Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
Size: 14 inches
Temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Alkalinity: Soft to moderately hard
pH: 6.0 to 8.0
Origin: Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo
The Bala Shark, Balantiocheilos melanopterus is also known as the tricolor shark, silver shark, or shark minnow. It is a fish species of the family Cyprinidae and is one of the two species in the genus Balantiocheilos. This species is not a true shark, but is commonly so called because of its torpedo-shaped body and large fins. It is endangered because the population decreased by 50% in the last 10 years.
Bala shark is a staple item in most aquarium stores. However, this fish is a poor choice for most aquaria. The bala shark (the name is an abbreviation of the scientific name) is active, grows to fourteen inches and prefers living in midwater shoals. So the typical community aquarium is too small for keeping the bala shark long-term.
The bala shark is very peaceful. Even though this fish grows large, it will not bother other fish—except those small enough to fit in its mouth. Ideally, you should keep groups of six or more, but no less than three.
You’ll have no problem feeding this fish. The bala shark accepts all foods, including flakes. The fish is primarily carnivorous, but may bother soft plants. Live, frozen and freeze-dried foods are favorites. A proper diet will intensify the colors in the fins, as will keeping this fish against a dark background. White gravel or background will cause colors to fade.
Though fish farms breed the bala shark in large numbers, do not expect to spawn this fish in a home aquarium. Commercial breeders use hormone injections to condition the fish and to get them to spawn.