Why Are My Bala Sharks Dying? {How You Can Help Save Them}

Are you having difficulty like I am keeping Bala Sharks alive? Why are my Bala sharks dying?

Did something happen in your tank to cause these deaths?

Let’s take a moment to discuss the issue of why your Bala Sharks are dying and what we can do to prevent further fatalities.

Why Are My Bala Sharks Dying?

Bala sharks like to be kept in groups of 3 or more, but they need a massive amount of tank space as they grow up to 14 inches.

Poor water quality, overfeeding and aggressive tankmates could result in the death of aquarium Bala sharks.

What Is A Bala Shark?

The Bala shark is also known under these names:

  • tricolor shark
  • tricolor sharkminnow
  • silver shark
  • shark minnow

They come from the Cyprinidae family, but are not true sharks even though they resemble sharks with their body shape and fins.

Bala sharks have large eyes making it easier to search for prey. They will grow up to 14 inches and sufficient tank space is required because they prefer to be kept in groups of 3 or more.

Since they are found in rivers and lakes at midwater depths, it’s best to replicate these freshwater conditions with safe and optimal water parameters.

What Temperature Do Bala Sharks Need?

The following water parameters are ideal for keeping Bala sharks in your aquarium:

  • Water Temperature: 72–82 °F
  • pH: 6.0-8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5.0–12.0 dGH
  • Tank Size: 125-150 gallons and 5 feet in length for 3-6 Bala Sharks
  • Nitrates: Less than 10 ppm
  • Nitrites: 0 ppm
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm

Keep in mind that you will need a very large tank to keep up with their growth that reaches a foot in length or up to 14 inches. They will thrive better in groups of 3-6. A 150 gallon tank with plenty of swimming length rather than depth is also important.

How Do You Keep Bala Sharks Alive?

Bala sharks require lots of protein rich foods to keep up with their massive growth. High protein foods like shrimp (in its many forms) should be part of their staple diet. 3 feedings a day is considered normal for this active fish.

  • high protein foods
  • 3 feedings a day
  • large and long tank
  • kept in groups of 3 or more
  • healthy water parameters
  • remove chlorine and chloramine
  • cycled tanks are a must

Due to their constant swimming, the length of the tank should reach 5 feet. Give them plenty of room to swim and keep them in groups of 3 or more.

Bala shark are sensitive to water changes and water quality. If chloramine or chlorine is present in the water, try to filter it out or use chlorine removers. Also make sure the nitrogen cycle is converting their waste or any pollutants under in a safely cycled tank.

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Why Is My Bala Shark Swimming Upside Down?

Your Bala fish is experiencing buoyancy problems. The swim bladder is malfunctioning at this point and causing your Bala shark to swim unbalanced or upside down.

Bloating can push against the swim bladder. If constipation or bloating is the issue, reduce or stop feedings. See if they will eat shelled peas to help move things along if a day off eating isn’t enough to alleviate this condition.

Swim bladder disorder will become long lasting and your Bala shark will lose its ability to swim properly. It can remain alive for a long time, but it may not be possible to restore its buoyancy.

Why Is My Bala Shark Losing Color?

Your Bala shark could be under stress and it may lead to color loss. The following reasons may be the answer to why your stressed Bala shark is losing color:

  • Incorrect water temperature outside of the 72–82 °F range
  • Chemicals in the water
  • pH not within 6.0-8.0
  • Poor diet
  • Aggressive tankmates

Perform gradual water changes and assess whether or not your tank’s cycle is working properly. If you notice bullying, remove any aggressors to keep your Bala shark in a peaceful and active state.

What Do I Feed My Bala Shark?

Bala sharks in the wild tend to feed on:

  • phytoplankton
  • small crustaceans
  • rotifers
  • insects
  • larvae

Bala sharks are not fussy eaters and will accept almost anything you offer them. Try the following:

  • flakes
  • pellets
  • freeze dried
  • frozen proteins
  • daphnia
  • bloodworms
  • brine shrimp
  • mosquito larvae
  • tubifex worms

You can feed your Bala shark up to 3 times daily due to their heavy amount of active swimming that requires more nutrient replenishment.

Do Bala Sharks Get Lonely?

Bala sharks show schooling tendencies in the wild rivers and lakes that they are used to. They should be kept in groups of 3 or more. A lonely Bala shark may show the following reactions:

  • Aggression towards other tankmates
  • Excessive hiding
  • Erratic swimming
  • Refusal of food
  • Lethargy
  • Discoloration
  • Pale or cloudy eyes

Bala sharks are going to grow about a foot long or even larger. Be prepared to house at least 3 of them together in a huge tank of 100-150 gallons. If you do not have this space, you may need to reconsider keeping Bala sharks or else they may continue to die.

What Is The Recommended Tank Size For Bala Sharks?

Bala sharks need large tanks to live long and healthy lives. This could be the biggest reason why your Bala sharks are not surviving.

30 Gallon Tank = 1 lonely and stressed Bala shark
55 Gallon Tanks = 2 Bala sharks that could get aggressive with each other for territory
100-150 gallon Tanks = 3-6 Bala sharks mimicking their natural tendency to school together. 

A Bala shark needs about 2 gallons of water per inch. At 13 inches, it’s safe to say that you need 26 gallons of water, but you shouldn’t keep only 1 Bala shark.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why Did My Bala Shark Die?

Your Bala shark could have died from a number of reasons. One of the most prevalent is poor water chemistry. Loneliness, lack of space, leaping out the water and stress are all leading contenders to explain Bala sharks do not live to their full lifespan.

2. How to Tell if a Bala Shark Is Dying?

A dying Bala shark may give up exploring the tank. They also might stop eating.

Stress, illness and poor chemistry can reveal itself on the physical or behavioral characteristics of Bala sharks who may appear sluggish or in poor condition with their bellies swollen, spots, sunken eyes or swimming upside down.

3. Why Do Bala Sharks Die So Easily?

Bala sharks are sensitive to water parameters shifting or suddenly changing. They need lots of space and low levels of stress around them.

Overcrowding or poor tank setup could cause them to leap out or swim upside down. Parasites infect these fish often with the most common being flukes, anchor worms, and fish lice.


We hope you can provide enough space, high protein foods and the best overall water quality to keep your Bala sharks alive and well for years to come.

If you only have 1 or 2 Bala sharks, they could get aggressive, stressed, lonely or territorial. Keeping 3 or more is a better fit, but you will have to invest in a large tank to better your chances at keeping healthy and hardy Bala sharks.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com with your concerns or curiosity surrounding Bala Sharks. We have plenty more informative articles on these and other aquatic life that may also be of interest to you. See you soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.