Barb fish are some of the most interesting varieties of fish in the world. It’s hard to believe that there are even more types of barb fish than you probably think can exist, but it’s true! You probably recognize the usual types of barb fish like the tiger barb and pearlscale barb, but there are many more that you might not be familiar with – unless you’re an avid aquarist or frequent your local pet store!
The barbs are one of the largest groups in the fish family, Cyprinidae, but there are plenty of other types of barb that you may not know about or even see at your local pet store or at an aquarium center.
The barb fish family includes some of the most popular types of tropical fish, and with good reason – they are beautiful and fascinating creatures! In addition to the wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, barb fish come in many varieties that aren’t often found in the home aquarium (although many are becoming more common).
Discussed below are 25 popular types of barb fish that you can choose from to add to your aquarium.
Types of barb fish
It is easy to overlook barbs as just another type of fish, but there are so many different types of barb fish and colors to these tiny swimmers that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Not only do they look great in a tank full of other tropical fish, but they are also great for beginners. Their small size makes it easy to care for them, yet their personality makes up for their size.
Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya)
A small fish from Southeast Asia, Cherry Barbs were originally bred in aquariums as a feeder fish for larger carnivorous species. But these tiny, brightly colored creatures proved so popular that they’re now being bred and sold as pets in their own right. They grow to just two inches long and are available in a variety of colors including red, blue, green, orange and yellow.
They make great additions to any tank or bowl but are particularly well suited to nano tanks due to their diminutive size. It is important to note that Cherry Barbs may not be suitable for every home because they can be aggressive towards other smaller fish. However, if you want an active little fish with personality plus, then look no further than a Cherry Barb!
Tiger Barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona)
Tiger barbs are highly active, can grow to up to 4 inches, and have long dorsal fins. They’re most often orange and white, but they can also be gold or red. You can keep tiger barbs in large groups or with other fish (as long as you have a tank that’s at least 55 gallons).
In general, barb species are tropical fish, so you should keep them at temperatures between 72-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people like to keep their barbs in tanks without filtration systems, while others say it’s important to include filters for clean water.
Just remember: If you choose not to use a filter, you need to do more frequent water changes! It’s always important to research any kind of fish before adding it into your home aquarium—including the types of barb fish you are keeping!
Black Ruby Barb FIsh (Pethia nigrofasciata)
Black ruby barb fish are one of those types of barb fish that really stand out because their eyes have an ethereal look about them like a fire burns deep inside. This fish also looks very calm in its appearance, so it seems like a great type of fish to keep with smaller, easily spooked types.
This is definitely one you don’t want to miss out on! Black Ruby Barbs originated from Asia and can be found in some Asian pet stores or aquariums if you ask around for them. These types of barb fish can grow up to 4 inches long and should be kept in a school of at least six individuals.
Tinfoil barb (Barbonymus schwanenfeldii)
A rare and unusual species, tinfoil barb is native to only one location in Thailand. They can grow up to 15 centimeters long. It feeds on zooplankton and algae, as well as small invertebrates like insect larvae. This fish’s body is silvery-blue with a reddish strip running down its sides.
Its fins are either yellow, orange, or red. The male tinfoil barb has two sets of paired fins: pelvic fins that are used for spawning; and pectoral fins that are used for swimming.
Golden barb (Pethia gelius)
Found in streams and rivers throughout Southeast Asia, these golden-colored fish can grow up to 10 inches long. They’re popularly used as a food source by locals but are also displayed in aquariums and will happily swim around while nibbling on plants and small invertebrates. Due to overfishing in recent years, though, they’re becoming increasingly difficult to find and harder to breed.
While their numbers have been dwindling, Golden barbs have never been considered endangered. There are even rumors that some individuals have developed an immunity to certain types of common aquarium diseases; if true, it could mean huge things for those hoping to bring more barbs into captivity.
However, much more research is needed before we know whether or not there’s any truth behind such claims.
