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Common Bala Shark Diseases to Watch For

Common Bala Shark Diseases to Watch For

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Bala Sharks are an excellent freshwater aquarium fish. Despite their size, they’re a peaceful fish that gets along very well with other species.

Besides they’re attractive look, Bala Sharks are generally healthy fish if you provide them with proper accommodation and water quality.

However, they may still suffer from some health conditions. In today’s guide, we’ll take a closer look at Bala Shark diseases, their causes, and how to manage them. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Common Bala Shark Diseases

Let’s start by having a brief overview of the most common Bala Shark diseases that your fish may suffer from.


Dropsy is a common disease that many fish species may suffer from, including Bala Sharks.

This condition causes water buildup inside the fish’s body cavities, which results in belly swelling.

The fluid buildup may also cause the eyes to bulge, the scales to point outwards, and the fins to clamp together.

Fish also suffer from a change in behavior due to dropsy, including a noticeable lack of appetite and reduced activity

Dropsy can happen for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually an indication of other problems, such as poor water quality, malfunctioning liver, or bacterial infections.

When Bala Fish suffer from dropsy, you must quarantine the sick fish in separate tanks and bathe them in Epsom salt to reduce the swelling.

A vet may also prescribe antibiotics if it’s caused by bacteria, but in many cases, saving the fish is quite hard.


This one is a protozoan infection caused by “Ichthyophthirius multifiliis”, hence the name. This one causes white spots to appear on the Bala Shark’s skin.

These white spots irritate the fish skin, so it’ll swim erratically and rub itself against objects and tank walls.

To treat ich, you must isolate the infected fish in a separate tank. After that, you’ll need to sprinkle aquarium salts and ich treatment into the water. You can easily find them in pet stores.

Remember to remove the carbon filter during treatment because it’ll absorb the medication, rendering it useless.

External Parasites

Bala Sharks are prone to external parasites, which are parasites that attach themselves directly to the body of the fish or its gills for nutrition.

The most common Bala Shark external parasites are anchor worms, fish lice, and flukes. All these parasites come with new additions to the tank, whether it’s water, food, new fish, etc.

The general procedure to eliminate these parasites is by isolating the fish, administering the right treatment, and disinfecting the fish tank.

Bacterial Infections

As previously established, dropsy may be caused by bacterial infections. Yet, it’s not the only disease caused by bacteria.

While some bacteria are necessary for the ecosystem of the aquarium, others can harm your fish.

These infections can happen due to many reasons, such as:

  • Introducing contaminated food, fish, or water
  • External injuries or wounds
  • Reduced immunity due to other diseases or poor nutrition.

Some bacterial infections can cause obvious symptoms in your Bala Sharks. This includes red patches, skin ulcers, bloody fins, deformed scales, blisters, or sores.

Treatment usually involves sprinkling antibiotics into the water, but it doesn’t always work out, and some Bala Sharks will simply die from the injuries.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are caused by spores that target the scales and skin of a fish. When a Bala Shark suffers from a fungal infection, it develops a fluffy growth that is usually white.

This infection is usually well-defined and appears in the fish’s head, body, or fins, so you can confuse it with ich.

There are plenty of methods to cure fungal infections in fish, but the procedure is usually similar to curing bacterial infections.

Viral Infections

The most popular viral infection in Bala Sharks is Lymphocystis. This one causes irregular wart-like growth scattered across the fish’s body.

Luckily, Lymphocystis isn’t a fatal disease. Yet, you should still take it seriously and isolate the fish until it regains its full health completely.

Stress and Malnutrition

Besides infections, Bala Sharks are highly prone to stress when you keep them in unfavorable conditions for a long time.

The most popular signs of stress are lack of activity and lost appetite. Since the fish stops eating, its growth is stunned and its immunity is compromised.

Bala Sharks may show signs of stress in various situations, such as:

  • Keeping a single Bala Shark in the tank for a long time (you should keep at least 4 to 6)
  • Introducing your fish to a new tank with different water conditions
  • Changing the water temperature or pH suddenly
  • Introduce aggressive fish species to the tank

Any of these aspects can increase the risk of the previously mentioned diseases, which is why you should maintain a proper environment for your fish in the tank at all times.

Do Bala Sharks Play Dead?

A lot of Bala Shark owners reported that their fish play dead by floating upside down near the water’s surface.

However, if you see this happening, you must investigate the reason, as Bala Sharks don’t do it on purpose.

In most cases, Bala Sharks will play dead when they go into shock, which is somewhat similar to humans fainting.

This can happen due to medical conditions, such as neurological infections that attack their central nervous systems.

In that case, it’s usually accompanied by other erratic behaviors like excessive twitching, rolling, pitching, etc.

Sometimes, Bala Sharks may charge into the glass walls due to their active and fast swimming. If they hit the decorations or the wall too hard, they may get stunned for a few minutes.

Alternatively, something might be wrong with the tank water. For example, the oxygen levels are extremely low in the water due to broken pumps or bubblers.

Why Does My Bala Shark Have Cloudy Eyes?

In Bala Sharks, cloudy eyes are not a disease but rather a symptom of many conditions and diseases.

The most common issue that causes cloudy eyes is poor water conditions. This includes low pH caused by the high concentration of ammonia in the water.

This typically happens when you don’t clean the tank and change the aquarium’s water frequently enough.

Besides water quality, the lack of vitamin A could also cause visual problems characterized by cloudy eyes and impaired vision.

Some bacterial infections and reduced immunity may also display cloudy eyes as a symptom, but it’s usually rare when compared to other reasons.

Why Do Bala Shark Scales Fall Off?

This can happen for several reasons, but it’s usually nothing to worry about if it’s only a few scales.

Bala Sharks are very active fish species that enjoy darting around the fish tank at high speed.

As a result, they may lose a few scales if the tank is too small for them or overcrowded with rough decorations.

Some external infections may also cause scale loss, but it’s usually accompanied by other alarming symptoms like bleeding and deformation.

Final Thoughts

Bala Sharks are usually healthy and hardy fish, but they’re not completely immune to diseases.

As you can see, most Bala Shark diseases are caused by poor water quality, whether due to contamination or keeping the fish in unfavorable conditions.

Luckily, with early action, dietary improvement, and proper treatment, you can help your fish live a full life!

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