and end up damaging their body. This can end up causing their life loss when they cannot pump water through their gills. 

They also stop eating because it is a stressful environment for them where they cannot connect with other sharks. No white shark has ever survived more than a few months in an aquarium. 

Final Thoughts:

Unless a shark is genetically designed to be small, it will continue to outgrow its tank unless the tank is accommodated to its size. It is very important to provide them with a proper tank and idealistic conditions to prevent the shark from having stunted growth and life loss.