Bala Shark: The 12 Best Tank Mates for a Happy Tank


Bala Shark: The 12 Best Tank Mates for a Happy Tank
Bala Sharks, while not true sharks, have an appearance that instantly reminds you of one!
With their slick, torpedo-like bodies and those sharp fins, you'd easily mistake them for the real deal. But, surprise! Bala Sharks are the complete opposite of the fierce, ocean-dwelling predators we know from movies and nature documentaries.

Fun, personable, and relatively hardy, these guys are all charm with none of the aggression. They might have the name 'shark', but they don't come with the territorial attitude most people associate with those big ocean beasts.

Got a freshwater aquarium? Perfect!

Because Bala Sharks are so relaxed, they get along with lots of other fish. If you're thinking of having a mix of cool fish swimming around, starting with a Bala Shark is a smart move.

And if you're wondering who else to add, no worries! Check out our list of the top 12 species in the aquarium trade that go great with Bala Sharks. Dive in!

Bala Shark Care and Information

  • Scientific Name: Balantiocheilos melanopterus
  • Common name: Tricolor Shark, Silver Shark, Tricolor Shark Minnow, Shark Minnow
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Schooling
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Appearance: Bright Silver with Black Edged Fins
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Adult Size: 13 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Tank Water Temperature: 72-82℉
  • Water pH: 6.5-7.5
  • Tank Size: 40+ Gallons when Young, 125+ Gallons as Adult

Bala Sharks or Silver Sharks are actually cyprinids, meaning they are closely related to barbs, danios, and goldfish. They do grow larger than most of their cousins, but don't let that size fool you! They're total gentle giants in the aquarium world!

While their size means you'll need a spacious tank to keep them comfortable, it also means they can share their space with a diverse range of freshwater species without issues.

What Makes an Ideal Tank Mate for a Bala Shark?

What Makes an Ideal Tank Mate for a Bala Shark?

Choosing the perfect roommate for your Bala Shark isn't just about finding another pretty fish to share the space. There's a whole checklist to consider!

You'll want to think about their temperament - are they chill or a bit feisty?

Size matters too because nobody wants a bully in the tank.

Then there's the whole scene about tank setup and water parameters – because even aquarium fish have their comfort zones.

And don’t even get me started on diet – because sharing meals peacefully is a big deal. Dive with me as we explore all these factors to ensure your Bala Shark finds its perfect tank buddy!


When it comes to Bala Sharks, they've got a pretty chill vibe for a fish that looks so fierce. Despite their shark-like appearance, they're actually peaceful fish that love a good swim without causing any ruckus.

They're not just calm, though! They are also quite the active fish, and with all that zest, they sometimes get a little too adventurous – yes, I'm talking about the occasional leap out of the water! So, if you don't want an impromptu flying fish show, it's a good shout to keep a lid on your freshwater tank.

Heads up: While silver bala fish are pretty chill and not out to pick fights, they might eat smaller fish as they mature. They're not mean; it's just nature! But on the bright side, they vibe well with a lot of other freshwater fish.

So, when you're thinking of tank buddies, you'll want to pick fish that share this peaceful yet active temperament. That way, everyone gets along and the tank stays lively and harmonious.

Schooling Species

Bala Sharks, in all their sleek glory, are prime examples of schooling fish. Being in a school of at least 5 provides them a sense of security and reduces stress.

Given that Bala Sharks thrive in school, it's essential not to add territorial species. Remember, Bala Sharks need their space to swim, stretch, and explore. Toss in a fish that's a bit too possessive of its space, and you might just have a water brawl on your hands!

Keeping the peace means ensuring everyone has room to glide without bumping fins or stepping on any toes – or in this case, tails!


Size matters when picking the right tank mates for your Bala Sharks. Given how bala sharks grow – starting from a mere 3 to 4 inches when you first bring them home, to a whopping 1 foot or 13 inches as adults – they command a significant presence in the tank.

