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FAQs on Bala or Tri-Colored Shark Behavior 

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Related FAQs:  Bala Sharks, FW Shark Behavior, Bala Shark Identification, Bala Shark Compatibility, Bala Shark Selection, Bala Shark Systems, Bala Shark Feeding, Bala Shark Disease, Bala Shark Reproduction, Minnow Sharks 1, Minnow Sharks 2, FW Shark Identification, FW Shark Compatibility, FW Shark Selection, FW Shark Systems, FW Shark Feeding, FW Shark Disease, FW Shark Reproduction, Redtail Sharks, Redfin Sharks, Black Sharks,


2 Unfriendly Bala Sharks - Cramped Quarters 8/25/12
<Hello Rheanne, Rick here.>
I have two Bala sharks, one is roughly 25cm and the other is about 11cm.
<Still small. Can get as large as 40 cm. Also said to prefer to be in groups of five or more.>
My tank is 180litres
and stocked with Mollies, Swordtails, Platys, Gouramis and Chinese Algae eaters.
<Too small for Bala sharks.  An 8-foot tank (240 cm) is recommended, but bigger than yours in any case.>
When I purchased the Sharks I had no clue they could get so huge.
<One of those fishes where the adult size is buried in the fine print. Research before buying, even if you have to use a book on the rack at the store.>
I've had some in the past and they did not get anywhere close to 25cm.
<Different species maybe?>
Anyway, my problem is that as soon as I turn the lights off my two Sharks begin acting extremely shark like, attempting to eat any fish in their sight.
<Trying to make space?>
They succeeded many a time, of course providing the fish is small (the size of a neon terra) enough to fit in their mouths whole. All my Mollies, Swordtails and Platys seem petrified at night, they all stay at the top away from the Sharks.
<Everybody is stressed. Bala sharks are in a constricted space, everyone else is terrified. Not sustainable.>
I feed my fish twice a day, my Sharks eat the algae wafers I drop in for the Chinese Algae eaters. So my theory is that the Sharks really shouldn't be hungry, surely if they were they would behave the same at day time.
Which they don't! Their so peaceful in the day. 
<Probably not hunger-motivated behavior.>
What I am wondering is if it is possible to transfer these two Sharks to a 90litre tank? I have a feeling this is too small but I thought it worth asking anyway.
<Larger, not smaller.>
My other option if that can't work is to sadly give them to the Pet Shop, which needless to say I don't want to do. I love my Sharks, but their behaviour towards the other fish at night is too stressful for the other fish (well from my observations).
<A larger tank is best.>
Oh and just to note both Sharks are still growing!
<The problem will only get worse.>
Thanks in advance for your time and advice.
<Good luck. - Rick>
Re 2 Unfriendly Bala Sharks - Cramped Quarters 8/25/12

Hello Rick,
Thank you very much Rick for your help.
<Sure thing.>
In future I will definitely look into the fish I buy in greater depth. 
<Good habit to form>
Just one more question if it is that their looking for space, why do they behave that way only at night? They look like they are hunting for food.
They follow fish around and peck after them.  They both sleep in nice open areas in the tank, so I thought they had space, I have a better understanding now, thanks. I'm just curious as to why they behave different with the light off.
<Animal behavior is the stuff on which entire careers are built. Maybe in daytime they are intimidated by a bigger fish (you).  They are still growing, so maybe food is still part of it even though they are well fed in daytime. Hard to say. Sometimes you have uncharacteristic behavior from one individual and others can learn that behavior. That's part of what makes keeping fish interesting.  Regardless of the reason, the problem will get worse as the balas grow.>
Also, roughly how many litres is in a 280cm tank?
<Very large, ~200 gallons/750 liters. Should you choose to go that route, be sure to understand what you are getting into.  Personally, I think there are more interesting choices than Bala sharks to populate a tank that size.>
Thanks again.
<Welcome. - Rick>

