Bala Sharks are a not true sharks, but are so called for their shark-like torpedo body shape and large fins. Their pretty silver colouring, with black markings on the tails and fins make this member of the minnow family an attractive addition to the freshwater aquarium.
Native to Asia, Bala Sharks are found in the Chao Phraya and Mekong basins. Unfortunately this species are a victim of over-fishing and industrial pollution, and are now almost extinct in their natural habitat. For conservation reasons, it is preferable to only purchase Bala Sharks which have been bred in captivity.
Bala Sharks are usually around 2.5-5cm when purchased in a pet shop, growing to 25-35cm when mature. The fish need a large tank to live in comfort, and may occasionally exhibit aggressive or territorial tendencies if kept in cramped and unsuitable conditions, as their natural habitat is in large and medium sized bodies of water.
Bala Sharks are normally quite peaceful and happy to co-exist with other species in a community tank. Experts recommend that Bala Sharks should be kept in groups with a minimum of five individuals, as it is their nature to school and solitary fish become stressed and insecure. Other species which will are tolerated by Bala Sharks include Angel Fish, Gourami, Guppies and Danios. Fully grown Bala Sharks may eat small fish like Neon Tetras or Guppy fry, which is something to bear in mind when stocking your tank. Aquarium mates to avoid are the African Cichlid family and Red Tailed Black Sharks.
Aquarium preparations for Bala Sharks include selecting a tank which has a heavy cover. Some aquarium owners have reported Bala Sharks jumping up to six feet out of the water, which is obviously best avoided! These very active fish enjoy a water temperatures between 22-29°C and are at their best in soft water with a p. H of around 5.8 to 7.8. Any tank which is to be home to Bala Sharks should be planted with live plants around the edges, leaving plenty of clear swimming space in the middle . Grass-type plants including Sagittaria, Pearl Grass and Dwarf Hair Grass are excellent choices which provide ample hiding and rest spots for this species.
Bala Sharks are omnivores, and have scavenger tendencies, nosing around the tank substrate to pick up food scraps, which helps to keep the tank clean without disturbing the substrate. Live, fresh and flake foods are all acceptable to Bala Sharks, as in their natural habitat they will eat small crustaceans, insects, plant matter and algae. Sometimes Bala Sharks make an audible clicking sound when feeding, which is another quirky element to this placid species’ nature.