Cat Shark: Small-sized Species, Ideal For Breeding In Aquariums

The cat shark has as its main characteristics its small size, robustness and an attractive appearance.

For this reason, the animal is considered fundamental in the public or domestic aquarium trade.

Cat Shark: Small-sized Species, Ideal For Breeding In Aquariums
Cat Shark: Small-sized Species, Ideal For Breeding In Aquariums

In this sense, follow us to understand the reproduction, diet and curiosities of this shark.


  • Scientific name – Atelomycterus marmoratus and Galeus melastomus;
  • Family – Scyliorhinidae.

Main Species of Cat Shark

So that you know the characteristics of the fish that go by the name of Tubarão Gato, we will introduce you to the two main species:

Atelomycterus marmoratus

First of all, there is the coral cat shark, which has a common name in the English language coral catshark.

The fish’s body is slender and cylindrical, just as the head would be narrow and short.

The snout is flat and short, while the eyes are horizontally oval, protected by nictitating membranes.

The nostrils are covered by wide, triangular flaps of skin that lie on the anterior margins, leaving small openings.

The nostril flaps reach the mouth which would be long and angular in shape.

Otherwise, the animal also has small teeth and five pairs of gill slits.

Individuals reach 70 cm in total length and are identified by the black and white spots that are scattered over the back.

In fact, the spots can be seen on the fins and sides, as well as they can merge to form horizontal bands.

Galeus melastomus

Secondly, we should talk about the black-mouthed cat shark, spotted piglet or sword shark.

As differentials, the fish have a long anal fin and the pre-caudal fin would be compressed.

Being covered by spots, it is also possible to observe a tall and compressed body, as well as a total length between 50 and 79 cm.

This type of Cat Shark prefers to live in deep waters and in Portugal, it is fished for human consumption. The animal’s skin is used as sandpaper.

In this sense, people open the fish and salt it so that it is then left to dry in the sun for 4 days.

After this process, the meat can be stored for a few months without spoiling.

Therefore, despite not being fundamental in the commerce for the sale of meat, the animal is used for times of scarcity.

With this, it is important in winter periods and can be a good substitute for cod .

Reproduction of the Cat Shark

The reproduction of the species would be oviparous, that is, there are eggs in the external environment that surround the embryos.

These eggs are in a pouch-shaped capsule and are 6 to 8 cm long, as well as 2 cm wide.

This means that the embryos do not have any kind of bond with the female.

Right after birth, the Cat Shark is 10 to 13 cm long.


As a strategy to locate the prey, the catfish has the barbels as sensitive organs that capture the ripples caused by other species.

In this way, a very interesting point is that the animal can distinguish between natural undulations or those that are tailed by prey.

As a result, the diet includes bony fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.

And because it is an aggressive animal, it can feed on other shark species or members of the same species.


Despite showing some aggressive behaviors, the Cat Shark can live in a tank.

This tank must have hiding places, as well as a good depth so that the animal can reach the expectation of 20 years of age.

In addition, the sale of animal meat or processing to produce fish meal, as well as oil, are characteristics that refer us to the risk of extinction.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this species is threatened and vulnerable.

And in addition to commercial fishing, other points that are causing the decrease in the population of Tubarão Gato would be the degradation of the natural habitat, pollution and mining of coral for use as construction material.

Where to find the Cat Shark

Cat Shark distribution can vary by species, so be aware that Atelomycterus marmoratus inhabits the Western Indo-Pacific.

Thus, regions such as the Philippines, southern China, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, New Guinea, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia can harbor the species.

It is also important to talk about the north to Japan, where the animal is in coral reefs or close to the coast.

On the other hand, Galeus melastomus is present in the Mediterranean and also in the Eastern Atlantic, involving regions from Faroe to southern Senegal.

Therefore, we can include the archipelagos of Madeira and the Canary Islands.

This species prefers to inhabit the bottom and stays between the depth of 200 to 500 m.

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