Cherry barb fish (Puntius titteya) belongs to the Family Cyprinidae, which includes over 2,500 species of freshwater fish from Asia, Europe, and Africa. The cherry barb is native to Indonesia but has been introduced to other countries in the region where it has become an invasive species. In the wild, cherry barbs live up to 6 years, while they can live longer in captivity.
The cherry barb fish is an extremely beautiful and popular freshwater species that will thrive in an aquarium environment with the right care and attention. They are hardy little fish, but they are also extremely vulnerable to common beginner mistakes, so you need to make sure that you’re ready to care for your fish before bringing it home!
Cherry barb fish is a subtropical freshwater fish in the minnow family of order Cypriniformes, native to South Asia and Indonesia, and introduced into Florida, USA in the early 1960s. In contrast to its vernacular name, cherry barb, it bears no particular resemblance to the North American yellow perch (Perca flavescens).
Cherry barb fish are often kept as aquarium fish because of their color and active nature.
After reading this article, you’ll know everything there is to know about cherry barb fish, from how big they get to what foods they eat and how much water they need per day.
Origin and description
The Cherry Barb fish is a freshwater ornamental fish native to Cambodia and Thailand. They are popular in fish tanks for their bright colors, lively disposition, and smaller size (the average length of a Cherry Barb is between two and three inches).
In captivity, however, Cherry Barb can reach up to five inches in length. This species grows quickly and should be kept in an aquarium with at least thirty gallons of water. As an added benefit, it rarely fights with other tank mates.
Cherry Barbs are best kept in groups of six or more — they prefer to live with their own kind. Each barb will have his or her own personality; some will wander alone and keep mostly to themselves while others are constantly darting around investigating everything they see.
Cherry barb fish is a species of tropical freshwater fish, this adaptable fish can tolerate many conditions: soft acidic water, slightly brackish water, and somewhat hard alkaline water but not extremely hard or very soft water.
They grow to about 10 centimeters in length. They are easily distinguished from other members of their family by their black spots on either side, which give them their name. Many hobbyists keep cherry barbs in groups because they are peaceful fish that should be kept with other small fishes like tetras and rasboras. They will also swim alongside Corydoras catfish.
The scientific name of the cherry barb fish is Parapuntius titteya.
Cherry Barbs prefer to live in water with temperatures ranging between 75 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. They can survive in both soft and hard water but do not thrive as well in brackish conditions (salty waters). The ideal aquarium will have ample room for swimming, at least 20 gallons of water per cherry barb, heavy filtration, and frequent partial water changes, which are crucial for good cherry barb health.
They also require ample hiding spaces, whether provided by rocks or plants. Additionally, they enjoy lots of swimming space with open areas for movement, however, it is best to provide an area where they can seek refuge if desired.
Cherry barb size
Cherry barb fish can grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) in length
Cherry barb tank size
Cherry barb fish are a good size for small aquariums. The ideal cherry barb fish tank size is 25 gallons, but it can live comfortably in a 20-gallon bowl. If you keep it in anything smaller, your cherry barb will become stressed and may not thrive as well. To make sure your fish lives a long, healthy life, do not house it with other species unless you have an aquarium of at least 20 gallons or more.
Cherry barb fish tank set up
Because they come from soft, acidic waters, cherry barbs cannot thrive in hard water conditions (hardness greater than 5 degrees). Regular testing with test kits is therefore highly recommended.
They require good oxygen levels at all times and may not tolerate poor water circulation; under-gravel filters are therefore not advised. Gaseous forms of oxygen supplementation may therefore be necessary when stocking density is high or flow rates low. This species requires an aquarium no smaller than 20 gallons and prefers well-planted aquaria containing live plants such as Java moss, Java Fern, Hornwort, or Anacharis.
The ideal temperature should be 73°F to 81°F, hardness of about 4 – 15, and pH of 6 – 7.5
Cherry barb fish are peaceful schooling fish that do best when kept in groups of six or more. Ideally, cherry barb fish should always be kept with other varieties within their own genus.
Cherry barb tank mates
While Cherry Barbs are great fish for beginning aquarists, these active and lively fish may be a little too hyper for many beginner fish. Good tank mates for Cherry Barbs include most other types of community fish such as Otocinclus, Rainbow Sharks, Dwarf Gourami, Pearl Gourami, Kuhli Loach, Neon Tetra, Asian Stone Cats, and Molly Fish.
