One of the most popular aquarium fish with a relatively peaceful nature, and friendly temperament is the freshwater Barb fish from the cyprinid family. Barbs are Schooling fish that are a species found all over the world, in many colors, markings, and many sizes. When choosing Barbs for your aquarium you will need to know a bit more about their requirements, which we will touch on, or you can visit Your Aquarium Place for more details. I will also recommend five of the most peaceful, hardy, and easy-to-keep barbs in different sizes for your aquarium.
- Origin: Indonesia, Southern Asia, Sri Lanka.
- Lifespan: Between 3-5, and 10-15 years depending on the species.
- Size: Sizes between 4-5 cm (1.98 Inches – 1.4 Inches) and 35 Cm (14 Inches)
- Colors: Color Variations Available According to Species.
- Tank Size: 20-75 Gallons.
- Temperament: Mostly Peaceful, Schooling, and Active.
- Water Type:
- Water Temperature: Lower temperatures between 16.7 ̊C – 27.8 ̊ C (62 ̊ F – 82 ̊ F).
- Water pH: Between pH 6.0 and pH7.5
- Care Level: Beginner Friendly, Easy.
Some Info on the Barb Fish Species
Before we get started here are a few facts that apply to almost all the Barb species, big and small;
- Barbs come in size from 1.5 inches (3.8) cm being the smallest up to 14 Inches (35cm), the largest aquarium species.
- Most barb fish enjoy cooler slightly acidic water temperatures and are adaptable within ranges.
- Barbs lay eggs and will eat their eggs and young, they do not make good parents so breeding is done separately.
- They are peaceful semi-aggressive fish that must be kept in groups of 5 to 8 depending on the species and size.
- Barb fish are all omnivores and need a varied diet of meat-based foods, plant-based foods, flakes, and pellets.
- Each species of Barb fish may have other color morphs.
- Barb fish love a well-planted natural aquarium, with plenty of center space for swimming as they are very active.
- Barbs are notorious for jumping out of their tank and need a lid on their tanks.
- You can easily keep your barb fish with other peaceful or schooling fish species that are similar in size and nature.
Barb fish, in general, are easy to care for and can be the ideal species for beginners, or to add to a communal tank. I am going to do a very quick overview; however, each species of barb fish is unique and will need more specific care;
Your barb fish need to have the right habitat with the correct water conditions to thrive and stay disease free. Water temperatures of around 16.7 ̊C – 27.8 ̊ C (62 ̊ F – 82 ̊ F) are the ranges in which most barb fish thrive. They require a slightly neutral to acidic pH of between pH 6.0 and pH 7.5, with a water hardness of around 10 dGH or less. As their natural habitats are mostly rivers, and streams all over the world, most species prefer moderate currents from a good filtration system and very clean water. They do need a heater unless you live in an area with a more tropical climate, and they do need daily indirect sunlight, or an artificial light to indicate day and night. Barbs love a well-planted tank with thick sand or gravel substrate, mostly live plants, and some natural rocks and driftwood.
Barbs are omnivores and require a diet of flakes and pellets, as well as protein-based foods including insect larvae, bloodworms, and brine shrimp, and vegetables including algae, zucchini, lettuce, shelled peas, and spinach mostly. They are vigorous eaters and need to be fed two meals and one snack a day enough to finish within a few minutes.
Common Health Issues
Generally, most health issues in barbs are caused by poor diet, and poor water conditions, they are hardy fish however should be taken care of properly. Most common diseases include parasites such as Ich, or bacterial and fungal infections such as Fin Rot, and Dropsy, an infection of the swim bladder. Maintaining your tank is key to a healthy and content Barb fish, and following the steps on Wikihow has provided the most accurate information on tank maintenance so far.
Any species of Barb fish is relatively easy to breed with a few very small differences from species to species. However, they are all eggs scattered that require a separate tank for layering eggs with a male and female pair, or a few males and females. The tank needs enough vegetation for eggs to latch on to and young fry to hide, and the parents must be removed directly after laying eggs. The gestation period of the eggs varies in some species of barbs, though will mostly be 24 hours, with another 24 hours before fry are independent.
