Bala Shark (Balantiocheilus Melanopterus): Ultimate Care Guide


Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilus Melanopterus) have silver bodies with very defined scales. Their body shape appears similar to the body shape of most sharks. They have yellow colored fins tipped in black. The tail fin of the Bala Shark is forked, and they have large eyes. The Bala Shark’s large eyes help them find and catch their prey.

Counter indicative of their common name, the Bala Shark is not a shark. The Bala Shark was given this name due to its shark-like appearance. In addition, Bala Sharks do not have teeth. Instead, they suction the food into their mouths.

Common NameBala Shark, Silver Bala, Tri-color Shark Minnow
Scientific NameBalantiocheilus Melanopterus
OriginSoutheast Asia
Temperature72F – 82F
Water pH6.0 to 8.0
Adult Sizeup to 14 inches
DietOmnivorous

Bala Shark Facts

  • Bala Sharks are not actually sharks at all. They were given the name Bala Sharks because of their appearance.
  • Bala Sharks are becoming increasingly rare in their natural habitat, and even becoming entirely extinct in areas that they once heavily populated. There are a few reasons to blame for their declining numbers in the wild, man made dams, overfishing for aquarium trade, or even pollution. Most likely, it is a mixture of these elements that have led to the Bala Shark population decline. The Bala Shark has remained on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 1996.
  • Most of the Bala Sharks being sold in the aquarium trade are captive bred.
Bala Shark (Balantiocheilus Melanopterus)
Bala Shark (Balantiocheilus Melanopterus)

Bala Shark Care & Diet

Bala Sharks are omnivorous, and in their natural habitat they can be found eating insects, plants, insect larvae, small crustaceans, and algae. In captivity, Bala Sharks will readily accept flaked, pellet, or live foods. Bala Sharks are not picky eaters and will eat pretty much whatever you give them. This makes them easy to overfeed.

The best way to feed Bala Sharks is to establish a regular feeding schedule. Bala Sharks do best when fed 2 to 3 smaller meals per day and only enough food that they can consume in 2 to 3 minutes. Establishing a regular feeding schedule and limiting how much you give them at a time, you will help prevent overfeeding your Bala Shark and help keep waste levels down in your aquarium.

Bala Shark Size

Bala Sharks are often purchased at a very small size of around 1 to 2 inches. This can be misleading as they can grow very large. Bala Sharks can grow up to 14 inches long if cared for properly. It is important to note their average adult size. Bala Sharks are schooling fish that are most comfortable in a group of at least 4 fish and your tank size will need to be big enough to accommodate all of them. If they are kept in a tank that is too small it will stunt their growth and they will never reach their impressive maximum size.

What is the Biggest Bala Shark on Record?

For now, it seems that the biggest Bala Sharks have gotten is up to 14 inches. That is not to say that it isn’t possible to have a larger than typical Bala Shark. You can still expect your average, properly cared for Bala Shark to grow up to 14 inches at maximum.

What is the Bala Shark Growth Rate?

Bala Sharks have a rather fast growth rate. They can grow from 1 to 4 inches in a single month. If Bala Sharks are not kept in the appropriately sized setup, they will not grow to their full potential maximum length. It is important for the Bala Shark that they are kept in an aquarium that is large enough to accommodate the maximum potential size of each Bala Shark. This can be difficult to achieve as they are fish that prefer to live in a group.

Do Bala Sharks Grow Fast?

Bala Sharks grow at a quick rate. If they are being kept in the appropriate setup, they can grow from 1 to 4 inches a month. This rapid growth rate can make the Bala Shark a difficult fish to prepare the correct amount of space for. Too small of a tank will stunt their growth, and your Bala Shark will not reach their full growth potential.

How Many Inches Per Month Do Bala Shark Grow?

Bala Sharks can grow up to 4 inches in one month if all of their needs are being met. It is important to make sure that you are preparing a Bala Shark tank for an adult Bala Shark. They grow rapidly, and if they are placed in too small of a tank, it will stunt their growth.

How Long Does it Take for Bala Shark to Reach Full Size?

Bala Sharks grow to full size rather quickly. The rate at which they grow largely depends on how well they are kept. They can grow at a rate of up to 4 inches per month, but they reach full maturity and are able to spawn at around 4 inches in length.