Denison Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)
The Denison barb is a freshwater species native to Sri Lanka. The fish grows to about four inches long, and is usually a pale reddish-brown with rows of black, yellow, and red lines by its sides and orange fins. Because they’re not very popular with aquarium owners, Denison barbs aren’t found in many pet stores.
If you do find one for sale, however, it’s likely to be quite inexpensive. This makes them an excellent choice for beginners who are just getting started with their first tank.
Rosy barb (Pethia conchonius)
The Rosy barb gets its name from its rose-red coloring, with a pinkish belly and fins. They can grow to be six inches long, but only when given adequate space in which to live. If you want one as a pet, it’s best to keep them in at least an eight-gallon tank.
They are omnivores who enjoy consuming both plant matter and meaty foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms. You will need to change their water often (at least every other day) because they produce more waste than most other types of barb fish.
It is also important that they have plenty of hiding places, so make sure to include plants and rocks for them to use if they feel threatened by something nearby. These types of barb fish are relatively peaceful, though males may fight over territory during the breeding season. These fish breed easily and have been known to breed in tanks that aren’t specifically set up for breeding purposes.
Snakeskin Barb (Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus)
Snakeskin barbs are one of many types of barb fish that make their homes in rocky mountain streams. Their barbels (whiskers) have been greatly modified to enable better feeding in small spaces, making them voracious little eaters.
Take care with your size selection when choosing a tank mate for these fish, as they have strong jaws and can occasionally deliver a bite. If you keep these active little fish in an established community tank, you will find them hard to distinguish from any other tetra species. They’re very social, schooling fish that enjoy being kept in groups of at least five or more.
A tight-fitting lid is necessary if you plan on keeping these guys indoors; otherwise, they may jump out during feeding time! They are omnivorous and prefer a diet rich in plant and animal matter, so supplementing their regular diet with algae wafers or spirulina flakes, or some meaty food is recommended.
Clown Barb (Puntius everetti)
An interesting fish species native to Sri Lanka, these types of barb fish have bright red barbells on their nose and may be confused with clown loaches. Clown barbs are a medium-sized species that can grow to about 5 inches long and thrive in aquariums as large as 20 gallons with plenty of swimming room.
They’re fairly undemanding when it comes to conditions, as long as they’re kept warm and get plenty of food, including meaty foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms. Their care is similar to other barb species. If you choose to keep them with other types of fish, avoid keeping them with finicky eaters or very small species. These guys will sometimes nip at fins if they feel threatened or overstocked.
Bigspot Barb (Barbodes dunckeri)
This fish gets its name from a distinctive spot on its head, and it hails from Southeast Asia. It’s a smaller species that stays under 6 inches long and prefers to live in stagnant water where it can feast on mosquito larvae. Bigspot barbs are available in deep shades of red and pink, which makes them popular with aquarium owners who like to add color to their tanks.
These types of barb fish do best in pairs or groups rather than living alone. They require at least 10 gallons of tank space per individual. They prefer temperatures between 73 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, pH levels between 5.5 and 7.0, and they need soft water that is low in dissolved solids (like chlorides). They also enjoy plenty of hiding places within their environment—so be sure to provide plenty of plants or rocks for cover.
Arulius Barb (Puntius arulius)
With so many different types of barb fish out there, it’s hard not to be curious about what kind might be right for your home aquarium. This barb fish is named after a Hindu God, Arulius. They are found in India and Sri Lanka. The male has black spots on its body and both genders have red fins with black dots. These fish prefer to live in clear water streams with rocky bottoms.
In addition to these types of barbs, there are many other species that you can find if you know where to look for them!
Checker Barb (Oliotius oligolepis)
The checker barb is popularly kept in aquaria as a way to keep algae levels down. The fish’s swimming pattern resembles that of a cleaning fish, and can live in groups and tolerate poor water conditions better than many other types of barb fish. Because they don’t get too large (usually under two inches), they are often recommended for smaller tanks.