This significant growth highlights the need for a spacious abode. We're talking about at least a 70-gallon tank for these big swimmers, with a clear message: the bigger, the better.

Now, here's the key: the ideal tank mates for this species should be big enough so they don't get eaten, but also chill and friendly to keep things calm. You wouldn't want them attacking or intimidating your Bala sharks, right?

Water Parameters and Tank Setup

Now, when you're considering other fish species in your tank, it's not just about size and temperament. You've got to think about which fish can thrive in the same water conditions as Bala Sharks. After all, there's no point in introducing a fish that prefers different water parameters; that's just setting up for fishy stress!

So, make sure your chosen tank buddies are cool with the same watery setup that Bala Sharks love. Here's a general guideline to get you started.

  • Temperature: 72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C)
  • pH Level: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Water Hardness: 10 to 13 dGH (general hardness)
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm (parts per million)
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Below 20 ppm, ideally as close to 0 ppm as possible
  • Water Flow: Moderate to strong, as they enjoy swimming against currents
  • Tank Size: Minimum of 70 gallons for a small group; larger is better given their active nature and potential adult size
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is ideal


Bala Shark diet is mostly omnivorous. This means they have a diverse palate, happily munching on both plant-based and animal-based foods. This flexibility in their diet is an advantage when choosing tank mates, too.

Opting for other omnivorous companions can help reduce any food rivalry in the tank. With both the Bala Sharks and their tank mates enjoying a mix of plants and animals, there's less chance of intense competition over meal choices.

The Twelve Best Bala Shark Tank Mates

The Twelve Best Bala Shark Tank MatesThe Twelve Best Bala Shark Tank Mates

1. Iridescent Shark

  • Scientific Name: Pangasianodon hypophthalmus
  • Care Level: Difficult
  • Size: 3 feet
  • Diet: Carnivorous

If you're going to keep a large, fast-moving fish like a Bala Shark, then it's a good idea to choose tank mates with similar characteristics.

The Iridescent Shark is a sleek, purple and cream-colored catfish that's a very popular fish due to its shark-like appearance. The problem with these fish is that they grow even larger than Bala Sharks; they will eventually reach 3 feet in length, outgrowing any but the largest of aquariums.

If you're dedicated to designing a 300+ gallon community tank for large fish like these, then they make fantastic tank mates.

They're social fish that prefer to be in groups, roaming the mid and upper parts of the tank together. Being carnivores, they eat anything from earthworms to pellets, so make sure you've plenty of food on hand because they grow quickly!

They are actually sold as food fish in much of Southeast Asia and even abroad! Have you ever seen Swai in the grocery store's frozen seafood section? You were looking at imported Iridescent Shark fillets!

2. Silver Dollars

  • Scientific Name: Metynnis sp.
  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • Mature Size: 5 to 8 inches
  • Diet: Mostly Herbivorous

Silver Dollars are another common pet store fish that are a little more demanding than beginning aquarists might realize.

Even though they can get pretty big, they usually range between 5 to 8 inches, based on the species. They might be a tad shy, but a group of Silver Dollars, with their shiny metallic glow, are among the most eye-catching fish for spacious community tanks.

Silver Dollars are members of the family Characidae, making them relatives of the more familiar Neon Tetra and other characins. Yet, they're more akin to the intimidating Piranhas, boasting some impressively large teeth!

Unlike their flesh-eating cousins, Silver Dollars are entirely vegetarian.

A heads up for plant enthusiasts: they'll munch on almost any greenery in your tank, even the robust plants like Anubias and Java Fern.

They thrive in schools, so plan for a tank of 75 gallons or more. Luckily, Bala Sharks also love roomy environments, making these two a perfect pair for your aquarium!

3. Medium to Large Cichlids

  • Scientific Name: Family Cichlidae
  • Care Level: Variable
  • Mature Size: 5 to 20+ inches
  • Diet: Omnivorous and Carnivorous

Cichlids are a very diverse group of fish famous for their territorial nature, personalities (many can recognize their owners over other people), and parental care.

