10 Bala Shark Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species

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Bala Sharks are amazing aquarium pets. They’re hardy, non-demanding, and beginner-friendly. They have a simple yet interesting appearance. Their shimmery grey scales and black and white fins are a nice sight in a decorated tank. Balas also have great personalities. They’re calm and peaceful. In theory, they make excellent community fish.

Of course, it’s not as simple as housing them together with other peaceful fish and calling it a day. If you want to build a community tank around Bala Sharks, you’ll have to consider multiple factors. Here are some of the most important details you must remember:

Temperament and behavior: Freshwater sharks are notorious bullies. However, Bala Sharks are anything but. These fish are peaceful, timid, and non-territorial. They get scared easily and they spend a lot of time hiding.

For this reason, you should only house them together with other peaceful fish. Semi-aggressive tank mates are a no-no. Such fish can stress out the Bala Sharks. Also avoid competitive fish, because this can cause problems while feeding.

Size: Bala Sharks can grow up to 14 inches long. As mellow and peaceful as they are, these sharks are still omnivorous. When given the chance, they will eat smaller fish as long as they fit in the sharks’ mouths.

So, avoid small tank mates like Guppies. Ideally, the Balas’ tank mates should be medium to large— no smaller than around half of the Bala’s body length. I suggest choosing tank mates that are 5-6 inches long at least.

Water parameters: The tank mates you choose must also tolerate similar ranges of water values. Bala Sharks require 72–82°F temperature, 6.0–8.0 pH, and 5–12 dGH water. So, you’ll have to look for fish that also require warm, slightly acidic to slightly alkaline, and soft to moderately hard water.

You won’t have to worry about other details like tank level or diet. Balas are non-territorial. They’ll share the same space with other fish in the aquarium. They’re also omnivorous, like most freshwater fish.

You can feed the same diet to most species. Still seems complicated? Luckily, you don’t have to do your research alone! You can start with the following list. I’ve already included the most compatible tank mates here:

1. Clown Loaches

Clown Loaches bring joy to any aquarium. Their colorful orange bodies and playful demeanor are guaranteed to brighten your day. Given its personality, size, and high adaptability, this species is the perfect tank mate for bashful Bala Sharks. Clown Loaches meet all the requirements for being an exemplary tank mate:

  • Temperament and behavior: Clown Loaches are extremely peaceful, friendly, and non-territorial. They prefer spending time in the company of other Loaches and social fish. They don’t harass or intimidate others in the tank.

Clown Loaches are happiest when kept in a group of at least five. When alone, they become timid and reserved. Their personalities shine through when there are more Loaches around. You’ll enjoy seeing their playful side. Expect a lot of energetic chasing.

Their high activity levels won’t stress out the Balas though. Clown Loaches are bottom-dwellers, while Bala Sharks swim mostly in the middle layers of the aquarium. This also means that there will be no competition for food. It’s a win-win!

  • Size: This species grows up to 12 inches long. So, it gets the green stamp of approval! They’re safe around their similarly-big Bala tank mates. You’ll need plenty of space though. An adult Clown Loach needs at least 30 gallons worth of space. If you want a group of five loaches, that’s 150 gallons in total.
  • Water parameters: Clown Loaches require 75-85°F, 6.0-7.5 pH, and 5-15 dGH water. You can easily find a middle ground between the two species.

2. Rosy Barbs

Rosy Barbs get their name from their bright, shimmering pink and orange scales. Having a group of Rosy Barbs swimming around the tank is a beautiful sight. This species is roughly double the size of most Barbs, but that’s what makes it a suitable tank mate for Bala Sharks. This hardy, beginner-friendly fish also has other qualities that make it a great community fish:

  • Temperament and behavior: Rosy Barbs, like most Barb species, are extremely peaceful. They’re curious, playful, and docile fish that don’t bully their tank mates. Being a shoaling species, they spend most of their time swimming in groups. If kept alone, they become agitated. You’ll have to buy at least four Barbs for the community tank.

I should mention that Rosy Barbs are middle-level swimmers. They’ll occupy the same space as the Balas. These Barbs are also energetic and playful, so there will be lots of movement. But they’re still rather small, so they won’t represent a threat for your sharks.

