Family: Cyprinidae
Species: Barbus titteya
Size: 2 in (5 cm)
Diet: Omnivorous
Temperament: Peaceful
TankConditions: 74-79°F; pH 6.0-7.0; dH 4-10
TankLevels: Middle and Lower

Barbs are predominantly small to medium sized fish with a typical diamond-shape, compressed laterally. A few species do grow large, but these are not commonly seen in the aquarium trade. Many, but not all, barbs have small barbels. Most barbs offered for sale come from Asia and belong to the genus Puntius, but barbs are also found throughout Africa. Many barbs (and other cyprinids) have a distinctive iridescence caused by the presence of guanin. Barbs belong to the sub-family Cyprininae, as does the well-known Silver “shark”.

Many barbs are quite undemanding of water quality, although there are exceptions. In general the waters to which these fish are native are slightly acid to neutral, of moderate hardness, clear and swift flowing. Apart from the few delicate species, barbs are quite adaptable to higher pH and hardness. However, to promote breeding behaviors, more specific conditions are usually needed, see the breeding section. Most barbs need a heated tank, but a few species, namely Rosy, China and Odessa barbs, can be kept indoor in unheated (coldwater) aquaria.

Most barbs are happy with a tank that provides plenty of swimming room with some plants or other decoration to provide shelter.

Barbs are generally peaceful, schooling fish, although some (e.g. Rosy barb, Tiger barb) are prone to be nippy. Any aggression is minimized by keeping them in a school of four to six fish, and they can then be mixed with most community fish. However it is not recommended to mix most of the larger-sized barbs with timid, very tiny, or fancy-finned fish. Larger barbs are lively, active and can be boisterous, so timid fish may become shy even if they are not being bullied. Many of the bigger species can be kept with quite large community fish or with cichlids. On the other hand, many barbs, and particularly small species such as the cherry barb, are extremely peaceful fish, sometimes inclined to be timid themselves.

Apart from a few plant-eating species that are not readily available, barbs are quite well-suited to planted aquaria.

Breeding: Barbs are egg scatterers that do not tend their eggs or fry and so a separate spawning/fry tank is needed. Spawning usually occurs between pairs, but in some species, one male may spawn with a group of two to three females.

In some species there are few visual differences between males and females, but in many males are more colourful than females and not as plump. To bring the adults into breeding condition, plenty of frozen foods should be included in the diet, and the water should be kept soft, slightly acid and with blackwater extract added. Fine leaved plants or an artificial spawning mop should be used to collect the eggs. A bare bottom is recommended so that the tank can be kept very clean. After spawning the parents should be removed.

The eggs take between 1 and 2 days to hatch. Very fine live foods, e.g. infusoria, are usually needed to raise the fry. Frequent feeding is important, as are daily water changes to keep water quality high.

The Cherry Barb is a very timid fish. The Cherry Barb is suitable for small aquariums and should be kept with other small fishes. Subdued lighting conditions complement the fish’s coloring. During spawning, the male will turn bright cherry red. HABITAT: Borneo, Indonesia, Sumatra.

Compatibility: Barbs, Gouramis, larger Livebearers, Dwarf Cichlids, Sharks, Rainbowfish, Plecos, Catfish, and Loaches

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