Bala sharks are becoming more popular among aquarists by the day. As pets, these fish have an attractive look, a fun presence, and a hardy body.
While it’s easy to care for Bala sharks and keep them healthy, some conditions could affect them and cause a change in their appearance.
As such, you may be wondering “why is my Balas shark losing scales?”
Today’s guide explores all the possible reasons for scale loss, what you can do to treat/prevent them, and how fish react to missing scales.
The following issues are the most likely causes behind the deformation of your fish’s beautiful skin:
Quite common in freshwater tanks, this protozoan infection is caused by a parasite known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (which is where the name came from!).
These white spots are irritating to the fish’s skin, so you’ll notice your Bala 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 off scales and cuts the skin, causing notable injuries.
If your Bala fish suffers from Ich, you should move the infected fish to a separate tank.
Next, sprinkle aquarium salts and ich treatment into the water. You can easily find these products in pet stores.
If you’re using 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, rendering it ineffective.
This is a common disease among Bala sharks that could trigger the shedding of scales.
Dropsy is a serious bacterial infection that causes water to build up inside the cavities of the fish’s body.
The fluid accumulation results in a pinecone-like appearance with belly swelling/bloating, eyes bulging, scales pointing outwards, fins clamping together, and whitish lesions forming.
The scales could be pushed out too far that they fall off.
Dropsy can also affect the behavior of Bala sharks, making them eat and move less.
This disease can occur due to a variety of reasons such as:
- Poor water quality
- Malfunctioning liver
- Adding contaminated food or fish to the tank
- External injuries/wounds getting infected
- Compromised immunity due to poor nutrition or disease
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.
However, I recommend not getting your hopes up too high as saving the fish can be quite hard if treatment doesn’t start immediately.
Sometimes, injuries can cause Bala sharks to lose scales.
Examples include aggressive encounters with tank mates, constant hitting of objects inside a too-small tank, or the fish’s attempt to scratch Ich spots.
To treat injuries, 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.
Besides diseases and injuries, Bala Sharks can lose scales due to stress resulting from living in poor tank/water conditions for a long time.
Common signs of stress include lack of activity and loss of appetite. Distressed Bala sharks also have As the fish stops eating, its immunity gets compromised and its growth is stunned.
Some stress-inducing conditions include:
- Suddenly changing the water temperature or pH
- Transfering your Bala shark to a new tank with different water conditions
- Adding aggressive fish species to the tank
- Keeping a single Bala Shark in the tank for an extended period (you should keep at least 4)
Like any other fish, Bala sharks don’t shed their scales naturally.
Scales lost due to physical damage may grow back smaller, but those lost because of severe infections/diseases may never regrow.
Bala sharks can survive without scales, but not for long.
So, why is my Bala shark losing scales?
The culprit could be a disease/infection such as Ich or dropsy. Damage from aggressive behavior or too-small tanks could also be the reason.
Alternatively, Bala sharks may lose scales due to excessive stress.
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.