Bala Sharks Care Guide: Simple Steps for Happy, Healthy Pets

Bala Sharks are interesting freshwater fish that many aquarium enthusiasts consider adding to their aquatic family. They are known for their unique appearance and playful behavior, making them a lovely addition to any aquarium setup.

In this care guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Bala Sharks to help you keep them happy and healthy. From tank size requirements to food preferences and ideal tank mates, we’ve got you covered. So, get ready to learn how to create the perfect home for your Bala Sharks and embark on this exciting journey.

Species Profile

Scientific NameBalantiocheilos melanopterus
Common NamesBala Shark, Silver Shark, Tri Color Shark
DistributionSoutheast Asia (Thailand, Borneo, Sumatra, Malayan Peninsula)
SizeUp to 14 inches (35 cm)
Lifespan10 years
Minimum Tank Size125 gallons
Temperature72°F – 79°F (22°C – 26°C)
pH6.0 – 8.0
Water Hardness5 – 12 dGH
Care LevelModerate
Filtration/Water FlowModerate to high
Water TypeFreshwater
BreedingEgg layers
Breeding DifficultyDifficult
CompatibilityPeaceful, similarly-sized community fish

Bala Sharks are fascinating fish known for their silver, torpedo-shaped body and black margins on their dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. Their peaceful nature makes them an attractive choice for aquarium enthusiasts who are willing to provide the right care. Unfortunately, they have become rarer and even extinct in some parts of their native habitat.

Bala Sharks Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Bala Sharks, also known as Silver Sharks or Balantiocheilos melanopterus, are an interesting freshwater fish species native to Southeast Asia. They thrive in rivers and lakes, especially in countries like Thailand, Borneo, and Sumatra. These fish enjoy moderate water currents and live in shoals, which makes them an active presence in their natural habitat.

Size and Shape

In terms of size, adult Bala Sharks can reach up to 14 inches in length, so it is essential to consider their tank size requirements when keeping them in a home aquarium. They have a somewhat torpedo-shaped body which gives them both agility and grace as they swim about in their watery environment.

Color and Markings

The Bala Shark has a beautiful silver color, hence the name Silver Shark. Their fins are adorned with black tips, a distinct feature that is visible even from afar. These eye-catching markings not only make Bala Sharks visually appealing but also easy to identify among other similar species.


When it comes to their lifespan, Bala Sharks can live up to 10 years if given proper care. It is important for you, as an aquarium owner, to ensure they have the right tank conditions, diet, and compatible tank mates to guarantee a healthy and fulfilling life for these fascinating fish.

Diet and Feeding

As a Bala Shark owner, it’s important to know that these fish have an omnivorous diet, meaning they consume both plant and animal matter. In order to maintain their health and support their active lifestyle, providing a well-rounded diet is essential.

Bala Sharks naturally feed on a variety of food sources, such as:

  • Insect larvae: These are a great source of protein for your fish. You can offer them live or frozen insect larvae, such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, or bloodworms.

  • Crustaceans: Another excellent protein-rich food source for your Bala Sharks are small crustaceans. Daphnia or krill are readily available in most pet stores, and can be offered either in their dried form or as a frozen treat.

  • Algae: A source of plant nutrition that Bala Sharks enjoy is algae. You can add spirulina or other algae-based products to their diet for additional vitamins and minerals.

  • Plant matter: In addition to algae, your fish will benefit from consuming other forms of plant matter as well. You can offer them blanched vegetables like spinach, lettuce, or zucchini to help round out their nutritional needs.

When feeding your Bala Sharks, it’s crucial to offer a variety of food items to ensure they receive a well-balanced diet. You can also use high-quality, commercial fish pellets or flakes, designed for omnivorous species, as a staple food.

Be mindful of the feeding time to keep your fish healthy and happy. It’s ideal to feed them twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. Keep the portions small enough to be consumed within a few minutes so as to avoid overfeeding them.

By understanding and providing a diverse diet that includes insect larvae, crustaceans, algae, and plant matter, you can ensure your Bala Sharks receive the proper nutrition they need to thrive in your aquarium.

