Bala Shark Feeding, Behaviour and Aquarium Care

Are you an experienced aquarium hobbyist?

Are you planning to add some new fish species to the community quite different from those you already have?

Then, we have an excellent choice for you.

We would suggest you keep Bala Shark in your aquarium. Well, it might be a comparatively larger fish, but the fish will adjust inside your aquarium in some days. So, no worry!

Keep reading for all the necessary information you need to know about Bala Shark.

An overview of Bala Shark

Bala Shark, whose scientific name is Balantiocheilos melanopterus requires an intermediate level of care and has a peaceful temperament. Available in a variety of colors like black, grey, and yellow, they can live up to ten years. As mentioned earlier, the fish can attain a length of up to 12 inches. Usually omnivorous by habit, it can thrive well in a tank with a minimum of 120 gallons of water. Belonging to the family Cyprinidae, this fish prefers to be in a tank which has freshwater, plants, and roots. For better results, try keeping the fish in a water tank with the temperature remaining around 72 to 82 degree Fahrenheit. Keep the hardness of water between 5 to 12 dh.

Peter Beeker, who first found Bala Shark in the year 1850, says that the number of sharks has alarmingly reduced by 50% in the last 10 years. These species were also declared endangered by IUCN in 1996. Fishes which end up in aquariums are generally grown in farms and never caught wild.

Where does Bala Shark originate from?

Bala Shark, a large fish, originated in Asia and usually found in large lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. This fish is also considered endangered and hence taking special care of Bala Shark is of utmost importance to the hobbyists. They are mostly found where there are fast-moving rivers like in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Kalimantan, and Sumatra.

Bala Sharks are commonly known by a number of names such as Silver Bala, tricolor shark, silver shark, and tricolor minnows.

What is the average life span of a Bala Shark?

Under favorable conditions, the average life span of a healthy Bala Shark is about 8-10 years.

What are the characteristic appearance and features of a Bala Shark?

The Bala Shark has a distinctively large standing dorsal fin and an elongated torpedo-like body having yellow stripes with black edge. These fishes have ventral fins, small and mono-colored and much smaller anal fins.

Generally, Bala Shark has a greyish body with a slight gradient at the top. The bottom is a bit brighter. The scales are closely placed having a high density, which makes the light bounce beautifully when sparkled upon.

The eyes of this fish are comparatively bigger, which allows them hunting capacity over larger areas. They can even grow up to 14 inches, but while in the aquarium they tend to be smaller in size. Therefore, when inside the water, they appear to be about 12 inches in length.

What is the typical behavior of a Bala shark?

Well, it might appear from the name that they would imbibe the typical behavior of a shark, but thankfully they don’t. They are a type of shoaling fish and prefer to stay in a group of four to six. You will generally find these fishes peaceful by nature, and they are rarely aggressive. But if you keep them along with other smaller fishes, then there is a high chance that they might swallow them too. Bala Sharks are quite active by nature, but sometimes they tend to hide in roots or plants whichever they prefer as their favorite hiding place.

When put inside the tank, this fishes get sacred and might try to hide. But don’t be fooled by the impression that they are shy by nature.

As they get comfortable inside the fish tank, they become good swimmers, and at times they may even jump out of the tank. So, be careful. The perfect slender-shaped body of the Bala Sharks makes them good swimmers.

How will you feed your Bala Shark?

The Bala Shark gets its name from the predators in the ocean.  Basically, they are eager eaters, and hence, they commonly overeat. While you feed your Bala Shark, you will generally notice they often jump and act excited. Hobbyists feel that they are overfed, but actually, it’s an indication that they are enjoying their food. It’s always better to feed them with two smaller meals instead of a larger one.

The Bala Sharks are omnivorous by nature, which means that they will eat whatever you offer them. These fishes eat just anything starting from high quality dried flakes, granules which are devoid of gluten type fillers to dried flakes containing spirulina algae. A fish meal derives required ingredients from both plants and animals.

