Bala Shark

Bala Sharks for Beginners

Bala sharks are fresh water fish that are easy to recognize in an aquarium. They look like sharks. The shape of their body and dorsal fin is what earned them the ‘shark’ moniker even though they are actually minnows. The body of a Bala Shark is silver with the edges of it's fins being jet black. The Bala Sharks silver body also earned them the name “Silver Shark”. They are also called the Tri Color Shark because they can sometimes have a yellow color on their fins between the silver and the black band. Other common names you may have heard are Tri Colour Shark Minnow, Hangus, Malaysian Shark and Silver Bala. You may also have encountered the common misspelling “Balla Shark”. The binomial name of Bala Sharks is: Balantiocheilus melanopterus.

Bala Shark Temperament

Bala sharks can be very timid. In the first few months you have them they may freak out when someone walks past the aquarium or enters the room. They do require some planning before you buy them though. They may grow to be up to 14 inches (35 cm) long and that requires a large tank because they like to swim. Not to mention, they are a schooling fish so you’re better off to keep them in groups of 5 or more. Make sure that your tank has a lid and that it is on tight because Bala Sharks like to jump. You don’t want to come home one day to find a silver shark on the floor. If you make the bala sharks mad you can expect some fin splashing in an attempt to spray water in your direction.

Another consideration is that Bala Sharks are more susceptible to disease than most other aquarium fish, so watch out for signs of Bala Shark diseases.

Bala Shark Care

The Bala Sharks are docile fish for the most part. There are some cases where they may cause trouble. If you keep them singly or in an aquarium that is too small for them they may become aggressive towards other fishes and take bites out of them. Also, once the Bala Sharks grow to a certain size they may eat the smaller fishes. The only requirement is that the smaller fish can fit into their mouths.

Caring for a school of Bala Sharks is a long-term commitment. When you buy them they are only an inch or two long and over the years they will grow to be up to a foot long. Some stores will insist that you have at least 50 gallon tank before they sell you a Bala Shark. For the full grown silver sharks a 125 gallon tank is the minimum you should have. More on Bala Shark care.

Bala Shark Tankmates

The Bala Sharks are more-or-less peaceful if you provide them with optimal conditions. Balas fit well into a community aquarium. Good Bala Shark tankmates include many different fish species including, barbs, danios, and clown loaches.

Breeding Bala Sharks

It is not recommended that Bala Sharks are mated in home aquariums due to their large size. Imagine if you have a school of 5 Bala Sharks and they mate. Soon you have many baby Balas that grow very quickly to be 5-6 inches (15-17 cm) long and your tank will be over crowed in no time.

The Bala Sharks are egg spreaders and fertilization is external. Balas do not guard the eggs or the fry and they even eat them, so it is recommended that you have a separate tank for the young Balas where they can grow in safety. If you insist on breeding Bala Sharks in your aquarium there are some things you can do to encourage them to breed.

Go to Bala Shark Food (next page).