When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

How to Keep Cherry Barbs In Your Freshwater Aquarium

The name truly says it all when it comes to the cherry barb. A brightly colored fish and one of the most popular in the aquarium hobby, the cherry barb offers a gorgeous appearance and charming personality that can liven up any tank.

The cherry barb makes a nice addition to a community tank, particularly one that is well planted. Whenever this fish feels threatened it will tuck itself into the plants, using them as cover from other creatures.

These hardy fish are a great choice for beginner and expert fishkeepers alike. While you will need to dedicate some time to setting up your cherry barb’s tank, as well as to providing it with the appropriate water conditions, there is little effort involved in raising this hardy species.

Cherry Barb intro


Cherry Barb Background

Cherry Barb 5
Photo by Beer_Powered

Known scientifically as Puntius titteya, the cherry barb is a member of the Cyprinidae family. This family is large and includes species such as carps, minnows, and even the popular aquarium fish, the Celestial Pearl Danio. This is the largest family of fish on the entire planet, including over 2,000 different species around the world.

Unfortunately, despite their widespread distribution and large family size, the cherry barb is threatened in the wild. Their numbers have dropped as a result of poaching and habitat loss, and while the aquarium trade doesn’t necessarily help their condition any, it does help keep numbers stable. The cherry barb is one of the most popular barb species, and can live between five and six years.

In the wild, cherry barbs are native to Sri Lanka. Today, they are also found in places like Mexico and Colombia, but their populations are rapidly declining in the wild. They prefer to live in small ponds and streams that cover the rainforest floor. These bodies of water are usually dimly lit, largely because light is not able to easily penetrate through the dense canopy. They like areas that provide plenty of shade and minimal current.

They prefer to live in rivers where roots have taken over riverbanks and where there is plenty of leaf litter on the riverbed bottom, serving to cover most of the substrate in most cases. The water here will generally be on the acidic side, as the ponds and streams move very little and therefore accumulate nutrients more quickly.

These fish are easy to care for, with peaceful dispositions and the tendency to shoal into communities. They will eat a wide range of foods and can be fed specific foods that bring out their natural colors.

Cherry Barb Appearance and Behavior

Cherry Barb 4
Photo by Beer_Powered

These fish are known for their colorful, gorgeous appearance. Cherry barbs have long, slender bodies, reaching about two inches in length at maturity. Each fish also has a single lateral stripe which runs from head to tail.

There is some sexual dimorphism in this species, with males usually a red (cherry) color, with females paler – often completely white. The lateral line appears to be more pronounced and brown in females. Females also tend to have more well-rounded stomachs, while males are slimmer and have brighter colors.

There are also albino variants of barbs that have been created via natural selection. These fish are almost identical to the cherry barb in behavior except that they prefer to school less than cherry barbs. Otherwise, you can keep these fish in the exact same conditions as your other cherry barbs.

Because males are more vibrantly colored, they often are chosen before females at the pet store. This can be both deceiving and problematic for a potential fishkeeper. Failing to maintain a healthy ratio of males to females in the tank can cause bullying and fighting in your tank.

Regardless of the gender or ratio, however, cherry barbs add a ton of color to a planted tank. They are active swimmers, moving almost constantly, and will add interest and excitement to any room in which you choose to place your aquarium.

Cherry barbs have a tendency to school, which adds extra excitement to the center of the water column in your tank. The more cherry barbs you have, the more confident and outgoing they will become. This serves an evolutionary purpose – as your cherry barbs survive in the wild, they will need to stay in a group in order to survive an attack. This is compared to an individual fish, who is much more likely to be hunted when by itself.

As a result, you should keep your cherry barbs in groups in order to prevent them from going into hiding. They will also become exceptionally shy when kept by themselves, even when housed with other fish from different species. Think, too, about the ratio of males to females in your tank. Males who are spawning will harass females, so it’s important to have a specific ratio of males to females.

If a male repeatedly goes after the same female, there is a good chance that she will become stressed and fail to spawn. This can lead to serious health problems. As a result, you should keep your ratio to about one male for every two females. This will help give your females a break from being constantly chased by the males.

Cherry Barb Tank And Water Requirements

Cherry Barb 3
Photo by Beer_Powered

Do your best to replicate the cherry barb’s natural environment, as this will make it feel less stressed and more at home in your tank. Make sure you have a tank that is no smaller than twenty-five gallons. This is the minimum recommended size for cherry barbs, as they are schooling fish and need plenty of room to swim about the tank. If you add other fish, or if you add other species, keep in mind that you will need to set up an even larger tank.

