Bala Sharks with Cichlids

Bala Sharks with Cichlids

Can Bala Sharks Share a Tank with Cichlids?

When combining species in your aquarium, it’s vital to check the compatibility of the species you are considering adding to your tank to make sure they can peacefully coexist.

Bala sharks and cichlids can absolutely share a tank, depending on the cichlid, as bala sharks aren’t very aggressive. They prefer a large tank – a minimum of 120 gallons – to thrive, with a lot of live plants and driftwood to provide plenty of hiding places. Most cichlids prefer the same water parameters, environment, and water temperature as bala sharks. 

The rest of this article will tell you everything you need to know about bala sharks and whether they can share a tank with cichlids. 

About Bala Sharks

Bala sharks, despite their name, are not true sharks but called sharks based on their sleek, silver and black bodies and small size. They are also known as silver sharks, Malaysian sharks, and tricolored shark minnow.

They are native to freshwater rivers and lakes in Southeast Asia and omnivorous. They are also quite peaceful, though they may eat fish substantially smaller than them. Bala sharks thrive in waters between 72 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit and prefer a pH of between 6.5 – 7. They are omnivorous and eat a wide array of meats and plant matter. 

About Cichlids

Cichlids are one of the most diverse families of freshwater fish, including more than 1300 species of fish with new species being discovered every year. Cichlids include well-known fish such as angelfish, African cichlids, Jack Dempseys, discus fish, jewelfish, and more. 

Cichlids prefer warm waters and lots of live plants and driftwood in their tanks, most species originating from Africa.  

Are Bala Sharks Compatible with Cichlids?

Bala sharks are compatible with most cichlid species, such as angelfish and discus fish, but incompatible with more aggressive cichlid species like Oscars and African cichlids.

Cichlids and bala sharks share the same tank parameters, such as pH and temperature, and they both prefer large tanks with lots of life plants, driftwood, and other hiding places. Keep in mind that larger bala sharks may eat smaller cichlids. 

Can Sharks Live with African Cichlids?

African cichlids are an aggressive species that don’t coexist well with most fish, including sharks. African cichlids are best kept in single species aquariums. 

What Fish are Suitable Tank Mates for Bala Sharks? 

The following species not only coexist peacefully with bala sharks, but they also prefer the same water parameters, temperature, and tank environment with a lot of plants and driftwood.  


Angelfish are one of the many kinds of cichlids and relatively easy to care for compared to other cichlids. They have beautiful colors and patterns and flowing fins that contribute to their celestial name. 

They are also less aggressive than other cichlid species, but will defend themselves if threatened. Keep in mind that angelfish can grow quite large, with a diameter of 8 inches between their wing-like fins. 

Discus Fish

Few fish have as beautiful colorations and patterns as the discus fish, which breeders have carefully cultivated to reveal the most striking color combinations. While they are relatively high maintenance compared to other fish on our list, they are a beautiful addition to any aquatic community. 

Kissing Gourami

Known for their puckered lips and flat, colorful bodies, kissing gouramis are also known as kissers. They thrive in warm waters and need a lot of plants in their tank, as they feed on plant matter. 

Boeseman’s Rainbow Fish

This peaceful fish with its beautiful colors is an excellent addition to any aquarium. They are happiest with others of their species, so make sure to have a few Boeseman’s rainbow fish in your aquarium to keep them from getting lonely. 

Blood Parrot Cichlid

The amusing blood parrot cichlid is a cross between a Midas and a redhead cichlid, resulting in the bright, unusual fish that is the blood parrot cichlid. They are unaggressive due to the lack of teeth in their mouths but will bump into other fish if unhappy. 

Black Ghost Knife Fish

Make sure you have enough room when adding this striking jet-black fish to your aquarium, as the black ghost knife fish can grow up to 20 inches in length and will need a minimum tank size of 100 gallons. 

Tinfoil Barbs

These fast, shimmering fish is naturally found in schools, and is happiest with others of its species. Despite their large adult size of up to 14 inches, they are non-aggressive and will live peacefully alongside bala sharks. 

Clown Loaches

This fish resembles something of a cross between a clown fish and an Oscar, with an orange and black striped body and long whiskers. They are active fish and need a lot of hiding places to thrive. 

Common Pleco Fish

The common pleco is most often at night, spending the daytime in hiding places in the tank. 


These small, colorful fish are popular for their wide range of colors and ease of keeping in an aquarium. They do well with many species, including bala sharks, and need to be kept in schools of at least 10 tetras in order to keep them happy. 

Can Bala Sharks and Oscars Share a Tank?

Oscars can’t be kept with young bala sharks, as they will become aggressive with the young sharks. They can be unpredictable with adult bala sharks and are best off not sharing an aquarium. 

What Fish Should You Avoid Putting With Bala Sharks?

  • Red Tailed Shark
    • Sharks are aggressive with other fish, including with bala sharks. 
  • Rainbow Shark
    • Shark species are aggressive in tanks with other fish, including bala sharks.
  • Oscar Fish
    • Can become aggressive with bala sharks, especially the younger ones. 
  • African Cichlids
    • African cichlids are one of the most aggressive species of aquarium fish and experts recommend they should only be in a tank with each other. 
  • Goldfish
  • Silver Dollar Fish
    • Despite their small size, silver dollar fish is semi-aggressive and have sharp teeth that they use to cause significant damage to bala sharks.