Bala Shark Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Bala Sharks are fascinating freshwater aquarium fish. In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through the steps necessary to create a thriving environment for these majestic creatures. From Bala Shark species identification to breeding, let’s dive into everything you need to know to keep your fish happy and healthy!

Bala Shark

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Bala Shark Species Profile and Identification

Bala Sharks, scientifically known as Balantiocheilos melanopterus, are a popular freshwater fish species among aquarium enthusiasts. They are characterized by their striking appearance and peaceful demeanor. Understanding their species profile and proper identification is essential to providing the right care for these beautiful fish.

  • Appearance: Bala Sharks have a silver, torpedo-shaped body with black margins on their dorsal, caudal, and anal fins. Adult Bala Sharks can grow up to 14 inches in length, however, this growth is gradual and may take years.
  • Lifespan: With proper care, Bala Sharks have a lifespan of around 8-10 years.
  • Behavior: Bala Sharks are highly social creatures that thrive in groups of 5 or more. They are active swimmers and not aggressive, making them an excellent choice for a community aquarium.
  • Habitat: Originating from Southeast Asia, Bala Sharks are commonly found in forested regions near flowing rivers and streams.

Identifying a Bala Shark:

  1. Size: Juveniles are typically sold at 2-3 inches and grow gradually over time. Make sure you can accommodate their full adult size in your tank setup.
  2. Features: Look for Bala Sharks with silver bodies and black trim on their fins. Beware of fish with discolored or damaged fins, as it may be a sign of illness.
  3. Activity: Healthy Bala Sharks are active swimmers and should be observed moving around the tank. If you notice a fish displaying lethargic behavior, this might indicate poor health.

By properly identifying your Bala Shark and understanding their unique species profile, you’ll be well on your way to providing the optimal care needed for these magnificent fish.

Bala Shark Supplies

When setting up a home for your Bala sharks, you’ll need a range of essential supplies. These supplies will help you maintain a safe, healthy, and comfortable environment for these beautiful fish.

  • Tank: As Bala sharks can grow up to 14 inches long and are schooling fish, you’ll need a sizeable tank, preferably 120 gallons (455 liters) or more, depending on the number of fish you plan to keep.
  • Filter: A powerful and efficient filter is crucial for maintaining water quality. Bala sharks produce a significant amount of waste, so opt for a canister filter or a high-capacity hang-on-back (HOB) filter.
  • Heater: Bala sharks require a stable water temperature, ranging from 72°F to 82°F. A reliable and adjustable aquarium heater will help you maintain the appropriate temperature.
  • Water testing kits: Regularly monitoring the water parameters is essential for your Bala shark’s health. Invest in a good-quality water testing kit that measures ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and general hardness levels.
  • Substrate: Sand or smooth gravel makes a suitable substrate for Bala sharks. Avoid jagged or sharp-edged gravel, as it may injure your fish.
  • Decorations: Provide a mixture of hiding spots and open spaces, using aquarium-safe driftwood, caves, and plants. Bala sharks tend to be shy, and providing places to hide will help them feel more secure.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is best for Bala sharks. You can use LED or fluorescent aquarium lights, but remember to have a day and night cycle for your fish’s well-being.
  • Fish food: Use a combination of high-quality pellet or flake food, live or frozen foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, and occasional greens to fulfill the Bala shark’s omnivorous dietary needs.

By considering these supplies and carefully choosing the right products, you’ll create an ideal environment for your Bala sharks to thrive.

Bala Shark Tank Setup

Bala sharks are active swimmers and need ample space to swim freely. A minimum tank size of 120-150 gallons is required for a small group of these fish. As they can grow up to 14 inches, a tank upgrade might be necessary as they mature.

To make your Bala shark feel at home, consider the following features for the tank setup:

  1. Substrate: Incorporate a layer of soft sand or fine gravel on the tank’s bottom. Avoid using sharp substrate materials as they can injure the fish.
  2. Filtration: Bala sharks prefer clean, well-oxygenated water; hence, a high-quality canister filter or a power filter is necessary. Choose a filter with a flow rate of 5-10 times the tank’s volume per hour.
  3. Decorations: Add plenty of hiding spots using large rocks, driftwood, or caves. It helps reduce stress and ensures the fish feel secure.
  4. Plants: While live plants provide additional cover and maintain water quality, choose carefully as Bala sharks might nibble on them. Java fern, Anubias, and Vallisneria species are suitable choices.
  5. Lighting: Moderate to subdued lighting helps in replicating their natural habitat. You may use regular LED aquarium lights.
  6. Heater: These fish favor tropical temperatures, so a water heater is essential for maintaining the water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C).
  7. Air Pump: Since Bala sharks thrive in well-oxygenated water, you may use an air pump to create surface agitation and enhance oxygen exchange.