How to Make Bala Shark Grow Fast

There are a few factors to consider when you have juvenile Bala Sharks that you want to reach their maximum growth potential. The maximum growth rate and size at full maturity depends firstly on the size of the tank that you are using to house your Bala Sharks. If they are not provided with enough room, it can stunt their growth and slow their growth rate.

Another thing to consider is the quality and variety of food you are offering your growing Bala Sharks. For Bala Sharks to reach their full growth potential they also need to be fed the appropriate diet. Bala Sharks are not picky eaters, so it will not be difficult to find them quality foods that they will readily accept.

It seems that the key to getting your Bala Sharks to reach their full potential size is largely determinant on how they are fed and kept. By keeping them in the correct water parameters, feeding them a high quality, varied diet, and providing them with the adequate size tank to grow into you will see your Bala Sharks grow to their maximum growth potential.

Bala Shark Lifespan

Bala Sharks can live up to 10 years in captivity if they are being cared for properly.

Bala Shark Tank Requirements

If you are planning on setting up a tank for Bala Sharks, or simply wanting to include them in a community setup, you will want to first consider how big they are going to get, and how many you are planning on keeping together. Bala Sharks are schooling fish that are more comfortable when kept together in a group of at least 4. Adult Bala Sharks have a maximum growth potential of 14 inches, and that can be difficult to accommodate in the average home aquarium. A minimum aquarium of 125 gallons is required to keep a small school of Bala Sharks, but the more room the better. Bala Sharks are an active species and they can be found spending the majority of their time darting around the tank. Bala Sharks do best when kept at a temperature range of 75F to 85F, and 6.0 to 8.0 pH.

Bala Shark Tank Setup

When choosing items for your Bala Shark tank, you will want to try to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. This will ensure that your Bala Sharks will not stress. When choosing substrate, you will find that Bala Sharks are not too picky about what you use. If you are going with a substrate that is similar to their environment in the wild, you can choose a dirt, sand or gravel substrate. If your Bala Sharks are going into a community aquarium setup, their non preference makes it easier to consider the needs of other species in their tank.

When choosing decor and plants for a Bala Shark you will find that they are also not particularly picky about what you place in the aquarium as long as they have plenty of places to hide or stop and rest comfortably. Make sure that you are balancing the amount of plants and decor with their free swimming space. Bala Sharks are an active species that also needs room to freely swim in a group.

Bala Shark Breeding

It is difficult to tell male Bala Sharks from female Bala Sharks when they are juveniles. It is best to purchase a small school of fry and raise them to maturity if you are planning on breeding them. This way you will get both males and females in your school. Male Bala Sharks tend to grow a little longer than females, and female Bala Sharks will have more rounded abdomens. This makes it more difficult to tell if they are male or female until they display some of their mating behaviors.

It is important to the success of breeding Bala Sharks that you set them up a dedicated breeding tank. The breeding tank should have few plants around the outside edges of the aquarium and in the middle. Make sure that you leave them adequate space to freely swim. It has not quite been determined if there is a particular mating dance that they perform, but owners of Bala Sharks have reported that the females and males do swim together for a time, and then spawn.

When a female Bala Shark is ready to spawn, she will swim around the tank and lay her eggs. The male will then follow along and fertilize them. Once the Bala Shark breeding pair has completed the spawning process, they will then need to be removed from their aquarium so that they do not provide any parental care and will eat their own fry. In the wild, Bala Sharks travel to separate breeding grounds to spawn. In captivity, you will simply have to remove the breeding pair from the tank for the safety of the Bala Shark fry.

Do Bala Shark Lay Eggs?

Female Bala Sharks are egg-laying fish. This means that instead of the eggs being fertilized internally inside the female Bala Shark, they instead lay eggs when they are ready to spawn. They will lay them in an area they choose, and the male will then come along to fertilize the eggs.

What Do Bala Shark Eggs Look Like?