  • Size: Rosy Barbs grow up to 6 inches long. It’s a decent size for a Bala Shark tank mate. It’s unlikely that these Barbs will accidentally become a snack. And here’s the good part! You won’t need a lot of room for them. Each Rosy Barb needs at least 5 gallons of water. You can comfortably fit 5-6 Barbs in 30 gallons worth of space.
  • Water parameters: The ideal values include 64-72°F, 6.0-8.0 pH, and <10 dGH. Not a far cry from the Bala Shark’s water parameters.

3. Blue Gouramis

Blue Gouramis come in a variety of beautiful shades of, you guessed it, blue! You can get light silvery blue Gouramis that blend in seamlessly in a Bala Shark tank. Or you can get deep blue Gouramis to create a sharp contrast. These hardy, low-maintenance fish have all of the traits you want from a compatible community fish:

  • Temperament and behavior: Blue Gouramis are mostly mellow fish. They don’t show much interest in other tank mates. They certainly aren’t the bullying type. There’s only one exception— male Gouramis can get competitive. They will try to intimidate other males and similar-looking fish they perceive as a threat.

Luckily, Bala Sharks couldn’t look more different. The sharks’ considerable size will make Gouramis think twice before trying anything! When you get the right ratio of male to female Gouramis, you can expect your fish to be calm and peaceful.

Gouramis occupy the middle to top layers of the aquarium. They’ll share the same space with Bala Sharks. However, Gouramis are slow swimmers. They won’t cause a ruckus around their sensitive Bala tank mates.

  • Size: Blue Gouramis grow up to 5-6 inches long. They’re considerably larger than most common Gourami species. They also have pretty low space requirements. You can house a pair of Gouramis in 20 gallons of water, plus 10 gallons for each additional fish.
  • Water parameters: Blue Gouramis can adapt to an impressive range of parameters, including 74-82°F temperature, 6.0-8.0 pH, and 5-35 dGH.

4. Red Rainbowfish

Red Rainbowfish are hardy, beginner-friendly, and unique-looking. Their deep blood-red coloration is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. So, if you want to add some color and interest to the community tank, this species is perfect for you! And of course, this fish is a suitable tank mate for your Bala Sharks. They fit all the requirements:

  • Temperament and behavior: Red Rainbowfish are gentle and peaceful. They usually keep to themselves and don’t interact with others in the community tank. Red Rainbowfish are a sociable shoaling species, so they need to be kept in a group. Otherwise, they’ll become timid and spend most of their time hiding.

When in a group, they swim around confidently, creating a colorful display. They’ll occupy the middle to upper layers of the water column. However, Red Rainbowfish are shy and reserved around others, especially around larger fish like Bala Sharks. These two species should get along well.

  • Size: This is among the larger Rainbowfish species. These fish grow up to 6 inches long, which makes them a decent Bala Shark tank mate. You won’t have to worry about these Rainbowfish getting hurt.

With regards to space requirements, here’s a good rule of thumb. You should provide at least 1 gallon of water per 1 inch of fish. Say you want to keep five Rainbowfish. At 6-inches long, that’s roughly 30 gallons worth of aquarium space.

  • Water parameters: The values should be 70-79°F, 6.5-8.5 pH, and 8-25 dGH.

5. Zebra Angelfish

Most Angelfish species have the reputation of being semi-aggressive. Zebra Angelfish, on the other hand, are peaceful. If you want a highly compatible, beginner-friendly community fish, this species is great for that!

In addition, Zebra Angelfish can also completely transform the look of your aquarium with their long fins and black-striped silver bodies. They also fit perfectly in a Bala Shark tank, considering their traits:

  • Temperament and behavior: Zebra Angelfish are peaceful and timid. They need a heavily planted tank with tall-growing grasses to feel safe. As a sociable, shoaling species, they also need to be kept in groups. That’s how they are most confident and happy.

Zebra Angelfish are generally gentle and reserved, but males can become competitive. You’ll need to provide plenty of space to prevent their territorial behavior. You should also ensure that the females outnumber the males. Around all other species, Zebra Angelfish are well-behaved little angels.

They’ll fit right in next to their shy Bala Shark tank mates. A word of caution though— Zebra Angelfish are fast and active swimmers. They occupy the middle to top layers of the aquarium. Their energetic streaks might stress out the sharks in the tank. So, make sure there are enough hiding spots and plenty of space for both species!

