Bala shark minimum tank size? - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 12 Old 04-05-2010, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
Bala shark minimum tank size?

I have decided to save up and buy a big tank, about 60 US gal. I have always loved Bala sharks and have been reading up on minimum tank size but I've read a lot of differing opinions! Also read they like to be kept in at least pairs, and that some people think they shouldn't be kept in home aquaria at all. Anyone got any opinions on this?
Also I need some ideas for a colourful and active mix of fish for when I buy and set up my tank. I like angels, cichlids, gouramis, catfish, 'sharks'. But don't have much idea on compatibility! Any suggestions very welcome and I promise to put up photos once it's all finished! :)
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post #2 of 12 Old 04-05-2010, 04:00 PM
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There are solitary fish, fish such as gouramis and cichlids that do well in pairs, social fish such as goldfish who, though they don't school, need at least 1, preferably 2 tankmates of the same species. Then there are full-on shoaling fish like tetras, barbs, rasboras and danios that need to be kept in actual school of at least 3-6. Balas are shoaling fish as opposed to social fish, and need a large group to feel safe, not necessarily because they will get bored/lonely when kept singly (as goldfish do). I would recommend balas be kept in a group of no less than 3, preferably 6.

Failure to provide balas with a proper school can not only stress the fish but also lead to practical problems... some people report nervous balas actually bolting and thudding into the sides of the tank or jumping up and smacking the lid when startled by someone walking by the tank, which can lead to a break in the tank.

Some of the 'seedier' authorities on fish species profiles (Aqualand Pets Plus comes to mind) recommend a smaller tank but I think most well-informed hobbyists could agree that considering this fish can reach 1-2", a tank volume of at least 80g per Bala would be most appropriate.

And furthermore when they grow out of the fry phase, balas completely lose that attractive, sleek, 'sharky' appearance and as adults they bear more resemblance to a demented tuna fish which is a dealbreaker for a lot of prospective bala buyers.
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post #3 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 02:00 AM Thread Starter
LOL at the demented tuna fish!! It is the large ones I really like, I have seen them at various LFSs but always thought they looked to be struggling for space. Mind you, one of my LFSs actually has a red tailed catfish on display so I don't think they're really that bothered about providing enough space. Think I'll leave the Bala sharks until I win the lottery then :) lol. Thanks very much for the info.
Can you maybe reccommend any larger solitary fish which would do well in around a 60 gal? I would like to also keep medium sized fish in there so nothing too aggressive!
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post #4 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
Forgot to say I bought a very small ruby/ rainbow/red finned shark yesterday which will be moving into the 60 gal when I get it, so would have to also be compatible with that! If he gets too aggressive when he grows up I can find him another home but he is fine so far.
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post #5 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 03:28 AM
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I'd say a standard 125g would be a good minimum for a school of balas, although adults would barely be able to turn around in it. A 180g would be better and bigger than that would be better still.

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post #6 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 08:10 AM
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From my experience, a single Bala shark can do fine by themselves. I have a Bala right now in a 67 gallon tank. Its grown to about 7 inches! Its doing fine with two 5 inch silver dollars, two 5 inch angels, and a number of 1-3 inch tetras. Its coloration has become more distinct and looks better than when it was young. It does tend to school with the silver dollars though.
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post #7 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 05:17 PM Thread Starter
Hmm I think I'll leave the Bala shark to those of you with bigger tanks!
Anyone got any suggestions as to what I can keep in a 60 gal?as above
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post #8 of 12 Old 04-06-2010, 06:11 PM
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Members will find it easier to offer suggestions if you indicate your water parameters (hardness, pH) as some fish are very limited in this regard while others are adaptable to some degree. It is not always an easy thing to adjust water parameters, so it is a better plan to consider fish that match your water either directly or can at least adapt well. Having a successful healthy community means having fish that are truly "compatible" and that means not only behaviours but requirements respecting water parameters and environment (wood, rocks, plants, caves...). There is a lot of possibility in a 60g aquarium depending upon the fore-going.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
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The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #9 of 12 Old 04-07-2010, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
The natural pH is about 7 and water is quite hard I believe
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post #10 of 12 Old 04-07-2010, 03:35 PM
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It would be useful for you to find out the hardness of the tap water. Your local water company will often provide this, perhaps on their website. Or your fish store will usually test hardness. If the latter, make sure you ask them to give you the numbers, and for both GH (general hardness) and KH (carbonate hardness). This latter is actually more important, because KH acts as a buffer for pH, and it will tell us what is likely to occur in an established aquarium.

Which leads to my next point, that with a pH of 7, and if the hardness is not really "hard", your tank will naturally acidify and the pH lower. The degree of KH will determine how fast, if at all, this will occur. This is useful, because you may actually be in a good position, having many options either side of 7 for fish.

No fish lives in water with an absolute neutral pH of 7.0, it is either acidic (below 7) or basic (above) depending upon what materials the water passes over/through. Once we know the KH (and GH) it will be possible to plan; a lot of fish will manage fine around 7 if the hardness is not too high. And of course there are those that would be perfect in harder water, like rift lake cichlids, and a 60g is a usable size for a community of well-chosen Africans.

Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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