Cherry Barb has become one of the most popular freshwater fish in the aquarium space, perhaps more than any other barb.
This is obviously due to its many desirable qualities. It has almost all you can wish for in an aquarium fish.
If you are someone that wants a species that will undeniably standout in the tank this fish got you covered. Cherry Barb is one of the most colorful freshwater fish out there.
Unlike Tiger Barbs for example, these fish aren’t bullies and are great candidates for most peaceful community tanks. Which means, you won’t be so restricted when it comes to choosing tank mates.
Above all, they are quite hardy which is why they are ideal for aquarists of all experience level.
However, you still need to know all it takes to keep them successfully so that you can have a very fun and rewarding experience.
This guide covers all you need to know about keeping the Cherry Barb from tank size, water parameters, tank mates, diet, common diseases and much more.
Let get to it!
Cherry barb (Puntius titteya) is a member of the well-know Cyprinidae family which happens to be the largest family of fish in the world.
These fish originated from the freshwater ponds and slow-moving water of Sri Lanka. The area is heavily shaded by canopies and light barely penetrate the canopies.
The base of the water usually gets covered by roots systems and fallen debris from the surrounding vegetation. Thanks to this, the water in the area is slightly acidic.
Generally, Cherry barbs thrive in a tropic climate with subtle temperature fluctuations.
These fish have also been found in Panama, Mexico and Columbia according to some reports. In all likelihood, they were unwittingly released to those areas by hobbyists.
The fact that they were able to quickly adapt to those areas only proves their hardiness.
In 1994 they were listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Many people believe part of the reason for their population decline is that they were over caught for the aquarium trade.
While this could be one of the reasons, the obvious cause was contamination and total disappearance of some portion of their habitat. Different places where you could easily find them before are now no longer existing.
Fortunately, their population is quite booming in the aquarium trade.
Cherry Barb Care Snippet
- Maximum fish size: 2.0 inch
- Minimum tank size: 25 gallons
- Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner – Expert
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Temperature: 73°F to 81°F
- PH: 6.0 to 8.0
- Hardness: 5 to 19 dH
- Diet: Omnivore
- Care Level: Easy
- Ideal tank mates: Neon Tetra, Ember Tetra, Chili Rasbora, Guppies, Cory Catfish, Sparkling Gourami, Honey Gourami, Mollies, et Cetra
Appearance is where the Cherry Barbs mostly got their popularity. As you would guess, these fish possess a red cherry-like body coloration, usually more vibrant in males.
The entirety of the body is covered in that color except around the middle where a dark line runs from mouth to caudal fin.
Thanks to that slightly faded lateral line and their pronounced scales, their body can appear engraved from the right angle.
During breeding times, males tend to become even more vibrant. Most hobbyists keep cherry barbs because of how gorgeous they look especially in a well-planted tank.
The color combination between them and the tanks greenery create an attractive looking scenery that is hard to not fall in love with.
In terms of body shape, they have a long slender hydrodynamic body. This will explain how they can move swiftly in water.
Their dorsal fin is situated around the middle of the body and looks quite similar to that of other barbs like Checker Barb and Gold Barb. Their pectoral and anal fins are a bit smaller than the dorsal fin.
There is also an albino version of these fish which was created using genetic selection. They differ a bit in terms of behavior but they require the same water conditions as the normal ones.
It’s important to know the differences in appearance between male and female cherry barbs.
The differences go like this;
- Males usually exhibit more intense red/cherry coloration while females tend to be rather faded.
- Males are usually slimmer while females tend to have rounder stomach.
- The lateral line that divides their body is usually browner in females
- Females have clearer fins than males.
Considering the males are generally nicer looking due to sexual dimorphism would explain why some hobbyists keep more of them in their tank.
But one thing you need to note is that when you have more males in the tanks aggression is bound to occur between the males.
Not to mention that the males will keep pressuring the few females in the tank during breeding times.
You need to at least have 2 females per male to lower the occurrences of fighting and bullying in the tank.
The females will still add splashes of color to your tank, so there is no reason to underrate them.
Cherry barbs have a maximum size of about 2 inches. This can be affected by the standard of care they receive and genetic factors.
Cherry Barb Lifespan
Cherry Barbs lifespan ranges between 5 to 7 years. The keys to prolonging their lifespan are ideal habitat set up, appropriately sized school, proper diet and ideal tank mates inclusion.
