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Black Ruby Barb Overview & Care Guide for Beginners

What about having some ruby red color in your tank? Interesting, right? Well, then Black Ruby Barb can be your ideal best friend. These fish are peaceful enough, making them one of the most favorable community tank members.

Black Ruby barbs are usually found in the slow-moving cold-water streams of Sri Lanka. These are schooling fish who are best kept in a group. They prefer a vegetable-based diet and are compatible with peaceful small fish. These are very easy to breed with proper conditioning.

Species Overview

Level of CareVery easy
AppearanceRuby red upper part with a purple head and black tail fin
Life Expectancy5 years
Tank Size20 gallons
Tank EnvironmentSlightly acidic or neutral water with plenty of plants and sand or gravel substrate
Tank MatesVery peaceful

Black ruby barbs (scientific name: Pethia Nigrofasciata) are the best fish to add to your tank, owing to their vibrant and colorful appearance. These precious fish are widely known as the schooling fish that love to stay in a group.

This one from the barb community has a fascinating color and cute appearance. Also, they are great fish for a community tank.

Though these are extinct due to heavy deforestation and other reasons, they may be a bit rare to find.

These fish are native to the slow-moving waters of the Nilwala river basin of Sri Lanka, where they are found in plenty of numbers.

They usually have a small and vibrant body with a higher back and pointed head. The males usually develop a purple-red color as they grow. Females, on the other hand, are paler than males.


Black ruby barbs are usually not too big. They are pretty small like other barbs, which makes them quite popular among aquarists.

These usually reach up to 2.5-inches in length as they become adults.


The saddest part is these cute tiny Black ruby barbs are not so long-lived. These are usually fancy fish that enhance the beauty of your tank.

These fish usually live up to 5 years if they receive proper care in the tank.

Behavior & Temperament

Black ruby barbs are generally very peaceful, which makes them the ideal ones for any community tank.

They do not come with any special demand, so housing them, along with any fish, in suitable water chemistry is very easy.

They are usually schooling fish and get the best of care when purchased with 6-10 specimens. Maintaining them in a large number will not at all be an arduous task. Instead, it will be much more effective.

Males, on the contrary, will develop better color in the presence of other conspecific rivals.

Tank Requirements

Are you determined to keep Black ruby barb in your tank? Then you need to consider all the essential requirements to offer them the happiest time in the aquarium.

But how do you offer them the proper level of care in your tank? Well, the answer is an appropriate tank assortment.

The water for these needs to be slightly acidic. They are usually habituated with soft and acidic water in the wild.

Also, as they resided on a natural substrate of river beds, you can simply lay a gravel or sand substrate in the tank. Usually, the water temperature in their natural habitat is not too warm. So, they prefer cooler water for their living.

Thus, you need to make sure that the tank temperature lies within the range of 72-79 ℉.

Moreover, make sure that there are enough hiding places for the fish as they are too shy. You can offer them hiding places with plants and decorations, which will undoubtedly provide them with a comfortable and safe atmosphere.

When picking a tank for these, make sure it has enough space to let them swim and move freely. A spacious environment helps them to have a happy time, which is vital for their better growth.

Tank Setup

So, are you all geared up with your tank to keep cute tiny ruby barbs? Well, to let your fish have a fun time in your aquarium, you need to meet all the tank requirements.

Here is how to ensure a proper tank setup.

  • Make sure the tank has a minimum of up to 20 gallons capacity. They love adequate space for free movement. And that is why you need to ensure that you are offering them a larger tank.
  • The aquarium water needs to be soft and slightly acidic. Thus, the pH range of the water needs to lie within 6-6.5.
  • Also, ensure the hardness range of the water is within 5-12 dGH.
  • The lighting of the tank should be dim. Provide a low to moderate light intensity for the tank.
  • Pick a good-quality substrate made of gravel or sand. Such a substrate will be ideal for your fish’s living atmosphere along with a dimmed light.
  • Incorporate several live plants and rock decorations in the tank to keep them.
  • Add a good filtration unit to the tank so that the water stays clean, as low-quality water can ruin the fish’ health.

Tank Mates

Picking suitable tank mates for your Black ruby barb is not at all a challenging task. They are best kept in a group of five or more members as they have a schooling behavior.

But keeping these fish alone may not make them happy. Thus, always put them in a group to ensure they have their best behavior. Also, when they stay in a group, they do not bother other fish in the tank.