Bala Sharks lay small white eggs that almost resemble small pearls. The female Bala Shark will lay up to

Female and Male Bala Sharks

It is almost impossible to tell the difference between male and female juvenile Bala Sharks. If you are trying to get both males and females then you will want to purchase a small group of juveniles and raise them together. Once your juvenile Bala Sharks have reached maturity it becomes slightly easier to tell them apart, but not by much. Female Bala Sharks do not grow to be as large as males do. To further complicate things, if Bala Sharks are not given enough room as they grow they will not reach their potential maximum size. Female Bala Sharks tend to be more rounded in the abdomen. This becomes more prominent as they are closer to spawning and the female becomes full of eggs.

Bala Shark Disease

Bala Sharks are susceptible to many of the same illnesses and diseases as other freshwater fish. Common ailments include dropsy and ich as well as fungal and bacterial infections. It is better to try to prevent illness than it is to try to cure it so you will want to make sure that you have established a regular cleaning schedule with frequent water changes and regular monitoring of their water parameters. Unkempt and unchecked water parameters are usually the main factor in the health of the aquarium inhabitants. It is also important to quarantine anything new to your aquarium for up to 2 weeks to make sure that it is safe to add. By doing this you will ensure that you are not introducing anything harmful into your tank.

Bala Shark Tank Mates

Bala Sharks are not considered an aggressive species so much as they are a species of opportunity. They will not typically disturb tank mates, but Bala Sharks grow rather large and can potentially see smaller fish as food.

Do Bala Sharks Get Lonely?

Bala Sharks are a schooling species, and a single Bala Shark in a tank will not do. Bala Sharks are happiest when kept in a small group of at least 4 to 6. This can be difficult to accommodate due to their tank size requirements.

Bala Sharks are not an aggressive species, and can be a great addition to a community tank setup, you will want to consider their large adult size. They will not readily go after other species of fish in your aquarium, but they could potentially see smaller fish as food. Good examples of compatible tank mates for Bala Sharks include knifefish, plecos, and swordfish.

Tank mates that would not go well with Bala Sharks include larger, more aggressive or territorial species like African Cichlids or Oscars. Even though Bala Sharks can grow to be quite large, they will not stand up to other fish that are roughly the same size and this could cause potential injury or death if left unchecked.

Bala Shark and Oscar Fish

Bala Sharks and Oscars are not compatible tank mates. Even though Bala Sharks are large enough that they most likely won’t become a meal for an Oscar, they will not be able to defend themselves against the aggression of a territorial Oscar.

Bala Shark and Angelfish

Bala Sharks and Angelfish are considered compatible tank mates due to their peaceful nature. Bala Sharks will not nip the flowing fins of the slower moving Angelfish, and the Angelfish will not go after the Bala Shark. Angelfish can and will sometimes eat other tank mates, but Bala Sharks are safe.

Bala Shark and Goldfish

Goldfish make for a great tank mate for Bala Sharks. Both species enjoy roughly the same warmer water parameters, and diets. Neither species will get in the way of one another. Bala Sharks are also great tank mates with Koi.

Bala Shark and Discus

Bala Sharks are not great tank mates for Discus. They are not great tank mates due to the high energy and rapid darting around the Bala Shark school. The Bala Sharks quick darting around could make the Discus fish stressed out and nervous. If you are still wanting to place them together in a community tank, you will want to make sure that you provide the Discus with many places to hide, and lots of plants to give them a buffer.

Where Can I Find Bala Shark for Sale?

If you are looking to add Bala Sharks to your home aquarium, you will be able to find them in most pet stores or online. You can expect to pay around $10.

Bala Shark VS Redtail Shark

Bala Sharks are schooling fish and enjoy being together in groups of 4 or more while Redtail Sharks are solitary fish that enjoy being on their own. Redtail Sharks would be fin nippers if the opportunity presented itself. It is important to observe any fish that you put together for potential issues so that you can correct them before they become a much larger problem.

Bala Shark VS Rainbow Shark

Rainbow Sharks have a very different temperament than Bala Sharks. Rainbow Sharks will chase down other fish, while Bala Sharks will mostly leave them alone. Bala Sharks make for great tank mates in community setups as they mostly go out of their way to avoid trouble. Rainbow Sharks are not recommended for community tank setups. Rainbow Sharks do not school together like Bala Sharks do.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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