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bwbman 03-22-2010 09:24 AM

How to keep Bala Sharks
Bala sharks are my favorite fish. I just purchased four of them and am at this moment keeping them in a 10 gallon tank with one plecostomus (sucker fish). They are babies and very small. When they grow bigger, I plan on transferring them to my 75 gallon tank. I would do that right now, but currently in my 75G, there are two Jack Dempsey Cichlids and two Oscar Cichlids and I don't want the small balas to get eaten. Is it ok to keep them in a 10G while they are still small? I originally bought the 10G because one of the Oscars got really sick and I wanted to separate him out from the other ones.

Also, is there anything specific I should be feeding the balas? Currently I am feeding them flakes and the frozen bloodworms. Is there anything else I should be feeding them or will the combination of those two be fine?

Any other advice regarding these fish?

Thanks a lot in advance for your help

kelly528 03-22-2010 12:00 PM

Okay first, be sure to do water changes religiously in the 10g or they will get stunted. Basically how stunting works is that the fish secretes a hormone that prevents skeletal growth. The more of this hormone (from itself or other fish) it senses in the water, the less it grows. Which is great in nature where in a crowded pond the very LAST thing you want is a huge, bulky body to feed when competition for food is already tight. But in aquaria since no matter what size tank it will always be WAYYY smaller than what nature provides for these fish, stunting can get very severe.

So basically by doing maybe 2x the water changes you would normally do, you are removing this hormone from the water which tells the fish 'All clear- keep growing'.

Flakes I am not a fan of, few people are these days. Not only do they cost more pound for pound, they swell up to 2 or 3 times their size in the fish's gut when they get waterlogged. Since they are not preferred by dedicated aquarists, they are also basically on the market for newbs and therefore fish food companies don't waste any money on quality ingredients or nutritional value. Annnnd they make a massive mess when they hit the filter and get blown to oblivion. I recommend a sinking pellet instead... Hikari, New Life Spectrum and Omega One are all AWESOME brands.

Bloodworms are a great protein source but don't forget the veggies! Boiled Kale, spinach and cucumbers are all great sources of nutrients for both the balas and the pleco.

ETA: If you don't already, aim to keep your balas in a group of at least 3... they are schooling fish(like neons and rasboras) and therefore very skittish when kept in ones, twos or even threes. Which is not good for a 12" fish, I have heard of them getting startled and thudding into the sides of the tank when people walk by. Which is a VERY good way to break the tank :O

bwbman 03-22-2010 02:31 PM

Thanks for your help. Do they need to have vegetables every day? Should I give them bloodworms and vegetables every day, or can I rotate from one day to the next? Also, for feeding them vegetables, is there something that comes in a package that I should be feeding them that has vegetables in it, or can I just rip up spinach leaves and toss them in the tank? Should I just throw in one of those bloodworm spheres and a spinach leaf? Do they need more than that each day?

I am in the process of learning about how to set up a breeding tank for guppies (thanks to this site) to use as feeder fish, but those would mainly be for the Cichlids as they are large enough to eat them while the bala sharks are barely larger than a normal guppy, but when they grow bigger, I hope to incorporate those into their diet as well.

fryup 03-22-2010 03:20 PM

veg maybe 4-8 days or so.....and ...I LOVE GUPPYS :(:(:(:(

kelly528 03-22-2010 04:21 PM

I usually rotate my fish on a feeding schedule soemthing like this: There are 2 feedings per day, the first one is dry food and the second one is critters one day and veggies the next.

SilersAngryMeow 03-22-2010 06:01 PM

Bala sharks, in my experience, are not picky eaters. Mine ate anything put into the tank, including ants or flies, and loved snacking on my pleco's vegetables: cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, etc. I rotate what I'm feeding, but I only feed 1X per day.

I love bala sharks too. I wish they didn't grow so big. :(

iamntbatman 03-23-2010 03:39 AM

I would say that you'll need a much larger tank than a 75g to properly house bala sharks. These fish grow to over a foot long as adults, are schoolers and are active swimmers. I would suggest a six foot long tank minimum.

bwbman 03-24-2010 02:00 PM

Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I'm still a little confused about how much and how often to feed them.
Do you think this is a good feeding plan (for 4 small bala sharks and one pleco):
1 0.5 inch (diameter) sphere of freeze dried bloodworms on MWFS(saturday) in the morning
2 large spinach leaves on Wednesday and Saturday in the afternoon
Some type of good pellet food on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday
Is that enough food, or too much?

Also, for water changes-is a 25% water change once-a-week enough or should I do it more often?

Thanks a lot. Sorry I am so bad at this, but the only fish store in my area is petco so I can't really ask them for any advice.

kelly528 03-24-2010 02:03 PM

Feeding schedule is good, you might want to do a 50% water change to encourage growth and yeah, petco gives SCARY advice :(

iamntbatman 03-25-2010 03:20 AM

I don't think I'd go so heavily with the bloodworms. Twice a week for those should be fine. I prefer frozen over freeze dried as they don't take as long to thaw as the freeze dried take to rehydrate. Prepared foods (quality flakes, pellets, etc.) should make up at least half of your fish's diet.

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