Being mostly bottom dwellers, Cichlids can be great Bala Shark tank mates, as Balas inhabit the upper regions of the tank. Just remember to give them space if you choose a territorial, aggressive species, because even a fish as fast as a Bala Shark may not always be able to leave an angry Cichlids's turf.

Some good Cichlids to pair with Bala Sharks include Oscars (Astronotus ocellatus), Jack Dempseys (Rocio octofasciata), Convict Cichlids (Amatitlania nigrofasciata), and other semi-aggressive species.

Only keep them with truly aggressive cichlids in tanks larger than 150 gallons. Gentler cichlids are an even better choice, including Severums (Heros efasciatus) and Blue Acaras (Andinoacara pulcher)!

One heads up: Cichlids love to dig. Secure your plants or consider plastic ones. And if they breed, be ready to give the protective new parents some space. Even gentler species get quite defensive about their young.

Medium to Large Cichlids

4. Gouramis

  • Scientific Name: Family Osphronemidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 2 to 20+ inches
  • Diet: Mostly Carnivorous

Like Cichlids, Gouramis are also a diverse group of fish that provide care for their eggs and young. Gouramis come from Southeast Asia and are much more peaceful in disposition, making them excellent community tank residents.

When choosing a Gourami for a Bala Shark tank mate, you should stick to the medium to large-sized species. The Dwarf and Honey Gourami, while beautiful, are much too small and likely to be intimidated by something as large as a Bala Shark.

Instead, the Blue Gourami (Trichopodus trichopterus) and Pearl Gourami (Trichopodus leerii) are two medium-sized species that are hardy, easy to find, and long-lived.

And if you're into mega-fish, the Giant Gourami (Osphronemus goramy) is a massive, semi-aggressive, herbivorous gourami capable of growing over 2 feet long! They are also said to be extremely personable and even come in a delightful pink color!

5. Rainbowfish

  • Scientific Name: Family Melanotaeniidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 2 to 8 inches
  • Diet: Carnivorous

Rainbowfish are an entire family of schooling fish found mostly in Madagascar, Australia, and New Guinea. They live up to their name thanks to the brilliant colors the males take on and their showy disposition.

While they have an exotic appearance, Rainbowfish are quite hardy, thriving in slightly acidic to slightly alkaline conditions (pH 6.5-7.5). They also accept a wide range of prepared and fresh foods.

Note: Fresh and live invertebrates are their favorites, including bloodworms and brine shrimp.

When choosing Rainbowfish for Bala Shark tank mates, you want to stick with the medium to large-sized species.

These include the Bosemani Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani), which averages around 4 inches, and the stunning Red Rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus), which reaches 6 to 7 inches.

Rainbowfish are entirely peaceful and offer splashes of color that the Bala Shark lacks!

6. Clown Loach

  • Scientific Name: Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 8 to 12 inches
  • Diet: Omnivorous

Clown Loaches are a favorite of fish keepers all around the world because they defy all of the ideas surrounding bottom-dwelling fish.

They are vibrantly colorful, active, and full of personality. They also grow to be fairly large, reaching as much as a foot in length once they reach adulthood. So you're looking at a tank over 100 gallons in size – making them ideal Bala Shark tank mates!

Clown Loaches do school, so buy as many as you can and raise them together. These fish are large but very gentle and have mouths too tiny to eat small fish. They prefer rooting along a sandy aquarium bottom for worms and other invertebrates. Clown Loaches also enjoy pellets sized for their small mouths and flakes!


7. Angelfish

  • Scientific Name: Pterophyllum scalare
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 5 to 8 inches
  • Diet: Carnivorous

Angelfish are one of the most graceful-looking cichlids in the hobby! Originally from the Amazon basin, they have been a part of the hobby for decades and come in a wide variety of patterns and color morphs.