A tank that is between twenty-five and thirty gallons is perfect, and as your fish grow and reach breeding age, you may find that an even larger tank is necessary. Females need places to hide during spawning, as extra room will give them places to escape to. Larger tanks are always best, so don’t be afraid of adding cherry barbs to a larger tank community.

Generally, you should provide five gallons of water for every cherry barb. Five or six cherry barbs in a thirty gallon tank is perfect, as it allows the fish to school but also plenty of places in which they can hide if needed.

Keep the lighting in your tank low, or place your tank in a dimly-lit room. A tank that is placed in direct sunlight will be too stressful for your cherry barb, as this will be too different from its natural environment. If you must place your tank in a sunny or well-lit spot, consider using plants to provide an artificial shade.

Cherry barbs are not particularly delicate when it comes to water conditions, but you should aim to keep conditions relatively stable. Although they can tolerate a small degree of fluctuation in temperature, hardness, or pH, you generally want to keep things level so that they aren’t exposed to unnecessary stressors.

In general, you should keep the tank’s water temperatures between 73 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Shoot for a hardness of 4 to 15, and a pH of 6 to 7.5. You can adjust these as needed for your other aquarium inhabitants, or keep them right in the middle to ensure that everything is well-balanced. You should also make sure your tank has a moderate water flow, which you can do by adding a high-quality tank filtration system.

Decorating A Cherry Barb Tank

Cherry Barb 7
Photo by Anna pang

A well-planted tank is ideal, s these fish are found naturally in waters that are on the floor of the rainforest. A tank with plenty of plants will provide your fish with lots of places to hide and will also make them appear brighter, as they will stand out sharply against the green colors in the tank.

You can choose from a wide variety of plants, as no specific type is required. However, plants like Anacharis, Java Fern, and Hornworts are all great options, as they are versatile and easy to care for. You can also include structures like driftwood, caves, and castles to give your cherry barbs places to play.

Try to use a darker-colored substrate on the bottom of your tank. Although these fish don’t require any particular type of substrate, a dark color can help make their colors stand out, adding more interest and color to your tank. You can use fine or coarse gravel or even sand for your substrate material.

What Do Cherry Barbs Eat?

Cherry Barb 1
Photo by Simple Nature of Things

Cherry barbs are not picky eaters in the wild. As omnivores, they will eat just about anything, including both meat and fish. They prefer foods like diatoms, small insects, crustaceans, zooplankton, worms, plant matter, and algae. Anything that can fit in their mouths is fair game in most cases.

When you have cherry barbs in your aquarium tank, you can feed them just about anything. Ideal foods include flakes or pellets that include good quantities of plant matter, as well as frozen or live foods like blood worms, daphnia, or brine shrimp. A varied and enriched diet is important, as it will help keep your cherry barb healthy and living a full life.

Feed your cherry barb two or three times a day. This will help maintain their color and energy levels. Overfeeding and underfeeding can be equally dangerous, so it’s important that you observe them carefully to determine how much they eat in one setting. Then, you can adjust your feeding habits and portions accordingly.

Cherry Barb Tank Mates

Cherry barbs are peaceful species by nature, and can live amicably with any other fish that share those peaceful tendencies. Good fish species to consider include tetras, glass catfish, celestial pearl danios, neon tetras, cardinal tetras, white cloud mountain minnows, otocinclus catfish, clown loaches, rainbow sharks, platies, gouramis, mollies, and harlequin rasboras.

You can also choose to house your cherry barbs with shrimp and other invertebrates, like snails. Consider adding ghost shrimp, cherry shrimp, mystery snails, or nerite snails for a well-rounded, lively tank.

There are very few fish that cannot be housed with cherry barbs. You should avoid keeping them with aggressive fish, like oscars or cichlids. These fish are predatory and may attempt to eat your cherry barbs. You should also avoid fish that are prone to harassing behaviors like fin nipping. These behaviors may not always be fatal, but can cause serious stress to your fish. Specific species, like tiger barbs, should be avoided for this very reason.

When in doubt, you can always just keep a large tank of cherry barbs only. These fish should always be kept in groups regardless of the other types of fish you are keeping, but keeping cherry barbs in isolation will eliminate any worries about aggressive or predatory behaviors. Cherry barbs are very social, and like to be active when they are given the ability to shoal.

