Cherry Barbs – Peaceful Community Fish

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Seriously consider the Cherry Barb if you have a slightly larger tank and are looking for a hardy community fish.

These fish are suitable for beginners and experienced fish keepers alike.

Typically Barbs are known to be nippy and semi-aggressive, but not the Cherry Barb.

They are the exception to the rule.

This delightful fish has been an occupant of my tanks quite a few times over the years.

The Cherry Barb fits perfectly into planted tanks as they love to hide in between the plants at the first sign of perceived danger.

The striking red color is stunning against the green of the plants.

In this article, we’ll talk about caring for Cherry Barbs and just about everything else you need to know about this highly popular species of fish.

Overview

Scientifically called Puntius Titteya, the Cherry Barb is part of the Cyprinidae family of fish.

Also part of this family are Minnows, Celestial Pearl Danio, and Carps.

It is the largest family of fish, consisting of well over 2000 species across the world.

Even though the Cyprinidae family of fish appears to be thriving, the Cherry Barb is at risk, mainly because of rising poaching numbers and loss of habitat.

The only thing that’s keeping their numbers stable is their popularity as pets.

People enjoy keeping Cherry Barbs and that’s why businesses in the aquarium trade ensure that there is enough supply by not over harvesting them.

Cherry Barbs are peaceful fish and thrive in community tanks housing similar natured fish.

Their life expectancy is around six years on average and they consume most types of food.

Some foods will bring out more of their color, something we’ll talk more about a little later.

Appearance

Cherry Barbs do not look similar to other aquarium fish so they are easy to recognize.

The body is elongated with short triangular fins.

The caudal fin has a fork in the middle.

They have a darker mid-lateral line that runs the length of their body from nose to tail.

They reach about 2 inches in length.

Females differ in color from the males and are noticeably bigger and more rounded in the stomach area.

Their color is just as stunning though with hues of red, white and warm yellow.

Males are cherry red in color, hence the name.

They are more slender than the females and are a bit smaller.

Their color becomes an even darker cherry color when they are in breeding condition.

Female Cherry Barb
Female Cherry Barb
Male Cherry Barb

There is also an Albino Cherry Barb that is cream to pink in color and has pink eyes.

It is just as peaceful as the normal Cherry Barb.

What Food Do Cherry Barbs Eat?

Being an omnivore, the Cherry Barb does well with a varied diet of both plant and animal-based foods and will eat anything.

You can feed them plant matter (algae pellets or wafers), worms (bloodworms, cut-up earthworms, and Tubifex worms), flake food, frozen food and live food like freshly hatched brine shrimp.

Feed them small amounts two or three times a day to keep their color bright and consistent.

Natural habitat

Cherry Barbs are a species that is native to Sri Lanka but now also call many parts of Colombia and Mexico home.

They tend to thrive in rainy locations; tropical climates are the best for them, where temperature changes aren’t as drastic.

It isn’t uncommon to find these fish on the rain forest floor, and because light does not penetrate through the thick canopy, these fish don’t need as much light as other fish in your aquarium.

They prefer slow moving water that is well shaded with overhanging trees and vegetation where they live in large schools due to their shy nature and to avoid predators.

The substrate of these streams mainly consists of silt and decomposing leaves and vegetation making the water more acidic than alkaline.

Cherry Barb Tank Mates

Cherry Barb Tank Requirements

Cherry Barbs are a relatively small fish but they are very active and need to be a school of at least 6 individuals.

They prefer a longer than a taller tank so that they have more open areas and can swim the length of the tank.

The tank needs to be well planted with additional floating plants to dim the light coming into the tank.

Plants like Anacharis, Java Fern, and Hornworth are good choices.

A darker substrate will really make these fish stand out.

You can use either gravel or sand and adding some almond leaves will help mimic their natural habitat.

Create more hiding spots by adding some drift wood or rocks so that the females can hide when the males are in breeding mode and harass them.

Even though they come from streams with little flow, I did find that they do better and are happier when there is some flow in the aquarium. 

If the tank is large then either use 2 filters or add a powerhead to create enough current.