Cherry barb breeding
To keep Cherry Barbs healthy and happy, you’ll need to create a well-planted aquarium with minimal current. The water should be soft, slightly acidic, and between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius (72 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit). The best way to get your Cherry Barbs breeding is to provide them with enough food to fatten up, dark spots for spawning sites, and frequent small water changes.
Once they’re happy, they will breed continuously until their numbers dwindle due to starvation or excessive competition. At that point, it’s time to rehome some of your fish. It takes just two weeks from when they first spawn until their eggs hatch. You can feed newly hatched fry crushed flake food three times per day, although once they start swimming freely, you can decrease feeding frequency.
You’ll need a minimum of two inches of substrate in order to prevent accidental injury from adults during feeding times.
Are cherry barb fish aggressive or peaceful?
Cherry barb fish have a very mild temperament and are considered to be one of the most peaceful fish you can add to a community tank. They’re not aggressive toward other cherry barbs or any other fish but may nip at smaller tank mates in an attempt to establish dominance.
Though they’ll attack small invertebrates, like shrimp and snails, their diet should include mostly live or frozen food—like bloodworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, and daphnia—to keep them healthy.
Cherry barb fish care
Cherry barb fish are popular additions to freshwater aquariums for several reasons. They are colorful, peaceful community fish and are often bred in captivity. In addition, cherry barbs grow fairly large for their species, topping out at about 2 inches (5 cm) when properly cared for.
However, they have delicate skin that is easily torn by sharp objects such as gravel or sand. If you’re planning on keeping cherry barbs with other fish in your tank, it’s best to select mates of similar size that will not bully them into submission or try to eat them.
What do cherry barb fish eat?
Cherry barb fish are carnivorous and do best when their diet is supplemented with a variety of fresh or frozen meaty foods. For example, flake foods and pellets made for omnivores and herbivores can be fed to cherry barb fish, along with strips of shrimp, prawns, mussels, snails, and worms.
They will also eagerly accept mosquito larvae. Cherry barb fish should always have access to freshwater so they can take in plenty of oxygen through their gills. Some hobbyists recommend using an air stone or an aerator if tap water is stale. Frozen food will go bad faster than freeze-dried food, but it’s more convenient since you don’t need to soak it beforehand.
To minimize waste, only feed your cherry barb as much as it can eat within one hour, and remove any uneaten food right away.
The ideal water parameters are a pH of 7.5 to 8.0; Temperature range around 22 to 27°C (72 to 81°F); Specific gravity (SG): 1.020 to 1.025; Carbonate hardness: 2 to 5°dH; Max dh: 12°dH;
Cherry barbs do very well in heavily planted tanks but also do well in traditional community fish aquariums as long as there is sufficient cover and plants to provide them with places to hide.
They are also an excellent fish for beginner aquarists because they tolerate a variety of water conditions and will usually adapt to feedings on various types of food rather than demanding live or frozen foods. Cherry barb pairs may sometimes be seen chasing each other through thickets of plants around noon.
Cherry barb lifespan
Their average lifespan is 5 years. If taken care of properly, cherry barbs are known to live for more than 10 years! But like all fish, their lifespan will be shorter if you don’t properly care for them.
Parasites and diseases
Cherry barb fish are highly susceptible to velvet and ich, two common freshwater aquarium fish diseases. The best way to prevent these diseases is good quarantine procedures, keeping your fish healthy, and clean water conditions. Velvet can be treated with any medication that treats velvet in other fish; follow package directions for dosage.
Ich has no cure, but there are several medications that will help control it. Since it is caused by a parasite, changing the water regularly and vacuuming gravel will help keep its numbers down as well.
You’ll need a test kit specifically designed for freshwater aquariums to check levels of ammonia and nitrites in your tank every week or so if you have cherry barbs—they’re extremely sensitive to both chemicals, which can kill them quickly if they reach high levels in their tank.
Cherry Barbs are not a great fish for a community tank due to their aggressive nature. They will harass and sometimes attack other fish species, especially slow-moving or otherwise vulnerable ones. These include tetras, scaleless fish (such as bettas), catfish, loaches, and others.
However, they can be kept with danios provided they are introduced at approximately equal sizes; they should also be maintained in schools of at least 6+ individuals. It’s best to avoid keeping them with goldfish or koi.
When housing more than one cherry barb, it’s recommended that you introduce them into separate tanks prior to mixing them together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can cherry barbs live with bettas?
Yes, cherry barbs and bettas can live together. It’s best to house these two species in a 20-gallon or larger aquarium with an excellent filtration system. These types of fish are very compatible if properly housed together.
