Last update: November 30, 2022

13 Best Bala Shark Tank Mates

Sometimes called the “gentle giants” of the aquarium world, it’s tough to imagine a better pet fish than a Bala shark.

Fun, personable, relatively hardy, and beautiful to look at these fish might be called sharks – but they don’t have close to the aggressive, territorial kind of personality that most people associate with those creatures.

The fact that Bala sharks are so docile makes them fantastic “roommates”. Filling up your aquarium with different species of fish is pretty simple and straightforward when you start with a Bala sharks, but we make things even easier by highlighting our picks for the 13 best Bala shark tank mates below.

Let’s get started!

Bala Shark Tank Mates – What You Need to Know

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Though there aren’t a lot of things you have to concern yourself with when fleshing out a Bala shark tank, you do need to consider the temperament of the fish that you’ll be adding, the size of the fish that you are going to add, whether or not those fish are going to compete with your Bala sharks, and if everyone’s going to get along in the same water conditions.

Square these things away, though, and you find that keeping Bala sharks with other fish is really pretty effortless.


For one thing, Bala sharks are known not to have a disagreeable personality.

They get along with pretty much anyone and everyone underwater, except for fish that are particularly territorial or particularly aggressive. Finding other peaceful Bala shark tank mates should be a main priority for you going forward.

Of course, the larger size of these fish make it relatively easy for them to dissuade fish that would have otherwise been temperamental and aggressive. Still, you don’t need any weird undercurrents of stress rippling through your aquarium – stick to passive, peaceful fish as tank mates and you will be good to go.


It’s probably a good idea for Bala sharks to be the largest in your aquarium, especially since they can grow to be so big themselves. Add fish that are even larger than Bala sharks and you’ll have to get a swimming pool sized enclosure!

By allowing these “gentle giants” to kind of run the show from a size perspective you will be able to cut down on fights, cut down on territorial disagreements, and generally just keep a real peaceful environment, too.

Let your Bala sharks act as the “tank police” – even just passively – and you won’t have a whole lot to worry about.


The odds are pretty good that Bala sharks are going to spend most of their time zipping across the tank, moving from one side to another, and they are also probably going to try to be the first ones that eat at feeding time, too.

Their large size let’s them boss around other fish without having to get into fights or stir up competitive feelings. Even still, try to find fish that generally go along to get along to add into your Bala shark aquarium and you will be a lot happier.

Water Parameters and Tank Setup

Because these fish can grow to be a foot-long (or longer) you’re going to want to make sure that they have plenty of room to stretch out. Combine that with the fact that our sharks do best in small schools (we’re talking four or five per tank) and you’re going to need a relatively large aquarium to keep them happy.

Especially if you’re thinking about adding the best Bala shark tank mates into the mix, too.

As far as water temperature is concerned, you’re going to want to make sure that temps are held anywhere between 76° and 78°F (give or take). These fishlike things are a little on the warmer side.

Bala Shark Tank Mates

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1. Tiger Barbs

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  • Scientific Name:  Puntigrus tetrazona
  • Adult Size:  4 inches
  • Compatible with:  Barbs, Platys, Clown loach
  • Water Temperature:  77-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Barbs can be a great addition to any aquarium, but work especially well with larger peaceful fish like Bala sharks.

These fish can get a little prickly when they are the “big boss” in an aquarium. But when they are floating around with larger fish – like Bala sharks – they become a lot more peaceful, a lot more restrained, and a lot calmer without losing any of their fun personality along the way.

2. Bristlenose Pleco

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  • Scientific Name:  Ancistrus cirrhosus
  • Adult Size:  4-5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Guppy Fish, Molly Fish, Platy Fish, Swordtail Fish, Corydoras, Gourami
  • Water Temperature:  73-80 F
  • Minimum tank size:  20 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Pleco fish are another wonderful addition to your Bala shark tank. They have large heads, blunt noses, and a sucker fish kind of mouth which lets you know that they are going to spend the majority of their time down near the bottom of your aquarium – cleaning out your tank and keeping your substrate spotless.

