Watching fish swim about in an aquarium is truly fascinating, but it’s also a good idea to be mindful of changes in your fish’s behavior. Bala sharks can be quite active swimmers, but why do bala sharks twitch?
There isn’t necessarily a scientific consensus for exactly why bala sharks twitch, however, one theory is that bala sharks twitch as part of their navigation through the water. While another theory is that bala sharks twitch to communicate with other fish, either to defend themselves or intimidate others.
These twitches, being somewhat mysterious, could be an indicator of normal behavior or potential stressors that you need to watch out for.
1. Why Do Bala Sharks Twitch?
There is no definitive reason why bala sharks twitch, but given what is known about their typical temperament and behavior, it’s fairly easy to assume a few reasons why they do this.
It may just be one of those behaviors that they adopted that has no purpose. Conversely, it’s more widely believed that these fish twitch for particular reasons.
Twitching may help bala sharks move faster through the water. A bala shark’s twitches are a series of rapid movements that are extremely quick. Thus, these twitches could simply help them move throughout the water faster than if they were just using their tails.
2. Is Twitching Normal For Bala Sharks?
Twitching is an action seen in many bala sharks, so there’s no reason to assume it’s a bad thing. While some bala shark owners have noticed twitching in tandem with stressors or illness, it’s not indicative of correlation; it may just be a coincidence.
Bala sharks also aren’t the only types of fish that twitch. It can be assumed that since other fish do it, it’s just one of those many quirks that make fish such fascinating animals.
3. Do Bala Sharks Twitch Often?
Each bala shark is different in how often they might twitch. Generally speaking, this particular behavior has been observed to last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes at a time.
If your bala shark is constantly twitching, and it seems to be nonstop, be sure to check for other signs that something might not be right with them.
Constant twitching accompanied by frantic swimming or a change in appearance could be a bad sign.
If you notice they are rubbing against other fish or against something in the tank, it could be indicative of an illness or infection.
If something in your aquarium is causing this, remove it and either isolate it (if it’s another fish) or take your bala shark to a vet for further analysis.
4. Do Bala Sharks Twitch As A Defense Mechanism?
Twitching can also help deter any predators from coming near them. Despite how big these fish are and how fast they can swim, they aren’t faster than some of their potential hunters.
You likely don’t have to worry about predators in your aquarium, but if they are housed with fish that share dissimilar temperaments, they might feel prone to defensive or aggressive behaviors in an act of self-preservation.
Though bala sharks aren’t commonly found in the ocean anymore, they still have those natural instincts to want to protect themselves.
If you have other fish in the aquarium that may potentially pose a threat to them, they might exhibit behaviors such as twitching in an effort to keep those fish away.
Despite what their namesake might make you think, bala sharks are not combative with other fish. They can actually get along with a plethora of other types of fish.
If you choose to have bala sharks in an aquarium with other fish of its kind or other fish that you know they can get along with, you’re going to need a very big aquarium.
5. Is Twitching A Sign That A Bala Shark Is Nervous?
Even though bala sharks are typically docile fish, they do have a propensity to get startled easily. As such, some assume that twitching is a sign of nervousness. It’s definitely possible, but it’s not known for sure.
One important thing to be aware of in terms of a bala shark’s nervous behavior is they are jumpers.
They can jump quite high, and are known to escape aquariums by doing so. That said, it’s important to create the most peaceful environment possible for your bala shark so they don’t want to jump out of it.
6. Can Twitching Be A Negative Bala Shark Behavior?
There is also a possibility that twitching can be a signifier that your bala shark is stressed. If you are concerned about them being stressed, check their water conditions to make sure the temperature is right and the quality is clean.
You should also be sure your aquarium is big enough for your bala shark to swim around without feeling too cramped.
An unclean environment is a frequent stressor of all fish, so proper testing of nutrients within the water as well as any potential build up is needed often. Furthermore, you need to keep your water clean by removing old water and replacing it occasionally.
Fish that are getting sick from water might exhibit behavior similar to twitching. If your bala shark is unwell, it could also cause them to stress out which may activate their twitching tendencies.
It’s a good idea to check your other fish for signs of sickness, and check that your plants aren’t rotting in the water.
7. Could Twitching Be Temporary?
If your bala shark is new to your aquarium, they’ll need time to adapt to their new environment. The process of being bagged up, taken home, and added to an aquarium they aren’t used to is a lot of rapid change for a bala shark.
As such, it’s not uncommon to see them twitching around while they are trying to understand and get to know your aquarium.
You might notice this behavior is a little more constant for a couple of days or so after bringing them home. This should subside as they navigate their surroundings. If their twitching is indicative of stress, be sure that your aquarium is an adequate size for your fish.
These fish can grow to be large, and they like being able to swim. They may not know what to do with themselves if they don’t have enough room to swim back and forth in the aquarium. Twitching due to stress may be one of the only ways they know how to tell you they aren’t happy.
Attempting to definitively answer the question, why do bala sharks twitch, is difficult. There’s no simple answer, but there are a lot of assumptions made about this behavioral tendency. Unless there are other signs that your bala shark may be sick, there’s no reason to worry at the first sign of twitching.
Bala fish are some very beautiful fish to have at home in an aquarium, and this is one of the best environments for them given that they are endangered. Just be sure you give them the best home possible so that, if their twitching is a sign of stress, it stops and they get back to living a swimmingly fulfilling life.
Keep Reading: Why Do Bala Sharks Have White Spots?