Remember to cycle the tank completely before introducing your Bala sharks. This process helps establish beneficial bacteria that help keep the water parameters stable and healthy for your fish.

Bala Shark Water Requirements

Providing the right water conditions is crucial for keeping your Bala Sharks healthy and happy. In their natural habitat, Bala Sharks inhabit clear, tropical rivers with moderately flowing water. That being said, you need to replicate these conditions to ensure a stress-free environment for your fish.

Water Parameters

  • Temperature: Bala Sharks thrive in a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C). Invest in an aquarium heater and a reliable thermometer to maintain a consistent temperature.
  • pH Level: Maintain a pH level between 6.0 and 8.0; however, Bala Sharks can adapt to slightly acidic (pH 6.0) or slightly alkaline (pH 8.0) water.
  • Hardness: Soft to moderately hard water with a hardness between 5-15 dGH is ideal for Bala Shark.

It is important to closely monitor and maintain the water parameters within the suitable range. Regular testing and adjusting of water quality is necessary to ensure the health of your Bala Sharks.

Water Filtration

A powerful filter is essential, as Bala Sharks require well-oxygenated water with stable water parameters. Canister filters or hang-on-back/power filters are recommended to ensure proper filtration and water circulation. Moreover, frequent water changes (25-30% of the tank water) need to be conducted every two weeks to keep the water clean and free of waste.

Providing the right water conditions for your Bala Sharks means maintaining the appropriate temperature, pH levels, hardness, filtration, and circulation. Ensuring these water requirements are met not only keeps your fish healthy but also helps mimic their natural habitat, resulting in a more fulfilling life for your aquatic pets.

Bala Shark Diet and Feeding

When it comes to Bala Shark care, providing a well-balanced diet is essential. The good news is, these fish are naturally omnivores, meaning they’ll happily consume a mix of plant-based and animal-based foods.

Pellet Food: It’s recommended you start with a high-quality pellet food as the basis of their diet. Choose pellets specifically designed for omnivorous fish and ensure they are small enough for your Bala Shark to consume easily.

Varied Diet: To keep your Bala Shark healthy and in good shape, it’s best to offer them a varied diet. This means supplementing the pellet food with the following:

  • Frozen Foods: Occasionally treat your Bala Shark with frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Ensure the food is thoroughly thawed before feeding.
  • Vegetables: Bala Sharks enjoy snacking on green veggies like spinach, zucchini, and cucumber. Wash and blanch the vegetables before adding them to the tank.
  • Fruit: Small amounts of fruit, such as apple or banana, are also appreciated by these fish. Remove the skin, cut them into small chunks, and add sparingly.

Feeding Frequency and Quantity: Typically, you should feed your Bala Shark 2-3 times a day, providing only as much food as they can consume within 3 minutes. It’s better to underfeed than overfeed as uneaten food can lead to poor water quality, which can be harmful to your fish.

By offering your Bala Shark a varied, well-balanced diet, you’ll ensure they remain healthy and active, allowing you to fully appreciate their beauty and unique characteristics as they glide effortlessly through your tank.

Bala Shark Care Schedule

A proper care schedule is essential to maintaining a healthy and happy environment for your Bala Sharks. In order to create and adhere to an effective care schedule, you’ll want to focus on the following key aspects:

  • Daily maintenance: Make it a habit to perform regular water tests, as Bala Sharks are sensitive to changes in water parameters. You should always ensure optimal temperature, pH, and ammonia levels are maintained. Feed your Bala Sharks once or twice daily with the appropriate diet and proportions.
  • Weekly maintenance: Set aside time to clean any algae growth from the tank walls and decorations. At the same time, remove any uneaten food and excess debris to prevent water contamination. Weekly water changes of around 20%-30% is also recommended, to keep the water quality high and balanced for Bala Sharks.
  • Monthly maintenance: On a monthly basis, check all of your aquarium’s equipment to ensure they are functioning properly. This includes your filter, heater, and air pump. Replace the filter media when needed, and clean filter tubes and housings to prolong the life of your equipment.
  • Bimonthly maintenance: Every couple of months, consider a thorough cleaning of your tank’s substrate. Use a siphon or gravel vacuum to remove any waste buildup and uneaten food, which can cause ammonia levels to spike if left unchecked.
  • As needed: Monitor your Bala Shark’s behavior and adjust care accordingly. If any signs of illness or stress arise, address them quickly and take appropriate action to ensure a healthy environment.

