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Bala Shark Care and Tank Mate Selection

Updated on June 8, 2014
Bala sharks resemble salt water sharks but are not really sharks. They are peaceful freshwater fish that are great for large community tanks.
Bala sharks resemble salt water sharks but are not really sharks. They are peaceful freshwater fish that are great for large community tanks.

The Bala shark is an extremely popular freshwater aquarium fish that can be found in most local pet stores. Also referred to as the shark minnow, silver shark, or tricolor shark, this shark like fish is a species of the Cyprinid family. Though the shape of this fish and it's fins make it look a lot like a shark, it is not really an actual shark. But because of it's resemblance to a shark, many aquarium owners are drawn to it and it is widely popular in the hobby. Who wouldn't want a pet shark that can live peacefully with other aquarium fish?

Bala Shark Tank Requirements

The bala shark requires a lot of open swimming space due to the fact that they are active fish and grow to be over a foot long. They also prefer to swim in schools so they should be kept in groups of three or more. The tank must also be well-covered because these fish will jump. These character traits make these beautiful fish very hard to keep in a home aquarium. A home aquarium for bala sharks should be no smaller than 75 gallons in size and really should be 90 gallons or larger to give the fish enough space to swim around. The tank should have some plants and other d├ęcor but needs to have a large open swimming area.

Water Chemistry

Bala sharks are hardy fish and can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and other conditions. Tank water should be kept between 74 and 80 degrees with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0.

Although they are very hardy, Bala sharks cannot tollerate high toxin levels found in newly established fish tanks. It is vitally important that the aquarium is completely cycled and has a healthy bio-filter before bala sharks can be added to a home aquarium. A bio-cycle takes between 6 and 8 weeks to be established so bala sharks should not be placed in any aquarium that has been running for less than 8 weeks.

Bala Shark Tank Mates

Though they have a strong resemblance to salt water sharks (like the reef shark), Bala sharks are peaceful community fish that thrive in a community tank environment. These fish will mix well with other species of Cyprinids. Some excellent tank mates include large barbs like tinfoil barbs and smaller barbs like cherry barbs. Tiger barbs are not good tank mates because of their aggressive fin nipping nature. Bala sharks can also mix well with danios and rasboras. Scissor-tail rasboras are an excellent choice for tank mate. Other freshwater sharks like the rainbow shark and red-tail black shark are not good tank mates because of their aggressive nature.


Bala sharks are easy to care for because they will eat a wide range of food. In the wild they feed mostly on insects, larvae and crustaceans. In a home aquarium they will accept commercial flake foods, sinking pellet foods, algae wafers, freeze dried and frozen foods.

These amazing fish are fun to keep in an aquarium but are not for beginners. Only advanced level aquarium owners with very large fish tanks should keep bala sharks in their home aquariums. If you are experienced and have the room for them, these fish are great additions to a community tank.

What is your Favorite Freshwater Aquarium Shark?

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