Bala sharks start off really small and cute, but then quickly grow into foot-long beasts. Ok, so they aren’t beasts exactly, but as far as an aquarium fish goes, a foot long is pretty big.
We have people asking us “how many Bala sharks in a 10-gallon tank? The answer here is none, not a single one. Each Bala Shark requires 26 gallons of water and they should be kept in groups 3 – 4 as they are schooling fish thus a tank size of 100 gallons+ is recommended.
Let’s look at housing requirements in more detail and the recommended tank size for these beautiful fish.
What is the Recommended Tank Size for Bala Sharks?
Ok, so the “general” rule of thumb is that aquarium fish need at least 1 gallon of water for every inch in length. Bala sharks can easily grow to 13 inches in length, which means that according to this rule, each shark needs at least 13 gallons of tank space.
However, Bala sharks are extremely active, they love to swim, and they can be a bit territorial and aggressive too.
Therefore, for a Bala shark, you want to double that rule, so you want at least 2 gallons of water per inch of Bala shark, which means that an average 13-inch Bala shark needs about 26 gallons of water.
So to summarise:
- 10-gallon Tanks = 0, much too small.
- 30-gallon Tanks = 0, has adequate space for 1, but should be kept in a school of 3 or more.
- 40-gallon Tanks = 0, has adequate space for 1, but should be kept in a school of 3 or more.
- 55-gallon Tanks = 2, but not recommended, as they should be kept in a school of 3 or more.
- 125-gallon Tanks = 3-4, this is the ideal tank size for a small school. The bigger the tank the better.
How Many Bala Sharks Should I Keep Together?
What is interesting to note is that Bala sharks are not solitary creatures. Folks, these are not actual sharks. They aren’t great whites. Sure, they have a slight resemblance to real sharks, but they are not.
Normal sharks are not schooling fish, but Bala sharks are. They need to keep with at least 3 others of their own kind, and the more the merrier.
So, based on this, if we have four Bala sharks, each needing 26 gallons of tank space, this means that you would need a tank of 104 gallons.
However, it is important to note that most professionals would recommend giving them even more room than this, up to 125 gallons for a school of four adult Bala sharks.
Bala Sharks Housing Requirements
Bala sharks are somewhat hard to care for, and this is not only due to their large size and huge tank requirements.
Bala sharks do have some specific housing requirements that you need to follow in order to keep them happy and healthy.
Bala sharks are actually warm water creatures. They require the water temperature to be between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a somewhat warm place, you might be able to keep the tank at 72 degrees without having to do much.
However, if you live in a place where the ambient temperature regularly drops below 72, then you will need to get an aquarium heater.
Bala sharks can handle water that has a hardness level of up to 10 KH. For those of you that do not know, 10 KH is very low, and this means that Bala sharks require soft water.
Therefore, you may have to use some water conditioner to get it soft enough to allow these magnificent creatures to survive.
One thing to which Bala sharks are quite sensitive is the pH level of the water. Bala sharks require the water to be between very slightly acidic and totally neutral.
They need their water to have a pH level between 6.5 and 7.0. You may very well need to take steps to adjust the pH to get it into this very narrow acceptable range.
Filtration & Air
Something to be aware of here is that Bala sharks usually live in fairly fast-flowing rivers. This means that they are used to fairly clean water, they like high oxygen levels in the water, and they love a good current too.
Therefore, for a Bala shark tank, you do need to get a really good filter, a very large and strong one. Most would recommend an external canister filter.
If you have a 125-gallon Bala shark tank, you should have a filter that can process at least 500 gallons of water per hour, one with an adjustable flow rate, and one that engages in all 3 major forms of filtration.
You may choose to add an air stone into the tank, although this should not be necessary if you have a strong filter.
Bala sharks like to have a bit of light, but they are not overly keen on it.
A basic aquarium light that can mimic normal sunlight will work just fine. Bala sharks have no special lighting requirements.
In terms of the substrate, some basic aquarium gravel, particularly large and smooth gravel will do just fine. These sharks live in rivers with rocky bottoms.
Many people also use rounded and flat stones as a substrate for these awesome creatures.
You are not going to need many plants for a Bala shark tank. A couple of plants around the edge of the tank will do just fine.
While they do enjoy plants, what they enjoy more is swimming. You don’t want to have a bunch of plants in the tank that is going to get in the way of their fast-paced lives.
They like lots of open water, so having lots of plants is not only unnecessary but also unwanted.
What you can do is add some floating plants to the tank. This way there will be a bit of vegetation, but it won’t get in the way of the Bala sharks.
The same thing goes for decorations as for plants. You want to add a couple of larger rocks, maybe a piece of driftwood, and that’s it. Leave the water mostly open for swimming.
The best Bala shark tank mates are other Bala sharks. Young Bala sharks can be kept with pretty much any other fish, but of course, they do not stay young, and when they grow, they will start to eat smaller fish, snails, and more or less anything they can fit in their mouths.
Therefore, anything that they can fit in their mouths, such as guppies and tetras, are off-limits.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can Bala sharks live alone?
While it is not impossible for them to survive when they are alone, these are schooling fish and should be kept in schools of no less than four.
Why do Bala sharks die so easily?
Bala sharks are just very sensitive to water conditions, particularly quick changes in conditions.
They do not do well when temperatures drop, and they are very susceptible to changing pH levels as well.
Do Bala sharks bite?
No, although they are called sharks, they are actually fairly timid and peaceful fish. They may eat something that they see as food, but they won’t attack other fish or bite your fingers.
How big do Bala Sharks get?
Bala sharks can grow up to 13 inches in length.
We hope this has given you some good guidelines for Bala sharks. Just remember they do grow to a large size and should be kept in a minimum school of three, so only consider them if you have a 100+ gallon aquarium in order to give them a good living environment for them to flourish in.
Featured Image Credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock