Aquarium Fish

Bala Shark, Silver Shark

The Bala Shark is also known as the Silver Shark and is a growing favorite among tropical fish hobbyists. This fish isn't a shark at all though. It belongs in the Cyprinidae family. They are commonly named silver sharks because of their appearance and the shape of their dorsal fin. These "sharks" require large tanks because of their potential adult size of 13 inches and because this fish does better when kept in groups. They are mostly peaceful but may eat smaller fish such as neon tetras when they reach a large enough size.

Also, be warned that these "sharks" are excellent jumpers. Have a hood on your aquarium to prevent your Silver Shark from leaping to its death. They are very fast swimmers and will dart around your aquarium very quickly. Be sure you don't have any sharp objects in your aquarium that could injure your fish.

They are not recommended for the beginner because of their large aquarium requirements.

These freshwater fish (not really sharks) will eat most types of fish food including vitamin enriched flake foods, pellets, frozen, freeze dried and definitely live foods with the key being a varied diet. They sometimes make a clicking noise while eating.


Bala Shark Silver Shark


Care Info

Scientific Name : Balantiocheilos melanopterus

Common Names : Bala Shark, Silver Shark, Tri Color Shark Minnow, Hangus, Silver Bala

Care Level : Easy to Medium, needs lots of swimming space and a larger tank.

Size : Up to 13 inches (33 cm)

pH : 6 - 8

Temperature : 72°F - 82°F (22°C - 28°C)

Water Hardness : 5° to 12° dH,

Lifespan : 8 - 10 years

Origin / Habitat : South East Asia

Temperament / Behavior : Peaceful and can be kept with smaller fish. However, don't keep with tropical fish small enough to fit in the Bala's mouth such as neon tetras.

Breeding : Breeding is not recommended in the home aquarium due to their large adult size.

Aquarium Size : They will do much better in larger aquariums. Considering these are shoaling fish and considering their adult size, a 125 or even 180 gallon tank would be more appropriate for an adult school.

Tank Mates : Many, given the peaceful nature of this fish but avoid keeping them with fish small enough for them to eat.

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : Good eaters, they will go after flakes, pellets, freeze dried and live foods. Give them a varied diet.

Tank Region : All

Gender : Hard to determine, but the female may be smaller than a male Silver Shark of the same age.

References :

Fish Lore Forum : Bala Shark Forum

Forum Avatar :
Bala Shark or Silver Shark

From: Dafydd L.
A couple of our silver sharks are rubbing against each other and we wondered whether they were trying to breed. I read above that breeding is not recommended? Why is this? I look forward to hearing from you.
We've seen this behavior as well in one of our tanks. They will pair up and kind of dance around the tank together. This usually lasts for a few minutes and it seems to occur right after performing a water change or sometimes after eating. I've read a lot of conflicting information on this behavior. Some feel that it could be mating behavior but many don't believe it to be mating behavior. We'll continue to dig for an explanation on this behavior and if we find anything out we'll post it here.

We don't recommend breeding them in the home aquarium because of their large adult size of 12 inches (31 cm). Can you imagine how many gallons of tank you would need to adequately care for all of those growing balas? It can also be fairly difficult to get this fish to breed. Thanks for the question.

From: Ethan H.
Can they live with Bettas in a 10 gallon tank?
Unfortunately a 10 gallon aquarium would be way too small. You should keep your them in at least a 40 gallon tank (or much larger) given their potential adult size of 13 inches (33 cm) or more. If you can give them a large tank they should do fine with a Betta while they are small although the betta may look like a nice snack once your balas get big enough.

From: Dan
Two of my three balas always initiate rubbing up against one another immediately after eating. It's usually side to side but sometimes it is across. It last for a few minutes and then stops. The rubbing is quite vigorous.
We see this quite frequently as well. See the first post above. Check out the video shown above to see this behavior.

From: Squally
I have 2 balas with 2 dwarf gouramis. They seem very happy together. Very beautiful fish.

From: Melissa
I have only had my two Balas for a short period of time, but I have a theory on this rubbing behavior that may or may not be cooincidental. About two days after seeing my Balas display this behavior, I noticed the white spots or Ich appearing on both of their bodies. So my theory is that the Ich is the reason they are rubbing against each other.
I can understand your thought process behind your theory, but I can verify that it's not related to ich. I have had the same Balas for a few years now and they frequently display this behavior and they have never had an outbreak of any kind.

From: Jody Luscombe
I would like to say that my silver shark has never touched any of my other fish. I find them very peaceful and timed, the only fish problems I had with my sharks was when the other fish would attack the shark.

From: Jonny
Fun fish to keep. Their shiney scales reflect the light - beautiful and very lively!

From: Luke
I have 2 bala sharks and I have never witnessed this rubbing type behaviour. Don't mix full grown balas with neon tetras. I had 13 neons, now i am down to my last 3. They need a very large tank. I have 2, 8 inch balas in a 70 gallon tank along with angelfish, 3 neons, clown loaches and serpae tetras. Hoping to get some neon blue rainbowfish.

From: Kay - Lifespan
Hi, I noticed the lifespan as 8-10 years on balas but I was wondering if anyone else has had them longer than that. I bought 3 balas in Jan of 1997 and I lost one last year and another just yesterday. I have only one left that is fairly large and I can't buy anything close to its size. Would it be fine for it be alone or should I buy medium size buddies for it. Thanks

More More Tips | More Tips Page 2

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