It’s not unlikely for these fish to live pass that 7 years’ mark because some owners were able to keep theirs for around 8 years. Commit to providing yours with first-rate care and they will have a short at reaching that 7 years’ mark.
Who knows whether you will be the next to report a new lifespan record, that would be amazing!
Temperament and general behavior
If you are someone who likes to see lots of activity in their tank you are gonna love Cherry Barbs. All you need to do is keep them in a decently sized school, yes cherry barbs are schooling fish.
You also need to make sure you don’t have any aggressive or large fish that will bully them in the tank.
They mostly stick to swimming in the middle section of the tank. When not in groups, they become really shy and inactive. This is the behavior of a typical schooling fish. Being in groups make them feel more confident, secure and happier.
A general rule of keeping them is the more you can keep the better.
Cherry Barbs need to be kept in a school of at least 5, and don’t forget about the male to female ratio I talked about earlier.
For the most part, cherry barbs are peaceful. They show no aggression to any tank mate and prefer doing their thing. They only show aggression during mating.
This is nothing to worry about especially if you have more males than females in the tank.
Tank size and Requirements
The recommended minimum tank size for keeping the cherry barbs is 25 gallons. Any tank less than this will not be adequate to accommodate that school of 5 and still provide the space for the necessary vegetation and decorations the fish will need to thrive.
After choosing the appropriately sized tank, you need to equip the tank with all the fish requires to have a chance at thriving.
You need to make sure to mimic the nature of their habitat in the tank as much as possible. This will help them adapt easier.
These are the elements their tank needs: substrate, aquascape, tank decorations and filtration system.
It’s essential you use a substrate that closely resembles their habitats. A dark silty substrate is what you will find in the Cherry Barbs habitat.
The obvious choice for their tank would be very dark sand. This substrate will come with the added benefit of making them stand out even more as opposed to a lighter substrate.
Forget the fact that they look way cooler in a well-planted tank, their habitat is also enriched with lots of vegetation as we said before. So to mimic that, you have to make sure their tank is well planted.
There are no specific plants that you must use. But I recommend you stick to easy-care aquarium plants like Hornwort, Anacharis or Java Fern.
Remember that Cherry Barbs like to have plenty of areas they can hide in, especially the females during breeding period. They are also used to having roots systems in the waters they inhabit.
For these reasons, you need to equip their tank with driftwoods, pieces of rocks and caves.
That said, make sure you don’t cramp up the tank with these elements so they can have plenty of space they can roam about.
Luckily, Cherry Barbs are substantially hardy and can survive some fluctuations in water parameters. This is one of the main reason why they are ideal for beginners keeping.
However, this is not to say that you can relax when it comes to their care.
You should strive to achieve and maintain their ideal conditions just like you are keeping a non-hardy fish.
Do this and you will get to reap the benefit of having a very healthy fish which will have a shot at exhausting its full expected lifespan. Perhaps even more!
It has been established that Cherry Barbs do best when kept in water with the following parameters.
- Water temperature: 73°F to 81°F
- Water Hardness: 5 to 19 dH
- pH: 6 to 8
To maintain these parameters, you have to make use of qualitative test kits and test the water regularly.
Cherry Barb Food and Diet
With the habit of eating all they can fit in their mouth, Cherry Barbs can not anything but omnivorous. Plant detritus, worms, small insects, algae, diatoms, zooplankton and crustaceans are what makes mots of their diet in the wild.
In captivity, you have lots of options on what to feed them. You can choose high-quality flake foods with some percentage of plant material to make the most of their diet. Occasionally, you can feed them protein-enriched foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp and daphnia.
By doing this, you are diversifying their diet which will make them happy. Who doesn’t want something different every now and then?
It’s highly recommended you avoid overfeeding them so as not contaminate the water and harm the fish. Feed them 2 to 3 times daily and watch as they consume the food.
This will help you become familiar with their feeding habit and capability, so that you can avoid underfeeding.
Cherry Barbs are pretty simple to breed which is part of the reason why keeping them is so rewarding. There won’t be many preparations from your part at the beginning of the process.
All you need is a separate tank for the breeding pairs and another tank for the eggs.
When they are ready to spawn you will notice the cherry like color of the males becomes more saturated. They will also start displaying aggressive behaviors.
The breeding tank needs to be a little smaller than the main tank. You need to make sure that the tank is heavily planted as well. Otherwise, they will think the environment is unfit for them to spawn since they use plant covers to hide and protect their eggs in the wild.
