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Balantiocheilos melanopterus

Bala shark, Balantiocheilos melanopterus (*)

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Osteichthyes
Classis: Actinopterygii
Subclassis: Neopterygii
Infraclassis: Teleostei
Superordo: Ostariophysi
Ordo: Cypriniformes
Subordo: Cyprinoidea
Familia: Cyprinidae
Subfamilia: Garrinae
Genus: Balantiocheilos
Species: B. melanopterus

The Bala shark, Balantiocheilos melanopterus, also known as the tricolor shark, silver shark, or shark minnow, is a fish species of the family Cyprinidae, and is one of the two species in the genus Balantiocheilos. This species is not a true shark, but is commonly called a "shark" because of its torpedo-shaped body and large fins.


The Bala shark occurs in the Mekong and Chao Phraya River basins, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo.[2]

Appearance and anatomy

These fish have a silver body with black margins on their dorsal, caudal, anal, and pelvic fins.They have big eyes to see better to catch their prey. The Bala shark will grow to a maximum length of 12 inches but takes a long time to do so.[2]

Habitat and ecology

Bala sharks are found in midwater depths in large and medium-sized rivers and lakes. They feed on phytoplankton, but mostly on small crustaceans, rotifers, and insects and their larvae.[2]

In the aquarium

Bala sharks are popular aquarium fish.[3] These fish are generally peaceful and good companions to many other types of tropical fish.[3] The nickname "shark" is used because of their torpedo shaped bodies and long fins. They are not actual sharks. Bala sharks are widely available in most pet stores, but these fish may grow to a size too large for the home aquarium. Also the bala shark is a jumper fish and may injure itself on the lid of a tank.[3]

They are a hardy fish that will tolerate temperature changes, pH changes, and other factors to which other fish may be sensitive. The water pH should be 6.0–8.0. The preferable water hardness for this species is soft to medium (5.0–12.0 dGH). Water temperature should be kept between 22–28°C (72–82°F).[2] The Bala shark prefers be kept in groups of two or more specimens (although they can survive alone).[2] These fish require a covered aquarium as they are very skilled jumpers.[3]

Very young Bala sharks are sometimes kept in small aquaria. However, given their adult size, schooling behavior, and swimming speed, the fish quickly grow to need much more room. Hobbyists continue to debate over acceptable minimum tank sizes, but generally recommend at least a 6 foot tank. FishBase lists a minimum of 150 cm (5 ft).[2] Many believe the fish is simply too large and too active to be kept in commercial aquaria at all; only enormous, custom-built tanks are acceptable, if any tank at all is. Indoor ponds are also considered feasible housing options and may be better suited to the average aquarist. This fish's habitat is often destroyed, making these fish rare in the wild.


B. melanopterus is listed as an endangered species by the IUCN Red List.[1] It has become rare or extinct in many river basins of its native range.[2] In Danau Sentarum (Borneo), fishermen already reported in 1993 and 1995 that the populations have decreased dramatically after 1975, for no clear reason. Fishermen mentioned overfishing for the aquarium-fish trade or forest fires in 1975 and the resulting pollution as possible causes. The species is apparently extirpated in the Batang Hari basin (Sumatra) and it seems that all individuals of B. melanopterus exported from Indonesia and Thailand by the aquarium-fish trade are captive bred.[4]


1. ^ a b Kottelat, M. (1996). Balantiocheilos melanopterus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 23 May 2007.
2. ^ a b c d e f g Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2007). "Balantiocheilos melanopterus" in FishBase. Apr 2007 version.
3. ^ a b c d Axelrod, Herbert R.; Emmens, C.; Burgess, W.;Pronek, N. (1996). Exotic Tropical Fishes. T.F.H. Publications. ISBN 0-87666-543-1.
4. ^ Ng, Heok Hee; Kottelat, Maurice (2007). "Balantiocheilos ambusticauda, a new and possibly extinct species of cyprinid fish from Indochina (Cypriniformes: Cyprinidae)" (PDF). Zootaxa 1463: 13–20. http://www.siamensis.org/files/Balantiocheilos_ambusticauda.pdf.

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Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License