While they have relatively active lifestyles they pretty much keep to themselves. They’ll add a lot of personality and color to your tank, even if they aren’t going to interact with – or bother – your Bala shark population.

3. Discus Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Symphysodon
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, Loaches, Tetras
  • Water Temperature:  76-78°F
  • Minimum tank size:  75 gal
  • Care Level: Moderate

Of all the Bala shark tank mates you might think about adding into the mix these fish can be the most temperamental of the bunch – but only because they require very specific water conditions that closely mimic the same conditions Bala sharks really enjoy.

It is important to remember, though, that these fish cannot and should not be kept alone in an aquarium. They like to be in small schools of four or five. That means they’re going to need a little more water to stretch out on top of the water space you have dedicated to your Bala sharks.

4. Boesemani Rainbowfish

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  • Scientific Name:  Melanotaenia boesemani
  • Adult Size:  4 inches
  • Compatible with:  Angelfish, Gourami, Bettas
  • Water Temperature:  77-86°F
  • Minimum tank size:  40 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

You’ll have a tough time finding a more beautiful tank mate for your Bala sharks than this rainbow fish.

Relatively slow moving (but always on the go), this rainbow colored fish has a thick body, a very deep chest, and a relatively small head – but they are absolutely loaded from tip to tail with vivid, almost luminescent colors that will add a lot of visual interest to your aquarium.

These fish only grow to be about 4 inches in length as adults but they do like to live in small schools. Have five or six of them in with your Bala sharks and everybody will be a lot happier.

5. Blood Red Parrot Cichlid

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  • Scientific Name:  Amphilophus citrinellus x Paraneetroplus synspilus
  • Adult Size:  8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Oscars, Angelfish, Tetras
  • Water Temperature:  76-84°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A showstopper of a fish, these can be a little bit challenging to get a hold of if you don’t have a very well appointed aquarium or fish supply shop in your local area – but they are well worth the search (and the premium price tag) to locate and secure.

You’re just not going to find the colors on these fish anywhere else.

Super active, these fish are going to spend a lot of time making friends with every other creature you have in your aquarium. They get along with pretty much everyone, our super social, and while they don’t like to school up they do like to spend time visiting each of their friends individually.

6. Kissing Gourami

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  • Scientific Name:  Helostoma temminckii
  • Adult Size:  12 inches
  • Compatible with:  Loaches, Swordtails, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  72-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  50 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

This fish spends a lot of time hanging out with their underwater friends, to the point where they are called the “kissing fish”. They will literally rock right up to other fish in the tank and sort of kiss them on the cheek before flitting off to kiss somebody else underwater.

One of the reasons that these fish are so popular to keep with Bala sharks is because they love the same kind of water temperature in the same kind of water conditions. They don’t necessarily stay in the same section of the aquarium water column (these fishlike to go up and down) but they won’t frustrate each other when they hang out together.

7. Rasbora

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  • Scientific Name:  Rasbora
  • Adult Size:  4 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, Tetras, Guppies
  • Water Temperature:  75-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A little on the smaller side of things (but that’s not a problem when you allow your Bala sharks to be the “king of the castle”, so to speak), these fish do like to school up in five or six at a time – and aren’t afraid to attach themselves to other species of fish and school with them, either.

If you want to keep these happy in your tank, though, make sure that you are able to generate a little bit of an underwater current. They like to work themselves out in a relatively stiff current whenever possible, though they spend most of their day in other parts of the water column for sure.

8. Black Ghost Knifefish

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  • Scientific Name:  Apteronotus albifrons
  • Adult Size:  20 inches
  • Compatible with:  Chichlids, Catfish, Angelfish
  • Water Temperature:  75-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  100 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

A dream fish for many home aquarium owners to finally add to their collection, if you are lucky enough to score a black ghost knifefish you’re going to be happy to learn that they get along perfectly with Bala sharks!

These fish like to spend most of their time alone, taking the time to sort of isolate in structure or in underwater caves if you have provided them in your aquarium. Should they bump up against the rest of your aquarium population, though, they don’t get frustrated or territorial – they just kind of go with the flow.