You can also help them by dropping spawning mop in the tank to collect the eggs easily.
The breeding tank needs to have low water movement, low light level and slightly more acidic water to resemble their habitats.
Once they are ready the female will lay her eggs, she can lay a total of 300 hundred eggs. At this stage, you should quickly remove the eggs to protect them from getting eaten by the parents.
After a few days, the eggs will hatch and you can start feeding them micro worms until they become matured enough to eat brine shrimp.
They tend to grow quickly, so after 2 months, they can be safely relocated to the main tank.
Cherry Barb Tank Mates
Ideal tank mates inclusion is one of the keys to prolonging the lifespan of a fish like a cherry barb.
Size, temperament and water parameters are essentially the main factors one has to consider before housing two different fish together.
Any fish that is big enough to stress your Cherry Barb is not an ideal mate. It doesn’t need to be big enough to swallow them before you can ditch it. This is the reason why it’s not always ideal to keep them with Tiger Barbs.
In terms of temperament, Cherry Barbs are quite peaceful and will not do well in a tank with aggressive species whether big or small. That means you should avoid keeping them with species like Pea Puffer, Bettas, Paradise Fish and aggressive cichlids like Jack Dempsey, Convict Cichlid to mention a few.
The ideal tank mates for these fish would be a peaceful fish within their size bracket. These are some of the most ideal tank mates for the Cherry Barbs.
- Tetras e.g Neon Tetra, Cardinal Tetra, Ember Tetra
- Rasbora e.g Harlequin Rasbora, Chili Rasbora
- Celestial Pearl Danio (Galaxy Rasbora)
- White Cloud Minnows
- Gouramis e.g Sparkling Gourami, Honey Gourami
- Kuli Loach
- Otocinclus Catfish
- Clown Loach
- Rainbow Shark
It’s worth stressing that you should only consider other tank mates when you have the recommended school of Cherry Barb.
Because of their hardy and sturdy nature, Cherry Barbs do not have a species-specific ailment. Having said that, you need to know there isn’t any species that cannot be affected by any kind of diseases.
It only becomes hard for your fish to get sick if its hardy and receiving some top-notch care.
Cherry Barbs become prone to some of the most common freshwater diseases like ich and fin rot when their water quality drops significantly or when their diet is poor.
Starting with ich, this disease is caused by a parasite that makes the fish body appear as if its sprinkled with salt.
As the name would suggest, it causes the feeling of itch in which case you will see the fish attempting to rub itself against objects.
Ich in most cases can be simply cured by increasing the temperature of the water by 2 or 3 degrees for 48 hours.
Fin rot on the other hand, can be caused by either a bacteria or fungi and happens in most cases when the tank is dirty.
You will notice the edge of the fish fin appears as if it is torn. If not treated quickly, the fins may even start to fall off, unfortunately.
The easiest way to remedy fin rot is by re-establishing clean water conditions. This is one more reason to use a very qualitative test kit so that you can make sure the water condition is always in the zone.
Anti-bacterial medication like Tetracycline and Chloramphenicol is also applied in the water to treat fin rot.
I highly recommend you develop the habit of observing your fish activity.
This won’t take much effort seeing as the fish are amazingly beautiful.
You will become familiar with the rhythm of their activity. Once you understand that, you will be able to quickly realise when there is a problem
Provided you follow the recommended parameters and guidelines for keeping a clean tank you won’t have to worry much about your Cherry Barb getting sick.
There aren’t many freshwater fish out there that provide all the advantages the Cherry Barb provides. I hope you have realized by know keeping these fish is about as easy as it can get.
Caring for them entails using a suitably sized aquarium that can house a school of at least 5.
Next to this, you need to provide them with tank conditions that closely resemble their habitat with vegetation and everything. Ideal tank conditions won’t matter much if they are not always maintained.
If you have the intention of introducing other species to their tank, you need to make sure they are ideal. Like pretty much any other aquarium fish, they require a high-quality varied diet.
This virtually sums up the Cherry Barbs care.
However experienced you are, this fish could be a great option for you. In all likelihood, they will have a lot to do with your increased passion for the hobby should you choose to keep them.
I hope this guide has provided you with all you need to know about keeping the Cherry Barb.
Please feel free to rich out if you have any question we haven’t covered or if you have any info you think will help improve this guide. We’ll be more than happy if you do.
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