While they are schooling fish, you should try to keep around six cherry barbs per gallon of water because they prefer to be in groups. Like other tetras, cherry barbs have a distinctive school pattern that they like to follow while swimming.
How many cherry barbs should be kept together?
Since cherry barbs are shoaling fish, they prefer to be kept in groups of at least five. However, as long as there is enough food and space, you can keep 10 or more together without much trouble.
You may have heard that cherry barbs are nippy fish and need to be kept in large schools; while they do enjoy companionship, they don’t really benefit from being kept with other cherry barbs.
Are cherry barbs top dwellers?
No. Cherry barbs are not top dwellers, rather they prefer to swim around in mid-bottom areas of their aquariums. These fish will typically hide in caves or dimly lit areas when scared.
Do cherry barbs need a heater?
Yes! Most fish experts will tell you that if you want to keep your cherry barb fish happy and healthy for long, you’ll need to provide a heater. While some claim their cherry barbs are fine without one, most reports indicate that they prefer a temperature of 70 degrees or warmer.
So, unless you live in an area with warm water year-round, it’s not advisable to try keeping cherry barbs without a heater.
Do cherry barbs and guppies get along?
No. Cherry barbs are incredibly active fish and tend to get bored in a community aquarium. The cherry barb is highly aggressive to guppies, so it’s best to keep these two different types of fish separated. A better choice is other species of barbs or livebearers.
Alternatively, you can keep cherry barbs with peaceful bottom-dwelling fish like corydoras catfish, loaches, and small tetras.
Can cherry barbs live with angelfish?
Yes and no. Yes because Cherry barbs may be fine with angelfish that are smaller than them, and No because larger angelfish can certainly eat them. However, it’s very important to provide plenty of places for cherry barbs to hide, as they’re quite shy fish and need to feel secure in their environment.
Do cherry barbs and tetras get along?
Yes. Cherry barb fish and tetras can both be kept in a community tank together. The only issue to look out for is that cherry barbs may chase other fish around; therefore, if your cherry barb gets large enough, it could potentially nip at its tankmates. In addition, tetras tend to be quite skittish fish.
Therefore, any aggressive behavior from your cherry barb may trigger fear reactions from your tetras.
Do cherry barbs jump?
Yes. Cherry barb fish are naturally curious and even a little mischievous. This behavior sometimes leads to jumping and you need to take special care to prevent it from injuring itself. If a cherry barb jumps out of its tank, you should be prepared for damage that may include broken fins, scales, or other injuries. Even if a fish doesn’t injure itself when it jumps, it can quickly lose oxygen by being out of water for an extended period of time.
Do cherry barbs like fast flow?
Cherry barbs are a schooling fish. They require lots of oxygen to survive, so they must be kept in aquariums with strong currents (at least 2x turnover of water per hour). I keep my cherry barbs in a 37 gallon tank with an Emperor 400 as well as an AquaClear 30 internal filter. This combination provides a very good flow throughout the tank. At no point is any part of my tank still!
Do cherry barbs change color?
Yes. Male cherry barb fish can turn to vibrant red color during mating while the female could be lighter with a darker lateral bar.
Do cherry barbs eat their eggs?
Yes. Cherry barb fish will eat their eggs if you do not remove them. Though it is not required, it is good practice to remove any eggs that are laid. Eggs should be removed from the tank after a few days once they have been laid and kept in an isolated container until they hatch and can swim freely.
If you choose to leave them in your tank after they have been laid, you run a higher risk of your cherry barbs eating them while they are still developing.
Do cherry barb fish make great pets?
Yes. This highly active little fish makes an interesting, colorful, and very peaceful addition to any aquarium community. Cherry barb fish are also commonly referred to as cherry barbs, red-eye barbs, or dwarf barb. They can grow to between 1 and 2 inches in length but only live for about two years. However, their bright coloration and friendly demeanor make them well worth getting to know better.
Cherry Barbs have an interesting life cycle. This species is nocturnal during daylight hours. It is important that they have heavily planted aquariums with plenty of places for them to hide when they’re sleeping throughout the day. If you keep Cherry Barbs together, it is best if their numbers don’t exceed 10 to 12 individuals.
This allows for some territorial disputes without overstressing your water quality or plants due to overcrowding issues. Cherry Barbs prefer being kept in tropical aquariums that are between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit (23 to 29 degrees Celsius). When setting up your tank, make sure you provide your barbs with plenty of aeration so they can get enough oxygen from above ground.