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Is My Bala Shark Male or Female? (3 Ways to Tell)

Is My Bala Shark Male or Female? (3 Ways to Tell)

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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 known for their relatively long fin and torpedo-shaped body, which earned them the name despite not being sharks.

If you’re interested in breeding your Bala Sharks, you might wonder “is my Bala Shark male or female?”

In today’s guide, we’ll answer this question to help you learn more about male/female differences and how to identify them. Let’s jump right in!

Is It Easy to Identify Bala Shark Gender?

Bala Sharks, scientifically known as “Balantiocheilos melanopterus” is a member of the Cyprinidae family.

Like many fish species in this family, males and females Bala Sharks share a lot of identifying characteristics that make them very hard to tell apart.

Both males and females have the same coloration and markings. They both have large dorsal fins that are similar to that of sharks.

They also have the same growth pattern, so it is very difficult to tell male and female fish if they are the same age.

Experts and reputable breeders use different techniques to tell the fish apart, but it’s still a challenge.

This includes size differences at different age stages and subtle morphological differences.

They also observe the fish during the mating season because both males and females have their own characteristics and roles.

Do Bala Sharks Live As Couples?

In nature, Bala Sharks are Shoaling fish. This means that they prefer living in a large group of multiple fish including males and females.

During the mating season, they identify each other instinctively through their roles.

Living in large groups is also essential for your Bala Sharks because it keeps them feeling calm and secure. This reduces the tension and aggression in the aquarium.

Keep in mind that adult Bala Sharks may grow to around 14 inches. Since you need at least 4 to 6 fish in an aquarium, you’ll need a massive fish tank of around 150 gallons.

Keeping the Bala Sharks as a couple is not recommended because it may encourage hostility and bullying between the fish, even if they’re a male and a female.

Instead, you should keep the fish as a ground of 4 to 6. This way, they get the highest odds of having a male/female mix in your tank.

How to Identify Bala Shark Gender

Since male and female Bala Sharks share a lot of similarities, identifying their gender can be hard.

Yet, there are some subtle differences that you can use to distinguish them. Let’s check them out!

1 – Overall Size and Weight

The subtle size difference between male and female Bala Shark is one of the most common ways to tell them apart.

Young Bala Sharks, whether they’re male or female, will have roughly the same size. However, as they grow into adults, females will typically stop growing earlier than males.

On the other hand, male Bala Sharks will continue growing in size so that they’re slightly taller and bigger than their female counterparts.

Typically, female Bala Sharks will have an average length of 11 to 12 inches while males stand at 13 to 14 inches.

2 – Belly Shape

Bala Sharks are generally known for their elongated bodies. However, if you take a closer look, you might be able to tell the difference between male and female specimens through their bellies.

While males have perfectly streamlined bodies, female Bala Shark bellies are usually rounder and fuller.

This extra bump is to accommodate female reproductive organs when it’s time to make and lay eggs.

In fact, the round belly of a female Bala Shark is even easier to notice during mating season. On the other hand, males don’t experience any physical differences before or after breeding.

3 – Role in Reproduction

Bala Sharks are egg layers. Unlike livebearers that keep the eggs inside until they hatch, female egg layers will leave their eggs at the bottom of the water body to let a male fertilize them.

Male Bala sharks will swim above the eggs and deliver their sperm, which is spread with the help of the water current. In captivity, the current is produced with the help of the filter powerheads.

With enough luck and proper monitoring, you may catch a glimpse of your fish during this process, which is another way to distinguish the two fish apart.

Do Male and Female Bala Sharks Behave Differently?

Although males can be slightly more aggressive than females, figuring out the differences can be very difficult sometimes.

Neither males nor females spend any time with their young, as they both leave the eggs after laying and fertilizing them.

Final Thoughts

Identifying whether your Bala Shark is male or female can be quite tricky. Ideally, checking the fish bellies and comparing their size at the same age is your best bet.

However, even these methods may have some trial and error, so make sure that you keep a group of 4 to 6 to ensure a male/female mix.

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