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Cherry Barb Overview, Care, Diet, Breeding & More

The Cherry Barb is a small, brightly colored tropical fish that can be a perfect addition to your aquarium.

Freshwater fish is popular among aquarists all over the world. Native to Sri Lanka, the fish can now also be found in Colombia and Mexico in large numbers. The fish is named due to its vivid red cherry color body.

These look striking in an aquarium. Their population may be declining in the wild, but their numbers are thriving in aquariums globally.

Here you will learn in detail about the Cherry barb fish, including its behavior, size, tank mates, care tips, and more.

Species Overview

Level of CareSimple
AppearanceBrightly colored fish
Life ExpectancyUp to 6 years
SizeAbout 2 inches
DietPlants and small fish
Tank Size25 Gallons
Water Conditions720F to 780F (220C to 250C); pH 6-7
Tank EnvironmentPlants
Tank MatesNonviolent fish

Cherry Barb belongs to the Cyprinidae family with the scientific name Puntius Titteya. The Cyprinidae family is one of the largest fish species in the world that also include goldfish, minnows, bitterlings, and carps.

The fish mostly live in slow-moving streams and rivers. It can live for up to 6 years with proper care and feeding.



Cherry barb is a slender fish with a bright and warm orangish-red color. The fish also has a dark brown color along the lateral line.

The males have a fiery reddish color while the females are paler. Some of them have a spotty strip of dark color that runs along the spine.

An albino variant is bred using selective breeding. These are similar to regular barbs and thrive in similar conditions.

They have a pair of barbs near the mouth. The body of males tends to be slightly slimmer as compared to females. Females also have a slightly more rounded stomach than males. The back of the fish is markedly curved, due to which they appear to have a torpedo-shaped body.


Cherry barbs are relatively small fish. The fish can grow up to 2-inches. Babies grow into adult size when they are two months old.

Cherry barb looking at you

Behavior & Temperament

The behavior of cherry barbs is a blessing for aquarium owners since they are nonviolent against other fish species.

You can keep these in the aquarium with other nonviolent fish. They don’t present a danger to other peaceful fish. The fish species love to move about in groups. But the albino variant tends to shun groups and prefers to roam around without company.

Most of these fish are timid. They tend to hide behind plants when not in a group. It is better to buy multiple ones so that they don’t spend most of the time hiding behind plants.

Males tend to harass females during the spawning season. Females can get stressed if they are constantly chased around by one or more males. To avoid this behavior, you should consider buying them with a male ratio for every two females.

For instance, if you want to buy six cherry barbs, consider having two males and four females. It will give a break to some females from being chased by males during the breeding season.

You may not notice any activity a few days after adding the fish to the aquarium. They are naturally timid fish. Consider giving time to the fish to get acquainted with the new surroundings. They will be more confident in well-planted aquariums. The fish also do well in a group containing six or more.

Tank Mates

Cherry barbs are calm fish that can live with almost any type of fish. These fish can be a perfect addition to the peaceful aquarium communities.

The best tank mates include other nonviolent small fish. The fish will live harmoniously with other nonviolent fish, including glass catfish, celestial pearl danios, tetras, gold barbs and rainbow sharks. The peaceful behavior of the fish extends to non-fish, including shrimp and snails.

Should not keep Guppies and angelfish in the same tank as cherry barbs. These fish are aggressive and may harm them.

Tank Conditions

Cherry barbs swim actively. So there should be a large space in the tank. The small fish are best reared in groups of up to six per tank. It replicates the environment in the wild where the fish lived in small groups.

The fish are easy to care for as they are adaptable to different water conditions. The recommended water in the tank should be about 25 gallons or 100 liters.

Water should be filtered using an aquarium filter, and the motion of the water should be slow and circular. Water hardiness should be between 5 and 19 dH.

Cherry barbs can thrive in a wide variety of tank conditions. The fish are great for beginners since they don’t have to ensure a strict water parameter. They are also great for aquarists who don’t want any hassles in looking after the fish.

Water parameters should be checked using a quality water test kit. Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the tank conditions remain the best for the fish.

Cherry barb in aquarium

Tank Setup

Cherry barb aquarium fish setup is not difficult. The fish, as mentioned previously, are confident where there are plants.

So, it would help if you considered adding lots of plants to the fish tank. The tank needs to be heavily planted to ensure that they have adequate hiding places.

You can add any plant—examples of plants like Hornwort, Anacharis, and Java Fern. Consider adding substrate sand to the aquarium as it will replicate the conditions of the wild habitat.

The fish live in water where the substrates are silty and dark. It would help if you considered mimicking the condition in the aquarium.

Dark sand will be the best choice for cherry barbs. The fish are used to seeing dark sands that will make them feel at home in the Aquarium. What’s more, the fish’s bright red color will pose a striking contrast with the brightly colored fish.

The aquarium needs to be cleaned regularly. Decomposing organic water and the build-up of phosphate can increase water hardiness over time. You need to clear the tank water every month.

Should Clean the soil of the tank thoroughly and Should replace a quarter of a volume of water. If the aquarium contains much fish, you may need to clean the aquarium every other week.

To decorate the aquarium, you can add caves, driftwood, and rocks. These are optional accessories that should only place if you have a large aquarium.

It would help if you never compromised the ability of the fish to roam freely inside the aquarium. As mentioned previously, the fish are very active and need lots of space to move freely from one place to another.

An important thing you should consider is the placement of the tank. The fish are agitated by a bright light that gives them stress. Consider placing a tank in the shaded area away from sunlight. You should also dim the light in the area where the tank is placed.