  • Size: Zebra Angelfish grow up to 6 inches long. Their large and tall fins also create the illusion of extra size. They need lots of space due to their size and high activity levels. Provide at least 30 gallons for one pair, plus 10-15 gallons for each additional Angelfish.
  • Water parameters: This Angelfish thrives in 75–82°F, 6.8-7.0 pH, and 3-10 dGH water.

6. Rubber Lip Plecos

Rubber Lip Plecos have an interesting appearance thanks to their flattened heads and big, downward mouths. They’re less popular than other species. Still, they make excellent community fish.

They’re hardy, peaceful, beginner-friendly, and they help keep the aquarium clean! But there are plenty more reasons why the Rubber Lip Pleco is a highly compatible tank mate for your Bala Sharks:

  • Temperament and behavior: The Rubber Lip Pleco is cooler than a freezer. This fish is extremely peaceful and unbothered by anything. They spend most of their time slowly moving about in search of leftovers, algae, and anything else edible.

These Plecos are mostly passive and reserved. They don’t show interest in other by-passers or even other Plecos. However, they’re known to become territorial and unfriendly as they age.

An older Rubber Lip Pleco will act more hostile against its tank mates. Luckily, this species is sluggish and mostly a bottom-dweller. Middle-level swimmers like Bala Sharks have nothing to worry about! It’s not like an annoyed Pleco can catch up to them either way.

  • Size: Rubber Lip Plecos grow up to 7 inches in length. It’s a good size for a Bala Shark tank mate. Despite their medium size and low activity levels, these Plecos need lots of space.

This has to do a lot with their territorial tendencies and forager eating style. You’ll need at least 30 gallons for just one adult Pleco. Luckily, these aren’t shoaling fish and are perfectly content living alone.

  • Water parameters: These fish require 72-80°F, 6.5-8.0 pH, and 8-12 dGH water.

7. Swordtails

Swordtails are a popular freshwater species closely related to the common Platy. Both beginner and well-versed aquarists appreciate this fish thanks to its peaceful, hardy, and non-demanding nature.

Swordtails can also add a lot of interest to the aquarium with their long, pointy tails and variety of colorful patterns. If this description sparks your interest, here’s some more info you might find useful:

  • Temperament and behavior: Swordtails are peaceful, active, and curious. They’re a sociable shoaling species, so they’ll spend most time swimming around in loose groups. They’re calm and non-territorial, but males might compete for mating rights. So, be careful about the male-to-female ratio in the group.

They make excellent community fish and can be kept together with any other peaceful species. They’re not known to intimidate or bully other species in the tank. But they aren’t shy either. They love swimming out in the open.

Swordtails occupy the middle to upper levels of the tank. They’ll often interact with mid-dwellers like Bala Sharks. Neither of these species is known for causing trouble in the tank. Thus, the fish will get along just fine.

  • Size: Swordtails grow up to 6.3 inches long. Females are larger than males, which only reach 5.5 inches on average. They’re decently sized, yet not space-demanding. That’s the perfect combo if you’re low on space. You should provide 15 gallons for one Swordtail, plus 5 gallons for each additional fish.
  • Water parameters: Ideal values include 64–82°F, 7.0-8.4 pH, and 12-35 dGH.

8. Blood-Red Parrot Cichlids

Not all Cichlids are aggressive and demanding. The Blood-Red Parrot Cichlid is proof of that! This species is highly compatible in a variety of settings, including community tanks! So, if you want a more exotic and colorful addition to your Bala Shark aquarium, why not give this species a try? Here’s everything you need to know about their compatibility level:

  • Temperament and behavior: Blood-Red Parrot Cichlids are extremely timid and peaceful. That’s why they can get along well with other cichlids, as well as other friendly fish. They’re among the least likely species to cause trouble in the tank!

These Cichlids don’t get territorial or touchy. But when stressed by aggressive tank mates, they can lash out in self-defense. Luckily, this won’t be the case with Bala Sharks. Overall, Blood-Red Parrot Cichlids are mellow and passive.

They need lots of hiding places to feel comfortable. They’ll spend their time either hiding or slowly swimming around the middle level of the tank. Sometimes, they might swim to the bottom in search of food.