However, while keeping these species in a community tank, make sure to keep them with other peaceful fish. Do not ever house them with large, aggressive fish as they are predatory by nature and can hurt them.

Also, you need to have a look at their behavior to see if any aggressiveness is fueling up or not.

So, here, have a look at the fish that are going to be best compatible as tank mates for your Black ruby barb.

  • Other barb fish
  • Gouramis
  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Catfish

Food & Diet

Caring for these is a lot of fun as they do not need too costly foods. Usually, they are easy to care for by feeding them with a lot of veggie foods.

In their native habitat, Black ruby barbs usually prefer plenty of algae and detritus. Their diet thus typically contains a lot of vegetables. They are even easy to feed with a lot of forage or other organic materials.

They are usually known to be omnivorous fish, which means they can also eat meaty treats. So, you can easily offer them brine shrimps, daphnia, or bloodworms to bring some changes to their diet.

However, make sure the diet is rich in vegetables. You can also feed them fish flake foods, which are rich in vegetable matter. Offer them blanched lettuce, raw zucchini, peas, spinach, etc., to make their diet enriched with vitamins.

Black Ruby Barb Care

In the wild, Black ruby barbs usually live in cool and slow-moving streams rich in vegetation. So, to offer them the best level of care in your tank, you need to ensure that the tank is well-equipped while mimicking their natural habitat.

To let them feel safe, you can add floating plants to the tank to subdue the lighting.

While selecting gravel for your tank, it is better to pick one that has a dark color. Live planted tanks are great for their care. Artificial plants are also nice for them.

Also, remember to offer your tiny fish an adequate open space for easy swimming. Do you know Black ruby barbs tend to become pale when they do not get enough area for hiding? So, make sure to provide them with many hiding places in the tank.

Breeding Guidelines

Black ruby barbs are usually egg scatterers. They mate in pairs and groups after the conditioning period.

Well, every barb fish has a typical requirement, which is the spawning diet. And spawning failure can happen if a proper diet is not given to your fish. Thus, provide protein-rich meals to encourage conditioning.

Start with feeding them live or frozen brine shrimps or bloodworms to let them achieve the mood for spawning so that they can produce good quality eggs to give birth to healthy fries.

So, to let them start breeding, you need to opt for sexing them at the beginning. Recognize the male and female fish and keep them in pairs to influence them for mating.

The breeding tank should have a bit higher temperature than the original aquarium. Keep the tank temperature between 77-82 ℉. Also, the water needs to be very soft and acidic.

Keep some plants like java moss to offer a proper cover and a suitable spawning site. Also, you can add a spawning rope in the tank to influence the breeding of the fish.

Consider dimmed lighting to let them feel safe. Also, let them have the ease to protect their eggs with low lighting.

As soon as they are ready for spawning, the males spread their fins. And then they keep swimming around the females in a courtship display.

It usually takes several hours for spawning. Once it’s completed, the females scatter their eggs in the tank.

But as Black ruby barbs are born with the nature to eat their eggs, it is imperative to remove the adult fish from the tank to safeguard the fries.

Fry Care

After you have separated adults from the tank, now it is time to take proper care of the eggs.

An anti-fungal treatment is crucial to provide the eggs with proper protection against fungus.

You can use natural dyes like methylene blue, which exhibits a great anti-fungal property. After 30 hours of spawning, the eggs will hatch in the tank in a very natural condition.

At first, the Black ruby barb babies will go through the larval stage. During this time, they will be unable to swim or eat. So, they will survive on their yolk sac in the initial days.

After the egg yolk is consumed entirely, the fries will become ready to eat brine shrimps or crushed flake foods.

As they become capable of eating commercial flake foods, you can easily place the fries in a grow-out tank.

After they reach their grown-up size, you can put them back in the original tank with other tank mates.

Where to Buy?

Are you thinking of buying a Black ruby barb very soon? Well, then you can quickly get them from any of your local aquarist shops.

Also, you will easily find them in any of the hobbyist shops. Moreover, you can prefer ordering them from an online fish store too.


Do you want to add some vibrance to your tank? Well, then worry not. Black ruby barb is the best version of tank barbs for you.

These fish are beautiful, tiny, and come with a very funny personality. When you keep them in a group, you can feel the fun and playful rush in your tank. Housing them is very easy with other peaceful tank mates.

So, have you already decided on keeping these in your tank? Then, do not wait anymore! Simply rush out to your nearby shop and buy your favorite groups to make your tank look more colorful and interesting