Adhering to this care schedule is crucial in maintaining your Bala Shark’s health and happiness, as well as providing a beautiful and thriving home for these stunning fish.

Bala Shark Health Problems

Bala sharks, like any other aquatic species, are prone to some health issues. By recognizing the symptoms and learning about common problems, you can take preventative steps to ensure your Bala sharks stay healthy and happy.

Ich: A parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Ichthyophthirius multifiliis. Symptoms: Ich is characterized by tiny white spots on the body and fins of your Bala shark. They may also develop respiratory distress and lethargy.

To treat Ich, increase the water temperature to 82-86°F (28-30°C) for 3-7 days and consider using over-the-counter medications available at pet stores.

Fungal Infections: Poor water quality and lack of proper tank maintenance. Symptoms: Bala sharks may display cotton-like growths on their body and fins or become less active.

Treat fungal infections by improving water quality and using commercially available antifungal medications.

Swim Bladder Disease: Overfeeding or poor diet. Symptoms: Bala sharks struggle to maintain their balance in the water and may have trouble swimming or floating.

An improved diet and fasting for 2-3 days can help remedy swim bladder disease.

Gill Flukes: Parasitic flatworms on the gills of your Bala shark. Symptoms: Respiratory distress, excessive mucus production, and rapid gill movements.

Commercially available medications can help treat gill flukes in Bala sharks.

Remember, prevention is better than cure. Maintain a clean and well-filtered tank, feed a balanced and high-quality diet, and promptly quarantine new fish to minimize the risk of health problems in your Bala shark tank.

Bala Shark Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for your Bala Shark, it’s important to choose other fish species that are peaceful and won’t harm the Bala Shark. As Bala Sharks are fast swimmers and can easily be stressed, you need to avoid particularly aggressive or territorial fish.

bala shark tank mates

Some ideal tank mates for Bala Sharks include:

  • Barbs: Larger and peaceful species like the Tiger Barb, Rosy Barb, and Odessa Barb are great options.
  • Rainbowfish: Boeseman’s Rainbowfish, Australian Rainbowfish, and Turquoise Rainbowfish can comfortably coexist with Bala Sharks.
  • Loaches: Clown Loaches and Redtail Botia Loaches are suitable options, as they are bottom-dwelling and won’t bother the swimming space of Bala Sharks.
  • Danios: Zebra Danios and Giant Danios have similar activity levels and can swim together with Bala Sharks.

Avoid smaller fish species, like Neon Tetras, as they may end up being prey for the fast-swimming Bala Sharks. It’s also important to avoid aggressive cichlids or semi-aggressive fish like Jack Dempseys since they may attack your Bala Sharks.

Remember to select tank mates that prefer the same water conditions and temperature range as Bala Sharks to ensure a harmonious environment. By choosing the right tank mates, you’ll create a vibrant and stress-free community for your Bala Sharks to thrive in.

Bala Shark Breeding

Breeding Bala sharks in a home aquarium can be quite challenging due to their large size and specific requirements. However, it is still possible if you are willing to put in the necessary effort and dedication.

To prepare for breeding, ensure you have adequate space in your tank as the female Bala shark needs room to lay her eggs. A breeding tank should be at least 100 to 135 gallons in size and maintain a stable water temperature between 77 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Following are some tips to help you with Bala shark breeding:

  • Introduce a balanced sex ratio, preferably one male to multiple females, as this increases the chances of successful breeding.
  • Observe the behavior of your Bala sharks. Males tend to chase and nudge females to initiate spawning.
  • Condition your Bala sharks by feeding them a high-quality and varied diet. This helps improve overall health and increase the likelihood of successful breeding.
  • Maintain optimal water conditions by regularly performing water changes and closely monitoring water chemistry.
  • Place fine-leaved plants or spawning mops in the breeding tank. These provide an area for the female to lay her eggs and will eventually protect the eggs from being eaten by other tank inhabitants.

Once the female lays her eggs, it’s crucial to remove her and the male from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs. The eggs should hatch within 24 to 48 hours, and the fry will become free-swimming in about five days. To provide the best nutrition for the newborns, feed them freshly hatched brine shrimp or commercial fry foods.

Successfully breeding Bala sharks is an accomplishment to be proud of, as it is not an easy task. Be prepared for challenges, and always prioritize the well-being of your fish.


Caring for Bala Sharks can be a rewarding experience for both beginners and experienced aquarium enthusiasts alike. By following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well on your way to providing your Bala Sharks with a healthy and thriving environment. We’d love to hear about your Bala Shark experiences, so feel free to leave a comment below!

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