Cherry Barb Guide – Types, Lifespan, Feeding, Tank mates

Fish are the kind of pets that are deeply misunderstood. Most fish owners do not know the basic caring techniques needed to take care of their aquatic friends. Also, there isn’t much on the internet to guide potential fish owners.

In this article, I have explained in great detail everything that a Cherry Barb owner needs to know about his or her rouge little friends. I have also added some Amazon products that might help you in taking better care of your little creatures with fins.

The Cherry Barb Guide (Video)

Chapter1: Introduction to Cherry Barbs

The Cherry Barbs, also known as Puntius titteya, are pretty little creatures that are one of the most popular kinds of barb fish. Just like its name, the Cherry Barbs can develop a cherry deep red color which becomes more vivid during the spawning season, especially among the Cherry Barb males.

Cherry Barbs in the wild have much more intense colors as compared to their captivity bred counterparts. The fish is also popular as the Red Cherry Barb and there is also an albino kind known as Albino Cherry Barb which is mostly bred in captivity.

Cherry Barbs are considered as:

Great beginner fish as they are very hardy and they seldom get sick.

They are generally undemanding and peaceful plus they are very easy to breed. Cherry Barbs are an amazing addition to any tank provided that they are given the best water conditions possible.

These kind of barbs are a little shy and other species of fish sometimes make them nervous. They do great when kept in schools. If you kee

p a Cherry Barb alone, it will not develop its beautiful unique color. If you want the Cherry Barb to be the best and brightest red, then mix them in a group of females and males in a tank that is heavily planted.

The best tank mates for the Cherry Barbs are a school of their own kind and a small selection of other little fish. You should add a substrate to a large tank where the fish can easily swim around. Also, add lots of hiding places. Cherry Barbs tend to stay at the bottom of the tank and can be found in shaded areas.

Add lots of dense vegetation and floating plants to provide the little color-rich fish with the cover they need.


These fish were described by Deraniyagala in the year 1929. They can be found in the Kelani to Nilwala basins in Sri Lanka. A small feral population of Cherry Barbs has also been discovered in Mexico and Colombia. Those are called the Red Cherry Barb.

This species of fish can be found in streams and rivers that are heavily shaded on the plains of Sri Lanka. They live in areas that have shallow, slow-moving water with plenty of leaf litter and branches with a bottom of silt.

In the wild the Cherry Barbs are omnivorous and they feed on invertebrates, algae, diatoms, and detritus.


The Cherry Barb has:

  • A forked tail
  • Torpedo shaped body and
  • One dorsal fin

The Cherry Barb grows to about 2 inches in length and has an average lifespan of about 4 years. Under proper care and optimum conditions, they can live up to almost 5 to 7 years.

The Cherry Barbs have a unique silvery body with a rich, reddish-brown tint. The fish can sometimes develop a deep red and some have even shown shades of maroon.

The male Cherry Barbs have a much brighter color as compared to the female Cherry Barbs. During the spawning stage, the color of the male Cherry Barb intensifies.

A horizontal black strip can be witnessed in the body of this fish that runs from the mouth to the tail with a lightly metallic stripe just above it.

Fish keeping difficulty

Cherry Barbs are thought to be very hardy fish. They can survive in a wide range of conditions and they get along with most fish. The water conditions that require are fairly easy to keep with regular partial changes. These little fish are gems to any aquatic enthusiast tank collection

Aquarists Experience level:


Chapter 2: Kinds of Barbs

Cherry Barbs belong to a large family of different kinds of Barbs. In other words, Cherry Barbs are a species of barbs.

This is why Cherry Barbs do not have further types. However, there are numerous types of barb fish found in the wild.

Here are a few examples.

Checkerboard Barb

This species of Barb grows up to 1 and a half inches in length and is an amazing addition to tanks that can hold about 15 gallons of water or more. These fish should always be kept in a group of four or more.

