Bala Shark Tank – How To Set It Up - "File:Balantiocheilos melanopterus - Karlsruhe Zoo 02.jpg" by H. Zell is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Bala Shark Tank – How To Set It Up - "File:Balantiocheilos melanopterus - Karlsruhe Zoo 02.jpg" by H. Zell is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.


Setting up a Bala shark tank is an exciting endeavor that offers aquarists the opportunity to create a captivating aquatic world. These sleek and striking fish, despite their name, are not true sharks but are instead a member of the minnow family. In this guide, we’ll explore the considerations and steps involved in establishing a Bala shark tank, providing a comfortable and thriving environment for these captivating species and their potential tank mates.

About the Bala Shark

The Bala shark, scientifically known as Balantiocheilus melanopterus, is a popular freshwater fish species often kept in home aquariums. Despite its name, it’s not a true shark but rather a member of the minnow family (Cyprinidae). Bala sharks are sometimes also called “Silver Shark” due to their striking appearance. Here’s a description of their appearance and behavior:


  • Body Shape: Bala sharks have an elongated, torpedo-shaped body, resembling the typical shape of a shark, which explains their common name. They have a streamlined, aerodynamic appearance, allowing them to move swiftly through the water.
  • Size: These fish can grow quite large, with adults typically reaching lengths of 10 to 13 inches (25 to 33 cm) in captivity. In the wild, they can grow even larger.
  • Coloration: Bala sharks are known for their striking coloration. Their body is generally silver or light gray, with a dorsal fin that extends from the nape of the neck to the base of the tail. They also have a prominent, vivid black stripe different places along their body. The contrast between the silver body and the black stripe is visually impressive.
  • Fins: Aside from the black dorsal fin, Bala sharks also have transparent, well-defined pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins, which add to their overall aesthetic appeal.


  • Social: Bala sharks are schooling fish by nature, and they are known for their strong social tendencies. They thrive when kept in groups of at least three or more individuals. Being in a group not only reduces stress but also encourages more natural and engaging behavior in the aquarium.
  • Swimming Patterns: Bala sharks are strong swimmers and will often swim rapidly around the tank, especially when kept in groups. They have a tendency to swim near the surface, which is reminiscent of their namesake, sharks.
  • Diet: These fish are omnivores and have a relatively undemanding diet. They will accept a wide range of foods, including flakes, pellets, live or frozen food like brine shrimp and bloodworms, and even some vegetable matter. It’s essential to provide a balanced diet to ensure their health and vitality.
  • Compatibility: Bala sharks are generally peaceful fish and can coexist with other peaceful community fish of similar size. However, their swift swimming and activity level might stress slower or more timid tankmates.
  • Bala Shark Tank Requirements: Due to their size, Bala sharks require a spacious aquarium with plenty of swimming space. A tank of at least 75 gallons (300 liters) is recommended for a small group of these fish. Ensure the water quality is excellent, with regular water changes to maintain their health.

In conclusion, Bala sharks are known for their attractive appearance, with their sleek, silver bodies and striking black stripes. They are captivating to watch as they gracefully move through the water, and they thrive in the company of their own kind. Keeping them in a well-maintained aquarium with proper companions and a balanced diet can lead to a rewarding and visually appealing addition to your home aquarium.

Tank Mates

Selecting suitable tank mates for your Bala shark tank is essential to ensure a harmonious and stress-free environment for the fish you keep. Here are several factors to consider when choosing compatible tank mates:

  • Size Compatibility: Choose fish that are of similar size to prevent one species from bullying or preying on the others. Smaller fish may become targets for larger, more aggressive species.
  • Temperament: Consider the temperament of the fish species you plan to keep together. Some are peaceful, while others can be aggressive or territorial. It’s generally best to avoid mixing species with drastically different temperaments.
  • Water Parameters: Ensure that the fish you plan to keep together have similar water parameter requirements, including temperature, pH, and hardness. Mixing species with vastly different needs can lead to stress and health problems.
  • Dietary Compatibility: Different fish have different dietary preferences. Make sure the fish you choose can all be fed the same types of food or at least have overlapping dietary requirements. This ensures that all fish receive proper nutrition.
  • Habitat Preferences: Some fish prefer specific types of habitats within the aquarium, such as bottom-dwellers, mid-water swimmers, or surface feeders. Choose tank mates that occupy different niches in the tank to reduce competition for space and resources.
  • Schooling/Shoaling Behavior: Some fish, like tetras and rasboras, are shoaling species and are happier when kept in groups. Others, like cichlids, can be territorial and prefer to be kept singly or in pairs. It’s essential to understand the social behavior of the species you plan to keep.
  • Breeding Behavior: Be aware of the breeding habits of the fish you intend to keep. Some species may become territorial or aggressive during the breeding season, which can disrupt the harmony in the tank.
  • Predator-Prey Relationships: Avoid keeping predatory species with potential prey species. Predators may view smaller, more vulnerable fish as food, leading to aggression and harm.
  • Aggression Levels: Research the aggression levels of the fish you’re considering. Some fish are known to be bullies or territorial, which can be problematic in a community tank. Ensure that the species you select are compatible in terms of their aggression levels.
  • Quarantine: It’s a good practice to quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main aquarium. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and parasites to your existing fish.
  • Observation: Always closely observe your fish when you introduce new tank mates. Sometimes, despite your best efforts to choose compatible fish, individual personalities can lead to conflicts. Be prepared to make adjustments if needed.
  • Biodiversity: Consider the overall biodiversity of your tank. Mixing different species with varying colors, sizes, and behaviors can create an aesthetically pleasing and interesting aquarium.

