Thanks to their fun personalities, interesting appearance, and hardy build, Bala sharks are gaining popularity as pet fish among aquarists by the day.
It’s also a huge advantage that these silver sharks are very easy to look after and keep healthy, especially for beginners.
That said, some conditions could affect your Bala sharks and result in the appearance of marks on their skin. As such, you may be wondering “why does my Bala shark have white spots?”
Today’s guide explores all the possible reasons for the milky flecks and how you can treat/prevent them.
White spots on your Bala sharks could be the doing of various culprits. The following issues are the most likely to cause such disruption to the beautiful skin of your fish.
This disease is a protozoan infection caused by a parasite known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which is where the name came from.
If you see white spots start to appear all over the Bala shark’s body, Ich is probably to blame. This parasitic infestation is quite common in freshwater tanks.
These white spots are irritating to the fish’s skin, so you’ll notice your silver sharks swimming erratically and rubbing themselves against tank walls, plants, substrate, and decorations inside the aquarium.
Such scratching can become very abrasive that it breaks the Bala shark’s skin, topping the infestation with an injury.
When a Bala Shark is suffering from a fungal infection, it develops a fluffy textured growth that takes the shape of large white spots on the fins, head, or whole body.
Fungal infections are caused by spores that target the skin and scales of the fish. These spores make their way into wounds and infect them.
These diseases can also serve as a sign of a dirty tank or poor tank conditions.
Fungal infections are often confused with Ich disease due to the appearance of white spots, but the texture and size of fungus-related markings should help distinguish them.
Sometimes injuries can result in white spots on the fins and body of a Bala shark.
Causes of an injury could be aggressive encounters with tank mates, constant hitting of objects inside a too-small tank, or the fish’s attempt to scratch Ich spots.
Some diseases that affect Bala sharks and result in white spots are categorized as bacterial infections.
In other words, the light-colored blotches could be symptoms of illnesses caused by bacteria. That’s because not all bacteria inside the aquarium are necessary for its ecosystem; some strains can harm your fish.
Bacterial infections can occur due to many scenarios such as adding contaminated food or fish to the tank, inadequate filtration of water, external injuries/wounds getting infected, or compromised immunity due to poor nutrition or disease.
Some bacterial infections can cause white spots on your Bala Sharks but these are usually accompanied by red patches, skin ulcers, blisters, bloody fins, sores, or deformed scales.
One of the most common viral infections that can affect Bala Sharks is Lymphocystis.
This disease results in the appearance of irregular, cream-colored wart-like growths spread all over the fish’s body.
Lymphocystis is caused by LCDV (Lymphocystis disease virus). Fortunately, it isn’t a fatal disease.
Bala Sharks are prone to external parasites that attach themselves directly to the gills or the body of the fish for nutrition.
Parasites can accidentally find their way into the tank via new additions such as live food, roommates, plants, decorations, or water.
Anchor worms, fish lice, and flukes are among the most common Bala Shark external parasites.
Another common disease among Bala sharks is known as dropsy. It’s a serious bacterial infection that causes water to build up inside the cavities of the fish’s body.
As such, the fluid buildup can result in belly swelling/bloating, eyes bulging, scales pointing outwards, and fins clamping together. The fish almost looks like a pinecone.
Dropsy can also affect the behavior of your Bala sharks. The most noticeable changes are decreased appetite and reduced activity.
Additionally, Dropsy leads to the formation of lesions that are sometimes white.
Dropsy can happen for a variety of reasons such as poor water quality, malfunctioning liver, adding contaminated food or fish to the tank, external injuries/wounds getting infected, or compromised immunity due to poor nutrition or disease.
Other than diseases, Bala Sharks can develop white spots across their bodies due to stress.
These silver sharks are vulnerable to stress if you keep them in poor tank conditions for a long time.
Common signs of stress include lack of activity and loss of appetite. As the fish stops eating, its immunity is compromised and its growth is stunned.
- Suddenly changing the water temperature or pH
- Transfering your Bala shark to a new tank with different water conditions
- Keeping a single Bala Shark in the tank for an extended period (you should keep at least 4)
- Adding aggressive fish species to the tank
I should also mention that any of these aspects can increase the risk of any of the diseases mentioned above. As an aquarist, you need to always maintain a proper tank environment for your fish.
The following are some tips to help you restore your Bala shark’s health.
If you’ve confirmed that your Bala sharks are suffering from Ich disease, your first action should be to isolate the infected fish in a separate tank.
The next step is to sprinkle aquarium salts and ich treatment into the water. You can easily find these materials in pet stores.
Additionally, if you use a carbon filter in your tank, don’t forget to remove it during the treatment period. Otherwise, the filter will eliminate the medication when you drop it in the water.
The treatment for bacterial infections usually involves sprinkling antibiotics into the water. Unfortunately, medication isn’t always effective and some Bala Sharks will end up dying.
As for fungal infections in fish, there are plenty of methods to cure them. The process, however, typically follows the same guidelines for treating bacterial infections.
On the other hand, viral infections are self-limiting. This means the fish will regain its full health on its own without medication.
All you should do is simply isolate the sick Bala shark for a few weeks until the spots clear up.
If your Bala shark suffers from dropsy, you must quarantine the sick fish in a separate tank and add Epsom salt to the water to draw out the excess fluid and reduce the swelling.
Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics to sprinkle in the water. Don’t get your hopes too high though, saving the fish can be quite hard if treatment doesn’t start immediately.
The general procedure to eliminate external parasites of Bala sharks is by isolating the fish, administering the right treatment, and disinfecting the original fish tank.
You’ll start by transferring the injured fish to a separate tank. Then, add a little bit of aquarium salt to disinfect the environment while the wound heals.
The best way to prevent the appearance of white spots on Bala sharks is to provide optimal tank conditions and water quality.
So, why does my Bala shark have white spots?
The most likely reason is Ich disease, but the culprit could also be fungal infections, bacterial infections, viral infections, or parasites. Stress and injury could also cause white lesions to appear.
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.