The minimum tank size should be around 25 gallons to house a school of these fish.

If you can go larger then do so.

Water Parameters

Cherry Barbs are hardy fish that can tolerate some fluctuation in their water conditions.

However, you will want to keep conditions as stable as possible within the parameters below:

  • Temperature – 73°F-81°F
  • pH – 6-7.5
  • Hardness – 4-15
  • Water flow – Moderate

What Size Aquarium Do Cherry Barbs Need?

Cherry Barbs are not normally kept in a species only tank as they are fantastic community fish.

They also need to be kept in school of a minimum of 6 but ideally more is better.

The ratio of males to females should be 1 male for every 2 females.

For these reasons I recommend a tank of 25 gallons or larger.

This will give you room to house a school of Cherry Barbs as well as an assortment of other fish.

Cherry Barb Breeding

Cherry Barbs are relatively easy to breed and can lay between 200 to 300 eggs in a single spawning session. 

They are an egg-scatterer so they lay their eggs over plants and even on top of the substrate.

They do not care for their young.

You can tell when they are about to breed because the male becomes an even brighter red color and the female becomes even more rounder.

It is best then to move the spawning pair into a separate heavily planted tank.

The breeding tank must have the same water as the main tank and be dimly lit.

It must also not have any substrate and have a low flow of water.

Line the bottom of the tank with egg crate or spawning mesh so that the eggs cannot be eaten by the parents. 

The PH  should be gradually lowered over the course of a few days and the temperature gradually increased over the same time frame.

This will cause the fish to spawn.

The female will lay the eggs and the male will go afterwards and fertilize them.

Once they are done with this then return the adult fish back to the main tank.

The males will be more aggressive during this time so be on the lookout for any bullying towards the female.

You might have to separate the female to give her a chance to recover.

The eggs will hatch in 48 hours and become free swimming within a day.

The newly free swimming fry will need to be fed newly hatched baby brine shrimp as well as micro worms until they are big enough to accept larger foods.

Cherry Barb Tank

Cherry Barbs Tank Mates

Cherry Barbs are generally peaceful so they can be put with any fish that has the same temperament.

Celestial Pearl Danios, Tetras, Rasboras, Corydoras, Swordtails, Gouramis and Glass Catfish make perfect tank mates.

You can also add invertebrates like Cherry Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp and Mystery Snails to the tank. 

Are Cherry Barbs Nippers?

I have never had a problem with them nipping any fins when I had them in my tanks.

I have heard of other people having problems but it was because their tanks were overstocked and their was not enough room for all the fish.

It would also be advisable to rearrange the tank decorations and plants just before adding the Cherry Barbs so that all the tank inhabitants will need to re-establish any previous territories.

Is The Cherry Barb Right For You?

What is not to love about this fish?

It is a very popular freshwater aquarium fish due to it’s peaceful nature. Combine that with it’s brilliant red colors and you cannot go wrong.

They really pop in a well planted tank and are hardy and easy to keep making them an excellent choice for all levels of fish keepers.

They are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and do not require a lot of care.

Add to that the bonus of being able house them with a variety of different fish and invertebrates makes the decision an easy one.

FAQ

How many Cherry Barbs should be kept together?

The Cherry Barb is a schooling fish so I suggest keeping at least 5 or more at a time. The ratio of male to female should be 1 male to 2 females.

Do Cherry Barbs and Guppies get along?

I would be hesitant to put fancy guppies or any guppies with big tails in a tank with Cherry Barbs. Even though they are the most peaceful of all the barbs, the temptation might just be too much for them to handle.

Can Cherry Barbs live with shrimp?

They should be okay with adult shrimp but they will definitely eat any baby shrimp that they find.

Where do Cherry Barbs swim?

Cherry Barbs swim in all areas of the tank and need plenty of open area to swim in as well. They love swimming in the planted areas the most.

Can Cherry Barbs live with angelfish?

As long as you have a large enough school of Cherry Barbs then they should not be a problem with Angelfish.

Check out all these different types of freshwater fish.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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