The Bala shark, also known as the tricolor shark or silver shark, is a popular aquarium fish that belongs to the family Cyprinidae. However, it is important to note that the Bala shark is not a true shark but rather a species of freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Sumatra.
Here are some key characteristics and information about the Bala shark:
Appearance: Bala sharks have a streamlined body with a silver or gray coloration, which gives them a shark-like appearance. They have a distinctive black patch on their dorsal fin and a silver-white underside. The fins are usually transparent, and the tail fin is deeply forked.
Size: Bala sharks are known for their impressive size. In the wild, they can grow up to 14-16 inches (35-40 cm) in length, although their size is smaller when kept in aquariums. In captivity, they typically reach a size of around 10-12 inches (25-30 cm).
Behavior: Bala sharks are active and fast-swimming fish. They are schooling fish by nature, so it is best to keep them in groups of five or more to ensure their well-being. In larger groups, they exhibit more natural behaviors and are less likely to become stressed or aggressive. They are generally peaceful and compatible with other non-aggressive fish species.
Tank requirements: Due to their large size, Bala sharks require a spacious aquarium. A tank with a capacity of at least 75 gallons (284 liters) is recommended for a small group of Bala sharks. The tank should be well-maintained with proper filtration, as these fish are sensitive to poor water conditions. They prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.5-7.5) and a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C).
Diet: Bala sharks are omnivorous and primarily feed on small crustaceans, insects, and plant matter in the wild. In captivity, they readily accept a varied diet consisting of high-quality flakes or pellets, supplemented with occasional live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and chopped vegetables.
Breeding: Breeding Bala sharks in home aquariums is quite challenging and rare. They are known to migrate upstream to spawn during the monsoon season in their native habitats. Replicating such conditions in captivity can be difficult, and as a result, most Bala sharks available in the aquarium trade are commercially bred.
It is worth mentioning that Bala sharks can be long-lived, with some individuals living up to 10-15 years if provided with proper care and suitable tank conditions.
Remember, before adding any fish to your aquarium, it is crucial to research and ensure that you can provide the appropriate environment, diet, and companionship for the species you intend to keep.