Cherry Barb Care and Breeding Guide

Cherry Barb is one of the most popular barb fish species that is well adapted to live in freshwater. It is a good choice for beginning aquarists because it is so easy to care for and will also tolerate a wide range of water conditions. It is a peaceful fish thus making it well suited for the community tanks as this makes it cope well with other types of fish within the same tank. Cherry Barb is actually small in size and will only grow to a maximum size of 1.5 to 2 inches long. It is best to keep the fish in schools of at least 6 or more in the same tank.

The fish is known to be somewhat choosy when it comes to the food that it eats especially when it is still being acclimated to the tank. The good news however is that after some time you will soon see the fish getting used to the fish foods that you will be proving them. Even though the fish are highly tolerant to a diverse range of changing water parameters proper care should be administered to them just as you would do with other delicate fish species.

Habitat in the wild

It is a freshwater fish that is native to the Asian island nation of Sri Lanka particularly the south west areas of Kelani and Nilwala river valleys. The fish typically inhabit ponds characterized by shadowed surroundings. In the streams and small rivers, the fish prefer to inhabit the muddy bottom sections. The prefer dwelling in the muddy bottom because there, they easily feed on the many plant matter growing there. In the wild areas where these fish inhabit, the sun’s rays rarely reach the bottom of the river. The temperatures in the rivers or ponds usually vary between 23°C and 27°C.

In ponds that the fish inhabits, the bottom part is usually sandy and there are lots of plant leaves as well as sunken tree branches. Due to the dwindling numbers of the fish in the wild, the Sri Lankan government enforces a law prohibiting the export of the fish out of the country but illegal harvesting still occurs. Interestingly, even though in the wild the fish is almost going extinct, those being reared by hobbyist are still flourishing. Because many people prefer the brightly colored cherry barb, they are one of the most captured in the wild thus their numbers have greatly dwindled to alarming low levels.

Appearance of the Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb

Cherry barb is a relatively small sized fish that may grow to its maximum extent of just 2 inches long in length. The body is elongated with a curved like backside and its lateral line appears somewhat incomplete. It features a pair of barbs with a mouth that looks inferior. There are striking differences of the males and the females of the fish. The males have backs that are brown to green with either a reddish bottom part of the body. The lateral line in the males appears brown-red. The female of the fish have an abdomen that is whitish with a yellow-grey back. The lateral line of the female barb is also just the same as that of the male which is brown-red. The fins of both the male and female show characteristic yellowish – red color.

Care and tank requirements

It is one of the most easy to care for fish in the aquarium hobby thanks to its high level of tolerance of varying water parameters. It is a small sized fish that is best reared in groups or schools of at least six fish per tank. Because in the wild, the fish likes to live in groupings, it is best to replicate this in the tank to reduce the possibility of stress. To get the best tips for care and tank requirements for the fish please read below:

The recommended tank capacity for keeping 6-10 barbs should be between 50 to 100 liters roughly 13-25 gallons of water. The tank should be heavily planted to provide enough hiding places for the fish because they can be very timid sometimes. Also ensure that there is enough free space in the tank for the fish to roam about.

Ensure that the water in the tank is perfectly filtered with a solid aquarium filter and the water motion or circulation there should be slow. You can house it together with only other peaceful fish. You could use aquarium sand as the substrate in your tank as this will replicate its wild habitat.

  • The ideal tank temperature should be 73°C to 81°C
  • The water pH should be between 6 and 8


It is an omnivorous fish that is it eats plant matter as well as meat. It is easy to feed because it eats a wide variety of food. Due to its rather small size it finds it hard to swallow big chunks of foods and therefore you may need to crush grains or meat before giving it to eat.

Among some foods that you offer the fish includes:

  • Frozen brine shrimp
  • Spirulina
  • Frozen dried blood worms
  • Micro wafers for fish
  • Fish flakes

The difference in the sexes

When the fish is still young it is difficult to differentiate the male from the female. When the fish grow and develop reaching maturity, the differences suddenly become apparent. You will the female fish having a larger body with an abdomen that is rounded. The male of the fish is usually slim and usually more colored than the female.


Breeding Cherry barb requires some levels of expertise as the tank requirements for conditioning spawning is usually special. The spawning tank should have water capacity of 20-25 cm. The temperature range for the spawning tank should be set to 26 – 28°C. When it is time for spawning it is best to place the males and females at a ratio of 2:1. Basically after spawning has successfully been achieved, the eggs should not be exposed to bright light. The males and the females also need to be removed from the tank. Effectively after fertilization of the female eggs, it will take 2-3 days for them to hatch into juvenile barbs.

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