The edges of the scales of Checker Board Barbs is black in color which gives them a checkerboard appearance.

The color of their bodies varies from:

Chestnut brown to brassy silver on the males while the females are much more silvery.

The male Checker Boards also have colorfully bright unpaired fins which are generally red to orange and have black edges.

These fish do not stay in schools for long. They break off from the school and then go swim individually. Soon, they return back to the school and the process starts again.

These fish spawn quickly in a tank full of plants and scatter their eggs among the leaves.

Golden Barb

These are bright golden yellow colored fish that have black markings on their bodies. Sometimes those markings are deep green in color. They also have bright red fins. The body of the females is much more slender than the males while the males are more brightly colored.

The Gold Barbs grow:

Up to be 3 inches long.

The Golden Barbs can be easily kept in a 15-gallon tank or more. They should be kept with a minimum of four mates.

Gelius Barb

These fish are known as Dwarf Golden Barb and are the smallest species of Barb fish.

They grow up to:

About 1 inch in length.

These fish can be kept in a fish tank that can hold at the very least 10 gallons or more. These fish should be kept in groups of 5 or more. Males are much more colorful than the females Gelius Barbs. They have a beautiful golden yellow color with black markings much similar to the Golden Barbs.

Tiger Barb

These are one of the most popular species among aquatic enthusiasts but are greatly misunderstood creatures.

Tiger Barbs are kept:

In schools of at the very least 10 fish.

They can become particularly nippy if they are kept in pairs or alone. In a group of more fish, they are less likely to bother other species. Most new fish owners make the mistake of buying one or two Tiger Barbs only to witness them terrorizing other smaller fish such as neon tetras.

They should be kept in a fish tank that holds at the very least 30 gallons of water as the Tiger Barbs grow up to be 3 inches long on average. The captive-bred Tiger Barb have much more red in their fins as compared to their wild counterparts.

Denison Barb

The scientific name of this kind of fish is Pinitus Denisonii and the Denison Barb is also known as Torpedo Barb, Red Line Barb, Bleeding Eye Barb, Red Lined Torpedo Fish, and Red Comet Barb.

This fish can grow up to be 6 inches in length and can live for about 5 years on average.

The water conditions required by Denison Barbs include:

  • pH in between 6.8 to 7.8
  • Temperature around 60 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Hardness 5 t0 25 dGH

These are large and schooling fish and should only be kept in fish tanks suitable for larger fish. They are peaceful with tank mates of their own size.

Rosy Barbs

These are actually one of the most popular Barbs. They are just as hardy as Cherry Barbs and can adapt to different water conditions thus they are very popular as first time fish. They are known for nipping fins of other fish so never keep them with slow moving fish.

They have a life span of about 5 years and can grow up to be 6 inches long on average. They should be kept in a tank that can hold at the very least 60 gallons and the pH of the water in the fish tank should be 6.5. They are much more commonly known as Red Barbs due to their beautiful Red color.

Chapter 3: Feeding Cherry Barbs

Food is an integral part of all forms of life. Here is a detailed note on the feeding requirements and habits of Cherry Barbs.


Cherry Barbs are not very fussy when it comes to food. The only thing that you need to be aware of is the fact that Cherry Barbs are small fish and it is hard for them to swallow large-grained food.

Cherry Barbs are:

Omnivorous hence they eat all different kinds of flake foods, fresh and live foods.

In order to keep Cherry Barbs healthy and to provide them with a balanced diet, it is best to feed them good quality flake food every single day.

Feed the little fish blood worms as well as brine shrimps either live or frozen as treats. They should be fed at the very least once a day but multiple feedings throughout the day are ideal.

The general rule is to offer the fish enough food that they can devour in under three minutes or less at each feeding. When giving them food just once a day, provide them with food that they can easily eat under 5 minutes.

Cherry Barbs also love the occasional vegetable in their food routine, they will hungrily devour shelled peas, cucumber medallions, and seedless zucchini etc. The only thing to remember is to remove the vegetables after 24 hours in the water so that the water does not become foul.

