Cherry Barb: Care, Tank Mates, Diet, Breeding & More

Are you considering adding a Cherry Barb to your aquarium? These small but lively fish are popular among beginner and experienced fish keepers thanks to their vibrant red color and playful personalities.

But before bringing one (or more!) home, it’s essential to understand their care requirements, compatible tank mates, preferred diet, and breeding habits.

In this blog post, we’ll cover all you need to know about Cherry Barbs so that you can give your new fish the best possible home.



The cherry barb is a popular freshwater fish from the Cyprinidae family. It is known for its vibrant red coloration and distinctive dark stripe that runs down its body. These fish are active and peaceful, making them suitable for community aquariums.

They are native to Sri Lanka and can also be found in parts of Mexico and Colombia.

Origin and Distribution

The Cherry Barb is a freshwater fish from Sri Lanka, specifically the Kelani and Nilwala river basins. While there have been reports of this species being found in parts of Southern India, it has yet to be scientifically verified. On average, the lifespan of a Cherry Barb is typically between 5 to 7 years.

The Cherry Barb has also been discovered in Mexico and Colombia, most likely due to accidental introduction by humans. Unfortunately, the population of Cherry Barbs in the wild is declining due to excessive harvesting and habitat loss.

As a result, they are now categorized as vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List. Aquarists must consider their willingness to care for these fish as they face conservation challenges.

Physical Appearance

The Cherry Barb is a visually striking fish that captivates aquarists with its vibrant red coloration. Males exhibit a brilliant shade of cherry red, while females have a slightly paler orange hue. Both genders possess a distinctive dark line that runs down their sides, giving them a dotted appearance from certain angles.

These barbs have a slender body shape, allowing them to maneuver through the water gracefully. Their fins are translucent, with the males’ fins displaying a more vibrant color. On average, the lifespan of a Cherry Barb is typically between 5 to 7 years.

With a maximum length of 2 inches, these fish make a beautiful addition to any aquarium. Their small size and eye-catching colors make them popular for beginners and experienced fishkeepers.



Tank Size

The recommended tank size for these vibrant fish is about 25 to 30 gallons. This size allows for a school of Cherry Barb without overcrowding them.

Despite their small size, it’s crucial to remember that Cherry Barb is schooling fish and should always be kept with others. They feel safer and more comfortable when they have companions. So, if you’re considering owning Cherry Barb, provide them with a decent-sized tank to accommodate their social nature.

Water Conditions

These fish are quite hardy and can tolerate fluctuations in water parameters, but it is still best to aim for stability. The recommended temperature range for Cherry Barbs is between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pH level of 6 to 7 and a hardness of 2 to 18 dGH.

Maintaining these levels can be done through regular water tests and adjustments as needed. In addition to temperature and pH, providing clean and well-filtered water for these fish is also important.

Regular water changes of around 25% to 30% every other week are recommended to maintain water quality.

Filtration and Aeration

These small fish are quite active and produce waste, so a good filtration system is necessary to remove excess waste and maintain water quality. A filter with a moderate flow rate is recommended for these fish, as they prefer a slow current in their natural habitat.

Additionally, incorporating aeration into the tank setup is beneficial, as it helps to increase oxygen levels in the water. This can be achieved by using an air pump and air stone. It’s essential to ensure that the filtration and aeration systems are properly maintained to avoid any issues.

Tank Decorations

These fish come from shallow and calm waters with plenty of vegetation, so it’s crucial to replicate this natural habitat in their tank. Providing a well-planted tank is a priority for Cherry Barbs, as they use plants to hide and protect their eggs. Anacharis, Hornwort, and Water Wisteria are great plant options to consider.

In addition to plants, you can include driftwood caves and rocks, as long as they don’t hinder the fish’s ability to swim freely. Cherry Barbs are very active fish and need room to explore their surroundings, so create a well-balanced environment that allows them to thrive.

Water Changes

Water changes should be done once a week, ideally with a 30-50% change. This helps remove built-up toxins and replenishes the tank with fresh, clean water. Consistency is vital in water changes, as shifts in water parameters can cause health issues for the fish.

It’s also important to test the water regularly to ensure the levels are within the recommended range. By establishing a routine and making water changes a regular part of your maintenance routine, you can provide the optimal environment for your Cherry Barbs to thrive.

Tank Mates

Suitable tank mates

When choosing tank mates for Cherry Barbs, it’s essential to consider their peaceful nature and mid to upper-water swimming behavior. One excellent choice for tank mates is the Tetras, known for their gentle and shy demeanor. These fish won’t cause any trouble and will make the perfect companions for Cherry Barbs.