Bala sharks   3/19/12
We have 2 Bala sharks that are acting quite odd
. That start off swimming up and down on the side of the tank close to all day long. Once I turn the light off for the tank they start swimming erratically going on there side, upside down, and then completely vertical. We just lost one that was doing the same thing. But what is odd, when I turn the tank light back on they go back to acting normal. I am at a loss.
Any idea what may be going on?
<How big is the tank? Bala Sharks are big, open water fish that need to be kept in groups and provided with ample swimming space. They react aberrantly when these criteria aren't met. Hmm… do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Fish... beh.   7/13/10
We have 2 Bala sharks but one of them (jitters) Its black markings have turned a light Grey. Jaws's Markings are still a dark black. What would cause this?
<Most likely a physical trauma... jumping or swimming into a solid surface, damaging itself. Hopefully these minnow sharks are in a large (enough) setting, and you are able to leave some "outside" light on during nights...
Please read here:
and the linked files above. There is no specific treatment for such nervous damage. Bob Fenner>
Thank you

Bala Shark Swimming Erratically  12/24/07 Hiya, <Hail and well met,> I've had my tank (its 190 Litres or 38 Gallons?) running well for about 10 months now and have the following stock; 3x Silver (Bala?) Shark 2x Ruby Shark 2x Albino Ruby Shark (Can you spot a theme :)) 2x Kissing Gourami 2x Koi Angel (was 3x) 3x Glass Cat 1x Siamese Fighter 1x Plec (about 6-8 inches long) They have all been bought from quite a small size (apart from the Plec) and have grown nicely (a nice size, but nothing too big). <Famous last words... the Plec and the Bala Shark and the Kissing Gourami are all fairly big animals when mature. The Plec will likely reach 30-45 cm, the Gourami around 15-20 cm, and the Silver Shark about the same. While you may be fine at the moment, long term some of these fish will need a bigger tank. Ruby Sharks -- Epalzeorhynchos frenatus -- are also highly territorial fish, and while having 4 may moderate the worst of their temper tantrums, I'd still be cautious.> Yesterday I found one of my Koi Angel's dead on the bottom of the tank, so it was removed, and now today on of my Silver Sharks is swimming quite erratically, he'll be upside down one minute and right side the next, and then on his side, you can see that he is trying to get upright whilst he is moving, am just wondering if you can give me any pointers as to what could be causing the Silver Shark to swim like this? <Many things, but water quality is the thing to check first.> I've just done a test and the results are below, ill do a water change in the morning but am a little worried at the moment, especially after loosing the Koi Angel yesterday. pH = ~6.5 Nitrite (NO2) = ~0.10 ppm Ammonia (NH3/NH4) = ~0.25 ppm Nitrate (NO3) = ~20 ppm <The nitrite and ammonia are both far too high. You are either [a] overstocked, [b] under-filtered, or [c] over-feeding. Quite probably all three. In any case, without fixing the situation, more fish will sicken and die.> Thanks in advance Regards, Rob <Cheers, Neale.>

Bala Shark Missing? We have 3 Bala shark's as well as a few other types.  We have had them for about 2 months now.  Two of the Bala shark's over the last few weeks have started to stick to each other as they swim around the tank (we just figured they we mating or fighting with one another).  Today however one is missing!!  We saw the fish around 11am and around 1pm (few hours later) the fish was gone.  We have looked every where.  We have a full cover on the tank but we still checked all around in the pump, in the filter, looked around the stand (knowing these fish tend to jump) and the shark is no where!  I have had fish eat other one's in the past but never so fast without leaving a trace.  Does this sound like a mating or fighting issue? Do you think the other's could have eaten the fish soo fast without any of us noticing?  We are just baffled!  Thanks for any help. Williams Family >>Dear Williams Family; Sorry to hear of your lost fishie, it is possible he may still turn up alive. I have seen fish burrow into the substrate or beneath decor in order to avoid aggression, though I've never seen a Bala shark do so. You are correct in the fact that these fish jump, they can sail pretty far through the air. If I were you, I would check beneath all other furniture in the room, as he could have flopped quite a distance. What size is the tank? You should keep balas in groups of 5 or more, they will be much better off. Also, keep your nitrates as low as possible with regular partial water changes in order to prevent disease. Good luck, and I hope he was just hiding! -Gwen<<

