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Gold Barb Species Overview, Care & Breeding Guide

If you’re looking for a beautiful freshwater fish for your peaceful community tank, the gold barb can be the perfect addition!

It is a no-fuss species that will eat just about anything you can offer and demands no special tank decoration requirements.

So, if you are curious to know more about this darling, keep reading!

Species Overview

OriginVietnam, Red river basin in southwestern China, northern Laos, Taiwan
Scientific NameBarbodes semifasciolatus
Common NamesGold barb, Chinese barb, half-banded barb, green barb, half-stripes barb, Chinese half-striped barb, Schubert’s barb, six-banded barb, China barb, gold finned barb, Barbel.
IUCN Red List StatusLeast Concern
Appearancegolden yellow color with black vertical stripes that run across its body
SizeUsually up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in), Maximum: up to 7-8 cm (approx. 3 in)
Lifespan4-6 years, with great care 7 years
Tank LevelMid to bottom-dwelling
Water Temperature64-75 °F (18-24 °C)
pH Level6-8
Water HardnessUp to 10 dGH
Care LevelEasy
Minimum Tank Size30 gallons for 5 members
Tank EnvironmentSpacious, well-lit, fine-grain substrate with live plants, rocks, and caves
DietOmnivorous, has scavenger tendencies
Tank MatesOwn group, other peaceful species of similar size

Natural Habitat

This gold barb fish is native to Vietnam, the Red River basin in southwestern China, northern Laos, and Taiwan.

However, in Taiwan, the fish is at risk due to loss or degradation of habitat.

It has also been found in Russia, but it is unknown if the Russian population is naturally occurring or not.

This barb likes to stay in slow-flowing and standing water bodies such as swamps and irrigation channels.

Due to accidental introduction through the aquarium trade, it is found worldwide now, including in the USA. It turned into a feral and invasive species in Hawaii and Singapore.

According to The IUCN Red List Status of Threatened Species assessment of 2011, this fish was marked Least Concern.


This fish belongs to the Cyprinidae family under the Cypriniformes order and is scientifically known as Barbodes semifasciolatus.

However, the species is popularly known by many names like Chinese barb, gold barb, half-banded barb, green barb, half-stripes barb, Chinese half-striped barb, Schubert’s barb, six-banded banded barb, China barb, gold-finned barb, and Barbel.

Fun Fact: Gold barb is pretty much similar to Barbodes snyderi. But the former is leaner with 4-5 vertical marks. While the latter has only tiny barbels with 7-9 dark vertical marks.


Gold barb looking at you

Now, if you want to know how you can recognize this fish, let us tell you the details here!


Commonly, the adult gold barb grows up to 3.5 cm (1.4 in). However, the largest size that this fish has reportedly grown to is 7-8 cm (2.8-3.2 in).


This gold barb is originally green in color in the wild. But in the aquarium trade, you will find this fish having a golden yellow color with 4-5 black vertical marks that run across its body.

This difference in color from the wild strain is due to selective breeding by an American hobbyist Thomas Schubert in the 1960s.

The juveniles have 3-5 dots on the mid-lateral scale row which becomes larger and fuses with the ones at the fin bases to form the dotted stripes. Its back is reddish brown, and the sides can also look brassy or yellow-green.

The fish fins are almost translucent. But some strains have reddish fins.

The fish has some other color variants like albino, pink, and tricolor varieties which are black, yellow, and pink. Among all, the gold strain is the most popular.

Note: Captive selective bred gold barbs were assumed to be a different species and even given a separate binomial name: Puntius semifasciolatus var. Schuberti. But later, it was found that the wild and captive ones were the same species.


The gold barb is highly recognizable because of its steeply sloped back. The fish’s mouth is tilted backward and has two short barbels at the corner of the mouth.

Its last simple dorsal fin is serrated posteriorly.

The species has big eyes on each side of its head and smooth thin lips. The groove behind its lips is interrupted medially.