They even feed on live and frozen foods like brine shrimp, blood worms, and small crustaceans. Larger Bala Sharks eat prawns, earthworms, and also mussels. The silver shark even feeds on thaw frozen food, blanched spinach, and chopped food, which is an excellent addition to its diet.

While in the wild, the Bala Sharks eat larvae and insects. They prefer mosquito and daphnia, which is better known as water fleas. The versatile eating habit of this fish also includes algae and phytoplankton and they are often seen scavenging the tanks for algae and leftover food.

What are the various diseases the Bala Shark is susceptible to?

Like any other freshwater fishes, the Bala Shark is vulnerable to all common diseases like an itch, dropsy, and parasites. Dropsy is a condition when the fish swells from inside suffering from parasitic or bacterial infection. Itch, on the other hand, is an infection under which the fish develops white patches in the body, and it’s usually seen to itch at the walls of the fish tank. They also scratch their body against rocks and gravels.

How do you work on the prevention of diseases of your Bala shark?

The best method you can adopt is to keep a close watch on the fishes while you feed them. You must change 25-30 percent of the water every week. Remember, if you can maintain the tank well, the fish can stay healthy for up to ten years.

What are the typical breeding habits and requirements of Bala Shark?

For a Bala Shark to breed, it should grow up to 4 inches in length. To distinguish between a male and a female silver shark is quite a difficult task. So it’s always better to keep them in a tank in a group of five to six. The male fish is slightly larger than the female one, which is a bit rounded near the abdomen. Since it’s difficult to distinguish between a male and a female Bala Shark, you may ask for help from a more experienced person at the fish store to do this job.

•    Ideal tank conditions should be maintained: For making preparations to make your Bala Shark breed, you must set up a tank of 55 gallons and maintain the temperature of the tank in between 72 to 82 degree Fahrenheit. Make sure that you do not crowd the breeding tank with plants. However, you can plant a few trees outside the tank and a very few inside it as well, to ensure enough hiding space for the fishes. You must also maintain a bare bottomed aquarium as it’s easier to watch the fries grow. Installing a sponge at one corner of the tank would also help as it can filter and keep the tank clean. The sponge is the best way to provide mechanical as well as biological filtration, but at the same time does not provide enough suction power so that the fry gets in danger.

•    Typical behavior of Bala Shark while mating: You will see that the Bala Sharks exhibit a type of dance inside the fish tank which experts have directly linked to the process of mating and imminent production of eggs. After the eggs are produced, the females will scatter them over the tank, so that the males can come and fertilize externally. Bala Sharks can rush to a separate breeding ground for spawning without leaving any protection to the young ones. These species can eat their own eggs or fries; so it’s better to remove the adults as soon as the fries are born.

•    Diet given to the fries after hatching: After hatching, you have to feed the fries with a variety of diet foods like the newly hatched brine shrimp. In case you want to feed the fries, it’s better to feed them multiple times in smaller amounts rather than feeding them twice with larger volumes. Also, if you put too much food at a time, it could worsen the quality of water inside the tank.

Needless to mention that professional breeders can successfully make the Bala Sharks breed. What the case may be, if they are successfully kept, they can be a true joy for hobbyists.

Why should you keep a Bala Shark in your community tank?

Whether you should keep the tricolor shark at your home aquarium or not is a questionable affair. According to many hobbyists, this shark fish grows too long to accommodate the space of the aquarium provided. Well, you may get this tricolor fish in the tropical fish store which is available as 2-3 inches in length.

Hobbyists are amazed at the swimming pattern of the Bala Shark. They buy the species and keep them in a fish tank of minimum 10-30 gallons. But after a period of 6 months, the fish starts getting bigger, especially if you consider the size of the aquarium. Tricolor sharks are simply awesome looking fishes.

Well, you may keep these species in the fish tank, but you have to keep the following facts in mind.

•    You must have room to shelter 3-4 Bala Sharks

•    You have the affordability to move the small fishes to a larger tank in the future.

•    These fishes, when grown up eat other species in the aquarium like neon, guppies, and tetra.

•    You can find an alternative home for the fishes in case you don’t get a 300-gallon tank.

