Bala Shark Or Tri-Color Shark

Balantiocheilus melanopterus
Origin: South East Asia
Temp: 72 – 82°F (22 – 28°C)
pH: 6 – 7
dH: Soft
Temperament: Peaceful, alert and active
Adult Size: Up to 10 inches (25 cm) or more
But usually smaller in captivity
Minimum Tank Size: 25 Gallon or more
Feeding: Omnivorous, a pig, eats almost any common fish food
Breeding: Not in captivity

Easy going, friendly and very active. An excellent community fish. Bala’s love other Balas and will school in a large enough tank. But remember, they get BIG, they produce a lot of waste and they need some space. The most common problem Balas face is being kept in a tank that is too small.

Here’s a good report from someone who keeps Bala Sharks, and who has generously allowed me to post here.

Keeping Bala Sharks
By Chazz1211 , you can meet her on the Message Board

I’m not an expert with Bala’s or anything, but I have kept them for awhile. But I just thought I’d say that they can do fine by themselves because they’re a fairly intelligent fish as fish go. I’ve had mine for about 4 years now, by himself.

Have Bala’s even ever been bred?? I’ve never heard of it happening. You’d need a massive tank. But I’ve heard that they mature at about 6 inches. Don’t know if there’s any truth behind it.
Um. . .you could say that they’re definetely a true omnivore like goldfish. Mine loves to eat algae off of my fake plants and off rocks. They’re also great at eating anything that hits the gravel. No need for bottom feeders in my tank. So they need a varied diet. Mine gets flakes, shrimp pellets (that are actually for the loaches, but he eats it anyway) algae off of plants, and frozen/live brine shrimp, occasionally black worms. Plus they’re an amazingly docile fish for such a large one. The minimum tank size you have on the fast fact is 10 gallons. Even though, yeah you could keep them in there when young, I think you should start out right from the start. Say at least a 55 gallon. (ED Note: I took the advise and raised it to 25 gallons) But ultimately you want like an 8 foot aquarium, at least, for a school. With plenty of space to turn around in. And the longer the tank the better. If the fish doesn’t feel like it has enough “running space” it will panic. So they don’t like to feel cramped. They are a very powerful fish so they can really knock themselves against things.

Well, all off this is stuff you already probably know, so don’t make an article out of it or anything. I’m just talking about my beautiful bala. Someday I’m going to have a huge tank with balas and tinfoil barbs. Gosh, that would be spectacular wouldn’t it?

Bala Or Tri-color Shark
© Stacy Malbon
Photo taken at Aqualand in Hopkins, MN. I don’t think anyone has very much information on Bala’s honestly. Oh, they are pretty adaptable too. I keep mine in slightly alkaline water, with about a medium hardness. And I’ve even kept them in very alkaline hard water. Like 7.8 or around there. Not sure about the dH. So, no need to neccessarliy keep them in soft water. Even though they would probably prefer it. They are supposed to be very suseptible to ick. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never had it happen. The temperatures in my aquarium are pretty warm during the summer, about 80 F and get down to around 65 to 72 in the winter. (so. Cal weather) (My heater’s not very good anymore) But it doesn’t bother the fish one bit and it stays pretty stable.

Oh, and sometimes if you keep just two, they get kinda aggressive between the two. I had two awhile back before I moved, that were constantly chasing each other. Actually it was one that was usually doing it. So, that just says more that you can keep them by themselves. If you don’t have the room for like 6 of them, then I’d say to only get one. I keep mine with tiger barbs and giant danios. They all get along really well, except for the barbs occasional fin nipping, but that’s to be expected. My Bala’s about 6- 6 1/2 inches now. I keep him in a 60 gallon (4ft long, 14 in wide, 18 in tall) where he’s very happy. I bought him at about 3 inches. So, Bala’s do seem to grow pretty slowly. I don’t know if it’s in their make-up or if it’s because of the fact that they would prefer much more water then we give them, or maybe they grow faster in softer water, I don’t know.

This is definetly a very neglected fish. And because we don’t have very much information on them, it’s easier to do so. Many people are given incorrect information, or just missunderstood information. In my experience they will do well by themselves, but that they would be more interesting with several of their own kind. But to do this requires a very large tank, and well, many (including myself) can’t afford it. So, for the best interest of the fish, actually keeping just one would be best in most situations, I think.

I love this fish, it has a very appealing appearance and indearing qualities that make it a wonderful fishy pet.

Name: fishkeeper
Comments: I just wanted to point out that a 25 gallon tank really wouldn’t be enough for a bala shark. They get huge and they like to swim alot. When it’s kept in a small tank for a long time, it will become stunted. I think the minimum should actually be something like a 55 gallon LONG tank.

Name : Laurel
Comments: I have kept Bala Sharks for 15 years. The same ones. I have never had a problem with Ick with them. My two appear to be the best of friends, dunno, maybe one is male and the other female or something. I have them in a 100 gal tank. They started at about 2″ size in a 25 gal tank and seemed happy in that tank for several years. I inherited a 65 gal tank and when I moved them into that tank they suddenly started growing. When I got my 100 gal tank they grew some more. So I think they just grow into whatever space they have. Oh, also they grew faster when I started adding algae discs for a plecostomus. They love them. Makes sense, they are 10 times the size of everything else in the tank but never have even looked like they were the slightest bit interested in swallowing another fish. Vegetarians no doubt. These guys are about 8″ long now and they are very strong and fast. I think they are very shy and easily startled. I worry about them hurting themselves because they frequently jump and swish their tails to make a big splash at the surface when someone walks up to the aquarium. I can imagine them in a river somewhere flying along at top speed and leaping out of the water to confuse predators. I have given up trying to keep my Fluval’s intake tube stuck to the back of the aquarium since they really feel they should swim behind it. They are a stunning looking fish in the aquarium and seem to get along with everybody just fine.