Another option is the Dwarf Cichlid, which tends to stay near the bottom of the tank, complementing the Cherry Barb’s swimming behavior. With careful selection and consideration, you can create a harmonious and peaceful community tank with Cherry Barbs and their suitable tank mates.

Unsuitable tank mates

When choosing tank mates for Cherry Barbs, some species should be avoided. Any larger, more aggressive fish can threaten the peaceful and relatively small Cherry Barbs. It’s also important to avoid highly active fish and fin nippers, as they can cause stress and harm to the Cherry Barbs.

Additionally, keeping them with bettas is not recommended, as there have been reports of compatibility issues. While there are many suitable tank mates for Cherry Barbs, it’s crucial to consider their peaceful nature and provide them with companions that won’t cause them any harm.


Natural Diet

The natural diet of cherry barbs is quite diverse, and being an omnivorous species, they can eat various foods. In the wild, these fish have been observed consuming crustaceans, algae, diatoms, and other tiny organisms.

They are not picky and will consider eating anything they can find. While they may eat small pieces of plants that fall into the water, they particularly love feasting on tiny insects, worms, algae, and plankton.

When keeping them in an aquarium, providing them with a balanced diet that includes high-quality flake foods as the staple, along with protein-rich foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms, is essential. It is vital not to overfeed them, which can lead to health problems.

Commercial Diet

When feeding Cherry Barb in captivity, a commercial diet is a convenient and reliable option. While these fish are omnivorous and will eat various foods, high-quality flake food is the backbone of their nutritional intake in the aquarium. Choosing a reputable brand that offers balanced nutrition for your fish is essential.

Additionally, incorporating protein-rich foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms into their diet can provide variety and enrichment. Remember to feed them in moderation and avoid overfeeding, which can lead to health problems.

By providing a well-balanced commercial diet, you can ensure that your Cherry Barb receives the nutrients they need to thrive and stay healthy in your aquarium.

Feeding schedule

Feeding your Cherry Barb on a consistent schedule is vital for their overall health and well-being. These fish have voracious appetites, so it is best to provide them two to three times daily.

However, be mindful not to overfeed them, which can lead to health issues. Give them only food that they can consume within three minutes.



Mating Behavior

When it’s breeding time, the males will start to chase the females and show off their vibrant red coloration to attract a mate. They will also chase other males in an attempt to establish dominance. The males wrap themselves around the females, fertilizing the eggs as they are released. The eggs are then scattered into the plants and stick to whatever they encounter.

It’s important to note that the adults may eat the eggs if not removed. The eggs will hatch after 24-48 hours, and the fry will start free-swimming. Proper nutrition, such as infusoria or small live foods, will ensure their healthy growth.

Breeding Setup

Breeding Cherry Barbs is a relatively simple process, and they can even breed by accident if you provide them with a suitable environment. You’ll need a smaller tank than usual and a well-planted environment to set up a breeding tank for Cherry Barbs. These fish use plants to hide and protect their eggs, so dense vegetation is essential.

Also, consider providing them with live or frozen food a week before breeding to make them more receptive to mating.


Common illnesses

Cherry barbs are known for their hardiness and disease resistance, but, like other fish, they can still be susceptible to common freshwater illnesses.

One of these illnesses is ich, characterized by white spots on the fish’s body. Another common illness is fin rot, a bacterial or fungal infection that affects the fins and tail of the fish.

Maintaining stable water parameters and providing a healthy diet to prevent these illnesses is essential. Regular water testing and observation of the fish can help identify any signs of disease early on.

You can help ensure your cherry barbs’ long-term health and well-being by providing optimal care and attention.

Taking care of Cherry Barb

Caring for Cherry Barbs is relatively easy, making them an excellent choice for beginner and experienced fishkeepers.

These fish are hardy and can tolerate fluctuations in water conditions. To provide the best care for your Cherry Barbs, keeping them in a tank of at least 25 gallons with plenty of hiding spots and vegetation is recommended.

It’s important not to overfeed them to avoid health issues. Regular water changes are also necessary to maintain water quality.

Providing the right environment and diet ensures that your Cherry Barbs live a long and healthy life in your aquarium.


In conclusion, the Cherry Barb is a delightful and vibrant fish that makes a wonderful addition to any aquarium. They are known for their striking red coloration, which adds beauty to any tank.

Cherry Barbs are peaceful community fish that get along well with other peaceful species. Their small size and peaceful demeanor make them suitable for most aquarium setups. They are relatively easy to care for, making them a popular choice for beginner fish keepers.

Their dynamic nature and playful behavior make them a joy to watch as they swim and explore their surroundings.  The Cherry Barb is a fantastic choice for aquarium enthusiasts seeking an attractive, friendly, low-maintenance fish.