Bala Shark

Species NameBalantiocheilos melanopterus
Common NameBala Shark, Silver Shark, Tri-color Shark
Care LevelIntermediate
Lifespan8-10 years
Adult SizeUp to 14 inches
Minimum Tank Size150 gallons
Temperature72°F – 82°F (22°C – 28°C)
Water ConditionsSlightly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 6-8), soft to moderately hard

About the Bala Shark – Species Summary

Despite its intimidating name, the Bala Shark is neither a shark nor aggressive. Originating from the freshwaters of Southeast Asia, specifically Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo, this fish is a popular choice among aquarium hobbyists because of its sleek appearance and captivating behavior. The Bala Shark belongs to the Cyprinidae family, which also includes carps and minnows. This peaceful, schooling fish is known for its vibrant energy and impressive size, making it a unique addition to large home aquariums.

The Bala Shark’s striking resemblance to marine sharks, characterized by its torpedo-shaped body and large fins, often intrigues those new to the world of freshwater aquariums. However, it’s essential to understand their specific needs and requirements to give them a comfortable and long life.

Bala Shark Lifespan

Under proper care and optimal conditions, Bala Sharks can live up to 8-10 years. Their lifespan is a testament to their resilience, but it also depends on factors such as water quality, diet, and the absence of stressors. By investing time in understanding and catering to the Bala Shark’s specific needs, hobbyists can ensure these fish thrive and display their characteristic vitality throughout their lives.

While Bala Sharks are relatively hardy, their longevity can be impacted by sudden changes in water conditions, overcrowding, and a lack of proper nutrition. Therefore, maintaining a consistent environment and balanced diet plays a pivotal role in ensuring they live out their full lifespan.


The Bala Shark boasts a streamlined body, similar to its marine counterparts, with a silver metallic hue that gleams under proper lighting. The edges of its fins exhibit a characteristic black margin, which is especially pronounced on its large dorsal fin and caudal fin, giving it a tri-color appearance. Its eyes are large and reflective, adding to its overall intriguing demeanor.

Average Size

Growing impressively large, the Bala Shark can reach sizes up to 14 inches in captivity. Their rapid growth and substantial adult size are aspects that potential Bala Shark owners should be prepared for, especially considering tank size and companions.

Bala Shark Care

Tank Size

Given the Bala Shark’s potential size and its schooling nature, a spacious tank is mandatory. A minimum tank size of 150 gallons is recommended, but larger tanks are always better. Bala Sharks are active swimmers and need ample space to move around without constraints.

How To Set Up Their Tank

While setting up a tank for Bala Sharks, consider their natural habitat: flowing rivers with dense vegetation. A substrate of fine gravel or sand, coupled with sturdy aquatic plants and driftwood, can emulate this environment. However, ensure there’s plenty of open swimming space. The tank should also be equipped with a robust filtration system as Bala Sharks thrive in clean, well-oxygenated water.

Lighting Requirements

Bala Sharks don’t have stringent lighting demands. However, moderate lighting enhances their metallic sheen and overall ambiance of the tank. Using a combination of natural and artificial light can be beneficial, ensuring the lighting isn’t too harsh.


The water’s pH level for Bala Sharks should ideally be maintained between 6 to 8. While they can tolerate slight fluctuations, it’s always best to ensure stability in water conditions to prevent stress and potential health issues.


Bala Sharks prefer water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F (22°C – 28°C). As with other parameters, consistency in temperature is crucial. Drastic fluctuations can cause undue stress and lead to a compromised immune system.

Water Parameters

Soft to moderately hard water is suitable for Bala Sharks. Regular water changes (20-25% weekly) can help in maintaining water clarity and quality. Monitoring nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia levels regularly is also essential.

Disease Potential

While Bala Sharks are resilient, they can be susceptible to common freshwater fish diseases like Ich, fin rot, and parasitic infections. Quarantining new additions and maintaining a clean environment can prevent most of these ailments. Early detection and treatment are key to managing potential diseases.

Food & Diet

Bala Sharks are omnivores, meaning their diet is varied. In the wild, they feed on small crustaceans, insects, and plant matter. In captivity, a mix of high-quality flake food, pellets, live foods (like brine shrimp or bloodworms), and green vegetables ensures a balanced diet.

Behavior and Temperament

Bala Sharks are peaceful and get along with most tank mates. They are schooling fish, and it’s ideal to keep them in groups of five or more. Their active nature makes them delightful to watch, especially when they move together in a synchronized manner.

Tank Mates

Considering their peaceful temperament, Bala Sharks can coexist with a variety of fish. Ideal tank mates include larger tetras, barbs, gouramis, and loaches. However, very small fish might be at risk, as they could be seen as potential food.


Breeding Bala Sharks in captivity is challenging and has been rarely documented. In the wild, they are believed to migrate upstream to spawn. Replicating these specific conditions in a home aquarium is complex. However, for dedicated hobbyists keen on attempting breeding, ensuring optimal water conditions and a diet rich in live foods might stimulate spawning behaviors.

Bala Shark FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)