Balantiocheilus melanopterus


    Very common in the hobby today the bala shark should be researched before purchased. They grow very large and fast and prefer to be kept in groups. If you have the proper size tank they will reward you with action and peaceful behavior.

Quick stats:


Listed tank sizes are the minimum
Size: Up to 16″ (40cm), females smaller
Tank: 48 inches, 72 inches + for adults
Strata: All, mostly middle
PH: 5.8 to 7.8
Hardness: Soft to medium. dH range: 5.0 – 15.0
Temperature: 72°F to 84°F (22-29°C)



Order: Atheriniformes
Suborder: Cyprinodontoidei
Family: Cyprinodontoidae
Genera: Balantiocheilus

Common name

    Bala shark, Tricolor Shark


    Sumatra, Thailand, Borneo and Malaysia

General Body Form

    Slightly downfacing mouth with no Barbels. It is a very slender fish with a general convex appearance. The Dorsal fin is triangular in shape and is the reason for its’ common name. They can reach a length of 14 inches.


    Almost all the fins are edged with a wide Black band, with the front areas being bright Yellow or Orange in color. The Pectoral fins are transparent. The sides are silver with a slight Yellow sheen. The Back is Brown and the Belly area White.




    The Bala shark is one of the easiest fish to maintain it is also one of the most peaceful that minds its own business at all times. The Tank should be large with live plants and also lots of swimming areas, the Bala is a very active fish which will cover all areas of the tank and will go over the substrate picking up pieces of food that were missed by others. It has no specific feeding requirements and will accept all flake food as well as supplemental live. They do best in a water temperature of between 73° to 79°. pH slightly Alkaline to neutral. The only drawback to this great fish is that it grows too large for most home aquariums. The Bala shark is also a skilled jumper so a tight fitting cover is needed.


    1. Streams and rivers of Southeast Asia, see the

Biotope page 

    for some ideas.


    It is an Egg scatterer and has been reported to have been bred in the aquarium.



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