Bala Sharks turning white? Question

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by tinahuish, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. tinahuishNew MemberMember

    My 36 gallon tank is two weeks old. Last week my tank was going through a rough New Tank Sydrome stage but over the last couple of days it seems to be alot better. I have three Bala Sharks (in amoungst a bunch of other community fish). All my fish are healthy with no signs of disease but one of my Bala Sharks is turning white from the head down?? A couple days after I got him I noticed he had whiter lips than the other two Bala's, every day or so I've been noticing the whiteness from his lips is spreading to his head and keeps on going. It looks almost as if he is scraping is head maybe? (its like he's Michael Jackson...slowly turning white, lol) It doesn't look like Ich because I know that's more like white dots. I had an aquarium a few years ago and my fish had Ich before. Any suggestions as to what this might be? Also the Bala Sharks are small still so I really don't think they are scraping on to ornaments and damaging themselves but I don't know what else it could be. Hmmmm.... I might try to post a picture later.
  2. bubblynutterWell Known MemberMember

    Hi tinahuish,

    Welcome to fishlore!

    I'm sorry I can't offer any advice on your problem, but I did notice you have 3 bala sharks in a 36G tank. Plus the tank sounds like it's uncycled. Can you please fill in the rest of your aquarium info (tank parameters, what fish you have) so we can provide more tailored advice?

    Firstly, I recommend reading up on the nitrogen cycle (click the blue underlined words) if you are unsure about anything. This will be critical for establishing a happy, healthy tank. If you are going through "New Tank Syndrome" it sounds like the tank isn't cycled properly.

    Also, 36G seems way too small for bala sharks.
    Here is a quote from SeriouslyFish - "This is a very active fish and a tank measuring 96" x 24" x 24"/240cm x 60cm x 60cm/906 litres should be the smallest considered to house a group of adults." Bala sharks grow to be approximately 13"/35cm. That is a huge fish!

    Good luck! Let us know if you have any other questions.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  3. philipbouchard-daviesValued MemberMember

    Could it be some sort of bacterial infection?

    Phil :)
  4. bubblynutterWell Known MemberMember

    A little more research has indicated that bala sharks, if kept in a group of 2-3 will establish a dominance structure. The dominant shark will constantly pick on the weakest, causing stress and leading to susceptability to infections and disease (as mentioned above).

    Balas should be kept in shoals of 5 or more, and with that many large fish, a HUGE tank is needed. They also prefer fast flowing, river-like setups.

    Combined with an uncycled tank, and it sounds like your bala is probably stressed, and has become sick with something. Try and get some pictures for us, and other disease experts on here will be able to help. :)
  5. tinahuishNew MemberMember

    Thanks for the info. Yes I know my tank is way too small for three bala sharks if they grow to adult size, but just couldn't help myself in the petstore. I had a huge one in my last tank....but got them anyway...will deal with when they get big if they live that long! I'll try to post some pics of my little white headed bala shark. Yes my tank hasn't gone through its complete cycle yet....but so far the fish seem happy enough. Thanks for the replies! :;sharky
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010
  6. AquaristFishlore LegendMember

    Good morning Tinahuish and Welcome to Fish Lore,

    Along with the advice given above, and since your tank isn't cycled, I would suggest daily water changes of 30 to 50%. Add a conditioner called Prime or Amquel + to detox ammonia levels (discussed in the nitrogen cycle link in post #2) for 24 hours until it's time for the next water change:
    3 of the best if cycling with fish

    Keep up with the daily water changes until you have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites and under 20 nitrates. At this point your tank is cycled.

    A test kit is needed and the one most widely recommended is the API (liquid) Master Test Kit. It tests for everything mentioned in the nitrogen cycle link.

    It's going to take some effort on your part to keep your fish alive. It will get easier once your tank is cycled.

    Your fish may be suffering from ammonia poisoning that has led to a secondary infection. Photos would really help if you can provide them.

    If you have another tank by chance, here is a link on Seeding a tank, meaning you can take some filter media from your established tank, substrate will help also, place it in the Bala Shark tank and it may help to speed up the cycling process. You can place the substrate from the established tank in NEVER seen soap nylon hose and just place it in the tank. However, don't remove so much media from the established tank that it causes it to go through a mini cycle with increased ammonia levels:
    Link on seeding above.

    Best wishes,
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2010

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