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Bala sharks (balantiocheilus melanopterus) are not really sharks at all, though they are very shark like in appearance. Native to the waters of Thailand, Borneo and Sumatra, the bala shark is also known in the pet trade as the tri-colored shark or silver shark. A freshwater fish, the bala requires a large tank with lots of swimming room. Known for their rapid growth rate, the tiny bala you bring home from the pet store today can easily reach up to 7" or more in the home aquarium.

Recognizable by their bright silver coloration, the bala has whitish fins edged in black. The scales are large and clearly defined, and the oversized eyes are black.

Fairly sensitive to water quality, they do well in a pH of 6.5 to 7, and like water temperatures in the ranges of 72-82 degrees. They are easy to feed as they are not finicky eaters--good quality flake foods, shrimp pellets, sinking goldfish pellets and live foods such as daphnia or blood worms will keep a bala in good condition. Balas are not commonly bred in the home aquarium yet.

Covers on aquariums housing bala sharks must be snug fitting and secure. These fish are strong jumpers and if kept in a tank that is not well covered, will leap out! The bala makes an excellent community fish with tankmates of similar size and disposition.

Bala sharks are avaliable in almost every pet store. Though you can purchase larger specimens, most balas are sold when very small. With good care and a large enough environment, the bala has been known to reach sizes of up to a foot in length in the home aquarium. Unless you are able to provide a large enough tank, hold off on buying one of these quick growing, lively fish.