Try to keep a ratio of two females to one male. This will avoid any spawning-related male aggression, and also allow you to view large groups of fish with gorgeous coloration and vibrant activity.

Common Cherry Barb Diseases

Cherry Barb 8
Photo by Erin D.

Cherry barbs are some of the hardiest fish you can purchase, and this is just one of the many reasons why they make fantastic aquarium species. They are immune to many diseases and have the strong ability to fight off most infections. However, the easiest way to guarantee that your fish stay healthy is to keep the water conditions as stable as possible.

Cherry barbs aren’t likely to get sick easily, but if they do, it’s probably because your water parameters have changed or the quality of your water has declined. If that’s the case, your fish has the potential to pick up one of the many diseases to which freshwater aquarium inhabitants are prone.

Two of the most common diseases are fin rot and ich, also known as white spot. Fin rot is a bacterial disease and makes it look as though the fins of your fish are torn and rotting way. This disease is caused by poor care and an unclean tank. It can be extremely difficult to treat fin rot once it has set in, and it can affect a whole school of fish. However, the most important thing you can do both to prevent and treat fin rot is to keep it clean and conduct weekly water changes.

Ich is another common illness, and it results in small white growths all over the body of the fish. These growths look not unlike pieces of salt and will be covering the entire body. Your fish will often scratch their bodies against surfaces in the tank, trying to get rid of the itch that ich causes. This disease sets in when the immune systems of your fish are compromised, typically when they are stressed or under- or over-fed.

Luckily, ich can be treated easily by increasing the temperature of the tank. Simply raise the temperature by two or three degrees every other day, and then add medication if needed.

Breeding And Life Spans Of Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barb 2
Photo by Pavel Besov

Cherry barbs are a good choice for your aquarium if you are interested in trying to breed fish for the first time. These fish are egg-scattering species, and they provide minimal parental care to their young. They spawn often, which is just one reason why they make excellent candidates for first-time aquarium breeders. Just as ingle pair will lay between 200 and 300 eggs on the plants and substrate.

You will know your fish are ready to spawn by gauging the temperament of the males. You can also pinpoint spawning readiness by examining the color of the fish. Brighter, more vividly colored cherry barbs are ready to spawn, while those that are less vibrant may need some more time.

The breeding patterns of the cherry barb are partially responsible for why these fish need lots of plants in their tank. In addition to providing spawning females with a place to hide, plants also provide a canvas upon which the cherry barbs can lay their eggs. If you don’t have a lot of plants, for whatever reason, you can also put down a spawning mop. A spawning mop will catch the eggs and can be as simple as a piece of sponge or soft thread. This will make the eggs easier for you to collect.

Once the eggs have been laid, you cannot leave them in the main tank. They need to be placed in a separate aquarium. This is because all kinds of fish, including cherry barbs, are prone to eating eggs – even their own.

Cherry Barb 6
Photo by Hayath

Your breeding tank should be somewhat smaller than your main tank, and even less well-lit if possible. It should have minimal water movement and the water itself should be a bit warmer.it should also be somewhat acidic in order to mimic the natural habitat of these fish.

The fry will hatch in just a few short days after the eggs have been laid, and a few days after that they will begin swimming around on their own. You should feed them small foods like microworms or vinegar eels until their mouths have grown large enough to eat brine shrimp.

Fry will grow into juveniles, who will take about two months to mature into adults. Once they have become adults, you can move them back into the main tank. Make sure you pay close attention to the males during this time period, as they will become increasingly aggressive as they age. Females will have less energy in general. You may need to keep a separate tank after your males and females have bred so that you can move tired females away from aggressive males to help them regain their strength.

Is A Cherry Barb For You?

If you’re looking for a brightly colored (yet peaceful) fish to add to your aquarium community, look no further than the cherry barb. This fish species makes a brilliant addition to any community tank and is incredibly easy to take care of. Regardless of your skill level or the complexity of your current tank setup, anybody can take care of one of these beautiful, easygoing fish.

Beginner fishkeeper? No worries. The cherry barb offers a fantastic introduction to the world of fishkeeping, with minimal care, hassle, and expense involved in raising it. You’ll likely find that you become hooked in no time on raising these gorgeous, relaxed little fish!

1 thought on “How to Keep Cherry Barbs In Your Freshwater Aquarium”

Leave a Comment