Despite the name, Bala Sharks are incredibly peaceful and calm. They’re also relatively easy to care for if you have basic experience with tropical fish aquariums.
Although the fish species are highly adapted to living in captivity, breeding Bala Sharks is quite rare, even among enthusiasts, as most people simply buy them from pet stores as juveniles.
If you’re interested in breeding your fish at home, this Bala Shark breeding guide will have you covered with everything you need to know.
All fish reproduce using eggs. However, the method by which each species of fish reproduces usually takes one of two paths; egg layers and livebearers.
Egg layers are fish that will simply lay their eggs in a safe spot for fertilization. The eggs then hatch and release young babies called “fry”.
On the other hand, livebearers are fish that retain the eggs inside them after fertilization.
As these eggs develop, they hatch inside the female, and then they’re released into the water to swim freely.
This method allows the fry to develop and grow large enough so that they can fend for themselves as soon as they’re out
When it comes to Bala Sharks, they’re not livebearers. Instead, the fish will lay their eggs somewhere secure in the tank, mostly at the bottom so that the male can fertilize them.
Like most fish, Bala Sharks lay a lot of eggs. In fact, a female Bala Shark may lay up to 5,000 to 1,0000 eggs in the water.
The exact number may vary depending on the fish’s nutrition, breeding conditions, and other minor factors.
Although this may sound like a massive number, it’s actually much less than some other species of the Cyprinidae family. For example, the common carp lays up to 300,000 eggs.
The reason why Bala Sharks lay so many eggs is that in their real habitat, the chances of survival of the eggs are incredibly small with as little as 0.1% of the fry surviving to adulthood.
Since Bala Sharks rarely breed in captivity, a lot of people don’t know what their eggs look like. However, Bala shark eggs look more or less like average fish eggs.
A typical Bala Shark egg is very small, with an average diameter of around 1.2 to 1.3 mm.
The eggs are usually round and dark gray in color, so they look like seeds from a distance.
In most cases, the small eggs hatch quickly (around 13 hours), especially when incubated in the relatively warm water of around 78.8 to 82.4 °F (26 to 28 °C).
When the eggs hatch, the embryos usually measure around 5.8 mm with a tiny yolk sac for initial feeding.
While small fish species can mate at a very young age, Bala Sharks need to reach full sexual maturity before they’re ready to breed.
However, a Bala Shark can take up to 3 to 4 months to reach sexual maturity in the wild but between 2 to 3 years in captivity. By that time, the fish should be around 5 inches long.
Unfortunately, distinguishing between male and female Bala Sharks can be quite challenging and takes a lot of time and experience.
With that being said, it’s a critical step if you want to breed the fish in captivity. So here are some differences that can help you tell them apart.
Although both males and females are characteristically torpedo-shaped and long, females are somewhat rounder than males, especially in the belly area.
Additionally, females stop growing earlier than males, so an average male is typically a couple of inches longer than an average female.
To make things easier for you, you can use the help of an expert breeder to tell the males and females apart.
Alternatively, you can just keep 4 to 6 Bala Sharks in the fish tank to ensure that there are males and females in the aquarium.
When all conditions necessary for mating are met, male and female Bala Sharks will approach each other in the form of a dance.
This move is the telltale sign of a successful mating among experienced breeders, although mating can also happen without this dance.
After the mating process, the female will go to the bottom to lay her eggs and scatter them around.
Meanwhile, the male will also spread his sperm over the scattered eggs to achieve successful external fertilization.
The currents of the streams are necessary for spreading the sperm, so you need a strong powerhead to make up for the lack of current in fish tanks.
After fertilization, neither the male nor the female stays with the eggs until they hatch or protect them.
As soon as the eggs hatch, the fry has to fend for themselves until they grow. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the parents to eat some of the babies after they hatch.
For that reason, most expert breeders will recommend that you use either a breeding net or a separate fish tank during the spawning process.
One of the biggest challenges of breeding Bala Sharks is the size requirements. Despite being hardy fish, they need an enormous fish tank when compared to other fish species.
Although a relatively large fish tank of about 150 gallons is enough to house the Bala Sharks, it’s not enough to encourage them to breed comfortably in captivity.
This is because, in their natural habitat, Bala Sharks typically move to another area during the breeding process and return when they’re finished laying and fertilizing the eggs.
For that, you’ll need to prepare a separate fish tank for the spawning process.
Not only that, but you may also need to use special hormone injections to stimulate the reproductive instincts of the fish.
Now that you know more about the breeding process of the Bala Shark, here’s a brief breakdown of the steps necessary to achieve reproduction.
Make sure that the separate tank is around 55 gallons or larger to accommodate the fry. If you’re going to keep the baby Bala Shark in the tank, it should be at least 150 gallons.
The water temperature and pH are the most important factors to consider here. As previously mentioned, the water should be around 78.8 to 82.4 °F with a pH of 6.5 to 7.8.
Remember to use a powerful filtration pump to create a current in the water, which facilitates the fertilization process.
Now that the spawning tank is ready, you should transfer the Bala Sharks to the new tank.
Ideally, you need to transfer 4 to 5 sharks to increase the chances of successful mating. You will also need to inject them with stimulating hormones to induce the reproduction process.
After breeding, the female will sink to the bottom to lay the eggs, which you can observe if you leave the bottom without substrates.
Once the breeding process is complete, you should return the parents back to their original tank as soon as the eggs hatch.
This wraps it up for today’s guide which walks you through everything you need to know about Bala Shark breeding and whether it’s achievable in captivity.
As you can see, breeding Bala Sharks in a fish tank is not an easy feat and requires various conditions to achieve.
These include using a huge separate tank for spawning and hormones to facilitate mating.
Jeff has always enjoyed having pets, but as a child, he was drawn to his family’s fish tank. Being able to maintain a small ecosystem and observe the behaviors and interactions in the underwater world peaked his interest early on and has kept him hooked until this day. On Avid Aquarist, Jeff shares everything he’s learned about helping aquatic life survive and thrive in a home aquarium.