Silver Shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus)


Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family:    Cyprinidae
Size:    Length: Up to 14 inches (36 cm)
Weight: Up to 27,000 pounds (12,500 kg)
Diet: Phytoplankton, small crustaceans, rotifers, and insects and their larvae
Distribution: Found in the tropical waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand
Young:  Eggs
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: Endangered
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: Unknown



         Silver sharks are also called Bala sharks, Malaysian sharks or tricolor sharkminnows

         The scientific name means: Balantio = bag or purse, cheilus = lip, melano = black, pterus = wing (fin).

         The reason they were named sharks is due to the superficial resemblance of their dorsal fins shape to that of sharks.


Silver sharks are not really sharks they are a type of minnow and belong to the order Cypriniformes, which are algae-eating minnows. Silver sharks are more closely related to goldfish than to sharks. These fish have a silver body with black bands on their fins as well as dark eyes. They have a posterior groove forming a pocket opening backwards on their lower lip. They do not have teeth. Their color varies from silver to slightly golden with lighter undersides and yellow fins with a deep black edge.



Silver sharks are found in large and medium-sized rivers and lakes with 22 to 28C (72-82oF) temperatures, in South-east Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.


Feeding Habits

They feed on phytoplankton, but mostly on small crustaceans, rotifers as well as insects and their larvae. They are often found on the bottom, carefully eating leftovers that other fish have dropped, barely stirring up the sediment. 



Silver sharks migrate to specific breeding grounds where they undergo mass spawning. Young silver sharks reach sexual maturity when they are from four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) in length. They do not breed in captivity and therefore, not much is known about their breeding or young. 



Silver sharks are timid fish and startle easily, but are generally peaceful and get along with many other species of fish. They are active, and can often be seen darting in between rocks and plants.  



Silver sharks are classified as endangered due to a reduction of at least 50 percent of their population over the last 10 years due to a decline in habitat as well as over fishing for the tropical fish trade, as they have become a popular aquarium species.