Bala shark

The Bala shark (Barbus melanopterus) belongs to the carp family. Its natural habitat are larger running waters and lakes in South East Asia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia. These are large and jumpy fish that belong in experienced hands.

What distinguishes the curable one?

Shark barbs can grow up to 30 cm and larger (therefore only suitable for very large aquaria from 250 cm edge length). They are real schooling fish and feel comfortable in groups of 10 or more. The bigger the group, the better.

They are good swimmers with an extended and jerky swimming behaviour. They can stand against the current. They hunt moderately successfully and eat young fish or snails. If they get close to plants, they swim on their backs.

In their natural environment, silver mullets live in deep water and dark areas. So they also hide in the aquarium. They only leave the hiding places when it has become darker and quieter in the aquarium. Their behaviour is jumpy. In case of stress they become hectic and even jump out of the tank.

The appearance of the Bala shark

© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), Sharks (Balantiocheilos melanopterus), CC BY-SA 4.0

With their slender body and pointed dorsal fin, they resemble sharks. This similarity disappears with increasing age and the otherwise flat belly bulges out.

Shark barbs have a shimmering scaly coat. The fins appear almost transparent and are markedly yellowish and black. Like all good swimmers, the caudal fin is strongly pronounced, narrow and split. The anal fin is wider. All fins except the caudal fin are collapsible. The front steering fins serve to balance the movement and the fish can stay in the current.

The eyes are large and get bigger with age. They can be moved by about 30 °.

Keeping conditions at a glance:

  • Aquarium tank of at least 250 cm edge length with strong circulation pump
  • At least 6 conspecifics
  • Live, frozen and dried fodder, also vegetable
  • Chews the sand for food
  • Socialisation with sand diver, giraffe cichlids and loaches

Gender differences

There are no secondary gender differences. From the age of 2 to 3 years, there are weak signs. The males remain slim, while the females become more stocky and high-backed.

Water values for the silver mullet

Like most of the fish from the rainforest areas, the shark also needs warm, soft and acidic water:

Temperature: 22 to 27 °CpH
Value: 6 to 7Total hardness

5 dGH

A weekly change of water ensures the well-being of the fish and prevents infections.

Food and nutrition for the silver mullet

The omnivores need a lot of food:

  • Live, dry and frozen fodder
  • Riccia, potatoes, peas, rice, corn, uncooked pasta
  • Duckweed, floating plants of the species Pistia or Lemna
]In addition, plant food should be close to the ground, because shark barbs like to chew through the sand

The ideal aquarium for the Bala shark

According to the size and the behavior, the shark barbs absolutely need a spacious aquarium! The standard measure is at least ten times the body length for the tank length and three times the body length in the depth of the tank. Powerful circulating pumps provide sufficient water movement and oxygen. Sharks are susceptible to oxygen deficiency!

The equipment consists of sufficient swimming area on the one hand and sufficient hiding places on the other hand. It is best if the plants are densely planted at the back and sides of the pool. A floating plant cover offers additional protection and safety. Shelters are not necessary.

The fish like to gründeln and search the ground for food. Therefore only fine sand must cover the bottom. Floating plants and a cover prevent the animals from jumping out of the aquarium.

Characteristics of the Bala shark

Sharks are not suitable for a normal aquarium! They grow up to 40 cm in size and can hardly be seen with increasing age.

The life expectancy is about 13 years.

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