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How Much Do Bala Sharks Cost to Own?

How Much Do Bala Sharks Cost to Own?

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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.

Many people believe that the easiest and most affordable way to own a pet is to get pet fish.

This is true since the cost of buying and maintaining other pets, like dogs, can be relatively higher.

Yet, before committing to these gorgeous creatures, you need to understand how much it costs to keep and maintain them.

So, how much do bala sharks cost to own? Keep reading to find the answer to your question.

How Much Do Bala Sharks Cost to Own?

Bala sharks are pretty easy to maintain, even if you’re a novice aquarist. Yet, there are a few things you need to know about these docile giants.

Balas are native to Southeast Asia and can grow to be about one foot long or more. So, unless you’re ready to commit to these beautiful and peaceful fish, you shouldn’t attempt to grow them in a tank.

Moreover, they’re pretty easy to take care of as long as you maintain healthy water parameters. In unfavorable conditions like fluctuating temperatures, bala sharks can suffer from ich or might experience stunted growth.

As an aquarist, you need to consider the initial and maintenance costs of bala sharks.

Initial Costs

This includes all the one-time payments you must make when buying bala sharks.

Buying Fish

One bala shark can cost $5 or $6 when you buy it online. But you can’t keep one bala shark alone.

You must get at least five or six bala sharks from the pet store to keep in an aquarium. So, the initial cost of buying them should be around $30.

If you buy larger bala sharks, each can cost about $30 or a little bit more, depending on where you get them from.

Telling male from female bala sharks can be a bit challenging for a novice aquarist, but females tend to have rounder bellies, while males tend to grow a little bigger. So, getting more balas will increase their chances of mating in the future.

A pet store owner might help you with this, as they have more experience. Finding a pair of bala sharks that tend to swim together probably means they’re a pair, and you can buy them together.

You should also buy some peaceful tank mates to swim with your balas. Some freshwater fish can cost around $20, and larger fish will cost more.

However, if you buy some exotic species, you should spend around $250.

Buying a Tank

It’s essential to get a tank that is at least 120 or 150 gallons big to accommodate bala sharks and their tank mates.

These fish grow about 12 inches long in a tank and move pretty fast in the water. This means that the tank should be big enough to provide them with plenty of swimming space without startling other fish.

Aquariums are made of different materials, and each one has its pros and cons.

Glass aquariums are more affordable and easier to clean. They also maintain their look for years because they’re scratch-resistant.

A good glass aquarium can cost between $800 and $1400, depending on its design.

Acrylic aquariums are lightweight and shatter-proof. They also come in more designs than glass tanks.

However, they’re more expensive and can be easily scratched.

You can pay up to $1800 for a large acrylic aquarium to accommodate your bala sharks. Some glass and acrylic tanks can cost more than $2000.

Moreover, you must consider the cost of a breeding aquarium once your balas reach maturity. Yet, creating the optimal conditions for breeding your fish can be a little challenging if you’re a novice aquarist.

You should also consider the cost of buying a metal or wooden base to support the weight of your tank instead of placing it on a table, as the tank will become pretty heavy once you fill it with water.

If your tank doesn’t come with a stand, you might pay between $200 and $400 for the stand.

Setting Up the Tank

Once you’ve bought a durable tank, you need to set it up to make it suitable for your bala sharks.

A filter is a must because it will help maintain healthy water parameters.

On average, a filter costs about $30, but the cost increases for powerful filters that help clean the water in a large tank, so you might pay between $100 and $200.

You don’t want to save money when buying the filter because it’s crucial for your bala sharks’ health and well-being.

The room’s light isn’t enough for your fish, so you must invest in high-quality LED light. This can cost anything between $50 and $100.

Buying the correct type of substrate to grow plants and keep your tank looking its best is paramount. You can buy this for $15 or $20.

You should also buy a gravel cleaner, which might cost around $50.

Unless you live in a tropical climate where the temperature doesn’t drop, you’ll have to buy a heater for your fish tank. This can cost around $30, but it might be slightly more expensive.

Some heaters come with built-in thermometers, or you’ll have to buy one for about $10.

You should also buy plants to provide your fish with hiding spots and increase the aquarium’s aesthetic appeal. Common plants can cost between $30 and $40, but rare species can cost much more.

Remember that bala sharks can feed on these plants, so you might have to replace them often.

Other pieces of equipment include a siphon, net, fertilizer, algae scraper, bucket, and trimming tool. These can cost between $100 and $300.

Recurring Costs

These include things you need to buy regularly to maintain your fish tank and keep your balas happy and healthy.


Bala sharks are omnivorous and will consume more food as they get bigger.

Instead of feeding your fish once, you should feed them tiny amounts of food three or four times a day.

These fish can feed on pellets and dry flakes, but you should limit their amounts because they can cause bloating. This food can cost as little as $20 per year.

However, they prefer live and frozen food, which can cost about $50 per year. You can also try growing live food at home.

Testing Kits

You must keep testing kits within reach as they help you maintain suitable water parameters. Use the kit to measure pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels to ensure they suit your bala sharks.

Testing kits can cost between $15 and $30 per kit, each lasting for several uses.


After testing the water parameters, you might need to add some chemicals to stabilize the water and make it healthier for your bala sharks.

These chemicals can cost between $50 and $80 per year.

Filter Cartridge

The filter you buy will get dirty, and you must regularly replace the cartridge to keep the tank clean and healthy. Cartridges can cost between $10 and $20 per pack.


Everything you use in the aquarium will cause your power bill to increase. Since you should keep your bala sharks in a big tank, you should expect an increase of about $100 in your annual electricity bill.

Final Thoughts

Bala sharks are amazing and active fish that should be kept in a big aquarium.

Understanding the costs of buying and maintaining these fish will help you decide if they’re the right ones for you.

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