How to Set Up a Shark Aquarium - Practical Knowledge!

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You can imagine that sharks need a lot of space to swim, so sharks are not your everyday animals that you would find in a private aquarium. However, there are sharks that don’t need a lot of space and aren’t that active.

The well known bamboo shark is a good example of this. These sharks are kept by hobbyists because they are ‘’not that hard’’. Anyway, I would not place them in a tank smaller than 1500 liters, but it sadly happens a lot. So when a client of ours had a dream of having black tip sharks swimming in his restaurant, we had to think big!

This tank was built by Aqualife in Belgium for Pavarotti Kijkduin, a restaurant in The Hague, The Netherlands.


8 Meters long, 3 meters wide and 1.5 meters high is a massive tank, it holds around 35000 liters of water. Together with the filtration it has a total volume of 40000 liters.This is a lot of weight! So a special foundation with massive steel beams was made where the tank is sitting, the tank is made out of a steel structure, polyester and glass panels.

First, the frame got welded together in the fabrication hall of Aqualife.

After welding the frame was transported for the first coating.

After coating it was time to bring the frame into place.

Polyester coating and installing the glass panels. In this photo you see the massive steel beams where the tank is sitting on.

Take a good look at the corners, they are rounded on the inside, that is important for a shark tank so they will not get hurt by swimming into a 90 degrees corner.

Here the tank was in its final phase before filling, adding rock scape and the led lights. Also the interior designers started building the sitting areas around the tank.


This protein skimmer from MAT Filtration Technologies is rated up to 60 000 liters. It is doing a great job and is easy to maintain.

The ‘’sump’’ is a red label AquaKing filter that was custom made to use in a saltwater application. The water enters through an automated fleece filter. The next chamber has K1 bio media filtration, an air pump keeps the K1 tumbling. For phosphate absorbers we are using media reactors. 


Maintenance is done by me 1 day a week. Testing the water and making sure the filtration components and pumps are working well. Glass cleaning and feeding is done by the restaurant staff.

This shark tank is now running for 6 months and we had some problems with the first group of fish and failing equipment. This made the start very stressful. The most important thing we had to do, even with this big of a tank, was having patience!

For the future we are planning to use a lot of gear from Reef Factory to start automated testing, dosing and monitoring.


We are working together with De Jong Marinelife to get the best assistance with choosing the fish for this tank. They deliver all the animals to us. The first group of fish that are in the tank now are a school of silver dollars, some surgeonfish, triggerfish, foxfaces, sand sifting gobies, a horn shark, a laced moray eel and 2 black tip sharks. The black tip sharks will eventually outgrow this tank, by working together with Dejong Marinelife we are able to take the sharks to a better place when they get too big and young sharks will replace them, so you can say it is a shark growth tank. We are planning to add one more moray eel and some rays. Of course there is also a big amount of cleaning crew added to the tank. For coral we added some leathers to give the rocks a little bit of color.

About the author

Picture of Kevin Van Beeck from K-reef Aqualife

Kevin Van Beeck from K-reef Aqualife

I am Belgian by origin but live in The Netherlands. I have been an aquarist for more than 20 years. Doing a YouTube channel about keeping saltwater tanks was the first step to having my own business. 2 years ago I decided to quit my day job and work in the business full time. Now I have fun in the hobby everyday and I am able to do this awesome projects together with Aqualife - Belgium.