•    You must ensure a secure lid or canopy on the top of the fish tank so that the fishes do not jump out easily.

How to prepare a set up for keeping Bala Shark in the fish tank?

Bala Sharks which originate from the freshwaters of South East Asia are not actually sharks but are named so as because of their appearance. They have a torpedo-shaped body and rigid dorsal fins. They are gentle fish by nature but have active social habits. By taking good care of the Bala Shark, means you select the right tank and ensure better water chemistry. Also, you have to change the water on a regular basis, and give them core attention. That will not only make the fish grow fast, but also give you moments that you will surely be going to enjoy.

1. Deciding on the size of the tank: Since Bala Shark can grow up to 12 inches when held in captivity, they require a fairly big tank. While young, you can buy them at about 3 inches length and they will thrive in a tank carrying 30 gallons of water. But when they grow, they would require a tank of 150 gallons and will grow up to 72 inches.

2. Choose the number of fishes to be kept in the tank: When you have decided about the fish tank, you will have to choose shoals of 4-6, and make sure that they should get along with each other and retain good health.

Please note that lone Bala Sharks get very aggressive; hence, it’s suggested you keep them in groups. When kept in a pair, you will notice the lone one bullying the active individual.

3. Furnish the tank sparingly: As Bala Sharks are aggressive; they need plenty of water for swimming. So it’s better not to overcrowd them. You may keep a few plants around the sides of the tank, along with some wood for hideouts. Additionally, try to provide a bed of rocks which is darker in color as this allows the silvery color of your Bala Shark to stand outstandingly. That way, you can also give the fishes a sense of security.

4. Setting up a heater: Since these fishes come from a tropical environment, you should provide them with a warm environment by installing a heater. The appropriate temperature of the fish tank should be maintained at 72 to 89 degree Fahrenheit.

5. Monitor the hardness of water and the pH: Fill the tank with fresh water from the tap, and then you have to check the pH and hardness levels. To maintain appropriate levels, you need to ensure that the pH remains at around 6.5 to 7.8 and the hardness of the water to be maintained stays at 2 to 10dh. You might involve an appropriate gauge to check the levels of the water.

Kindly note that water taken from wells is hard water while that taken from lakes will be softer type. For better results, try buying peat and add it to the water to adjust the pH. It will also help in increasing the acidity of the water. Calcium salts might be added to the water to raise its alkalinity.

6. You have to add enough water to ensure free movement: By origin, Bala Sharks are river fishes, and they get adapted to water with steady movements. So you need to involve a filter which facilitates the constant movement of water and provide enough oxygen.

You may use a larger canister filter to ensure oxygen supply, water current and also water purity. A powerhead will also help to increase the current in larger tanks.

7. Selecting appropriate tank mates: Bala Sharks are varieties which are peaceful and lesser aggressive. But since they are fast swimmers, they can cause harm for those species which are comparatively slow swimmers. They can get along well with fishes having similar personalities like angelfish, cichlids, medium sized tetras, parrot cichlids, gouramis and ram cichlids.

Choose tankmates which are almost half the size of Bala Sharks, else they have a tendency to be swallowed by the latter. As Bala Sharks open their mouth for food, other fishes might fit in as food. So it’s recommended to avoid keeping smaller fishes while you choose Bala Shark for your fish tank.

8. Get a lid which is a tight-fitted one: Bala Sharks can jump at least 6 feet from the tank they stay in. So, make sure that you keep a lid tight enough to avoid Bala Sharks escaping the tank.

Rearing and keeping Bala Sharks inside the aquarium can be challenging, but if you get it right, it can be rewarding as well. During the lifetime, the magnitude of growth of these fishes can overgrow the aquarium they are put in. But in case the hobbyist has the confidence of providing sufficient space to the fish, you can go for Bala Shark. Besides, if you are looking for a smaller fish for your aquarium collection, it could be an excellent choice. If you have the confidence of providing the fish all its basic needs, rest assured that Bala Sharks can be a splendid specimen to breed.

Arindom Ghosh
 

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