I had a group of cherry barbs in my aquarium and I loved the brightness they brought. However, I was quite worried to see them chasing each other. I wondered if something was amiss. If you have a group of cherry barbs in your aquarium, you are likely to encounter the same problem.
So, why do cherry barbs chase each other? There are two main reasons for this. Perhaps the fish are trying to establish dominance and mark their territory. Another reason is that the male to female ratio is not right. The male to female ratio needs to be 1:2 for cherry barbs.
Let us find more about cherry barbs so you can understand their behavior better.
Why do cherry barbs chase each other?
These brightly colored fish manage to make your aquarium look quite beautiful. Furthermore, they are quite peaceful species with schooling nature. Thus, aquarists love to make these fish a part of their aquarium.
While cherry barbs are seldom aggressive, at times, during the initial days, you will find them chasing each other. Someone who has not dealt with these fish can find it worrisome. There can be two scenarios owing to which the fish chase each other:
- Marking their territory
- Improper male to female ratio
These fish like to mark their territory. When you initially put in a group of cherry barbs in an aquarium, you will find them chasing each other from certain places. Sometimes, they also can be seen hiding behind plants and similar structures.
After a brief duration, the fish settle down after marking their area and live in peaceful companionship with ease. As long as you do not see any nipping or excessive aggressive behavior, you do not have to stress over them chasing each other.
Improper male to female ratio
Too many male cherry barbs in a single aquarium can make things difficult. The males then tend to chase females relentlessly. This puts the female fish under stress which can give rise to health conditions.
Therefore, when you are setting up an aquarium, you need to pay attention to the male and female ratio. Ideally, there should be one male cherry barb for two females. If you maintain this ratio, the fish will relax with time.
If you notice any single cherry barb observing an aggressive behavior towards others or bullying them; measures need to be taken. It would be a better idea to remove the aggressive fish from the aquarium. This is because bullying places a fish under stress which can impact their health negatively.
How do I differentiate between male and female cherry barbs?
To ensure that you maintain a proper male to female ratio, it is essential to distinguish between the two genders. An amateur might find it difficult to do so since the fish look quite alike unless you know what to look for.
Cherry barbs have a slender and elongated body. They can reach a length of up to 2 inches. A lateral stripe can be seen running on the body of these fish from head to tail.
It is seen that males are more brightly colored. They usually have more red and cherry colors on them. In contrast, females tend to be paler. Furthermore, the lateral line in females is browner as compared to males.
This feature often makes people opt for buying more male cherry barbs. However, since this leads to bullying and fighting, it is crucial for males not to outnumber females.
The female cherry barbs have a rounder stomach. In contrast, males have slimmer bodies.
Proper tank conditions for cherry barbs to thrive
If you want your cherry barbs to grow optimally, it is essential that they feel at home in the tank. Therefore, the tank needs to be well-planted. This makes the tank closer to their natural habitat. The plants also give them some place to hide.
Cherry barbs prefer to stay in shaded areas. Therefore, you need to keep the lighting of the aquarium low.
These fish are not very sensitive to water conditions. Minor fluctuations will not harm them as they are quite hardy. However, it is essential to keep the conditions stable.
The water temperature should be within the range of 73°F and 81°F. It is advisable to keep the hardness levels of water maintained between 4 and 15 DH. The pH should be around 6 to 7.5. It would be a good idea to keep the water flow moderate.
What size of tank would be suitable for cherry barbs?
Cherry barbs have a schooling nature and need to be kept in groups. Therefore, it is essential to have a tank of adequate size. It would be ideal to have a tank with a capacity of 25 to 30 gallons.
The size comes in handy when the female needs a place to hide while spawning. The extra area also gives them sufficient room to swim away. You will find it easier to fill large tanks with plants which are essential for cherry barbs. Larger the tank that you have, the better chances your fish will have for thriving.
Around five gallons of water is required per cherry barb. Therefore, it is advisable to keep around 5 to 6 cherry barbs in a 30-gallon tank.
If you do not keep cherry barbs in groups, they tend to become shy and timid. Thus, if you want confident fish with good health, keep them in a group of five to six with a proper male to female ratio of 1:2 maintained.
What should I feed cherry barbs?
When left in their wild habitat, cherry barbs eat pretty much anything that can fit their mouth. They are inclined towards an omnivorous lifestyle. Therefore, you will not find them to be very picky about food.
Mostly, they feed on small insects, worms, plant matter, algae and diatoms among other things.
Thus, when in a tank, you have the freedom to give them any fish food as diet. These small fish seem to enjoy live food the most. Therefore, you can provide them with brine shrimp, bloodworms and daphnia. Flakes with plant material are also suitable for them.
Keep in mind that you need to ensure that their diet is enriched with all the nutrients and minerals they require for flourishing.
Feeding them twice or thrice a day would suffice. Overfeeding or under-feeding needs to be avoided. Therefore, ensure that you monitor the amount of food you provide them with daily. Make adjustments as per their activities.
What other fish can I keep in the tank without causing stress to the cherry barbs? Cherry barbs are peaceful species. Thus, you need to keep them with fish of similar nature and who can survive well in similar water conditions.
Some ideal options that you have include Neon or cardinal tetra, Harlequin rasbora, White cloud mountain minnow, Otocinclus catfish and platies.
Do cherry barbs require highly-specific tank conditions? Cherry barbs are quite hardy. Therefore, they are easy to take care of. However, if the water conditions are not stable or if the tank is not adequately cleaned; the fish can incur conditions like ich and fin rot. Keeping the tank clean will keep these diseases at bay.