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Barb Fish tropical Care guide

Barb fish are one of the most colorful and beautiful fish species around the world, and are known for their different characteristics within their species, and are a relatively easy fish to keep and care for.

However, there are some important things to know before getting barb fish - (for example, information on how to breed them properly and so much more), but do not worry, with this article, you'll know everything about them, so let's get started.

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Rosy Barb FishRosy Barb Fish


Barb fish or best known as "barbs" are the most regular or commonly seen fish in home aquariums . When one person refers to barbs, it is almost like talking about Indonesia for all the similarities they have.

In particular, it's easy to find them in different places of the world, starting with their three homes, the rivers in Borneo, the peninsula of Malay, in Sumatra (One of the barbs contains this name in honor to this place) and in different parts of the Asian continent.

If they grow up in their natural homes, they can reach a length of 10 centimeters and a width of 4 to 5 centimeters, however, if barb fish are growing in your aquarium tank , they will adapt to the environment and their body will be considerably smaller, as well as their color, which can be different between natural and home-bred barb fish.

You can notice differences in the females of this particular species, their body will be fatter and rounder than the male fish, this data is kind of useful for breeders.

The principal reason why you can see this tropical fish in almost every place of the world is because they are not so sensitive to water quality, they can easily adapt to different environments, and their lifespan is around the six to seven years, so these fish are perfect for beginners, but, how is their behaviour? 

Barb Fish Behaviour

This species has good and friendly behavior when they are swimming happily how-ever, their temperament can change in specific circumstances.

The most common one is the lack of food, barb fish need to eat well, and when they are hungry, you will notice that their movements are more aggressive - so to avoid this, make sure that you are feeding your fish correctly. 

Another possible reason of why your barb fish might be angry is for the water conditions, they will make irregular swimming movements when they are not feeling comfortable or relaxed -  this can be due to either an incorrect water parameters or for the lack of oxygen to breathe.

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The last one can be lethal if it's not noticed and rectified soon. Tiger barbs (a specific family of the barb tropical fish) tends to have a particular posture when they are resting (they get in an awkward nose down position).

If you interrupt their resting then it's possible that their behaviour will change, making them more aggressive with some of the other fish in your tank - so it is better not to disturb your barb fish when they are resting.

Green Tiger Barb FishGreen Tiger Barb Fish

Barb Fish Types


There are different species in the barbs fish family, they have some similarities between them as well as some notable differences like color patterns in the body.

The appearance of males and females are slightly different, the body of the females are a little larger than the males, especially when they are in pregnancy period where their belly will be more rounder. 

Here is a list of the 4 most common barbs fishes for home aquariums:

  • Rosy Barb: Is easily the most larger and popular member of the barbs family, their fame is known for their incredible "water-tolerant" behaviour, making them one of the first fish that beginner fish hobbyists can care for in their new fish tanks. 

  • Tiger Barb: When someone is talking about barb fish, they usually refer to tiger barbs. These could well be the second choice for tropical fish beginners, however, these particular fish love to nip fins, but they only do this with smaller fish. So, for this reason, it is best to keep similar sized fish within your new fish tank.

  • Gold Barb: They are incredibly common in different places of the world and famous for the easy care they require, making them a great choice for beginners. In nature, the color of their body is green, however, with the passing of age, they developed an amazing gold-hybrid color, and for that motive, they become highly popular. They are friendly and passive, so any fish beginner who chooses them should put them with other community fish.

  • Tinfoil Barb: The largest species of the barb family, they are not so famous because they require large aquariums to live, a minimum of 50 gallon tank to be exact. Breeders sell them when they are very small (like an inch or 2 long) so many owners don't know that they will become very large. Therefore they are NOT suited for home aquariums. They are compatible with some other large fish species including clown loach and fire eels and like to swim in fast flowing  aquariums.
Gold Barb FishGold Barb Fish

Barb Fish Tank Set Up

Ideal Habitat And Tank Conditions:

Generally, when you set up your tank for barb fish, it is a very good idea to buy the largest tank that you can afford because it is easy to underestimate the amount of space the barb fish may need.

But remember they are small fish. It is recommended to have at least 6-8 barb fish in your aquarium for they like to live in a group and play with members of the same species. However you will see that two males will pick up a fight - don't worry, this is normal in this group.

They fight to see who will become the leader of the group. When you keep barb fish, you will notice something very particular, they tend to stay away from open spaces, so you have to add some big plants with big leaves for cover and shelter.

Barbs also love the light, so you will need good lighting - perhaps LED for the tank to maintain their upkeep and overall care.

Ideal Temperature And P.H:

Barb fish are quite hardy because they can adapt easily to different water parameters but, when they live in tanks they prefer at least one water change per month. The temperature needs to be slightly warm to simulate the levels of their natural homes as well as a pH neutral water condition.

When you change the aquarium water, your fish will be feeling like they have moved into a new aquarium, It is very important to remove the nitrates, nitrites and ammonia to keep the aquarium water crystal clear - which will increase the lifespan of barb fish.