Bala Shark Spazzing Out I currently own 1 Bala Shark in a 55 gallon with about 20 or so other community fish ranging from Dwarf Gouramis to a School of 8 Neons.  I bought the Bala about 8 months ago.  He's been real active, zips across the tank, sometimes chases other fish etc..  (I have a full hood, so no jumping)  I have had no problems with him whatsoever.  I bought him at about 3", he's now about 5 1/2" the last week, It was feeding time and I turned on the light.  He was spazzing.  He was zipping across the tank (sometimes upside down) crashing into the walls etc.  He then shot straight up, tried to jump out, hit the hood, dove straight down and buried himself in the 2" gravel at amazing speeds and smashed into the bottom of the tank . I thought he was dead and was real scared.  I grabbed my net, scooped him up and started moving him through the water (His gills were still moving) after about 2 minutes, he sort of woke up and went swimming off.  so It's almost as if he knocked himself out.  So anyways, next couple of days he's fine, swimming fast and active, but not crazy or anything. this morning, I turn on the light for feeding and he's spazzing again, it's very violent and a bit scary and my girlfriend won't even go near the tank when he does it.  He has no discolorations, no white spots, no "hole in the head" no slime on the skin, nothing unusual at all about him (or any other fish in the tank).  My PH is currently 7.0, heat is running about 81 degrees, I'm running a Penguin 330 dual bio wheel (which is rated for a 70 gallon tank) I do about a 15-20% water change every weekend (and use some water conditioner and ammonia/ammonium conditioner).  As well as vacuum the tank and clean the filter cartridges.  (Feeding them TetraMin flakes and sometimes bloodworms) (the Bala is not skinny and he is eating)  I'm wondering if this is normal? Is he spazzing because he's stressed out for some reason?  Any help or insight would be appreciated.  thanks Rob Gillespie  >>Rob, what are your ammonia, nitrite, and NITRATE readings? There are a few things that could be bothering your fish. One, aggression from another fish. Two, a parasite. Three, high ammonia/nitrite or nitrate readings. Four, stray current from a broken heater. Is your pH always at 7.0? What is your tapwater pH? If your tank pH is a lot lower, there could be a problem in the tank with DOC's. Once you have established that your NH3/4, NO2 and NO3 and pH readings are within normal parameters, we can think about other causes, like a parasite. If you think this is the problem, then you will need to treat with a good quality anti-parasitic medication, like Super Ich Cure or Quick Cure. Read the labels, since some fish need to be treated at half dosage. -Gwen

Erratic Bala Shark? Hi,   <Hello> I have had one Bala Shark for about 6 months now.  It gets along great with all of my other fish which are: 1 angel fish, 2 Cory cats, 1 pleco, 2 mollies, and 11 neon tetras.  About a week ago I noticed that the Bala sharks behavior was even more erratic than usual.  It is almost a hyper behavior.  It doesn't dart from one side of the tank to the other but it does dart around a bit and is overly erratic. <Some Balas go a bit "nutty" as they become older.  But, it might be some sort of parasite bothering the fish.  My large iridescent sharks had gill parasites and they would suddenly zip back and forth and kind of thrash a bit.> It used to be calmer than it is now. It is as if it might be stressed about something. It will jerk around like it is excited.  I went ahead and cleaned the tank and did a water change a few days ago. <Good plan, sometimes just making sure the fish have new fresh water cures them.> The pH is at 7 and the temp is at 80.  The temp usually stays in between 76-80.  I have a 38 gallon tank and I just bought a 5 gallon as an isolation tank. <Very Good!!!  An isolation tank is one of the best investments a hobbyist can make.> I put the Bala in the isolation tank and started treating it with Quick Cure.  Although, I see nothing physically wrong with it except for the unusual behavior.  I've never seen it act like this before.  Do you have any suggestions for me as to what is going on with it?     Thanks,   Stacy <Treat with a medicine a little more powerful (be sure to follow the instructions) I would use Maracide or CopperSafe, Use Maracyn-Two, Maracyn, Tetracycline or TriSulfa to prevent secondary infections from bacteria.  Good luck, and make sure the fish seems healthy before releasing it back into the show tank. -Magnus>

