Thanks for stopping by! This complete, comprehensive guide on Cherry Barb care will teach you about their tank parameters, health, diet, behavior, tank pairings, and more!
The Cherry barb (Puntius titteya is their scientific name) is a small, peaceful fish native to Sri Lanka. They are found in freshwater ponds, streams and small rivers, where the water circulation is gentle and there is lots of dense vegetation.
Due to critical issues such as over-fishing and deforestation, the numbers of wild Cherry barbs have fallen dramatically. Cherries within the aquatic trade are mostly captive bred. Thanks to their hardiness, they are great for beginner fish keepers. Their placid nature also makes them perfect to keep in a community aquarium.
The Cherry barb is an extremely popular fish due to is ability to tolerate varied water parameters and its small size. Most aquarist stores will sell these fish or be able to source them fairly quickly. They are an inexpensive addition to your tank, with an average price of $2 per fish.
Cherry Barb Lifespan
Surprisingly, for such a small fish, Cherry barbs have a rather good lifespan. Provided they are kept on a good quality fish food and water parameters are kept stable, Cherry barbs can easily live 5 or 6 years.
As the name suggests, these teeny tropical fish are a bright red color. Males tend to have a bolder red coloration, while the females show paler shades. Cherry barbs have a long, tapered body with fan-shaped fins and tail.
Females are more plump than males and are much easier to spot when carrying eggs. All Cherry barbs have a dark lateral line starting at the mouth and running along to the tail. Some fish have breaks along the line, whereas other have a more striking solid line.
Cherry barbs will max out at 5cm (2 inches) making them a good choice for a smaller tank. The best way to keep Cherries is in a group of 8 or more. They have wonderful shoaling behavior and their small size means you can keep a decent group in a larger community tank.
Cherry Barb Aquarium Care
Although Cherry barbs are a small fish, they are also a schooling species, which means they are happiest when kept in a group. To provide enough swim space for schooling behaviors, the best tank is 15 gallons or larger. This will not only allow for plenty of space, but also give you the option of adding other fish as well to create a community tank.
You can keep Cherry barbs in smaller aquariums of 20-30 litres (5-8 gallons) but it would not be recommended to keep any more than 5 or 6. In a smaller tank, a group of Cherry barbs should be the only fish.
The natural environment of Cherry barbs is fine and silty, so you should opt for either a sand or fine gravel. Darker colors are better, as not only is this replicating their natural habitat, but it will also make their red coloration more vibrant.
You may want to put a layer of planting soil underneath your chosen substrate. Fluorite soil, clay or similar are full of natural nutrients that boost plant health and allow for better growth.
Plants and Decorations
Cherry barbs come from bodies of water with lots of dense vegetation, so you will want to provide a well planted tank for them. If you are a beginner to fish keeper or live plants, choose hardy plants such as Java Fern, Hornwort or Water Wisteria.
These plants grow quickly, with bushy stems and leaves. They only require minimal lighting, so you won’t need to worry too much about their needs. You can also trim these plants when they grow too tall and plant the trimmings to grow new plants!
Cherries do not require hides, as they are quite active fish, however, you may want to add rocks, hides or driftwood for a more natural appearance.
Cherry barbs are from a tropical climate with warm waters, so you will need a heater in your tank. The ideal temperature range is 23-27°C (73-81°F). You should also consider the temperature needs of any other tank inhabitants.
The general rule for heaters 2-5 watts per gallon of water. A 25w heater is suitable for tanks up to 30 litres. You can also use two heaters instead of one.
For example, if you have a 100 litre aquarium, you can either have a 100w heater or you can have 2x 50w heaters placed at opposite ends of the tank. This is a good way of avoiding dramatic temperature changes if one heater breaks.
The natural environment of Cherry barbs is shallow water, so they are used to lots of natural light. Since they inhabit the middle and top layers of the tank, you will be fine with a simple LED bulb.
If you have light plants, try to choose a bulb that emits both blue and white light. The blue light will be beneficial to your plant growth.
The basis to any good aquarium cleaning routine is a filter. It doesn’t matter if this is a built in filter, an external filter or a sponge filter. Provided it is suitable for the size of your aquarium, you can’t really go wrong.
More expensive options have better functionality such as being able to alter the direction or strength of the water flow. If you are unsure, get advice from your local aquarium store or the manufacturer of your tank.
Regular water changes should also be part of your aquarium cleaning schedule. At least 20% weekly is best. This is for a number of reason. Most importantly, it helps to remove toxins that the filter hasn’t caught. Water changes can also trigger mating behaviors in some fish and if you have shrimp in your Cherry barb tank, a water change will trigger a molt.
Cherry Barb Health
Cherry barbs are generally tough little fish, but there are a couple of things you should look out for.
Common Health Issues: as with any tropical fish, Cherry barbs are prone to fungal infections like Ich, which shows as white spots along the body. This can be easily prevented by performing regular water changes and replacing your filter cartridge or sponge each month.
Smaller fish are more susceptible to over-feeding, which can cause bloat and other swim bladder issues. If you suspect your fish has such a problem, do not put any food in your tank for 24 hours. This will fix most instances of over-feeding.
Healthy Signs: a health Cherry barb will be active and eager to eat. They will also have bright coloration. Fading in color or hiding from the group are clear signs of illness or stress.
Cherry Barb Food & Diet
Cherry barbs can be fussy eaters, so you may find that they take to one brand of food, but completely ignore another. Choose a high quality tropical flake food and supplement their diet with bloodworms or brine shrimp for protein. Live food is great because it encourages more natural behavior.
Behavior & Temperament
Depending on the size of your group, you should see your Cherry barbs moving as one unit. The more fish in the group, the more mesmerizing their movements will be. A larger group also gives the fish more confidence, so they will displace more natural behaviors.
If you have a group smaller than 6, you may notice your fish hiding more among the plants. A larger group will be more confident and will occupy the open swim space more than the planted areas.
Cherry Barb Fish Pairing
They are a calm and peaceful fish, able to co-habit a tank quite happily with most other peaceful species.
Rasboras, Danios, Tetras and other peaceful barbs are all great options. Corydoras are another good tankmate, as they stay at the bottom of the tank.
You can also choose non-fish species. Snails and shrimp are both suitable tankmates and the live plants should provide cover for any babies.
Cherry Barb Is A Great Aquarium Addition
Cherry Barb FAQ
- What fish can live with cherry barbs?
Any similar sized peaceful fish can share a tank with Cherry barbs. You can also add snails or shrimps to your aquarium.
- How many cherry barbs should be kept together?
They should be kept in a group of at least 4 or 5, but 8-10 is best to see more natural behavior.
- Is Cherry Barb aggressive?
They are a peaceful fish and will only show occasional aggression during egg laying/mating.
- Are cherry barbs schooling fish?
Yes, the more Cherries the better! Bigger groups give them more confidence.
Cherry barbs are a great addition to any tank, however, you should consider carefully if you truly want them. Due to their natural habitat suffering deforestation and over-fishing a widespread issue, the numbers of Cherry barbs in the wild is falling all the time.
They do make the perfect community tank fish thanks to their small size and peaceful nature, plus, they look amazing!