A pair of bala sharks in a freshwater aquarium
The Bala shark (Balantiocheilus melanopterus), also known as the Tricolor Shark, Silver Shark, or Shark Minnow, is a schooling community fish of family Cyprinidae. This species is not a true shark, but is commonly called a "shark" because of its torpedo-shaped body and large fins.
Generally peaceful and good companions to many other types of tropical fish, the Bala shark is an omnivore and will eat other animals if they're small enough to fit in their mouths (including other smaller fish, and shrimp). Bala sharks are widely available in most pet stores, but aren't marketed well since most aquarists buy them before knowing that a bala shark with a large environment can grow up to 14-16 inches long. Shrimp (ghost shrimp, krill, etc.) should have adequate hiding places to keep them from getting eaten. The price of a single Bala Shark usually ranges anywhere from $2.50USD to $7.50USD depending on fish size, store, and geographic location.
The Bala shark prefers to be grouped in 3-6 specimens (although they can survive alone). They're hardy fish that will tolerate temperature changes, pH changes, and other factors to which other fish may be sensitive.
Very young Bala sharks are sometimes kept in small aquaria. However, given their adult size, schooling behavior, and swimming speed, the fish quickly grow to need much more room. Hobbyists continue to debate over acceptable minimum tank sizes, but generally recommend at least a 6' tank. Many believe the fish is simply too large and too active to be kept in commercial aquaria at all; only enormous, custom-built tanks are acceptable, if any tank at all is. Indoor ponds are also considered feasible housing options and may be better suited to the average aquarist; commercial animal troughs as large as 1000 gallons may easily be acquired via feed stores or Internet sources.
The water pH should be 5.8 to 7.8. The preferable water hardness for this species is soft to medium (5.0-15.0 dGH). Water temperature should be kept between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius).
The Bala shark's native habitats include streams and rivers in Southeast Asia (Sumatra, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia, etc.)
- Aquahobby: Bala Shark
- Badman's Tropical Fish Profile: Bala Shark
- Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2006. FishBase, version (06/2006).