Maximum size : 35 cm

Bala Shark - Balantiocheilos Melanopterus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Thanks to their serene and resilient temperament, Bala Sharks (Balantiocheilos Melanopterus) make for excellent inhabitants in sizable community aquariums. As these creatures mature, it is essential to recognize that they will eventually outgrow most tanks and will continue to grow for a number of years.

Bala Sharks are shoaling species that thrive in groups of six or more within an appropriately sized aquarium. It is essential to position the aquarium in a quiet location that does not receive frequent foot traffic, as these creatures are easily startled and require numerous shady hiding spots to feel secure. Tight-fitting cover slides are also necessary to prevent accidental jumping and injuries.

When selecting decor for the aquarium, it is vital to exercise caution and avoid sharp objects that may cause harm when the fish dash for cover. Additionally, care must be taken during cleaning to avoid startling the fish. A well-filtered and aerated environment is necessary to ensure that the water quality remains optimal for these creatures.

Originating from tropical rivers and streams with a steady current, Bala Sharks require a decent flow rate within their environment. The aquarium should be appropriately planted at the sides and back, leaving ample open swimming areas in the centre. These creatures should not be housed with any aggressive species, as they thrive best in a peaceful and tranquil environment.

Bala Sharks exhibit unique physical characteristics, including disproportionately large eyes and mouths in comparison to their torpedo-shaped bodies and silvery-grey scales that enhance their distinct appearance. Their pectoral fins, nearly invisible due to their transparency, contrast with the light grey or yellow tones of the dorsal, pelvic, caudal, and anal fins, which feature deep black edges.

One of the most striking physical attributes of Bala Sharks is their large triangular-shaped dorsal fin, which sits almost perpendicular to their body. This, coupled with their substantial size potential, results in an appearance that is reminiscent of true sharks, further adding to their allure.

Bala Shark Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Determining the sex of Bala Sharks can prove to be an arduous task, as external sexual dimorphism is usually indiscernible. However, during spawning season, it is worth noting that females tend to develop a more rounded belly in comparison to males.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBalantiocheilos Melanopterus
Year Described1850
Other NamesTricolor Shark, Silver Shark, Tricolor Sharkminnow, Shark minnow
OriginsThailand , Indonesia , Malaysia
Max Size35 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 5+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
ReproductionEgg Depositor
LifespanUp to 10 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.5 - 7.5
GH 2 - 10
Ideal Temperature
72 - 82
22 - 27

Natural Habitat

Bala Sharks are native to Southeast Asia! These stunning fish inhabit medium to large lakes and rivers in Thailand, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malayan Peninsula. Sadly, the Bala Shark has become rare in many places they once lived, with some regions believing the species to be extinct.

The declining population of this magnificent fish is due to various factors, including overfishing, damming of rivers, and pollution. These threats have caused a significant decline in the Bala Shark population, once a prolific species throughout Southeast Asia. Despite the challenges they face, the Bala Shark remains a fascinating and captivating species.


Breeding Bala Sharks in a home aquarium is a rare occurrence, as successful attempts are seldom documented. This can be attributed to several factors, such as the necessity for large tanks and a dearth of information regarding optimal breeding conditions. Notably, commercial breeders in Asia have managed to breed this species by employing hormone injections to stimulate spawning, although specific details regarding this process remain largely unidentified.

Diet & feeding

To promote optimal growth and development of Bala Sharks, it is essential to provide them with a nutrient-rich diet consisting of both dry and live food sources. Dry food options such as flakes, pellets, and granules can be supplemented with live foods such as artemia, daphnia, brine shrimp, and mussels. In addition, regular consumption of plant-based foods like fruits, spinach, green peas, lettuce, and nettle leaves is crucial to ensure a well-rounded and balanced diet for these aquatic creatures.

Other Sharks of interest