Their colors tend to be more vibrant when kept with conspecifics, but they will also do well on their own or with other species of small fish. It should not be kept with aggressive fish like guppies or male bettas, however.
Checker barbs have been known to jump out of tanks when startled; if you plan on keeping them in an aquarium without a lid, you may want to consider keeping them separately from more expensive fish until you’re sure they won’t injure themselves jumping out of your tank.
Curmuca Barb (Hypselobarbus curmuca)
The Curmuca barb is a fish native to Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. It’s also known as Kashmir barbel, Kashmir golden barb, or just golden barb (the term golden being both its species name and common name). It prefers clear waters with rocky bottoms and slow currents; it grows to about 10 inches long in captivity but can reach 16 inches in length in its natural habitat.
As an omnivore, it eats small invertebrates such as worms and insect larvae as well as plant matter. In addition to consuming food items directly from rocks, plants, or sand on riverbeds, they will also take food items from their own reflection—they are one of only a few types of fish that do so. This behavior is called automimicry: they mistake their reflection for another individual of their species.
Chubbyhead Barb (Enteromius anoplus)
This fish is named after its unusually large head, which can reach up to one-third of its total length. Chubbyhead Barbs come from Lake Tanganyika in Africa and are omnivores; they primarily eat zooplankton, but also like to snack on algae and detritus. On account of their slender shape and their diet, these fish are fairly easy for other predators to catch!
It’s a good thing that Chubbyheads have an interesting defense mechanism: when threatened, they rapidly turn upside down and flash their bright orange bellies at any potential predator—this behavior has earned them another nickname: Upside-down Flashers.
As you might imagine, flaunting your most vulnerable parts isn’t particularly effective as a long-term survival strategy…but it does seem to work pretty well as a last resort!
Gold Barb/ Chinese Barb (Barbodes semifasciolatus)
The gold barb is a tropical fish that comes from South America. It is an omnivore, meaning it will eat both meat and plants. However, they do not have very large appetites, so they do not need much food to survive. A tank with a capacity no larger than 20 gallons should be enough for one gold barb.
There are two subspecies of gold barbs: one from Trinidad and Tobago and another from Guyana. They get their name from their golden colored scales on their bodies. It can be distinguished by its black stripe at mid-body and its red tail fin coloration which may fade in older specimens.
It has been selectively bred in captivity by various hobbyists into several color variations including albino, red, orange and yellow as well as white or metallic colors. Due to its popularity among aquarists, there exist many hybrids of gold barbs produced through selective breeding with other species of barb.
Beardless Barb (Cyclocheilichthys apogon)
One of several types of barb fish commonly referred to as beardless barbs (C. apogon) is native to West Africa and thrives in waters with a temperature around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and plenty of vegetation. This variety is an excellent addition to any hobbyist’s fish tank, especially if there are other types of barb fish present in order to prevent unwanted breeding.
Beardless barbs grow to between 2.5 and 3 inches long, making them perfect for small tanks or bowls that don’t have room for larger varieties. The average lifespan of these beautiful fish is five years or more.
Five Banded Barb (Desmopuntius pentazona)
The Five Banded Barb is actually a striped fish but, much like its human namesake, has three distinct strips and one additional line at either end. It’s found in both still and running waters and is native to China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Five Banded Barb prefers clear waters that are low in sedimentation with a pH between 7.0-8.5. They are omnivores and will eat anything from insects to zooplankton. They can grow up to 5 inches long but usually max out around 3 inches.
Greenstripe Barb (Puntius vittatus)
The Greenstripe Barb is a relatively peaceful species that likes to hang out in groups and can grow up to 6 inches in length. These particular types of barb fish have been classified as Vulnerable due to overfishing, so before you purchase one from a store, make sure you have a license for it.