The level of pH required tends to be a minimum of 6.0 and a maximum of 8.0 to guarantee a good and healthy environment for these fish.

If you see that the pH levels are irregular you can add some driftwood to the tank so that the pH levels revert back to normal and also barb fish loves driftwood because they tend to nibble on it.

Another solution is to add some sodium bicarbonate. Simply add a teaspoon of it for every five gallons of water that the tank contains - always remember to place the barbs into a separate tank when carrying out this procedure.

Tinfoil Barb FishTinfoil Barb Fish

What is the ideal tank size needed?

Normally to maintain a healthy and happy group of barb fish - ( except tinfoil barbs )  you will need at least a 10-gallon fish tank, ideally a 20-gallon fish tank, in which you will add a certain number of vegetation and decorations to guarantee a well-kept fish aquarium.

However, the tank can be a little smaller if you are not going to have more than 6 barbs. But remember a larger tank is much easier to maintain than a smaller one.

Barb fish Tank Mates

The tank mates of barb fish can be wonderfully different depending on which species of barb tropical fish you have: for tiger barbs, the best mates are fish which are similar in size and behavior such as the Molly Fish or Platy Fish.

On the other hand, Rosy Barbs need to be put with fish that are quick swimmers like Neon tetras and Gouramis. But some fish can be mates of every species of barbs like Cory Catfish, because they are small and not so slow, so they are the perfect friends of the barbs in general. 

However, the best friend of barb fish is their same species, you can make an aquarium with rosy barbs, tiger barbs, gold barbs, and so many others, and they will happily co-exist together in the same large fish tank. 

As an alternative, females of molly fish are a good option for male barbs, however, never put a male molly with another male barb, because they don't get along, and they will end up fighting with each other. 

Another thing to consider is that you cannot put a much larger fish in the same tank of barb fish, because the barb fish will get eaten by the large fish.

Female Cherry Barb FishFemale Cherry Barb Fish

Barb Fish Feeding

In general, barb fish like to eat different types of food, but the most common food are fish flakes, pellets, brine shrimps and they also love zucchini or lettuce with spinach (as a more cheaper option).

They require to be fed at least twice per day however, you can feed them once per day without any extra problems. 

barb Fish Care Guide

As previously mentioned, barb fish require minimum requirements to take care of them properly, although it is necessary to change the water at least once per month if you want to create a happy and healthy aquarium.

This can be easily done by adding driftwood to your tank or even to add pH chemicals to adjust the levels of pH. This is necessary because some diseases can affect barb fish if you don't change the water often enough. 

Another essential task is feeding these fish properly. It is necessary to prepare a balanced diet to increase the lifespan of your barbs. You can feed them once or twice a day but never overfeed them as this can prove fatal for them.

Cleaning the tank frequently is required to avoid any health issues, you can do this with the help of someone that knows how, or you can do it all by yourself - (which can be a lot of fun).

When you are finished cleaning the tank, check if all the mechanisms are working properly, the pump and the filter are vital for fish health, so don't forget to clean these too.

To create a peaceful behaviour in your barb fish, it's recommended to have at least 6-8  members of barbs to keep as a shoal in your aquarium. Doing so will improve their health, so they can live longer and happier.

How to Breed barb Fish

Breeding your barb fish is quite straightforward -  the first thing you will do is prepare the platform to breed your barb fish, separate the males from the female fish to avoid any fight or aggressive behaviour.

 If you can put them in different tanks this will be much better.

Feed them with the most nutritious food that you can find and do a water change (usually a third of the tank's volume) for a better temperature and breeding environment.

With this, the females are ready to start the process of laying their eggs. Once this is done, the male barbs need to be put in the zone where the females are living, and by the natural conditions, a male fish and a female fish will be prepared to breed, if they don't then you only have to continue feeding them with nutritious food. 

If you leave them alone, in the next four or five days the female fish will be pregnant and when you see her belly bloated then it will be time to lay her eggs. When the female is laying her eggs, the male will help with the fertilization process, the female barbs can produce at least hundred eggs, this is done normally in the next few hours.

The most important part of the breeding process is to protect the eggs from their parents - as they are liable to eat them.

Use more plants of the aquarium as a method of self-protection for the eggs or if possible, place the other adult fish in separate tanks to guarantee the security of the eggs. If this process is done properly, the barb eggs will hatch in about five or six days. 

Tiger Barb FishTiger Barb Fish

Conclusion - Are These Barb Fish Suitable for your fish tank?

Barb fish are quite easy to keep, so they are perfect for beginners who are just starting with their aquarium. If you follow all the different tips and recommendations provided, then everything will be perfect and you can create a beautiful home for these colorful fish.

However make sure that they are not lonely. It is very important to have proper tank mates to maintain good and friendly behaviour and remember to change the water and add lots of vegetation and driftwood to the tank.

Barbs are famous around the world for being one of the easiest fish to care for, so they will fit right in your aquarium without any major issues. You only have to clean and maintain your fish tank, and feed them well with different foods to avoid any long term health issues.

So why wait - Barb fish are a excellent addition to any medium sized tropical fish aquarium. Buy some today!

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