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Cyprinds / Bala Shark

Bala Shark, Tricolor Shark, Silver Shark
Balantiocheilus melanopterus

Synonyms: Barbus melanopterus, Puntius melanopterus, Systomus melanopterus
Physical description: A slender, elongated fish with a tall, erect dorsal fin and a forked caudal fin. The head is small and dominated in size by the eye. The body is dark gray with a silver iridescence. The rear parts of all fins, have wide, black edges. This species has a streamlined look.
Size/Length: To 16" (40 cm)
Similar species: None
Habitat: Southeast Asia; in large rivers and streams of Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Thailand. The Bala Shark is nearly extinct in the wild.
S: middle
Aquarium: A tank measuring 32" (81 cm) with a volume of 30 gallons (114 L) is suitable for young individuals. Adults over 10" (25 cm) are recommended to be kept in a tank measuring 72" (183 cm) with a capacity of 100 gallons (378 L). These fish need large open swimming areas, and prefer long tanks. The tank should have well-planted corners and a tight-fitting cover, for these fish jump.
Water chemistry: pH 5.8-8 (7.0), 5-15 dH (7), 72-84°F (22-29°C)
Social behavior: An active fish that can be kept in a community tank with small to large fish. This species will not harm plants.
Suggested companions: Gouramis, Barbs, Danios, Rasboras, Loaches, Knifefish, tetras, Corydoras, Angelfish, livebearers, Loricarids.
FOOD: Live; Tubifex , insect larvae, crustaceans, insects; flakes; small pellets.
SEX: The females are fatter during spawning season.
Breeding techniques: Breeding has only been successful in large tanks of 100 or more gallons. Southeast Asian fish farmers use hormones to breed the Bala Shark, although little success has been reported in captivity.
Breeding potential: 10. Reports of successful spawning in captivity are non-existent.
Remarks: This active fish grows quickly and needs a large swimming area. The hardy Bala Shark is an excellent jumper that has been known to make audible clicking sounds.
Difficulty of care: 3. A robust, lively species ideal for a community tank.


By Rhett Butler   Mongabay.com