Its body has lateral scale rows and 12-15 gill rakers on the first-gill arch.

Sexual Dimorphism

Usually, the male has a more streamlined shape and is smaller in size. The belly of the male turns red to red-orange when it is ready to spawn.

Females have duller colorations with rounded bellies and are usually larger than males.

Behavior & Temperament

The gold barb fish is peaceful, and it gets on well with other fish who share its temperament. It likes to stay in schools of its kind. In fact, larger groups make the fish happier and healthier.

Further, its behavior becomes interesting when two rival male gold barbs compete for a female’s attention or a higher position in the hierarchy.

When stressed, this fish may nip fins and destroy aquarium plants.


The average lifespan of this species is 4-6 years; however, in my experience, it can live up to 7 years with the best care.

Author’s Note: The gold barb reaches reproductive maturity at 10-11 months, and the females sexually mature earlier than the males.

Gold Barb Care

Two gold barbs in tank

If you want to bring this little fish home, you have to make it happy with a proper home. Let us tell you how to do that.

Tank Size

Since this fish likes to school with its own kind, you have to keep 5 of them together. For this, you need a 30-gallon tank.

It is very active in schools, so you can go for a larger tank as well. If you add members to the school or add other tank mates, increase the tank size accordingly.

Water Chemistry

Gold barbs are sturdy fish, but only if you maintain the right water conditions, i.e.,

  • pH Levels: 6-8
  • Water Temperature: 64-75 °F (18-24 °C)
  • Water Hardness: Up to 10 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: Below 20 ppm

Tank Environment

The home of your fish should mimic its natural environment to keep it stress-free. So let’s get into the details here.


Use a few layers of fine-grain soft and sieved sand as the substrateto keep your gold barb comfortable. This is important to protect your fish as it often tries to dig into the bottom. A darker substrate will bring out the shiny color of this species.


Gold barb needs lots of live plants to feel at home. But plan it appropriately so that there’s enough space in the middle of the tank for it to swim around.

According to some, it’s not wise to keep this species in a planted aquarium. This is because they uproot plants when stressed.

But don’t prevent your barbs from playing around in bushes. Instead, you must invest in strong-stemmed and strong-rooted plants. Some recommendations are java ferns, cryptocoryne, anubias, and hornworts.


Gold barbs require daylight, so standard tank lighting should be enough. However, requirements change during breeding because this species prefers dim lighting when spawning.


You can add rock caves, driftwood, stones, snags, and other ornaments to decorate this tank. All of these provide suitable hiding spots for the fish.

Make sure you keep the tank lid tightly on at all times. This is a jumper fish and might make a fatal jump when agitated.


A soft sponge filter should be used to get rid of impurities and keep water flow to a minimum. A hang-on back filtration system can also be used.

Water Flow Rate

This fish likes slow-flowing to almost standing water to swim around.

Fish Care Tip: To keep the water clean and unpolluted, keep changing 20% to 30% of the water volume each month.

Food & Diet

Gold barb is a no-fuss eater and prefers an omnivorous diet. In the wild, it feasts on algae, diatoms, small insects, worms, crustaceans, organic detritus, and similar.

In the aquarium, it will also eat just about anything. Make sure you build a diverse diet plan for good health. You can try the following foods:

  • Flake
  • Pellet
  • Freeze-dried food
  • Frozen food
  • Insects
  • Brine shrimp
  • Worms
  • Bloodworms
  • Daphnia
  • Moina
  • Shrimp pellets
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Grindal worms
  • Algae wafers

Feed them once or twice daily and wipe off any remaining, uneaten food from the water.

Tank Mates

Since the gold barb is a schooling fish, it loves to have tank mates of its own kind, so keep at least 5 of them together. If you can invest in a bigger tank, you can also keep 8-10 of them.