Bala Sharks - Fighting or Loving   2/10/06 What a great site for a beginner. I've been checking your site for information on my Bala sharks. Although I have found many posters with similar questions I still need some clarity. I have 2 Bala sharks that don't appear to get on (about 4inches, had one for 3 months the other for 4weeks). The first one was alone for 3 weeks after his other Bala mate died. I introduced another to keep him company but he didn't seem to accept the new Shark at all. <Happens> After being out for a few hours we returned to find a piece of the new shark's fin had been bitten off. That was coupled with lots of chasing around the tank. This has settled down but still flares up a fair amount, especially around feeding time. To my surprise his tail has re-grown to it's original size. Now they are doing the rubbing motion a lot of people are putting down as mating. <Mmm, no... challenging. Are much larger when breeding> No answers seem to have come as to say if it is mating or not. Could it just be aggression, bullying? <Mostly, yes> That is what it seems like to me (I¹m no expert mind you). So if it¹s a form of advanced aggression/bullying, I¹m going to have to give the new shark back to the shop to save him. If it¹s mating, I¹ll leave them to it. But I can¹t stress enough that the chasing, the poking, the rubbing ­ it looks like a form of bullying. Any light on this would be great and also maybe just as pivotal a question. Can the Bala shark survive and live a happy, healthy life without other Bala sharks for company? <Yes> (I read everywhere that they need company, but my original one looked happy for those 3 weeks alone, only to turn into a right grump when I introduced his new friend) Ps: I change and check my water twice a week and haven¹t over populated my tank and have no other problems with my clown loaches or platies amongst themselves or with other fish) I love my sharks but will remove one if he¹s going to be bullied into an early grave! Cheers in advance Mark <Have seen many healthy single Balas. Bob Fenner> Discus and Bala sharks Hi Bob: Here Ahmed from Pakistan.  I have some Bala Sharks in my 5 feet long tank. 2 of them are quite big nearly 8 inches and 5 are 4 inches in length. Now I intend to keep small Discus fishes in my aquarium. My question is that can I keep discus with these big Bala Sharks?  Thanks Ahmed < Your Bala sharks will get too big and be too fast for your discus to really feel comfortable and thrive.-Chuck>

Bala Shark & Oscars <<Greetings, JasonC here...>> First of all I really enjoy your web site, over the past 3 years I have started 3 tanks and your web site has given me the most helpful information. <<Glad we can be of service.>> I have a Bala Shark in a 42 gallon tall tank with an angelfish, in my second 73 gallon tank I have 3 Oscars and 2 Parrot fish, The Bala shark is around 5 inches, Could I move the Bala shark into the tanks with the Oscars? <<You could... but would you want to? Oscars really do their part to tax a filtration system, and by adding anything to that tank you're going to add to the bioload.>> The Oscars are around the same length as the Bala shark and the Parrot fish are smaller. <<It would likely work for a while.>> My second question involves my saltwater tank that has the ecosystem, Caulerpa a UV sterilizes, some bioballs and tribase carbon, my Koran angel has started to develop a slight case of lateral line on one side. I have just started to add vitamins to the their food and fish solution from ecosystems. Has my UV sterilizer killed some needed bacteria? <<Hard to say except that it is defiantly not part of the Ecosystem Aquarium as designed by Leng Sy which in my book is a "designed" system - anything else added to, or altered from the original designs will change the results. I would stick with the "system". Only way to know is to take it out of line. HLLE on the other hand is almost entirely nutrition-related. Your best option here is to make sure the angel gets a good mix of foods including something containing marine sponge [like, but not exclusively, Angel Formula] as that is what these eat most often in the wild. Success against HLLE is less likely to come from a bottle than from a well-balanced, natural diet - no terrestrial vegetables.>> Is my carbon removing some necessary trace mineral? <<I doubt that but you should also not leave the carbon in for extended periods of time - so it doesn't become a detritus trap, and the aforementioned reasons.>> Any thoughts would be appreciated Martin Rischall <<You got 'em. Cheers, J -- >>