9. Swordtails

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  • Scientific Name: Xiphophorus hellerii
  • Adult Size:  6.3 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, platys, neon tetra, mollies, guppies
  • Water Temperature:  72-79°F
  • Minimum tank size:  15 gal
  • Care Level:  Medium

Super active, the swordtails you add into your aquarium with Bala sharks are going to race from one end of the aquarium to the other pretty much nonstop – almost every single day of their lives.

Happy go lucky, super sociable, and very relaxed and very chill, you’ll never have to worry about these “go-go” fish causing headache or hassle for the rest of your aquarium population. They pretty much get along with everybody!

10. Angelfish

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  • Scientific Name:  Pterophyllum
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, Gourami, Swordtails
  • Water Temperature:  78-84°F
  • Minimum tank size:  55 gal
  • Care Level:  Moderate

Angelfish can be a little bit of a controversial pick for tank mates with your Bala sharks, if only because they have a bit of a reputation for being a little “finicky”.

If you set up water conditions right (maintaining relatively warm water temperatures), make sure that they have plenty of food, and keep them as a single or in pairs you’re not going to have anything to worry about, though.

11. Neon Tetras

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  • Scientific Name:  Paracheirodon innesi
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, guppies, tetras, loaches
  • Water Temperature:  75° – 80° F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Medium

Tetras are always a fantastic choice for adding to a warmer water aquarium. This freshwater fish is very sociable, very friendly, and is going to light up your tank in a bunch of different ways – thanks in large part to their outsized personality but also because of their neon colors.

If you really want these tetras to shine make sure that you use a darker substrate material. The colors on them will really come alive then!

12. Clown Loach

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  • Scientific Name:  Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Adult Size:  6-8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Discus, Rainbowfish, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  70-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  75 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

As a general rule of thumb you want to try and make sure that you are keeping these fish in schools of five or six. Any fewer than that – even with your Bala sharks helping to keep them company – and they become shy, they become timid, and they have really stressful lives.

When they are in the right size school, though, their personality really comes out. They flit around together, they check in on other fish in the tank, and they become big parts of your underwater community.

13. Emerald Rainbowfish

  • Scientific Name:  Glossolepis wanamensis
  • Adult Size:  5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Barbs, Rasboras, Danios
  • Water Temperature:  81-86°F
  • Minimum tank size:  45 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These fish look a little funky (their triangular point he had differentiates them from the rest of the rainbow for family) but they make up some of the best Bala shark tank mates you could add to your aquarium.

Very friendly, peaceful, and as docile as Bala sharks are you’re not going to have to worry about fish bites brewing when you add them into your underwater world.

Just remember, though, that while these fish only grow to be about 4 inches in length they like to be in small schools of five or six.

Closing Thoughts

While these fish are called sharks they are anything but those super aggressive apex predators we usually associate with that name.

Instead, these fish are super peaceful, very calm, and a fantastic pet to build your aquarium around. They work well with all kinds of fish, have the size to keep more aggressive smaller fish in line, and aren’t all that challenging to take care of, either.

Choose from amongst the 13 best Bala shark tank mates we highlighted above and you will be able to set up your aquarium without a lot of frustration. You’ll know that these fish are going to get along right from day one, allowing you to focus on water conditions and tank parameters rather than having to worry about fish fights breaking out left and right.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best qualities for Bala shark tank mates?

Peaceful fish that like to live in warmer water conditions are going to have absolutely zero trouble whatsoever living alongside Bala sharks. Even tamer troublemakers – like Tiger Barbs, for example – calm down when they are in with Bala sharks.

How active are Bala sharks in the aquarium?

Your Bala sharks are going to spend a lot of time swimming around, and that means they are going to be (generally) found in the middle of the water column. Try to find tank companions that like the upper or lower levels of the water column to avoid overcrowding.

Just how warm do Bala sharks like their water?

While these fish can live in water conditions as cool as 75°F, they really do better when temperatures are closer to 78°F – or even just a little bit warmer. Find tank mates that like the same kind of conditions and everything goes a lot smoother.

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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