The Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) is a charming and diminutive shark species native to northern Australia and New Guinea. It features a long body, small round paired pectoral and pelvic fins and a striking pattern of dark spots. They grow quickly, reaching a maximum size of 32 inches. The large dark markings above their pectoral fins are reminiscent of an epaulette, the ornamental shoulder décor used to signify military rank.
Epaulettes are typically nocturnal sharks and they are not a very active species. Rather than constantly swimming around the tank they are bottom dwellers that may swim in short bursts but they prefer to “walk” around on their paired fins. In nature they exhibit this behavior walking between tide pools as they hunt for their preferred prey items: small fish, crustaceans, mollusks and polychaete worms. We often observe them rooting in the sand with their snouts at dawn and dusk searching for buried prey. Epaulette sharks will only eat food that will fit in their mouth, they don’t tear up prey in the “traditional” shark sense. Rather, they need bite sized pieces of food which they chew thoroughly before swallowing.
We consider the Epaulette Shark to be an expert only animal. They must be provided with a low stress environment with limited disruption, an easy to consume diet with multivitamin supplementation and excellent water quality. Despite their relative small size and relaxed disposition, a full sized Epaulette will need to be housed in a tank with a minimum size of 200 gallons and carefully chosen tank mates. We strongly urge anyone looking to keep a shark to thoroughly research the species prior to purchase. This is a long term commitment!
Our Epaulette Shark pups are sold after they begin to reliably consume a readily available diet including large mysis shrimp, chopped squid and Mazuri shark vitamin gel diet. Availability is very limited.