Bala Shark – A Complete Guide – Care, Diet, Facts

Filling a freshwater tank with fish can be difficult. Understanding every fish needs from water type’s to food. When making a final decision on the types of fish there are many factors that play role into each aquariums fish breed.

You want a peaceful aquarium; you aren’t looking to buy fish just to have them be tortured and eaten by tank mates.You want visual appealing. You aren’t looking to have a tank have one color fish, with black decorations. That would be boring and bring you down.

A tank should make even the saddest person happy, if done right; hints why they put them in hospitals and dentists’ offices.

Your tank should have personality and movement. If every fish inside your tanks are still fish, there would be nothing to watch for more than a brief moment.

The Bala Shark are the perfect fish for any medium to large size aquarium. Although, due to their size its recommended that you have some previous knowledge on caring for fish.


Getting to Know Bala Shark

Bala Sharks are natives to Southeast Asia. These fish are known to be swimming in fast flowing rivers. Bala Sharks are the Giant Teddy Bears of Every aquarium!

You may not find this fish with the name Bala Shark because they are all so known as Silver Bala, Silver Shark, Tricolor Shark, and Tricolor Minnows. These are all names for the same fish.

Depending on the region you live and the preference of your pet store they can carry any of the names above.

These fish carry the name Shark although, they are no relatives to the species.

The Bala Sharks got given the additive of “shark” because of the tall dorsal fin and body style mimic one of a shark.

These fish are no pests to fish smaller than them, unless they are small enough to swallow then they may see them as a meal and will eat them whole. Being brought in from the wild these fish still have some of their natural instincts that can’t be breed out of them.

The Bala Sharks have been classified as an endangered species in the wild in 1996. With a 50% decrease in population in a single decade.

Although, there is no known reasoning behind their population drop it’s believed to be due to contamination in their living environment.

So Bala Sharks aren’t coming from the wild to aquariums they are coming from fish farms and other types of controlled waters.

Typical Behavior

The name shark gives them this stereotype that they are big fierce fish that will consume the community they live with.

Although, as mentioned before they were given the name add-ons of shark because of their physical features and not their personality or genetic make-up.

These fish may be large in size compared to some other breeds of aquarium fish, but they still prefer to be in a school to feel safe and secure.

This fish needs at group of 4 but prefer at least 6 other Bala Sharks in their school.

Being a large fish, they have a large appetite. This is over looked at times and causes these fish to go into flight or life mode and being consuming fish smaller in size.

These fish are not an aggressive species so if aggression is found in most cases you just need to feed them more; or you may need to feed them more often.

Bala Sharks are generally an active fish. While the tend to hide in plants near the roots on their down time.

Bala’s aren’t the type of fish to go out and look for trouble with other fish within its community.

The Bala Shark will get spooked easy and are a rather jumpy fish, they are very sketchy during their first few weeks in a new environment. Although, they are active during most hours once they reach a level of security.

These fish are known to jump out of the tank from time to time, so they are best in a tank with a lid or some sort of cover over the top of the tank.


Most known for their large distinctive dorsal fin, these fish will definitely stand out within your tank.

Bala’s have an oblong oval body with stripped yellow fins and black going around the edges of each fin.

Bala sharks are grey colored with a large eye. Their eye makes them keen for hunting. Giving them an advantage on their pray, they can see better and further than fish they are hunting on.

Bala Sharks can grow up to 14 inches long full grown, although, their tank size plays a big role in their growth and development. Fish will grow into their tanks, if they are in a relatively smaller tank, they will be a relatively smaller Shark.

More common than not a Bala Shark will grow to be roughly 12 inches long in a tanked environment.

Determining the sex of a Bala Shark can be very difficult. The main difference is that females have a fatter body; which can be very hard to differentiate at times. Many factors can play into width of the Bala Sharks torso.

Did they just eat? Has it been awhile since their last feeding?

Finding the Female Shark can seem to be impossible and does take a professional at times.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

In the wild, these fish are going to be found in fast moving lakes and rivers. Due to them being predator fish they need clean water with good visibility to be able to stalk their prey. Murky water would disturb their visibility and would cause starvation.

They stay around the middle origin of the water due to their active personalities. They are rarely found being still, unless they are sick or sleeping.

The substrates in the water varies from place to place due to variations at the bottoms of lakes and rivers. Although, it’s common for there to be a mix of mud and rocks.

Tank Setup

These fish are breed in fast moving waters; this causes for a natural call for similar environments in a tanked situation.

When choosing a filtration system for an aquarium that houses Bala Sharks it’s important to get a system that produces a powerful external flow. This will mimic a fast-flowing river.

Creating an environment much like the one they are used to will allow the fish to feel safe and secure. It’s important for them to feel safe and secure because a happy fish is going to stay healthier and live longer than a fish living a life of fear.

The Bala Sharks thrive in a water that has an acidic level between 6.5 and 8.

The temperature of the tank needs to be between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit.

This breed of fish is not sensitive to the hardness of the water. Although, they do prefer a water hardness of 10-13 dGH

They need lighting at least 8-9 hours a day if not more. They are active fish and need to have plenty of time in the light to be able to maneuver and swim freely. They are not nocturnal animals, so they prefer more hours of light than dark.

Bala Sharks do not need no special lights and will be okay with any light provided.

As mentioned before these fish are subject to jumping. Especially during their transition period. They can use jumping as a way to flee an uncomfortable situation and can end up on the floor.

To keep them from jumping out of the tank it is important to have some sort of lid over the tank. Just ensure it is a lid with ventilation. Without any ventilation the fish will suffocate and die. Unless you have a machine that oxygenates the tank for you.

