Cherry Barb Fish Care Guide, Tank Setup and Mates – 2020


The Cherry barb is a small, brightly colored tropical fish that can be a perfect addition to your aquarium. The freshwater fish is popular among aquarists all over the world. Native to Sri Lanka, the fish can now also be found in Colombia and Mexico in large numbers. The fish is named due to its vivid red cherry color body.


Cherry barbs look striking in an aquarium. Their population may be declining in the wild, but their numbers are thriving in aquariums globally. Here you will learn in detail about the Cherry barb fish, including its behavior, size, tank mates, care tips, and more.


Category Rating
Level of Care Simple
Temperament Nonviolent
Appearance Brightly colored fish
Life Expectancy Up to 6 years
Size About 2 inches
Diet Plants and small fishes
Family Cyprinidae
Tank Size 25 Gallons
Water Conditions 720F to 780F (220C to 250C); pH 6-7
Tank Environment Plants
Tank Mates Nonviolent fishes


Cherry Barb Overview


Cherry Barb belongs to the Cyprinidae family with the scientific name Puntius titteya. The Cyprinidae family is one of the largest fish species in the world that also include goldfish, minnows, bitterlings, and carps.


The fishes mostly live in slow-moving streams and rivers.  It can live for up to 6 years with proper care and feeding.


Cherry Barb Appearance


cherry barb


Cherry barb is a slender fish with a bright and warm orangish-red color. The fish also has a dark brown color along the lateral line.


The males have a fiery reddish color while the females are paler. Some of them have a spotty strip of dark color that runs along the spine.


An albino variant is bred using selective breeding. These are similar to regular barbs and thrive in similar conditions.


Cherry barbs have a pair of barbs near the mouth. The body of males tends to be slightly slimmer as compared to females. Females also have a slightly more rounded stomach than males. The back of the fish is markedly curved due to which they appear to have a torpedo-shaped body.


Cherry Barb Behavior


The behavior of cherry barbs is a blessing for aquarium owners since they are nonviolent against other fish species.


You can keep your cherry barb in the aquarium with other nonviolent fishes. They don’t present a danger to other peaceful fishes. The fish species love to move about in groups. But the albino variant tends to shun groups and prefer to roam around without company.


Most cherry barb fishes are timid. They tend to hide behind plants when not in a group. It is better to buy multiple cherry barbs so that they don’t spend most of the time hiding behind plants.


Male barbs tend to harass females during the spawning season. Female barbs can get stressed if they are constantly chased around by one or more males. To avoid this behavior, you should consider buying barbs with a ratio of one male for every 2 females.


For instance, if you want to buy six barbs, consider having two males and four females. This will give a break to some females from being chased by males during the breeding season.


You may not notice any activity a few days after adding the fishes to the aquarium. Barbs are naturally timid fishes. Consider giving time to the fishes to get acquainted with the new surroundings. They will be more confident in well-planted aquariums. The fishes also do well in a group containing six or more barb fishes.


Cherry Barb Tank Mates


Cherry barbs are calm fishes that can live with almost at the type of fish. These fishes can be a perfect addition to the peaceful aquarium communities.


The best tank mates for cherry barbs include other nonviolent small fishes. The fishes will live harmoniously with other nonviolent fishes including Glass catfish, celestial pearl danios, tetras, and rainbow sharks. The peaceful behavior of the fishes extends to non-fishes including shrimp and snails.


Guppies and angelfish should not be kept in the same tank as cherry barbs. These fishes are aggressive and may harm your cherry barbs.


Tank Conditions for Cherry Barb


cherry barb fish


Cherry barbs swim actively so there should be a large space in the tank. The small fishes are best reared in groups of up to six per tank. This replicates the environment in the wild where the fishes lived in small groups.


The fishes are easy to care as they are adaptable to different water conditions. The recommended water in the tank should be about 25 gallons or 100 liters. Water should be filtered using an aquarium filter and the motion of the water should be slow and circular.  Water hardiness should be between 5 and 19 dH.


Cherry barbs can thrive in a wide variety of tank conditions. The fishes are great for beginners since they don’t have to ensure a strict water parameter for the fishes. They are also great for aquarists who don’t want any hassles in looking after the fishes.