Despite being cichlids, Angelfish aren't territorial or especially aggressive. In fact, they prefer being kept in small groups in aquariums filled with live plants for them to glide in and out of.

Warm temperatures of 78-84℉ and neutral to acidic water chemistry (pH 5.0-7.0) not only boost their color and health but also promote spawning behavior.

Angelfish are difficult to spawn normally but very easy to care for! Just provide them with plenty of protein-rich foods, pellets small enough for them, and spacious aquariums that are 40 gallons or larger!

Should they decide to spawn you'll see your Angelfish pair off and deposit their eggs on broad-leaved plants like Amazon Swords.

Fun Fact: Even when spawning, they are very mild-mannered for cichlids and won't molest your Bala Sharks or any of their other tank mates!

8. Medium to Large Tetras

  • Scientific Name: Family Characidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 2 to 4 inches
  • Diet: Omnivorous

Tetras are a very diverse group of fish; many are quite tiny but the medium to large sized species are great tank mates for Bala Sharks.

This includes the Black Skirt Tetra (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi), Congo Tetra (Phenacogrammus interruptus), Blind Cave Tetra (Astyanax mexicanus), and dozens of other species that grow 2 inches or larger in size.

Warning: Many of these tetras can be fin nippers with certain tank mates. Don't keep them with bettas, guppies, and other fish with long, flowing fins, as they may find them too tempting to resist. But don't worry! The size, speed, and normal finnage of Bala Sharks makes them excellent tank mates.

Tetras are found almost exclusively in tropical conditions and soft, acidic water chemistries. They tend to be difficult to breed unless you perfectly replicate their natural environment but otherwise easy to care for.

When kept as a small group, Tetras tend to nip at each other, occasionally squabbling over the small territories they create that shift borders with each day.

Provide them with plenty of fake or live plants for them to feel secure and you'll always have a show to watch with a tank full of tetras!

9. Harlequin Rasboras

  • Scientific Name: Trigonostigma heteromorpha
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 2 inches
  • Diet: Carnivorous

Harlequin Rasboras are just large enough to live peacefully alongside Bala Sharks! These schooling fish are also cyprinids, making them tiny distant relatives of your sharks. They are also from Southeast Asia and prefer elevated tropical temperatures of around 78-84℉ and soft, acidic water conditions.

Harlequin Rasboras are ideal community fish because they are just the right size to get along with the vast majority of community fish. They have a bold, purplish black hatchet and faint red and silver tones that are eye-catching, particularly when kept as a group. Place them in a shady, well-planted aquarium and you may even see them breed!

Harlequin Rasboras are actually one of the oldest fish in the tropical fish trade. They were first introduced in the early 1900's. You may also see two closely related species sold as Harlequin Rasboras but the original is much chunkier and has a thicker black bar than its cousins!

Discus Fish

10. Discus Fish

  • Scientific Name: Symphysodon
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 10-14 inches
  • Diet: Omnivorous

Discus fish, often called the "kings of the aquarium," are a sight to behold with their bright colors and unique disc-shaped bodies. Originating from the Amazon River basin, these fish bring a touch of the tropics to any tank.

While they are often revered for their beauty, Discus are also known for their particular care requirements. They thrive best in soft, acidic water, closely mimicking their natural Amazonian environment. It's essential to monitor their water conditions, as they can be sensitive to drastic changes.

Now, here's the thing: Discus are among the more challenging fish to keep on this list. Their specific water needs can be demanding. Lucky for you, these conditions align perfectly with what Bala Sharks love!

Note: While they're gentle souls, Discus can get territorial, especially when it's breeding time. So, ensure they've got enough space and hideaways to call their own.

11. Tinfoil Barbs

  • Scientific Name: Barbonymus schwanenfeldii
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Mature Size: 2 to 4 inches
  • Diet: Carnivorous

Tinfoil Barbs, with their glistening silver bodies, are the aquatic equivalent of lightning streaking through your tank.