The Cherry Barbs also sometimes pick at the algae in the tank but that is a very small fraction of their diet so that algae should not be relied on as the main course.

TetraMin Nutritionally Balanced Tropical Flake Food for Tropical Fish

This is one of the best foods available in the market for fish today. It is packed with highly digestible nutrients and they are nutritionally balanced to provide the fish with optimal health.

The fish food product also contains:

Antioxidants that help the cells to get healthier and stronger.

The product also contains a clear water formula which ensures that the food does not cloud the water. The recommended amount of feedings per day is 2 to 3. Only the amount of food that the fish can devour under three minutes should be provided to the Cherry Barb.

Hikari Tropical Micro Pellets

This fish food product is amazing for Cherry Barbs as it is developed especially for small fish. It has micro grains that the fish can easily swallow without much fuss. The grains are also multi-colored and provide the fish with all the nutrients that it needs to stay strong and healthy.

In can be purchased either individually or in a pack of two or three packets.

San Francisco Bay Brand: Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp for Fresh and Salt Water Fish.

This product is designed for both freshwater as well as saltwater fish. It is actually an amazing source of nutrition for all kinds of tropical fish. The shrimp is great and highly nutritious for the fussy eaters. It can be used as the main diet or supplement and even as a treat.

It provides the fish with high energy and vigor. The shrimp is known to contain diatoms and algae which makes it rich in fatty acids and protein lipids which the fish requires for all kinds of biological processes.

The product enhances the color of the fish and stimulates excellent growth. It is recommended to feed your fish this product about two times a day but only enough so that the fish can consume it in under 3 minutes.

Hikari Bio Pure Freeze Dried Blood Worms for pets

This product is amazing as it does not cloud the water. The packaging of the product is also amazing as it has Ratcheting disperser Top that makes it easy to pour the food. The food is also rich in multivitamins that are known to reduce stress as well as stress-related diseases.

The product is free of any harmful bacteria and parasites. You can feed this food to freshwater fish such as Cichlids, Cherry Barbs, Discus, and Goldfish etc.

Chapter 4: Tank mates and requirements

Here are the details on the tank mates and requirements of Cherry Barbs.

Aquarium Care

Cherry Barbs are very easy to care of provided that their aquarium is kept squeaky clean. Regardless of the size of the aquariums, all of them need some kind of maintenance. The fact that aquariums are closed can make them dirty very quickly.

Over time the decomposing organic matter:

Phosphates and the nitrates accumulate in the tank and the water hardness increases as a result of evaporation.

The tank water should be replaced at least 25 to 50 percent every month. If the density of the tank is stocked then about 10 to 25 percent water changes should be done weekly or biweekly.

Tank set up

Cherry Barbs actually swim all over the tank but they spend most of their time in areas that are covered with plants due to their shy nature. Cherry Barbs are quite active and they need a lot of space in the tank to swim and stretch their fins.

A small school of Cherry Barbs

Will need at least 15 gallons of water in a fish tank.

They also need great filtration and regular water changes. Cherry Barbs thrive in the tanks that mimic their loving conditions in the wild. They will appreciate an aquarium that will be filled with floating plants and lots of dense vegetation.

Also they should be provided with a dark substrate and a wide area in the center for swimming that is also open.

When choosing a filter for these fish that it is better to choose one that has an adjustable flow or a low flow rate. The best choice is a filter that can be hung on the back of the fish tank and the one that allows you to regulate the flow of the water or a large sponge filter.

If money is not an issue then the canister filter works extremely well with Cherry Barbs but it is a little bit of an overkill.

For the development of the male Cherry Barb coloration an efficient filter as well as good water-movement is needed. Ever fish owner should try hitting the tank with sunlight for about 2 to 3 hours a day in order to properly inspect the tank. This illumination will make the fish look even more stunning.

