The Bala Shark has a Single Large Standing Dorsal Fin

The Bala Shark is also known as the "Silver Shark." This fish isn't a shark, though!

According to Fish Lore experts,

"They are commonly named silver sharks because of their appearance and the shape of their dorsal fin. These "sharks" require large tanks because of their potential adult size of 13 inches and because this fish does better when kept in groups. They are mostly peaceful but may eat smaller fish such as neon tetras when they reach a large-enough size."

These "sharks" are also good jumpers. There must be a hood on your aquarium! This fish is for intermediate fishkeepers given the size of the tank you'll need.

Breed overview

The Bala Shark is from Southeast Asia. This "shark" is increasingly exploited due to the fish and pet trade.

  • Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Common Names: Bala Shark, Silver Shark, Tri Color Shark Minnow, Hangus, Silver Bala
  • Care Level: Easy to medium, needs lots of swimming space and a larger tank.
  • Size: Up to 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years

Behavior and temperament

They are active swimmers.

Bala Sharks are also schooling fish that must be kept with others of its own kind. Bala Sharks are active fish that startle easily and will leap out of the tank if it does not have a good cover or hood. 

They can grow up to 13 inches so the minimum tank size for these fish is 120 gallons. They're peaceful in nature but they grow much larger than you might expect. As they grow, they'll eat smaller fish!

They're also excellent jumpers so please keep this in mind as you determine the best aquarium.


The Spruce Pets tells us that even though the Bala Shark is not a true shark, it has a large triangular-shaped dorsal fin and torpedo-shaped body that gives it a distinctly shark-like appearance.

"That's where the similarity to real sharks ends, as this species is far more peaceful than the average ocean-going shark (and is a freshwater fish while sharks are ocean-dwellers). A member of the Cyprinid family, Balantiocheilos melanopterus has a shiny metallic silver body with well-defined scales, large eyes and a deeply forked yellow-tinged teal. The dorsal caudal, pelvic, and anal fins are all edged in deep black. This tri-color scheme of silver, yellow, and black gives rise to another of its common names, the Tri-Color Shark."

They will grow up to 13 inches or almost a foot in some cases.

Overall care

A few things to remember when you're researching how to care for Bala Sharks is they're sensitive to water and poor feeding can cause digestive problems.

To create the most comfortable environment for the fish and make sure it stays healthy, 25-30 percent of the water should be renewed weekly. 


They are tolerant toward other small fish as long as they're not small enough for him to swallow it. As we mentioned, it is recommended that you keep at least four (ideally six) together to give them some comfort.

We know they need a large aquarium, they're sensitive to water conditions and need frequent water changes, but what about diet and live foods?

In a high-quality community tank, these freshwater fish will eat most types of fish food including vitamin-enriched flake foods, pellets, frozen, freeze-dried and definitely live foods with the key being a varied diet. They sometimes make a clicking noise while eating. Their food can be diversified with bloodworms, vegetables and different plankton.

These large fish will eat smaller fish when they grow to their full size, so the fish tank must include other Bala Sharks!

Do you have any Bala Sharks in your tank? Please let us know in the below comments!

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