Water parameters should be checked using a quality water test kit. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the tank conditions remain best for the fishes.


Cherry Barb Tank Setup


Cherry barb aquarium fish setup is not difficult. The fishes, as mentioned previously, are confident where there are plants. So, you should consider adding lots of plants in the fish tank. The tank needs to be heavily planted to ensure that they have adequate hiding places.


You can add any type of plant. Examples of plants you can add include Hornwort, Anacharis, and Java Fern. Consider adding substrate sand to the aquarium as it will replicate the conditions of the wild habitat. The fishes live in water where the substrates are silty and dark. You should consider mimicking the condition in the aquarium.


Dark sand will be the best choice for cherry barbs. The fishes are used to seeing dark sands that will make them feel at home in the aquarium. What’s more, the bright red color of the fish will pose a striking contrast with the brightly colored fish.


The aquarium needs to be cleaned regularly. Decomposing organic water and the build-up of phosphate can increase water hardiness over time. You need to clear the tank water every month.


The soil of the tank should be cleaned thoroughly and a quarter of a volume of water should be replaced. If the aquarium contains a lot of fishes, you may need to clean the aquarium every other week.


To decorate the aquarium, you can add caves, driftwood, and rocks. These are optional accessories that should only be placed if you have a large aquarium. You should never compromise with the ability of the fishes to roam freely inside the aquarium. As mentioned previously, the fishes are very active and need lots of space to move freely from one place to another.


Do Cherry Barbs Require Lighting?


An important thing you should consider is the placement of the tank. The fishes are agitated by a bright light that gives them stress. Consider placing a tank in the shaded area away from sunlight. You should also dim the light in the area where the tank is placed.


Cherry Barb Fish Food: What do Cherry Barbs Eat?


cherry barb fish food


Cherry barbs eat a wide variety of items. The fishes are omnivores that eat algae, worms, diatoms, tiny insects, and other zooplankton in the wild. They eat about anything that they see floating in the water.


You should feed cherry barbs a more straight forward diet in your aquarium. Consider buying flake foods that will provide most of the nutrients they require to thrive. Also, you should feed them protein-rich food occasionally like bloodworms, daphnia, and shrimps. Adding these will add a bit of variety in the diet of the fishes.


Cherry barbs can also eat meat and grains. But since the fishes are small, they can’t swallow large chunks of foods. You have to crush grains or meat before feeding them.


Avoid overfeeding the fishes as it can result in health problems. Keep a note of how much your food you give each time. Consider feeding them two to three times a day. If the fishes don’t gulp everything within a few minutes, you should give them less to avoid overfeeding.


Cherry Barb Fish Breeding Guidelines


Breeding cherry barbs is easy. A female will lay up to 300 eggs that will be scattered on the soil and the plants.


Male and female cherry barbs should be fed live food for at least a week in different aquariums. Males will acquire a vivid red color while the females will become fat at the end of the feeding period.


Female fishes will spawn eggs on the ground. Make sure there are plants in the tank; otherwise, the fish will think that it is not a good place to lay eggs.


Once the females lay the eggs, you need to put them in another aquarium and place the male barbs in the aquarium with the eggs. Once the males have fertilized the eggs, they should be kept in another location since they are known to eat the eggs.


Water with the eggs should be slightly more warm and acidic. Moreover, the lighting should be dim, and the water movement low. The eggs will hatch a few days after fertilization and will move around the tank.


You should feed them with tiny food items like micro warms and vinegar eels until they grow up. Baby cherry barbs will grow to adult size after about 2 months.


Related Questions about Cherry Barbs


What Diseases Can Affect Cherry Barbs?


Cherry barbs don’t get most of the diseases that are common in other freshwater fishes. But they can still get sick due to different diseases. You should take good care of them by feeding properly to avoid diseases. Here are some of the diseases cherry barb fishes may develop due to unhygienic conditions.


1. Freshwater Ich


Freshwater ich is a common disease that affects different fish species.  Cherry barbs can also be affected by the disease that is caused by a parasite that attaches to the fins, gills, and body of the fish. An affected fish may display specific behavioral problems like becoming more withdrawn and preferring to fish alone instead of in a group.


A fish with freshwater ich may also breathe rapidly. Loss of appetite is also a symptom of the disease. White spots on the fins and skins indicate that the fish is affected by the parasite itch.