Aquaclear Power Filter

This is the best filter that you can get for your Cherry Barbs. This filter has a durable design with excellent filtration that keeps the tank water sparkling clear for years on end.

The filter comes equipped with Activated Carbon, AquaClear Foam as well as a Cycle Guard for continuous superior water quality and biological filtration. The filter also has a highly customizable internal layout.

Water Requirements

Optimum water conditions for Cherry Barbs are:

  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Temperature: 73 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hardness Range: 2 – 18 dGH
  • A range of pH: 6.5-7.0
  • Brackish: No
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Breeding Temperature: 74 degrees and 79 degrees Fahrenheit.

Best Heaters for Cherry Barbs

Here are 2 of the best heaters for tanks containing Cherry Barbs.

JBJ True Titanium Heating System

This amazing heater consists of a True Temp digital controller, titanium heating element as a remote temperature sensing probe

It also has push button controls and an LED display. There is another LED that shows when the heating element is working. The controller has an internal memory that saves the settings of the temperature even when there is a power failure. The best thing about this product is that the controller can be used for different wattage elements. It also comes with an in-tank mounting hardware.

EHEIM Jager Aquarium Thermostat Heater

This tank heating product is available in different watts from 50 watts all the way up to 300 watts. The 300 watts can handle as much as 200 gallons of water although the preferred ratio is 5 watts per gallon of water.

The heater can heat the water up to 78 degrees Fahrenheit in small tanks that are not bigger than 7 gallons. It also comes with a three-year warranty but the setup requires a little bit of calibration.

The best thing about the heater is that it automatically turns itself off when the water level goes low. You can also see the indicator light when the product is working.

How many Cherry Barbs can be kept per gallon?

You should keep about one Cherry Barb:

Per 5 gallons of water.

Space is very vital for the health of these fish. Keeping 6 to 7 Cherry Barbs in a tank that can carry 30 gallons of water is perfect. It allows the school the space it needs to swim easily as well as hide.

What Size Aquarium do Cherry Barbs Need?

A 30 to 35-gallon fish tank is ideal for keeping Cherry Barbs. The reason for such a huge size comes down to the fact that females need places to hide during the spawning stage.

They will have much extra room in order to swim and the plants will provide them with the hiding places they require. Cherry Barbs prosper in larger tanks as well so you can easily place them in a community tank without any worries.

Social Behaviors

Cherry Barbs are very active fish, lively and beautiful to watch. They are great for community tanks but due to their shy nature, they should only be kept with smaller fish. They are much more social and confident in fish tanks that are filled with plants.

Cherry Barbs do great:

In groups of 6 or more with an excellent mix of males and females to keep their colors strong.

The male to female Cherry Barb ratio should be 1:2. During the spawning stage, the males tend to chase the female fish around and stress them out so it is better to have more females as compared to the male Cherry Barbs.

They are peaceful fish and a little shy until and unless they are kept in a tank full of vegetation. Fish that are aggressive or semi-aggressive are threats to Cherry Barbs.


Cherry Barbs are very peaceful fish and they should be kept with fish that share the same trait. This means that they do great with fish like Glass Catfish, Celestial Pearl Danios, and Tetras.

As mentioned earlier Cherry Barbs are ideal or community tanks and they should be kept with fish that are small in size. Helpless as well as small these kinds of Barbs are easy prey for any bigger and predator fish. So the best thing to do is to keep them with tetra fish.

The peaceful of the Cherry Barbs extends to shrimp and other small invertebrates. So adding Cherry Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp and Mystery snails are not a bad idea.

Some other ideal tank mates for the Cherry Barbs include:

  • Clown Loaches
  • Platies
  • Neon or cardinal tetra
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Harlequin rasbora
  • Rainbow Shark
  • Mollies
  • Gouramis

When you add Barbs to a new community tank you might witness that the Barbs hide more than they swim this is due to their shy nature. For a few days, the fish might even hide under plant overs and stay far away from the center of the fish tank.