It will behave well in barb-themed setups and with other peaceful fish. Some potential tank mates can be:

Tank Mates to Avoid

There are also some species you must never house with a gold barb. Here’s a quick peek into that:

  • Aggressive species: Barbs will be scared of them
  • Slow-moving long-finned species: Barbs can display fin-nipping behavior.
  • Smaller species: These may become prey for your barb

Some fish that are not compatible with gold barbs are:

  • Tiger barb
  • Goldfishes
  • Angelfishes
  • Bettas
  • Cherry shrimp

Common Diseases

Gold barb is robust and not prone to any diseases. But look out for the signs of these freshwater fish diseases that might inflict on your pet.

Disease NameCausesSymptomsTreatment
Freshwater IchParasitic infectionWhite spots on the skin, withdrawn attitude, loss of appetite, not schooling, and rapid breathingAdd aquarium salt and copper sulfate, elevate water temperature
Fin rotBacterial Infection, poor water quality, and contact with sick fishLoss of color, ripping fins, loss of appetite, and lethargyAquarium salt and antibiotics, enhance water quality, remove physically injurious decor
ColumnarisBacterial InfectionWhite or grey patches, lethargy, loss of appetiteWater quality enhancement, antibiotics, stress reduction
DropsyInfection, body fluid build-up, stress, poor water qualityBloated stomach, swimming at the bottom, going into hiding, lethargy, and loss of appetiteSalt baths and medication
Swim Bladder DiseaseBacterial infectionStruggling to remain stable, lying on its sideFeed daphnia and shelled peas, antibiotics treatment

Quick Tip: Don’t expose the fish to high temperatures around 82 °F (28 °C) for too long.

Breeding & Reproduction

Gold barb is quite easily bred, but a proper setup will further increase your chances. So, keep reading to know it all.

Specimen Obtaining & Conditioning

Choose a plump female and a brightly colored male. These characteristics show that they are ready for spawning. You can also get a group of equal numbers of males and females, depending on your tank size.

Condition the pair before placing them in a breeding tank. Feed them nutritious food like brine shrimp for 2-3 days.

Tank Preparation

Choose a tank size depending on the number of specimens you’ll work with. For one male and one female, 20 gallons is ideal. However, for 3 males and 3 females, choose a 40-gallon tank.

The breeding tank should be dimly lit and have a very soft water flow. Add a sponge filter or air stones to maintain a healthy environment and prevent the fry from getting sucked in.

Use plants like java moss to provide the female with a leafy cover. A mesh cover layer or marbles can be added to the bottom to allow the eggs to fall through.

Maintain the following water parameters:

  • Water Temperature: 75 °F (24 °C)
  • pH Levels: 6-7
  • Water Hardness: 8 dGH

Mating Process

This species spawns during dawn. The male circles around the female and nudges her to position her near the spot he has chosen for spawning. The female will release about 300 eggs which will be fertilized by the male.

Adults should be immediately separated from the eggs as this species feasts on them soon after fertilization.

Incubation & Fry Development

The pale yellow eggs hatch within 2-3 days of fertilization, and the fry becomes free swimming in about 24 hours.

The fry will feed on the yolk sac for the first few days. After a few days, you can move on to fine dry food, infusoria, and freshly hatched brine shrimp to meet their nutritional needs.

Fry Tank Maintenance

The fry tank should have dim light as these are sensitive to lighting until they are several weeks old.

Quick Buying Tips

  • Buy gold barb from a trusted breeder or pet store that has clean aquariums and no unhealthy fish in the tank. The fish is unhealthy if it has torn fins, white spots, or brown patches on the body.
  • Make sure the barbs you choose are lively with clear, bright eyes.

A word from FIA

It’s a pretty sight to watch gold barbs swimming about in your aquarium like glimmering little flames. The sturdy little things are great for both beginners and experts. And they can keep you entertained for hours with their antiques.

So, if this think-piece has convinced you to give some love to this species, share it with other enthusiasts. Let them discover the wonders of this fish along with you.

And, if you have any questions on your journey with this fish, definitely drop an email, and we will sort things out in no time!