5 Best Barbs for Your Aquarium
So, after much research and thought, I have decided to go with five of the most popular and easily attainable Barb fish species, in varying sizes for your aquarium;
1. Cherry Barb
We start off with the delightful, small Cherry Barb, one of the most Peaceful Barb species, with Warm and Bold colors. The Cherry Barb originates from Sri Lanka and is one of our smallest in the list at 5cm (2 Inches) with a 4 – 7-year lifespan, which is quite long for smaller Barb fish species. Cherry Barbs have a primary red or tan color and different flecks of reds and orange, there are similarly quite a few other color morphs in the Cherry Barb, such as Red, orange, and yellow. They are colorful tiny barbs that are Schooling fish, with a preference for calmer and cooler water temperatures.
2. Rosy Barb
Another favorite Barb fish species is the Rosy Barb for its warm and radiant colors, and their very peaceful and social nature with other fish. They get lonely and stressed when alone, rather than aggressive, and enjoy the company of tank mates of all species. Rosy barbs are smaller Barbs around 14-15 cm (6 inches) and can live for up to 5 years if taken care of very well. Did you know that you can improve the rich Rosy colors of your Rosy Barbs by feeding them carotenoids? They also have other color morphs such as the Red Glass Rosy Barb, and the Gold Neon Rosy Barb. They are the perfect beginner Barb species, for a larger 30-gallon tank, and they prefer much cooler water temperatures similar to their native origin Southern Asia.
3. Odessa Barb
The Odessa Barb “Pethia Padamya” is a very colorful species, with Ruby Like red color markings found mostly in males. They are peaceful shoaling Barbs that will reach sizes of around 7 cm (2.8 inches), and will likewise easily live up to 4 or 5 years with optimal care. Rosy Barbs are native to Southeast Asia and enjoy colder water temperatures, similarly requiring a tank of between 20-30 gallons for a group of five or six fish.
4. Tinfoil Barb
One of the largest Barb species that also deserves its rightful place is the Tinfoil Barb “Barbonymus schwanenfeldii”, a gorgeous and glistening fish with intricate red and black markings. Let me just tell you it is a large fish reaching between 32 – 35cm (12 – 14 Inches) in size, and has a long lifespan of up to 15 years. You will need at least a 75-gallon tank for five fish, with cooler water and slightly acidic to neutral pH. The Tinfoil Barb is also native to Southeast Asia.
5. Black Ruby Barb
For those of you with much smaller tanks, or smaller communal fish in your aquarium, I end off with one of my personal favorites, the Black Ruby Barb (Pethia nigrofasciata), a tiny Barb species that exhibits the most striking and unique colors in every individual fish. It reaches up to 5 cm(2 Inches) in size and has a lifespan of between 3-5 years. The Black Ruby Barb originates from Sri Lanka and prefers cooler water conditions that are fresh and shaded. I must add, they look exquisite in aquariums with darker substrates and decor, as it shows off their gorgeous colors.
Barbs are one of the most peaceful and interesting fish species to keep in your communal tank with suitable tank mates of other species. They need to be kept in groups and will actively swim in Schools to keep you entertained. Barbs are easy to care for and from the 5 popular breeds that we have mentioned you should easily be able to find one that is suitable for your aquarium. If not, there are plenty more barb species, that you can choose from.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lifespan and Sizes of Barb Fish?
With Barb Fish, you get large species that grow up to 35 cm (14 Inches) in size, medium-sized species that are around half their size or less, and then the tiny ones that do not grow larger than 5cm (1.5) inches. The Lifespan normally depends on the species, the larger ones ranging from 10-15 years, and the smaller ones from 3-5 years.
Barb Fish Temperament?
Barb fish must be kept in groups of at least five or more. Some species get lonely and stressed, while others become aggressive if not kept in groups. They are very social and active fish that are mostly peaceful under the right circumstances.
Barb Fish Tank Mates?
As long as you stick to other peaceful fish that are similar in size to your barbs, and that are not aggressive you can keep them as companions for your barbs. Though I must warn that some Barb species, especially smaller breeds, tend to nip at the fins of slow-moving fish with long-flowing fins.