Various chemicals such as methylene blue, copper sulfate, and maracide are found to have been effective against the disease. Aquarium salt is also effective in the treatment of the disease. You may have to move the affected fish in the quarantine to avoid infection of healthy fishes.  


The ich normally lasts for up to three weeks at a cold temperature between 480F to 500F (90C to 100C). The lifecycle is reduced to six days at the temperature of 250C (750F). Heating the water to about 280C (820F) can cut down the lifecycle to half of the fish can tolerate the temperature.


2. Gold-Dust Disease


Another disease that can affect the cherry barb is gold-dust. The disease is caused by a parasite called oodiniumpilularis that attaches to the gills and fins of the fishes similar to the freshwater ich parasite. The symptoms of the disease are also similar including loss of appetite and labored breathing. You can detect the disease if you notice velvet colored layer on the fish’s skin.


Treatment of the disease is similar to treating freshwater ich. Copper sulfate and aquarium salt can be added to the aquarium while keeping the temperature to 280C (820F) to kill the parasite.


3. Fin Rot


Fin rot may is a bacterial disease that can also infect cherry barb. The infection is normally caused due to poor quality water. An infected fish may infect other fishes as well.


Cherry barb afflicted with fin rot will lose the striking color, particularly around the fins. It may also have the fins ripped due to the disease. The fish may also display other behaviors such as lost appetite and lethargy.


Aquarium salt is effective in killing the bacteria that causes the disease. Moreover, antibiotics have also been found to be effective against the disease.


4. Dropsy


Dropsy is a common condition in cherry barb where the stomach of the fish becomes bloated. It is a condition rather than a disease that may be caused due to liver dysfunction, parasitic infections, and bacterial infections.


To treat the affected fish, you will have to quarantine the affected fish. Add a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water. If the condition does not improve you should consider antibiotics. Feeding the fish appropriately with fresh, quality food is also recommended to treat the condition.


How Big Do Cherry Barbs Get?


Cherry barbs are relatively small fishes. The fishes can grow up to 2-inches. Baby barbs grow into adult size when they are two months old.


Are Cherry Barbs Aggressive?


Cherry barbs are nonviolent fishes that do not harass or attack other fishes. Both males and females are peaceful fishes. But the males can become aggressive during the breeding season. You should keep them in a separate aquarium during the spawning period.


Are Cherry Barbs Cold Water Fishes?


Cherry barbs should not be kept in cold water. Coldwater promotes diseases in fishes. You should ensure that the water should always keep at the recommended temperature. You can measure the temperature of the water by using a temperature probe daily. Use the aquarium heater if the water temperature is too low.


How to Prevent Diseases in Cherry Barbs?


Precaution is the best way to reduce the risk of diseases. Fish may not show symptoms of a disease in a pet shop. You will have to quarantine a newly purchased cherry barb for 10 days in a separate tank before transferring it to the aquarium. If the fish shows any sign of an infection, you should treat it before adding it to the aquarium.


You should also avoid adding decoration pieces, such as stones and rocks collected from streams and rivers. These may harbor parasites that may be introduced to the aquarium. Consider buying decorations from pet shops to avoid diseases.


Early detection is important to reduce the risk of disease. You should inspect the fishes daily and look for any behavioral changes. If a fish display unusual behavior, you will have to quarantine the fish immediately and treat the infected fish.


Where to Buy Cherry Barbs?


cherry barb fish purchase


You can find cherry barb for sale online or on a local pet store. Most online pet stores sell the fishes at low prices. The pet stores will also have a variety of plants and decoration items that you can buy to place inside the aquarium.


Are Cherry Barbs Ideal for Your Aquarium?


Cherry barbs are great for an aquarium as they are easy to care and maintain. Their striking red color will greatly enhance the appearance of the aquarium. They swim peacefully without disturbing other fishes.


Whether you are a beginner or an expert aquarist, you will find it easy to maintain cherry barb fish. You should understand that they are shy little creatures.


Always keep five to six fishes in the aquarium as they love to swim in groups. Carry barb fish care is easier as compared to most other fish species that make them perfect for beginners. 


Click here to know 30 most popular Fish for your Aquarium

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