Cherry Barb
Barb Fish

Cherry Barb

Puntius titteya

Cherry barb information:

Scientific name:                 Puntius titteya    
Common name:                Cherry barb
Max. size:                           5.0 cm / 2 inches
pH range:                          6.0 – 8.0
dH range:                           5 - 19
Temperature range:         23 – 27°C / 73 – 80.5°F

The Cherry barb is a very popular aquarium fish. It can be kept even by inexperienced aquarists since it is quite hardy. Its nice colour and interesting behaviour have also attributed its popularity within the hobby. If you keep shy loaches, you can add a shoal of at least 5 Cherry barbs and thereby make the loaches much less jittery in the aquarium.

Cherry barb habitat and range:

The wild Cherry barb is a benthopelagic species that live in tropical waters in Sri Lanka, from Kelani to the Nilwala basin. It prefers streams and rivulets that are well shaded by surrounding vegetation. The Cherry barb is typically found in shallow and slow flowing waters with silt substrate and plenty of leaf debris.

Cherry barbs have today also been introduced to Colombia and Mexico. 

Cherry barb setup:

The recommended minimum aquarium size is 75 litres (20 gallons). The Cherry barbs should always be kept in groups of at least five individuals, preferably more, since this is a schooling species. A Cherry barb that is kept alone can become very stressed in the aquarium.

Try to mimic the shaded and densely grown habitat that wild Cherry barbs live in when you set up your aquarium. Preferably choose some plants that will grow up and cover the surface.
A clear area for swimming should also be included. Comparatively sturdy plants are recommended since the Cherry barbs will nibble on them. They will also eat algae. 

Good filtration and a quite a strong current are recommended. Cherry barbs live in slow flowing waters in the wild. 

Cherry barb tank mates:

The Cherry barb is a peaceful fish ideal for a community aquarium with other non-aggressive fish species that appreciate the same type of environment. It is naturally important not to house Cherry barbs with predatory species that will consider them prey. As mentioned above, a Cherry barb should always be kept together with at least 4 members of its own species. A school of Cherry barbs can be house with a wide range of docile fish species, such as Danios, Plecos, Bettas, Corydoras and Rainbow fish. Nippy fish species like the Tiger Barb should generally be avoided.

Cherry barb behaviour:

Cherry barbs should always be kept in groups, but they will not form really tight schools. Within the Cherry barb shoal, a strict hierarchy will be observed. If you keep more than one male, the males will compete with each other but rarely cause severe injury. Keeping two males in the same aquarium is actually highly entertaining since the males will “dance” in front of each other rather than simply fight. During the dance, the males will encircle each other whole displaying erect fins. Males will also become more vividly coloured when kept together with other males.

The Cherry barbs are considered to be a middle-tank species, but they will often venture close to the bottom as well as swim up to the surface in the aquarium, especially if the surface is covered in bushy plants.  

The average Cherry barb life span is 4 years, but they can live up to at least 7 years.

Cherry barb care:

Cherry Barb

Cherry barb picture. Copyright

The preferred temperature range in the aquarium is 23 – 27° C (73 – 80.5° F). In the wild, Cherry barbs are found where the dH ranges from 5 to 19. Soft or medium hard water is recommended in the aquariums; from 4 dH to 15 dH. The recommended pH value is 6.5-7.5 since the Cherry barbs appreciate slightly acidic to neutral water. In the wild, they are found from pH 6 to pH 8. Never expose your Cherry barbs to rapid changes in temperature or water chemistry. Captive bred specimens are known to adapt to water conditions somewhat outside the recommendations if the changes are very slow and gradually. 

Cherry barb feeding:

Wild Cherry barbs are omnivorous and feed on a wide range of food, including detritus, green algae, dipterans, diatoms and various animal matter. 

In the aquarium, Cherry barbs will usually accept most types of food. They can be kept on flakes or other forms of prepared food suitable for tropical fish, but it is also a good idea to supplement their diet with occasional treats in the form of vegetables, brine shrimp, daphnia, plankton, blood worm or similar.  

Cherry barb sexing:

Sexing Cherry barbs are not difficult since the male feature a vivid, cherry-red colouration. (It is naturally from this colouration that the common name Cherry barb has been derived.) Female Cherry barbs are not as vividly coloured and will usually display a rather dull orange shade. Both males and females display a dark horizontal stripe along their body, but the stripe will be much more noticeable on the female fish since she is paler. You can also notice a difference in body shape between the two sexes. Males are generally more slender while the females tend to have fuller bodies. The male Cherry barb is also larger than the female.  

Cherry barb breeding:

Wild Cherry barbs produce around 200 eggs that are scattered among plants. After one or two days, the offspring will hatch. After two more days, the offspring is free-swimming.

Cherry barbs will readily spawn in captivity and a lot of the specimens in the aquarium trade are today captive bred. During the spawning period, the male Cherry barb will become even more vividly coloured than normally. Cherry barbs are egg scatterers and if the eggs are left in the aquarium, the adult fish will most likely eat least a good portion of them. Professional Cherry barb breeders will therefore usually arrange a separate breeding tank where the offspring can develop without the presence of adult fish. If you do not want to set up a separate breeding tank, you can increase the chance of fry survival by keeping the aquarium well planted. Choose plant species that provide a lot of hiding spaces, such as Java moss. The female Cherry barb will release her eggs among the plants and the offspring will instinctively hide among the plants until the young Cherry barbs are large enough to fend for themselves.  



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