Behavior and Temperament

Bala Sharks are known for their peaceful temperament and friendly nature, making them a great addition to community aquariums. They are active fish, so you’ll enjoy watching them swim throughout the tank. However, be prepared for their lively and energetic behavior, as they can sometimes startle more timid species of fish.

As a schooling fish, Bala Sharks thrive in a shoal of their own kind. Ideally, you should keep at least five to six of them together. This will not only make them feel more secure but also encourage their natural social behavior, resulting in healthier and happier fish.

Bala Sharks are also diurnal fish, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. It’s important to provide a consistent day and night cycle in your aquarium to mimic their natural environment. This can be achieved through the use of an aquarium timer or simply by turning off the lights during nighttime.

Bear in mind that, due to their size and activity level, Bala Sharks require a large aquarium with ample swimming space. Maintain proper water parameters and a well-planted tank to mimic their natural habitat, which will help reduce stress and promote their overall health.

Understanding the behavior and temperament of Bala Sharks will ensure they thrive in your aquarium and interact well with their tank mates. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to appreciate the unique characteristics of these fascinating fish.

Care and Tank Requirements

Tank Size

When it comes to caring for your Bala Sharks, one of the most important factors is the size of the tank. Bala Sharks are schooling fish that can grow up to 14 inches in length, so they need ample room to swim. A minimum tank size of 100 gallons is recommended, but you may need more depending on the number of fish you plan to keep. Providing adequate swimming space is crucial for the health and happiness of your Bala Sharks.

Water Parameters

Maintaining proper water parameters is essential in ensuring your Bala Sharks stay healthy. Bala Sharks are freshwater fish, and they thrive in water conditions similar to their natural habitat:

  • pH: Aim to keep the pH level within the range of 6.0 to 8.0.
  • Water hardness: Bala Sharks prefer a water hardness between 5 to 15 dGH.

Remember to regularly test and adjust your water parameters as necessary for the optimal health of your fish.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Setting up your aquarium to be a comfortable home for your Bala Sharks will involve careful planning and consideration.

  • Substrate: A soft sandy substrate is preferred, as it closely mimics their natural riverbed habitat.

  • Decorations: Provide places for your Bala Sharks to explore and hide, such as driftwood, rocks, and plants. However, be sure to leave enough open space for swimming.

Carefully arranging your tank will not only keep your Bala Sharks happy but also create an aesthetically pleasing environment for you to enjoy.

Filtration and Aeration

Considering the size of your Bala Sharks and the tank, a good filtration system is vital in maintaining the water quality. A powerful and efficient filter is crucial for removing waste, leftover food, and other contaminants. Additionally, proper aeration is essential for ensuring the well-being of your fish. Providing sufficient oxygen and water movement improves the overall health of your Bala Sharks.

By following these guidelines for care and tank requirements, you’ll be on your way to creating a thriving environment for your Bala Sharks.

Suitable Tank Mates

Bala Sharks, also known as “The Gentle Giant,” are native to Southeast Asia and popular among aquarium enthusiasts due to their easygoing temperament. To ensure a harmonious freshwater tank environment, it’s important to choose appropriate tank mates for your Bala Sharks. Ideally, you want to select other peaceful and considerably-sized fish that thrive in similar water conditions.

Here’s a list of some compatible tank mates for your Bala Sharks:

  • Common Plecos
  • Clown Loaches
  • Rainbowfish
  • Giant Danios
  • Roseline Sharks
  • Yoyo Loaches

Remember, Bala Sharks grow quite large, so it’s essential to provide them with a spacious home – specifically, a minimum tank size of 125 gallons. This ensures enough swimming space for them and their tank mates. Also, pay attention to the water quality, pH levels, and temperature, as they all play a significant role in maintaining a healthy aquarium environment for all your fish.

By carefully considering the appropriate tank mates and maintaining optimal living conditions, your Bala Sharks and their companions will undoubtedly thrive in your freshwater tank.

Breeding Process

Bala Sharks reach sexual maturity between 2 to 3 years in captivity. To start the breeding process, ensure you have a suitable tank of at least 100 gallons, as they require ample swimming space. It’s essential to create ideal conditions for breeding, with water temperature around 77°F (25°C) and a pH level between 6.0 and 8.0.

