Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 16:43 UK

'Dopey' sharks must be hand fed

Bamboo shark
The babies are the offspring of a former pet, a shark called Basil

Baby sharks at a Birmingham aquarium will only consume food fed by hand, say staff.

The five bamboo sharks at the National Sea Life Centre were hand fed as it was feared a shoal of greedy box fish in their tank were eating all the food.

But aquarist Lynsey Thompson said now the fish have been moved, the sharks still want their daily ration of tiny shrimps "hand delivered".

The sharks are about 8in (20cm) long but could grow to 5ft (1.5m).

Ms Thompson said staff cup the food in their hands and the baby sharks "vacuum it up".

"They could give a little bit of a nip but they're quite gentle, it just tickles really," she said.

They were hand-fed because it was feared they were not eating enough when they shared their tank with the fish during the first weeks of their lives.

She said: "The sharks are a little bit dopey, and by the time they spurred themselves into action, the box fish had eaten all the food."

Basil's babies

Ms Thompson added: "We hadn't anticipated the rearing of these babies being quite so labour intensive, but we're confident once they move onto diced squid and mackerel that we'll soon get them feeding for themselves."

The five sharks are the offspring of another resident at the aquarium, called Basil, who used to be someone's pet.

His former owner Mick Sparrow, of Acocks Green, brought him from a garden centre when he was about 1ft long (30.5cm), but said Basil more than doubled in size within a year.

"It was when he started turning over two kilogram rocks with his nose that I realised he needed a bigger home," he said.

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