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Flying Barb (Esomus) Care, Tank Setup, Breeding & More

Featured Image by Biodiversity India

If you are a barb lover, a fan of peaceful fish, or simply a hobbyist who wants to make a peaceful community tank in your home, the flying barb is a great choice for you. The purple-headed barb has been slated as one of the favorites in many aquarist communities.

The schooling of peaceful fish is easy to care for and breed. It does not require any complex skill sets or tools. You can even teach your kids to breed the barb themselves. Let’s find out how to do it below.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerate
AppearanceGrey body, black lines along the body, gold fins.
Life Expectancy5 years
Size2.5 inches/6.5 centimeters
DietOmnivorous diets
Tank Size20 gallons
Tank EnvironmentPlants in the bottom, floating plants, objects to hide
Tank MatesDanios, platys, loaches, or catfish

Flying barb, according to its name, is an active buddy with the unique endeavor to jump off the surface of the water. Therefore, the setup of the tank will be the key to caring for and breeding this kind of fish.

The most ideal place for them to thrive is inside the aquarium with tight cover slides.

In their wild habitats, you will often find them in canals, streams, shallow ponds, as well as lakes. The owners of the pets will then need to mimic the true habitat and implement it in the aquascape.

However, it is now recognized that the Salween River Basin in Myanmar extends to the Mae Klong and Chao Phraya Basins in Thailand. Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia all reported it.

Also found in Cambodia, Thailand, and the northern Malaysia Peninsula.

Apart from Khong Island, the largest of the renowned Si Phan Don and four thousand islands in the major Mekong river channel directly below the Khone waterfalls in Champasak province, Laos, there are feral colonies in Singapore and Borneo.

Regardless of the different origins, pet lovers can domesticate these fish in their aquarium as long as they can maintain the water quality and temperature.

According to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2011, it is listed as Least Concern.

The fish can reach up to 6 inches in adult size. The coloration of the fish is mainly silver in the body and the black line on the body. Most of them have gold fins as well.

In such great condition, this fish can jump high. So, it is better to close the top of the aquarium to prevent them from getting offside.

These flying friends are schooling species that can thrive with at least 8 specimens of large groups or more. The group of barbs can have much better behaviors and coloration when they are doing their activities with a large group. Keeping them alone or in smaller groups, their colors won’t be great. And that could be a sign of defective health and wellness.

Heavy plant life is the key to their survival so it is best to mimic these conditions in your home aquarium.

Not only the flying barb alone, but the other species of barbs are also friendly and peaceful to the community tanks. However, the tank mates with long flowing fins and slower mobility could be the target of their harassment and bullies.

Just like the other types of barbs, they can survive in various water conditions. But for the flying barb, I’d like to suggest taking a look at in-depth requirements before proceeding.

Tank Setup

First things first, you will want to prepare a tank with a tight-fitting lid with no gaps. Check every part of the lid and make sure no slit allows your flying buddies to escape from your aquarium.

When you have a well-planted tank with a dark substrate, the choice of décor is less important than the tank’s water quality.

Plants, driftwood roots, and branches used to screen light may assist to alleviate anxiety and provide a more natural setting.

The fine substrate and carpets of plants in the bottom part of the aquarium can be a great idea to give them the opportunities to mate.

Because this fish comes from slow-moving waters, a lot of water movement in the aquarium is not required.

They are known to escape through the tiniest of holes. So, the airtight cover is mostly advised.

  • Temperature preference: 20-25 Celsius
  • pH preference: 7.6
  • Hardness preference: Soft to medium
  • Salinity preference: Zero
  • Water Conditions
  • Temperature: 20 – 26 °C
  • Hardness: 18 – 215 ppm

Tank Mates

When it comes to the community which is ideal for the flying barb, there have been mixed opinions and suggestions from the experienced hobbyist in the world of aquatics.

Some researchers have found out that flying barbs would tend to harass slower fish mates by nipping their fins. But some of the barbs won’t do it.

However, more cases of bullying and harassment are reported when the tank community is filled with long-finned and slow-moving species.

That could be sensible for the schooling fish which can form the hierarchical policies in the dwelling they live in.

But there is also a risk that your little flying friends can be bullied by the larger tank mates. Therefore, it is wise to keep your fish in groups of 8 or more. Keep them in the ideal numbers so that they won’t harass or get harassed. As long as you keep them in the ideal group numbers, you will enjoy the peaceful community in your lovely tank.

The aquarium will need to have a good deal of planting and floating plants. Although they are active and can jump, they get shy easily. So, they will need certain objects to hide.

The most ideal tank mates for your flying pets are often small-medium fish species. I won’t recommend slower long-finned fish since they will bully and harass them.

You can tag these tank mates with them: danios, platys, loaches, or catfish.

Food & Diet

The flying barb is omnivorous. You will want to add good combinations of both veggies and meaty foods.

You can simply add the green flake, pellets, and flake to them. Brine Shrimp is one of their favorites. Make sure to provide them with smaller chunks of food. If the items are too big for them, they usually won’t bother to take them.

Add some dried foods of good size. Give them frozen foods as well and they won’t protest. But they will be a lot happier with live foods like bloodworm.

The omnivores are not so picky when it comes to feeding. If you only have pellet-based aquarium foods, you can proceed with peace of mind. But make sure that the size of the foods is adequate for them.

Flying Barb Breeding Guidelines

When it comes to sex, it is indeed easy to differentiate the males and females. Adult males tend to be slimmer than females.

I haven’t found any good sources to let me know how to breed the flying barb in captivity. But what I found from the flying barb owner in a forum, he said that the key to success is a comfortable aquarium without being too populous. Keep the number from eight to ten specimens to allow them to reproduce.

Therefore, to provide them the habitat to support the mating, focus on adding fine substrate and live plants at the bottom of the aquascape. Also, add some natural items like coconut shells or rocks for hiding.

In the original habitats, the ideal spawning time for the flying barb is in the rainy season. In southeast Asian countries,

it should be between October to April. But with the changes in the weather lately, the spawning time can be anytime as long as there are calm flooded areas.

The barbs in the African continent tend to spawn later than April. But the best way to provide spawning opportunities is to replicate the annual cycle of the wet and dry seasons in their original environment.

In this case, the calm and slow-flowing waters are the start. I mentioned back then that you need to add more plants for them to hide due to their shy behaviors. As long as there is some vegetation in the mid to bottom-dwelling areas, they will likely find the chances to mate.

Mates could have shown mating behaviors for several days. And when the eggs are there, maintain the level of pH under 6.8. keep the slow-flowing waters to keep the babies intact.

As long as you can maintain the environment of the tank-like mentioned above, they will reproduce quickly. In no time, you will find out the tank is more populated than before.

But there’s a takeaway. Although it is simple and easy to breed flying companions, I don’t recommend mixing the babies with the other tank mates.

You’d want to separate the breeding tanks only for breeding since the adults and other tank mates might get tempted to devour the eggs. Not to mention their adult species could have eaten their own eggs if they have the chance to do it.