Tricolor (Bala) shark habits <Good morning! Ryan with you today> We recently purchased 4 tricolor sharks. <I assume you mean Balantiocheilus melanopterus, from the carp/minnow family> We have noticed that 2 of them seem to ALWAYS swim together and twitch and rub against one another. Is this normal? <Yep! Quite an interesting fish to watch, very hardy.  A good aquarium pick in most cases.> Is there anything we need to do? <Perhaps provide some coverage, they do like to hide a little.  It does breed in captivity.  Lots of great info on these guys.  Start with fishbase.org, and go from there!> Thanks <Sure>

Bala Shark behavior Why do my Bala sharks shimmy and rub up against one another especially when I feed them? Also can I breed them and can you tell male from female? Amy <Hi Amy, Don here. I've never kept Bala Sharks so I did a little research. Seems this is a common behaviour for them, especially after feeding. Unless everyone happens to have a pair, I would think this is not linked to breeding, which is very rare in captivity. I know of no way to sex them. See link. http://www.suite101.com/discussion.cfm/16672/99195 >

Bala Shark Behavior/Ick... troubles  1/16/06 Hello,   <Hi there>   I have had 2 Bala sharks for about a week now, and they seem active,  it's just that they are constantly running up and down the left side of  my fish tank (20g) as if they are crazy seeing their reflections or  something. Is there something wrong? I have never heard of this!   <I have... not atypical at all... BTW: This tank is about as long as this species grows to...>   Also, last night before i turned the aquarium light off, all of my fish  (2 balas, one female and one male swordtail, and 6 zebra danios) seemed  to be doing fine. But this morning, (so unfortunate!!) one of my zebras  had died, and the male swordtail had died. The male had apparently died  from ick (which showed no signs the night before) and the ick has now  spread to one of my other danios and the female swordtail. I treated  the tank with ick treatment capsules, <Ingredients?> and i also quarantined the two  sick fish separately with treatment. Was this the right thing to do? <... Please see WWM re FW ich... need to raise temperature, assure that the medication used isn't absorbed otherwise...> If  my two sick fish make it through the ick, how long after they seem  better should i add them to my main fish tank again?   <Mmm, your system "has" the ich...>   I have also heard that ick is caused by sudden stress level or sudden  temperature changes in your fish tank. <Often, yes, these are the two principal factors> My temperature has stayed at 78  degrees since I have set up the tank a week and a half ago, <... is this tank cycled?> and the  fish in my tank seem to give each other no problems at all. I'm a  little confused, and frustrated. Any help you could give me would be  awesome.      Thanks, Jaime <Please see WWM (and quick) re Biological Cycling, Testing as well. Bob Fenner>

Fishy Questions... naturally jumpy Bala Hello. I am just another curious fish owner and I saw your email on wetwebmedia.com so I decided to email you my questions. First I have 8 Tiger barbs (2 are albino), 1 Bala shark, 2 Red tailed black shark (1 Albino), and a Pleco. All of my fish are in a 35 Gallon tank. The tank was recently heavily vegetated and had many hiding spots for the fish, however when I got tired of my Bala sharks weird behavior I took a good bit of Vegetation out of my tank to give him more room to swim hoping that would fix his strange behavior. Now let me explain the problem. All my other fish are very calm in the tank, even when I tap on the glass they just seem to ignore it. However, when ever I come about 1 or 2 feet close to the tank. My Bala shark goes nuts! He takes off from one side to the other swimming up and down the side of the aquarium, then he will dart behind something and hide or jam himself into a tight corner or position. After a while, he will calm down and stay in a corner. He then jerks and shakes randomly and he looks like a dead fish. Whenever I leave the room and come back in later (but stay away from the tank) I can see from a distance he is just acting normal and swimming around, but when I get up close the whole cycle happens again. Do you know what is wrong?? I had two other Bala sharks and that didn't help at all. They soon died off though but  he survived. --Please email me at XXXX@excite.com < Your Bala shark gets to over a foot long and like lots of area to swim. I would try and get a few more and make a small school for him. Be prepared to get a much larger tank as they grow. You could also try smaller bulbs or put the tank in an area without so much foot traffic.-Chuck> Thanks --Puzzled in Louisiana