Firstly, set up a breeding tank separate from the main tank and prepare it with slightly acidic, well-filtered, and oxygenated water. Make sure the tank has hiding spots using plants, rocks, or driftwood for the female to lay eggs.

Next, separate male and female Bala Sharks – the males usually have slimmer bodies and sharper dorsal fins. Place them in the breeding tank, feeding them high-quality food to encourage spawning.

Monitor the fish and watch for any signs of mating behavior, such as swimming side by side or chasing. The female will lay hundreds of eggs, which the male will fertilize. As Bala Sharks are egg-scatters, it’s essential to keep the tank floor covered with fine-leaved plants, marbles, or mesh, so the eggs can fall through and avoid being eaten by the parents.

Once the eggs are laid, remove the adult Bala Sharks from the breeding tank to prevent predation. The eggs should hatch within 24 to 48 hours.

As an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, successful breeding in captivity can contribute to preserving the Bala Shark population. Ensure that you follow these steps carefully, providing optimal care and environment for these threatened fish.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Bala Sharks, just like any other fish, can be affected by various diseases. To ensure your fish stays healthy, it’s essential to provide the right water conditions, as well as a proper diet. In this section, we’ll go over some of the common diseases and their treatments.

Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a common issue in fish tanks. You may notice small white spots on your Bala Shark’s skin, fins, and gills. To treat Ich, gradually increase the water temperature to 86°F for a week and add aquarium salt or an Ich medication to the water. Ensure proper aeration during this treatment.

Another health concern for Bala Sharks is dropsy. This condition is caused by fluid buildup inside the fish’s body, leading to a swollen belly, bulging eyes, and clamped fins. Dropsy can be challenging to treat, but it’s crucial to address any underlying water condition issues. It could be caused by bacterial infections or stress. Quarantine the affected fish and use an antibiotic medication recommended by your local fish store or veterinarian.

Stress can lead to weakened immune systems, making your Bala Shark more susceptible to bacterial infections. Poor water conditions can often cause stress, so it’s crucial to maintain optimal tank settings. Change 25-30% of the water weekly and ensure proper filtration. It’s also essential to provide a suitable environment with hiding spots, so your fish feels safe.

Malnourished Bala Sharks may develop common fish diseases. Feed your fish a varied diet, including flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms, to make sure they get all the essential nutrients they require.

Following these guidelines will help you maintain a healthy environment for your Bala Shark and prevent most common diseases. Remember, the key is consistency in care and a friendly environment for your fish to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Bala sharks?

Bala sharks can grow quite large, with adult Bala sharks reaching up to 14 inches (35 cm) in length. Therefore, you should provide them with a spacious aquarium. A minimum tank size of 150 gallons is recommended to accommodate their size and active swimming habits.

How long do Bala sharks live?

Bala sharks can live for about 8-10 years when provided with proper care and a suitable environment. To ensure they live a long and healthy life, maintain optimal water parameters, a stable temperature, and a balanced diet.

What is the growth rate of Bala sharks?

When young, Bala sharks can grow rapidly. Though they start small at around 3-4 inches in length, they can quickly grow up to their adult size (14 inches) within a few years. It’s essential to monitor their growth and adjust your aquarium setup if needed.

What do Bala sharks eat?

Bala sharks have a diverse diet in the wild that includes insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In your aquarium, you can feed them a mix of high-quality pellets or flakes made for omnivorous fish, along with occasional treats like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and vegetable-based foods such as blanched spinach or zucchini.

Are Bala sharks easy to care for?

Though Bala sharks have specific requirements regarding tank size and water parameters, they are relatively hardy and easy to care for, making them a suitable choice for intermediate and advanced aquarists. The keys to their successful care include a suitable environment, a well-balanced diet, and routine water changes to maintain water quality.

How many Bala sharks should be kept together?

Bala sharks are shoaling fish, which means they prefer to live in groups. It’s recommended to keep a minimum of five or more Bala sharks together to ensure their comfort and security. Keeping them in groups can help prevent stress and reduce the risk of aggressive behavior or territorial disputes.