This is actually very normal behavior when it comes to Cherry Barbs. Just watch them for a couple of days before assuming that there is a problem. Let the fish get used to their new environment.

When filling up the community tank with different kinds of fish the first thing that you should keep in mind is the temperament of the fish involved as the tamer fish will get harassed by the aggressive fish. This will result in the tamer fish hiding a lot.

This will make your Cherry Barb really stressed and you will not be able to enjoy their magnificent colors.

Tiger Barbs are species of Barbs that will do the harassing and attack the fins of other fish. While fish likes Cichlids and Oscars will be aggressive towards other fish but not eat them.

Keeping Cherry Barbs together

The most important thing you should do in order to keep your Cherry Barb happy is to keep it in groups of 6 or more. These fish are very social and they require the group to be rather active in the water body.

If you only keep a few Cherry Barbs than the fish will hide more than they will swim. Swimming in larger groups gives the Cherry Barbs the confidence as well as the feeling of security they need to forgo their hiding places. This ultimate confidence will allow you to enjoy their beautiful colors.

Just like mentioned before you should keep Cherry Barbs in a 2:1 female to male ratio:

In order to avoid aggression during the spawning phase.

Sex differences

When the Cherry Barbs are small and young it is difficult to identify the male Cherry Barbs from the female Cherry Barbs. However, when the fish become reproductive the differences between the two sexes become much more apparent.

The female Cherry Barbs have much rounder and fatter bodies as compared the lender make Cheery Barbs. Also, the makes are much brighter than their female counterparts. Males tend to also get into fights. There is not actual fighting involves just showing of colors.

Chapter 5: Breeding Cherry Barbs

Like other Barbs, Cherry Barbs are also egg scattering fish that provide their young with no parental care. The best sign for spawning is the bright colors of the male as well as their temperament. The brighter the fish the more likely it is to spawn.

The Cherry Barbs will spawn in the areas that have dense vegetation in order to deposit the eggs. The eggs constitute some adhesive material that allows them to cling to the leaves of the plants and they can be seen hanging from plants by a small thread-like material. Cherry Barbs are very easy when it comes to breeding them and raising the fry is fairly simple.

A separate breeding tank should be set up that has to be dimly lit and filled with clumps of spawning moss or Java moss.

The water should be:

  • Slightly acidic with a pH of 6 to 6.5
  • Medium Hardness of 12 degrees dGH
  • Temperature between 74 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit

During the spawning process, the male Cherry Barb will attach itself to the female Cherry Barb and then fertilize the eggs that she lays.

The female Cherry Barbs will lay 1 to 3 eggs at a time until about 200 to 300 eggs have been released. After the spawning stage ends you should place the parent Cherry Barbs into a separate tank as they might end up eating the eggs or the fry.

The males can become rather aggressive after the spawning stage while the females need to recover their strength. You might even have to separate the males from the females.

Before starting the breeding process

Before you start the breeding process you should be ready to do:

  • Three to five feedings a day
  • 50 percent water changes every day and
  • Take care of the fry once they have grown up

Getting ready

In order to get your tank ready for the breeding process you need to do the following things:

  • Cycle the sponge filter in the tank for about one month in advance
  • Fill a 10-gallon tank with water
  • Add a Sponge Filter and a heater
  • Place a plastic canvas in the middle of the tank
  • Divide the tank in two

Fish selection

Begin with choosing 2 to 4 adult fish of both the sexes. Select the fattest female Cherry Barb as well as the male Cherry Barb that has the brightest color. Add the Cherry Barbs to the tank with the males in one side and the females on the other side.

During the time the two sexes are separated, the female and the male Cheery Barbs should be conditioned to food of extremely high quality. Frozen foods can be used while the live foods are the best.

After about a week of feeding the female, Cherry Barbs will get much plumper and the color of the male Cherry Barbs will intensify and look much darker.