Remember that there are no guarantees in the world of fishkeeping, and sometimes unexpected issues may arise. Being prepared and doing thorough research before selecting Bala shark tank mates will go a long way in maintaining a peaceful and thriving community aquarium.

Bala Shark Tank – How To Set It Up - "File:Balantiocheilos melanopterus - Karlsruhe Zoo 02.jpg" by H. Zell is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
Bala Shark Tank – How To Set It Up – “File:Balantiocheilos melanopterus – Karlsruhe Zoo 02.jpg” by H. Zell is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Bala Shark Tank Setup

Creating an ideal Bala shark tank requires careful planning to provide a suitable environment for Bala sharks and their tank mates. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to set up a Bala shark tank, including considerations for tank size, plants, decorations, and more:

  • Tank Size: The minimum recommended tank size for a Bala shark tank is 75 gallons (300 liters). However, larger tanks, such as 100 gallons (400 liters) or more, are preferable, as Bala sharks are active swimmers and can grow quite large. A bigger tank allows for a more comfortable and natural swimming space.
  • Water Parameters: Maintain stable water parameters with a temperature of 75-82°F (24-28°C), a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5, and moderate hardness. Regular water testing and changes are essential to keep the water quality optimal.
  • Tank Mates: Choose tank mates that are compatible with Bala sharks in terms of size, temperament, and water requirements. Suitable tank mates may include peaceful, mid-sized community fish like tetras, barbs, rasboras, and catfish.
  • Substrate: Use a fine-grained substrate like sand or small gravel, which allows Bala sharks to sift through it in search of food without damaging their sensitive barbels.
  • Plants: Incorporate live plants into your Bala shark tank to provide natural hiding spots, oxygenation, and aesthetic appeal. Consider hardy, fast-growing species like Java fern, Anubias, Vallisneria, or Amazon swords. Keep in mind that Bala sharks may occasionally uproot plants, so ensure they are well-anchored.
  • Decorations: Provide plenty of hiding places and structures for exploration. Driftwood, rocks, caves, and PVC pipes can serve as shelter for your Bala sharks and tank mates. These decorations also create territorial boundaries and reduce stress.
  • Filtration: Invest in a robust filtration system to maintain water quality and ensure proper oxygenation. Bala sharks are sensitive to poor water conditions, so a quality filter with good circulation is essential.
  • Lighting: Bala sharks do not have specific lighting requirements, but a consistent day-night cycle with moderate lighting is recommended to support plant growth and maintain a natural environment.
  • Feeding: Provide a varied diet that includes high-quality flakes, pellets, live or frozen foods, and even some vegetable matter. Bala sharks are omnivores and will benefit from a diverse diet.
  • Group Size: Bala sharks are social fish and thrive when kept in groups of three or more individuals. Ensure there are enough companions to prevent stress and encourage their natural schooling behavior.
  • Water Quality Maintenance: Regularly test water parameters, perform water changes, and clean the tank as needed to maintain optimal water quality. Keep in mind that Bala sharks are sensitive to poor water conditions.

By following these guidelines and paying attention to the specific needs of Bala sharks and their tank mates, you can create a well-balanced and visually appealing Bala shark tank that supports the health and happiness of all the inhabitants.


A well-planned Bala shark tank is a testament to the beauty and diversity of the aquatic world. From the spacious tank size to the carefully chosen tank mates, substrate, plants, decorations, and maintenance routines, creating the perfect habitat for Bala sharks can be a rewarding experience. By adhering to these guidelines and paying close attention to the specific requirements of these fish, aquarists can enjoy the graceful presence of Bala sharks while maintaining a harmonious and healthy aquatic ecosystem in their aquarium.