Tag Archive | "Siamese Bala Shark"


Siamese Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda)



The Siamese Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda) is a possibly extinct species of freshwater “shark” that has been frequently confused with the Bala shark (Balantiocheilos melanopterus).

The Siamese Bala Shark has also been referred to as the Burnt Tailed Barb by tropical fish keeping enthusiasts.

The Siamese Bala Shark is or was endemic to the Mae Klong and Chao Phayra River basins in Thailand where it inhabits the lowland riparian and marshland floodplains.

It has also been reported in the Mekong River Basin in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos but substantiated records for these areas are lacking or inconclusive.  The original distribution of this species included the Chao Phraya River drainage from Bangkok upriver to the lower Nan River and in the Mekong from Viet Nam and the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) to the lower Nam Ngum River.

The Siamese Bala Shark or Burnt Tailed Barb is closely related to the Bala Shark but has a small mouth, a shorter snout, narrower black margins on the pelvic and anal fins, and grooves which are posteriorly directed at rictus curved (vs. straight in the Bala shark).   The caudal fin is deeply concave. The color of the body is silver. Behind the green and gray dorsal fin, anal fin, and the tail fin. Orange, red and black rim strip.

Unsubstantiated descriptions from an old Thai magazine state that it is golden colored on the dorsal surfaces of the head and body, and that that the fish is an overall golden color.

Despite surveys within its native range, Balantiocheilos ambusticauda has not been recorded in more than three decades.  The IUCN has the species rated as “critically endangered” rather than extinct and some sources report less than 50 specimens exist in the wild.  The hope remains that small undiscovered populations still exist.

Although capture for the aquarium trade is suggested as the reason for its decline, extensive habitat destruction caused by pollution, drainage, and new dams being built withing its range are more likely the cause considering their sensitivity to water quality.

Requirements for care are similar to Bala Sharks as indicated below.


Siamese Bala Shark (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda)








Minimum Tank Size: N/A
Care Level: N/A
Temperament: Semi-aggressive
Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
Water Conditions: 72-82° F, dGH 2 – 10, pH 6.5-7.8
Max Size:  8″
Color Form: Black, White, Yellow, Red
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: N/A
Origin: Thailand, “critically endangered”
Family: Cyprinidae
Life Span: 10 years
Aquarist Experience Level: N/A

Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Sharks, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (1)

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