Being such an active fish, they need lots of room to maneuver and swim freely. In the wild they are found in large lakes and rivers. Which means they have plenty of water and space to roam freely in.

So, your tank should give the same feeling. These fish aren’t going to do well in a tank that’s limited to space by being overcrowded or over-decorated.

Limiting your rocks, decorations, and plant inside a tank that has Bala Sharks within.

Try finding plants that go around the edge of the tank to compliment the tank and not get in the Sharks way.

While you don’t need rocks and other things like that for the Bala’s to hide in there can be few for other fish within the tank.

 What is the ideal Tank Size for a Bala Shark?

You will need to keep in mind these fish will grow into maturity. Growing to be roughly 12 inches long. On top of that these fish are avid swimmer and need room to do so.

Immature Bala’s need at least a 45-gallon tank to house in. This will give the immature Bala’s plenty of room to grow without crowding them or their community members.

Mature Bala Sharks need at least a 150-gallon tank to live in. That is long not tall.

Bala fish need a long Tank to do all their swimming. Being middle range fish, they stay in the middle region of the tank and rarely swim outside of those regions. So, the height does not affect the fish. These fish just need more area in the middle region long ways, because they swim straight not up or down.

Due to their big size and their schooling personalities these fish need roughly 45- gallons per fish.

Ideal Tankmates

These big friendly giants are peaceful fish who can live with other medium to large sized peaceful fish.

Being a peaceful fish only goes so far in the ecosystem. Meaning that they may be peaceful but place a small fish in front of them they will automatically think of them as breakfast and swallow them whole.

Some fish that would be great tankmates are:

Tetra- These hardy fish tank well with any fish. Varying in many size, shapes and colors there’s sure to be one for you. Do not add the small species such as Neon Tetras, they can and probably would be swallowed whole.

Rainbow Fish- These fish are known for being exactly as they sound, bright. These fish will add color variation to a tank with Bala Sharks.

Corydoras Fish- These fish don’t add a whole lot of color but do add movement to the bottom region of your tank. Along with they eat the access off the tank. Working as a janitor.

Gourami Fish- These flashy fish have long flowy vails that give them a visual appeal. Having multiple types there is a Gourami that would suit anyone’s tank.

Char Fish- These fish have a timid personality and get along well with the Bala Sharks. Although, if tanked with Bala’s these fish are cold fresh-water fish. With that being said, you would need to meet in the middle and find a water temperature both fish can agree with.

Cyprinids- Being one of the largest and most diverse fish family these fish truly do have one for all. Cyprinids are fish of the minnow and carp family. Arraying in so many different size, shapes, and colors you may not even think two can possibly be in the same family.

Whatever fish you may choose always to make sure to start out by placing your Bala Sharks in the tank and letting them warm up to the tank alone before adding more fish in. This will limit issues you may have with the Bala Sharks.

Do not add any carnivores into the tank with Bala fish. This may cause aggression and other issues.

Do not allow any fish to breed within your tank because the Bala Sharks would most likely eat your fry.

Keeping Bala Sharks together

It’s alright and recommended you have more than one Bala Fish within a community tank.

Having multiple Bala’s will limit aggression of the fish due to the increase in security.

You are recommended to have at least 4 Bala’s and told it’s best with 6 or more. Although if you are limited in space or food supply less is better. Too much competition in a life or death situation will make even a Bala Shark turn on one another.


You will find Bala feeding on many things in the wild. Both dead and alive.

They’ll feed on:

  • Insects
  • Small crustaceans
  • Larvae
  • Smaller fish
  • Plants

In an aquarium situation they will happily do the same. Feed on whatever is placed in front of them.

They will happily eat bloodworms, different types of plankton, and vegetables.

Although, being such a large and active fish, they need a high protein diet to keep them going. This can be fulfilled by adding any protein rich foods, such as shrimp.

They need feed 2-3 times a day. Being given as much food as it takes to be finished within a 2-3-minute time frame.

These fish will strive and reach their full potential without any supplements. As long as they are being fed and cared for correctly. A healthy diet calls for a healthy fish.

How to properly care for Bala Sharks

Bala Sharks are not vulnerable to any one disease. They are not known for carrying any disease from birth. Although, due to water sensitivity they can die. This is why it’s so important to keep your tank clean.

To maintain a clean tank, they need weekly partial cleanings, along with a great filtration system.

During their initial settling stage, they are extra sensitive to everything and should not be disturbed for no reason.

Malnutrition and poor food quality are two of the biggest reasoning for sick fish. As mentioned before diets can kill fish. Fish with digestive issues do not live as long or as happy as fish who have been well cared for.

Even if your fish is well cared for every fish can get common fish diseases such as dropsy, ich, and parasites.

Ich is a common skin infection that will case large splotches of white spots on the fish’s scales.

Dropsy is often caused by another issue such as parasites and will make your fish begin to swell.

If you notice one fish is beginning to get a disease start to cure the whole tank for the specific disease and watch them closely.

As I previously mentioned, to keep the fish as healthy as possible do weekly partial cleaning. This means replacing 20-30% of the water.

With the right care these fish can live up to 10 years in an aquarium.

Is the Bala Shark the perfect addition to your new tank? (Summary)

Between the stunning dorsal fin and the beautiful coloration these fish have a simple yet visually appealing look that will draw anyone into your tank.

These large creatures are easy to maintain. Although, due to their size are recommended to have previous knowledge of maintaining a tank.

Bala Sharks are an active fish and need plenty of room to swim freely.

Bala Sharks are peaceful fish and will happily share an environment with other herbivores of similar personalities.

Bala Sharks will not go out of the way to eat other fish, unless it’s starving.

These gentle giants will make the perfect addition to any large tank.






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