The bala shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus) is a large fish found in Borneo, Sumatra and possibly Peninsular Malaysia. The bala shark is a pelagic species occurring in rivers and natural lakes such as the Danau Sentarum system. This fish grows to an adult size of 11 to 14 inches long. Sexually mature females are noticeably thicker bodied than males but accurately sexing young fish is virtually impossible.
Bala sharks should be maintained in an aquarium of 125 gallons or larger. A soft, sandy substrate (CS7538) is a good choice. Driftwood (ZM2000) and live or artificial plants may also be incorporated, although free swimming space is more important than decor.
Bala sharks prefer a temperature of 68°F to 82°F, a pH of 6.0 to 8.0, and a hardness of 2 to 15°H. Be sure water is clean and well oxygenated. Excellent filtration with moderate flow is a must for these fish to thrive.
Bala sharks are relatively peaceful fish despite their size. Good tank mates can include larger species of tetra, angelfish, larger and less aggressive cichlids, tinfoil barbs, many different catfish species, and many algae eating fish. Avoid tiny fish that are easily eaten. Bala sharks are a shoaling fish that will develop a pecking order within the group. For this reason, they should be maintained in groups of at least five or six to prevent less dominant individuals from being bullied.
Bala sharks are very easy to feed in the aquarium. They will readily accept flakes (AL165), pellets, and frozen (SF6777) or freeze dried foods. For maximum color, growth, and health these fish will look their best when given probiotics (AL169) in addition to a balanced diet.