Bala Shark CareThere are some very important aspects of Bala Shark care that you have to focus on. One is the size of the tank, second is the chemistry of the water, and third is the number of Bala sharks in your tank. Please take a look at the table below for a quick starter checklist of Bala Shark care; then if you like, read more about each point below.
Bala Shark Care Checklist
- Purchase size: 1 - 2 in (2.5 - 5 cm)
- Adult size: 10 - 14 in (25 - 35 cm)
- Immature tank size minimum: 50 gallons (189 litres)
- Adult tank size minimum: 125 gallons (472 litres)
- pH: 5.7 - 7.9
- hardness (dH): 5 - 15
- Temperature: 72 - 84 degrees Fahrenheit (22 - 29 degrees Celsius)
- Number of Balas in a healthy school: 5+
- Vegetation: plenty
- Sharp edges?: NO sharp edges in aquarium
- Strata: all
- Tankmates: other peaceful community fish
- Care level: easy to medium difficulty
- Life-Span: 8-10 years
- Diet: Omnivorous
When you first buy Bala sharks they will be only a few inches long, but they will quickly grow to their adult size. If you do not provide them with adequate space they may become aggressive towards the other fish in the aquarium. The size of aquarium required is a function of the size of the bala sharks. If you have a 125 gallon to begin with then things are peachy, but if you don’t, then you will want to upgrade as the balas grow. Upgrading to a larger tank can be expensive and keeping large bala sharks in a small tank is definitely not recommended. Since they are fast swimmers and they like to swim around you will know when they have outgrown their tank because they will start running into the walls of the aquarium.
The pH and dH ranges that are recommended for the Bala sharks is a reflection of the pH range and water hardness range in their natural environment. The same goes for the temperature. Bala sharks are found in Indonesia straddling the equator where temperatures are in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius) year round.
Note: When discussing Bala Shark care I refer a lot to their natural environment. This is because they have lived there for 1000s of years and their biology is optimized to match that environment. If you try to mimic their natural environment in your aquarium they will love you for it. If you diverge too much from the conditions they’re optimized for you may have some unhappy and/or unhealthy fishes in your aquarium.
Please try to always keep bala sharks in groups of 5 or more. They are schooling fish and they get very lonely and possibly aggressive if you have them singly in your aquarium. In nature, they are found in schools of hundreds or thousands of bala sharks (a few more than would probably fit into your aquarium).
For the most part, the chemistry of the water required for the Bala Sharks has a large enough range that many other tropical fish species will successfully live in the same tank. The Bala sharks are pretty hardy and can handle most things that you throw at them. They may even let you know when they think you’re not treating them properly. They try to jump out of the aquarium more often than usual or splash water at you more regularly. As an example of how hardy they can be, a friend of mine has 5 Bala sharks in her aquarium. One day they broke the thermometer and ate the mercury. Believe it or not, they’re all still alive! (Mercury irreversibly binds to the enzymes that carry out the body's chemical reactions. Even a small amount of Mercury can land a full grown human in the hospital emergency room or worse…)
Bala Shark tankmates include other peaceful community fishes, although they can hold their own against more aggressive fish as well. Generally, angelfish and clown loaches make great tank mates for Bala Sharks.
Make sure that the aquarium bio-filter is established before you add any bala sharks. They are very sensitive to the toxic conditions of new tanks. It is recommended that you wait 6-8 weeks before adding the silver sharks. Bala Shark food is also very important in their overall health and care.
Go to Bala Shark Tankmates (next page).