Why Is My Bala Shark Not Eating? {8 Reasons + 8 Steps To Help Them Eat}

Are you having trouble your Bala shark like I am? Why is my Bala shark not eating?

I’m in the same boat as you and it’s time we get to the bottom of this. Is your Bala shark spooked, stressed or not adjusted to your tank?

In this article, we’ll discuss why your Bala shark is not eating and the 8 steps you should take to remedy this.

Why Is My Bala Shark Not Eating?

Bala sharks are timid and easily scared of you or tankmates. They need 2 weeks or more to adjust to large sized tanks where they are kept comfortably together in a school of 3-6.

They are also very sensitive to ammonia spikes and will refuse food or jump out if they are stressed or nervous.

Check out the 8 ways to acclimate your Bala shark at the end of this article. Hopefully they begin to eat regularly after you follow these steps.

Why Won’t My Bala Shark Eat?

Bala sharks eat up to 3 times a day and are usually not fussy about it. They’ll accept a wide range of omnivorous meals and it’s important to give them more variety. There are many possible factors that could be causing your Bala shark to refuse food.

Here are 8 common reasons for a Bala shark’s hunger strike:

  1. Has not acclimated yet to your tank
  2. Poor water quality/Problems with your tank’s cycle
  3. Tank is too small
  4. Easily spooked
  5. Lonely and must be kept in groups
  6. Temperature is too hot or too cold
  7. Food is not varied
  8. Meals go unnoticed or aren’t enticing to eat

1. Acclimation

It may take over 2 weeks for your Bala shark to adjust to your tank’s water parameters. The process of acclimating your Bala shark is delicate for a fish that is easily nervous, skittish and spooked. They may try to hide or dart away from you or anything that enters the tank, including meals.

2. Water Quality

The nitrogen cycle could be broken. Nitrate levels should exist ideally between 5-10 ppm. Nitrites and Ammonia should read out a 0 ppm. Bala sharks are highly sensitive to slight changes in the water quality. Adding 3 or more of them in a tank that is too small will surely spike ammonia levels.

3. Tank Size

These schooling fish grow to 12-14 inches in length. They also need to cover about 5 feet of space as they are active and fast swimmers. They have a tendency to crash into the walls of smaller tanks or attempt to jump out when stressed. Try to keep the following guidelines for your Bala sharks to remain happy and ready to eat:

  • 30 Gallon Tank = 1 lonely and stressed Bala shark
  • 55 Gallon Tank = 2 Bala sharks that could get aggressive with each other for territory
  • 100-150 gallon Tank = 3-6 Bala sharks schooling together and eating happily

4. Spooked Bala Sharks

Most Bala sharks are unsustainably harvested and placed in conditions that are not ideal for their demeanor and size. They need room to swim and partners of the same species to interact and feel safe.

Even entering a room or turning on lights will spook your Bala shark to the point where eating will be the last thing on its mind.

YouTube video

5. Loneliness

A Bala shark should not be kept alone. It’s a giant disservice to a fish that will try to hide, become disinterested or allow itself to suffer with a compromised immune system in a solo existence. They can reside in a community tank at 85-150 gallons, but they need at least 3 of them together to be at ease.

6. Temperature

We try to mimic the temperature and natural conditions of Bala sharks that enjoy swimming in moderately flowing rivers. A powerhead with a medium to low flow rate setting will help, but the temperature is more important.

Try to establish the following ranges for temperature, pH and water hardness:

  • Water Temperature: 72–82 °F
  • pH: 6.0-8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5.0–12.0 dGH

7. A Variety of Food

Bala sharks in the wild commonly consume:

  • phytoplankton
  • small crustaceans
  • rotifers
  • insects
  • larvae

Try to add more variety with tubifex worms, bloodworms, brine shrimp, mosquito larvae and daphnia to ignite their appetites.

8. Unseen or Unenticing Foods

Flake food may not be accepted at first. Meals that float at the surface may also go unnoticed. Young Bala sharks are much more timid and may not venture up to investigate the food you have offered. Try to make sure the food sinks to the exact location where they are schooling or hiding.

Is My Bala Shark Hurt?

Bala sharks who are hurt, injured or sick may refuse to eat. Sadly, it gets worse from there. Look for wounds, abrasions, bruises or spots. Check their eyes to make sure they are not cloudy or spotted. Look at their gills and mouths for any abnormal growths.

Bala sharks are fearful and could dart to the end of the tank and possibly crash into it. They may bash their heads against the tank lid. Without a lid, they can try to jump out.

Their incredible speeds allow them to escape predators in the wild. Unfortunately, this makes them susceptible to injury, skittish behavior and attempts to escape. Refusal of food at this time is very common as well.

How Do I Acclimate My Bala Shark?

Acclimation is a tricky task for sensitive fish like Bala Sharks. Here is a method we like to use. You can follow these steps if you wish to ease the transition for your Bala sharks to feel more comfortable and take less time to adjust so they can eat well and often.

8 Steps To Acclimate Your Bala Shark

  1. Use the bag that your Bala shark came in.
  2. Place the bag at the top of your tank and let it float for 15 minutes.
  3. Open the bag after 15 minutes and add a cup of tank water.
  4. Continue adding tank water every 5 minutes.
  5. Reach the point where you have 50/50 tank water and original bag water.
  6. Pour out the bag water into the drain or bucket.
  7. Keep very remaining water with your Bala shark in the bag.
  8. Gently release the Bala shark into the tank.


Bala sharks need time to adjust, but your chances of getting it to eat without comfortably thriving in a group of 3 or more is much harder.

The tank size must be exceptionally large to not stunt their growth. The water quality must be ideal to their needs and you can try to vary their diet with plenty of frozen, freeze dried or blended options of flake or pellet food.

We hope your Bala sharks start eating as they get more relaxed in their new home.


Thank you for stopping by at HelpUsFish.com. We have plenty of articles on a wide variety of aquatic life that may also pique your interest. See you again 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.