You will need to condition the Cherry Barbs that you want to breed. For about 2 weeks before the breeding process feed the fish daily with Frozen Bloodworms and Adult Brine Shrimp. Also, conduct 50 percent water changes.

Culturing food for the fry

Just two to three days before placing the Cherry Barbs together prepare a culture of food for the fry. Add water from the fish tank or De chlorinates Tap water into two jars. Then add a dried lettuce leaf to each jar and leave the jars close to a sunny window.

The Spawn

Late in the evening you should turn off all the lights and also remove the divider from the fish tank. Go ahead and add as much java moss as you can as the moss provides a cushion for the eggs that fall off from the leaves of plants. Also, remember to check the size of the female Cherry barb and then sleep on it.

The Next Step

After waking up the next day turn on the lights of the fish tank. Again check the size of the female to make sure that she spawned or not. If the size of the female is the same then leave the lights of the fish tank on for a couple of hours.

If the fish have not spawned again, repeat the process again.

If you wake up and notice that the female Cherry Barb has slimmed down than remove the adult Cherry Barbs from the tank.

The fry

The eggs will most probably hatch in about 24 to 48 hours. The fry that will hatch will be very small and hardly visible to the naked eye. So there is nothing to worry about even if you do not see the fry for about a week after the eggs hatch.

You should start adding your fry food after about 2 days of spawning. The jar in which you prepared the food should look cloudy by now. Use a Turkey Bastor to squirt small amounts of the fry food into the tank. When the food begins to diminish prepare another jar in advance.

In order to see the fry properly attach a black background to the tank. This will make the fry much easier to spot. The fry at that point will be mere pink lines with eyes, about 2 mm in length. You should continue conducting the daily water changes.

Bigger Fry

Once the fry have gotten a little bigger you will be able to easily tell how many fry you really have. If there are too many fry and you think you cannot handle them, then simply just feed some of the fry to the adult fish. Nothing to feel bad about.

This will decrease the competition for food and now the remaining fry will have much more space to swim around hence much more chances of survival. Soon the fry will grow enough so that they can eat baby brine shrimp. It is best to create the culture beforehand.

Hatching Brine Shrimp

Take a jar and then fill it up with de chlorinates Tap water or Aquarium water. Add aquarium salt into the water, the box will have instructions regarding how much aquarium salt you should add per liter of water.

Add the salt into the jar and stir well. After then proceed with adding Air stone attached to an air pump and the Brine Shrimp eggs. The eggs will most probably hatch in about a day and then you can feed those to your fry.

Cherry Barb diseases

Cherry Barbs are very hardy fish so they are immune to most of the diseases. However, diseases such as Fin rot and Ich are often common when the Cherry Barbs are kept in dirty or uncycled water.

Anything that is added to the fish tank can introduce diseases. Not only other fish but substrate, plants, and decorations can harbor bacteria. You need to take care and make sure that you properly clean and quarantine anything before adding in into the main fish tank in order to not upset the balance of the tank.

The best thing about this kind of fish is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can mostly be restricted to just one or a few Cherry Barbs if it is dealt with in the early stages. The most preferred way to combat diseases is to properly give the Cherry Barb with the environment it needs as well as a diet that is high in quality.

The Cherry Barbs will be less stressed if they are provided with an environment that is similar to their habitat in the wild. The more similar the two places are the less stressed the fish would be making the fish healthier and happier.

A stressed fish has a weak immune system and so it is more susceptible to diseases. Cherry Barbs have a very resilient nature but still, all the fish owners should read about the common tank diseases. Being aware of the signs and catching the disease early can save your fish’s life.

Related Questions

Where can I buy Cherry Barbs? Cherry Barbs are widely available both online and in pet stores. They are also moderately priced.

What are other common names for Cherry Barbs? Other common names for Cherry Barbs include Crimson Carplet, Red Cherry Barb etc.


Other sources

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