They are also easy to breed in captivity, which makes them an ideal choice for hobbyists who want to experience breeding fish without having to go through too much hassle. In addition to being beautiful, they are also hardy enough to survive in aquariums with lower oxygen levels.
Their diet should consist mainly of plant matter such as spirulina flakes or wafers, but they will occasionally eat smaller fish if they get hungry enough. Don’t be surprised if your barb ends up being your favorite member of your tank!
Khavli Barb / Maharaja Barb (Puntius sahyadriensis)
The maharaja barb is a type of cyprinid fish found in India. Though some have said that it is an extremely rare species, many hobbyists are able to obtain it from time to time. Not only does it thrive in clean, well-oxygenated water, but also requires soft, acidic water for its long-term health.
Therefore, many aquarists choose to set up their tanks with peat and driftwood for natural pH control. This species grows to about five inches (13 cm) in length. It is one of several types of barb fish native to South Asia.
Redside Barb / Two-Spot Barb (Puntius bimaculatus)
This fish is similar to another popular species, except that it has a red coloration rather than black and white. They are usually found in shallow waters around 1-2 feet deep. While they have a size of up to 8 inches, their lifespan is only about 4 years.
But despite their short life expectancy, they’re great aquarium fish because they can live peacefully with other fish species in large groups. They also have interesting behaviors such as jumping out of water when startled!
It’s important to note that these fish are more active during nighttime, so if you want to see them perform their acrobatic feats, you should keep your tank lights on at night.
Spanner Barb (Barbodes lateristriga)
When most people think about a barb fish, they think about a tropical species that requires an aquarium. However, there are some types of barb fish that are native to temperate regions and live in rivers and lakes. The spanner barb is one such species and is native to Southeast Asia. This species can be found throughout parts of Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Spanner barbs typically inhabit large bodies of water like rivers and lakes. They have also been introduced into several reservoirs as well as ponds in Japan. These barbs are omnivores that feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, plants, algae, and other small invertebrates.
Swamp Barb (Puntius chola)
The swamp barb is a small, wide-bodied species native to India and Pakistan. Due to its inexpensive nature, it’s one of the most common barbs kept in captivity. Don’t be fooled by its size, though – it’s a bold and active fish that should be kept with other peaceful species in an aquarium around 30 gallons or larger.
The swamp barb is best housed in planted tanks with heavy cover provided by bogwood and plants like lilies. It can also do well in more open setups, but will need plenty of hiding places. As far as diet goes, they’re omnivorous and will eat just about anything offered to them. Try including live foods such as blackworms and brine shrimp for optimal health!
Sawbwa Barb (Sawbwa resplendens)
This freshwater fish is native to Asia, where it lives in streams and lakes. It can grow up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) long and live up to 15 years. The sawbwa barb enjoys a variety of foods and eats insects, crustaceans, mollusks, algae, and more.
Sawbwa barbs are often kept as pets because they eat algae and rarely nip at hands if kept properly fed. They’re also very colorful—their colors range from blue to orange-red to red-brown with black spots on their bodies. Sawbwa barbs need plenty of space, so they’re best suited for aquariums rather than small bowls or tanks.
They’re fairly hardy but do require a lot of attention when being cared for—they should be kept in schools of five or more and need frequent feeding.
Ticto Barb / Odessa Barb / Red Crystal ((Pethia padamya)
The Odessa barb is commonly sold as a Pet in Asia and has not yet been introduced to any other location. It’s a fantastic choice for anybody that is looking for a unique fish to add to their freshwater aquarium. These types of barb fish normally grow to be about 6 centimeters long and they can live for up to 8 years if given proper care by their owner.
These fish are omnivores, which means they eat both meaty foods and plant-based foods. They prefer to eat small insects, crustaceans, worms, snails, algae, and some types of plants. When they are first added to an aquarium they will go through a period where they only eat live food such as brine shrimp or daphnia until they get used to eating out of an artificial environment.