As much as they're known for their radiant appearance, Tinfoil Barbs are also recognized for their lively nature. They're fast swimmers, always on the go, darting from one end of the tank to the other, especially during feeding time. A trait you can also see from your Bala shark!

Tinfoil Barbs are quite easy-going, making them less of a handful compared to some of the other species on this list. They're robust, adaptable, and get along with a range of water conditions.

However, their active nature means they need ample space to stretch their fins and explore. These barbs, much like their Bala companions, can grow impressively large, with some reaching up to 14 inches.

When thinking of pairing them in a community tank, make sure you have a setting roomy enough for both Tinfoil Barbs and Bala Sharks to grow and play, ideally in a tank of at least 150 gallons.

12. Corydoras

  • Scientific Name: Family Callichthyidae
  • Care Level: Easy
  • Adult Size: 2 to 4 inches
  • Diet: Carnivorous

Last but definitely not least comes the delightful Corydoras! This family of small bottom-dwelling catfish are favorites for fish keepers around the world thanks to their active, often frantic swimming behaviors and peaceful disposition.

Corydoras rarely hide and instead form shoals that scoot about the bottom, looking for small invertebrates to eat. Since they do like to dig and have sensitive whiskers and mouths, a sandy bottom is recommended for Cory keepers.

There are quite a few species of Corydoras available in the hobby and the majority are easy to keep and breed when provided with warm temperatures and soft, acidic water chemistry.

They are also partial air breathers and will occasionally make a mad dash to the surface to swallow a bubble of air to supplement their gill function!

In this way, they act as canaries in the coal mine. If your Corydoras do this several times an hour it's a sign your aquarium needs better aeration because the oxygen levels are too low!

Interested in Learning More About Bala Sharks?

Interested in Learning More About Bala Sharks?

Let's geek out about Bala Sharks for a bit! These cool fish have lots going on.

Ever wondered about the differences between male bala sharks and female bala sharks? Or how the little juvenile bala sharks grow into big adult bala sharks? Curious about what to feed bala sharks?

And if you're thinking about breeding bala sharks - oh boy, that's a whole adventure in itself!

If all these sound like your kind of deep dive, check out my Bala Shark Care Guide. I've got the lowdown on all things Bala Shark in there. Dive in!

>> Click Here for the Full Bala Shark Care Guide <<

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bala Sharks jumpers?

Yes, they're known to jump, especially when stressed. It's essential to have a lid on your tank.

Why is my Bala Shark hiding?

New environments can stress them. They might also seek refuge if bullied by other fish. Ensure they have adequate hiding spots and monitor tank dynamics

How can I successfully breed Bala Sharks in captivity?

Breeding Bala Sharks in captivity is challenging due to their large size and specific environmental needs. It requires a spacious tank, pristine water conditions, and a balanced diet.

Typically, breeding happens in large, commercial setups rather than home aquariums.

Do Bala Sharks need a strong water flow?

While they appreciate a moderate current, mimicking their riverine habitat, they don't necessarily require a strong flow. However, good water circulation is essential for their well-being.


In conclusion, looking after Bala Sharks can be both enjoyable and fulfilling.

To ensure they thrive, it's crucial to select tank mates that are neither too small to be viewed as food nor too aggressive to pose a threat. Providing ample swimming space is a must, and it's often best to introduce all fish into the tank while they're young, allowing them to grow up and coexist harmoniously.

By doing these things, your Bala Sharks will be happy and healthy. And always remember, there's always something new to learn in the world of fish-keeping!

Have Any Questions About Potential Bala Shark Tank Mates?

If Bala Shark tank mates have got you scratching your head or if you're eager to dive into a discussion with fellow enthusiasts, don't hesitate! Swing by our Facebook Group, where you can join the conversation and share your experiences.

>> Join our Facebook Group Here <<

Hungry for more insights? If your interest has been piqued, here are a few more articles to dive into. Happy reading!

Have Any Questions About Potential Bala Shark Tank Mates?


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