Food & Diet

Cherry barbs eat a wide variety of items. The fish are omnivores that eat algae, worms, diatoms, tiny insects, and other zooplankton in the wild. They eat about anything that they see floating in the water.

It would help if you fed them a more straightforward diet in your aquarium. Consider buying flake foods that will provide most of the nutrients they require to thrive.

Also, you should feed them protein-rich food occasionally, like bloodworms, daphnia, and shrimps. Adding these will add a bit of variety to the diet of the fish.

They can also eat meat and grains. But since the fish are small, they can’t swallow large chunks of food. You have to crush grains or meat before feeding them.

Avoid overfeeding the fish as it can result in health problems. Keep a note of how much food you give each time. Consider feeding them two to three times a day. If the fish don’t gulp everything within a few minutes, you should give them less to avoid overfeeding.

Cherry Barbs’ Breeding Guidelines

Breeding cherry barbs are easy. A female will lay up to 300 eggs that will be scattered on the soil and the plants.

Should feed males and females live food for at least a week in different aquariums. Males will acquire a vivid red color while the females will become fat at the end of the feeding period.

Female fish will spawn eggs on the ground. Please make sure there are plants in the tank; otherwise, the fish will think it is not a good place to lay eggs.

Once the females lay the eggs, you need to put them in another aquarium and place the males in the aquarium with the eggs. Once the males have fertilized the eggs, they should be kept in another location since they are known to eat the eggs.

Water with the eggs should be slightly more warm and acidic. Moreover, the lighting should be dim, and the water movement low. The eggs will hatch a few days after fertilization and will move around the tank.

It would help if you fed them with tiny food items like micro warms and vinegar eels until they grow up. Baby cherry barbs will grow to adult size after about two months.

Common Diseases

Cherry barbs don’t get most of the diseases that are common in other freshwater fish. But they can still get sick due to different diseases. It would help if you took good care of them by feeding them properly to avoid diseases. Here are some of the diseases these fish may develop due to unhygienic conditions.

Freshwater Ich

Freshwater ich is a common disease that affects different fish species. Cherry barbs can also be affected by the disease caused by a parasite that attaches to the fins, gills, and body of the fish. An affected fish may display specific behavioral problems like becoming more withdrawn and preferring to fish alone instead of in a group.

A fish with freshwater ich may also breathe rapidly. Loss of appetite is also a symptom of the disease.

White spots on the fins and skins indicate that the fish is affected by the parasite itch.

Various chemicals such as methylene blue, copper sulfate, and maracide have been effective against the disease. Aquarium salt is also effective in the treatment of the disease. You may have to move the affected fish in the quarantine to avoid infection of healthy fish.

The ich normally lasts for up to three weeks at a cold temperature between 480F to 500F (90C to 100C). The lifecycle is reduced to six days at the temperature of 250C (750F). Heating the water to about 280C (820F) can cut down the lifecycle to half of the fish can tolerate the temperature.

Gold-Dust Disease

Another disease that can affect the cherry barb is gold-dust. It is caused by a parasite called oodinium pilularis that attaches to the gills and fins of the fish, similar to the freshwater ich parasite.

The symptoms of the disease are also similar, including loss of appetite and labored breathing. You can detect the disease if you notice velvet colored layer on the fish’s skin.

Treatment of the disease is similar to treating freshwater ich. Copper sulfate and aquarium salt can be added to the aquarium while keeping the temperature to 280C (820F) to kill the parasite.

Fin Rot

Fin rot is a bacterial disease that can also infect cherry barb. The infection is normally caused due to poor quality water. An infected fish may infect other fish as well.

Cherry barb afflicted with fin rot will lose the striking color, particularly around the fins. It may also have the fins ripped due to the disease. The fish may also display other behaviors such as lost appetite and lethargy.

Aquarium salt is effective in killing the bacteria that cause the disease. Moreover, antibiotics have also been found to be effective against the disease.


Dropsy is a common condition in cherry barb where the stomach of the fish becomes bloated. It is a condition rather than a disease that may cause liver dysfunction, parasitic infections, and bacterial infections.

To treat the affected fish, you will have to quarantine the affected fish. Add a teaspoon of aquarium salt per gallon of water. If the condition does not improve, you should consider antibiotics. Feeding the fish appropriately with fresh, quality food is also recommended to treat the condition.

How to prevent?

Precaution is the best way to reduce the risk of diseases. Fish may not show symptoms of a disease in a pet shop.

You will have to quarantine a newly purchased cherry barb for ten days in a separate tank before transferring it to the aquarium.

If the fish shows any sign of an infection, you should treat it before adding it to the aquarium.

You should also avoid adding decoration pieces, such as stones and rocks collected from streams and rivers. These may harbor parasites that may introduce to the aquarium. Consider buying decorations from pet shops to avoid diseases.

Early detection is important to reduce the risk of disease. You should inspect the fish daily and look for any behavioral changes. If a fish display unusual behavior, you will have to quarantine the fish immediately and treat the infected fish.

Where to Buy?

You can find cherry barb for sale online or at a local pet store. Most online pet stores sell the fish at low prices. The pet stores will also have various plants and decoration items that you can buy to place inside the aquarium.

Wrapping Up

Cherry barbs are great for an aquarium as they are easy to care for and maintain. Their striking red color will greatly enhance the appearance of the aquarium. They swim peacefully without disturbing other fish.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert aquarist, you will find it easy to maintain them. It would help if you understood that they are shy little creatures.

Always keep five to six fish in the aquarium as they love to swim in groups. Their care is easier than most other fish species which makes them perfect for beginners.