  • Size: This Cichlid grows up to 8 inches in length. They also have rounded bulbous bodies that make them appear both tall and wide. You’ll need 30 gallons of water to house one Cichlid, plus 10 extra gallons for each additional fish. These Cichlids can thrive when kept alone, as well as with other conspecifics.
  • Water parameters: This Cichlid requires water that’s 76-80°F, 6.5-7.4 pH, and 6-18 dGH.

9. Pictus Catfish

Pictus Catfish are the perfect addition to most community tanks. Their endearing features and personalities are tempting enough. Who wouldn’t want a whiskered, playful fish swimming around in their aquarium?

Add to that the fact that they’re hardy and low-maintenance, and we’ve got the dream tank mate for your Bala Sharks! As you’ll see, this species meets all the temperament, size, and water parameter requirements:

  • Temperament and behavior: The Pictus Catfish is peaceful and energetic. It’s also a predatory species. These Catfish are friendly and well-behaved around similar-sized or larger fish. However, if their tank mates are small enough to eat, it’s a different story.

They don’t pose any threat to Bala Sharks. But keep them away from Guppies and other small fish. Pictus Catfish are also sociable and enjoy swimming in groups of at least four. That’s when their playful personality is most evident. However, unlike other shoaling fish, Pictus Catfish can also be kept alone.

When alone, the fish will display a more toned-down behavior. Just so you know, this is a speedy fish that swims all over the aquarium. To avoid stressing your Balas, you’ll have to provide plenty of space and hiding spots.

  • Size: Most Catfish are too small to live alongside Balas. Not the Pictus Catfish though! This species grows up to 5 inches long. It also has very sharp abdominal fins they can use for self-defense.

This fish is well-equipped to live with larger non-aggressive tank mates. You’ll have to provide at least 55 gallons for one Pictus.

  • Water parameters: These fish prefer water that’s 75-81°F, 7.0-7.5 pH, and 5-15 dGH.

10. Discus Fish

This species is best handled by advanced aquarists. These Cichlids require a very specific tank set-up, diet, water parameters, and maintenance routine, so there are plenty of ways to mess it up. However, in the hands of a well-organized fishkeeper, Discus fish can completely transform the look of your aquarium.

These exotic fish come in so many colors and patterns. Their tall, rounded body shape also makes them stand out even more, especially when they swim in a shoal. It’s a thing of beauty. Discus fish are also the perfect size and temperament for a Bala Shark Tank mate:

  • Temperament and behavior: Discus are peaceful and non-confrontational. They rarely interact with other species in the tank. They’re mostly interested in their own group. When threatened by tank mates, Discus never attack. Instead, they try to intimidate their bullies, or they just flee for cover.

This is a sociable, shoaling species. They feel most happy and confident when in a group. Keep this in mind, as Discus can become extremely shy otherwise. In a community tank, they occupy the middle level of the water column.

But they also swim up or down when exploring and searching for food. Although they share the same space with Balas, Discus won’t be a cause of stress. They’re slow swimmers and feeders. They don’t like making their presence known.

  • Size: Discus fish grow up to 8-10 inches long. This is the perfect size for a large Bala tank mate. You’ll also be happy to learn this fish doesn’t require lots of space. You’ll need to provide roughly 7-10 gallons per fish. More is obviously better. But if you’re low on space, you can still house a small school of fish in a 50-gallon aquarium.
  • Water parameters: This is the tricky part. These fish can tolerate only a very narrow range of parameters. The ideal values include 82-88°F, 6.0-7.0 pH, and 1-4 dGH. They need warm and very soft water.

You’ll need to be very careful when acclimating these two species to such parameters. Luckily, the Bala Shark can tolerate 82°F and 4-5 dGH water.

Conclusion

Bala Sharks are unique among freshwater sharks. These fish are extremely shy and peaceful. They should be kept with other peaceful fish exclusively. But their large size makes finding tank mates difficult. Bala Sharks grow up to 14 inches long. They’ll eat smaller fish and invertebrates. So, you get limited options.

Luckily, you can still find calm and friendly fish that won’t stress out your sharks! All fish I’ve included on this list are compatible in temperament, but also size and water parameters. Whichever you choose depends on your preferences, budget, and space. I hope this article helped you find the best option for your tank!

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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