Jumping Bala shark? 7/11/05 Our shark is leaping out of our 55 gallon tank and swimming erratically. <Something's amiss with water quality... or stray electricity> We had to separate him from the other fish in the tank. he is listless and moves very little in his new space but is 'calmer'. Any ideas why he would be shifting color (from dark to light) and hanging vertically in the tank? <As stated, something is wrong here... I would check your water for chemistry and electrical leak. Bob Fenner>

Can fish be epileptic? Yes...  Schreckstoffes and Bala Sharks, other Ostariophysian Fishes   8/3/06 Hi Guys      I hope you can help me because I have a fish who has always behaved oddly but is getting worse.        My partner and I inherited a 90 litre tank with too many fish in it, two of which were Bala sharks.  We have recently upgraded this to a 180 litre tank.  The larger of the two Bala sharks has always been a bit skittish and nervous, <This is the species natural behavior... can be lessened in degree with lots of room, placement of home in a high/er traffic area, the use of plants, other decor they can "hide in">   not liking it when anyone approached the glass and only eating when he thought no one was looking, something we put down to his not having enough room in his original home, but he has been getting worse lately.    <Oh... perhaps something further...>   We have seen on a few occasions that he seems to have fits as well as being nervous.  He shakes and thrashes about as would an epileptic human, and than goes very still.  The first time this happened we thought he had died and very nearly flushed him.  Then he started moving again, but upside down, so we were still tempted to freeze him because we thought that he had permanently damaged himself.  After a bit he righted himself but seemed to rather sluggish.  Slowly he came back to being the Big Silv that we know and love, but this has happened again to lesser extents a few times subsequently.        If the only issue was that he has fits we would just leave him to it, since his quality of life when not fitting seems to be ok and he does not appear to stress out his tank mates, but he injures himself.  He has not recently had a fit that either of us has seen and seems perfectly happy in his new home as far as his personal parameters allow him to be.  The water is fine and all of his tank mates are healthy.  As far as we can tell he does not have hole in the head disease and as we have had him for about a year now, we assume that this disease would have killed him by now if that was the case. <Mmm, there is a good explanation...>      He regularly rips his fins and knocks scales off of himself, but the worst of it is that he repeatedly injures his nose (and occasionally one eye) on the glass ledge or the gravel.  Because he is so jumpy (frequently out of the tank jumpy) he never allows this time to heal and it is really ragged now.      So, my questions:  Is it possible that he has fishy epilepsy? <Much more likely this is a "fright contagion"> Is it possible that he has permanently damaged his brain either in a fit or in one of his nervous jumps?   <Possibly> Is there anything we can do about this without poisoning the others? <Yes> Is there anything we can do to help his nose to heal given that we have to approach the tank to feed them all and operate their light?   <Best to allow this to self-cure rather than getting involved in possibly poisoning your whole system, all livestock> Is this a doomed fish or are we doing the right thing in trying to maintain his quality of life as best we can in the circumstances? <Not likely doomed>     Please help because he would be a great loss to us and we would really like to help him to be healthier, happier and longer lived.      Many Thanks   Fran <Thank you for writing so well, completely, compassionately. I suspect that this minnow shark is involved in a situation where it has damaged its skin, releasing a chemical or few that is continuing to mal-affect its behavior. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/FrightChemsFWArt.htm and the linked FAQs file above... I would add a modicum of activated carbon in your filter/flow path here in attempt to filter out this/these materials. Bob Fenner>

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