Golden Barbs are a great fish to keep. They are highly active, always interesting to watch and are brightly coloured. Unfortunately, they do not always bode well with live plants, and not everything works.
Some plants however, do work quite well with Golden Barbs.
In this article, we will go over which species are best suited to a Golden Barb tank and why, to help you in choosing the right plants that have the best chances to survive.
Do Golden Barbs like real plants in their tank?
Golden Barbs are fish of the river. They live in open rocky waterways like many other Barb and Carp species, grazing on algae and grasses that grow along the pebbles.
They do appreciate plants to some degree, and will take shelter among them if they are present in the tank, but they do not spend the majority of their life hiding within plant life like some other fish in the aquarium hobby.
Live plants aren’t always just for show however, and the consumption of excess nitrates and minerals can be highly beneficial to your Barbs. Having sound water quality is something fish appreciate much more than somewhere to hide, so it could be said that Barbs do like real plants, just not in the same way as many other fish do.
How do you know which plants are suitable for Golden Barbs?
Suitable plants for a Golden Barb tank are those with tough leaves; plants which feel thick and rubbery to the touch, as opposed to thin paper like leaves which break easily.
Plants with strong leaves and roots are typically Rhizome plants like Buce and Anubias, which have very strong leaves and are very hardy when compared to some of the other species that you can find at your local fish store.
Plants under the tropical section will usually have Rhizome plants, as species like Java fern are always commonly available and are very popular in the aquarium trade.
What plants do Golden Barbs eat?
Golden Barbs will sometimes eat or destroy soft plants. They do this because their natural diet consists mostly of plant matter or algae. By adding soft leaved plants to their environment, you are providing them with additional nutrients they can take advantage of.
Here is a list of plants which we have tried and tested with Golden Barbs that get shredded and eaten:
- Brazilian Pennywort
- Water Wisteria
- Rotala wallichii
- Water Sprite
Some of the plants on this list are treated with less acceptance than others, and something like Duckweed, from our experience, seems to be at the top of the list for plants that Golden Barbs want to eat. This can be beneficial if you are overrun with it, but if you want it to grow in your Barb tank, then you may struggle.
How to choose plants for a Golden Barb tank
When looking for plants, you want to find species which are resistant to being nipped or shredded. Ask your local fish store employees what plants would be best against Barbs or ask if you can gently hold and feel the leaves to see if they are thick and strong enough to withstand being torn at by fish (with a level of respect of course).
If your local store has an African cichlid or oddball section, then your best bet is to look there, as many African cichlids require very hardy, tough plants that are resistant to being destroyed by powerful, herbivorous fish.
Many of the plants that work well in cichlid tanks, also do well in Barb tanks for the same reasons, so choosing them becomes a little easier when you know what types and categories of plants you are looking for.
The best plants for Golden Barbs
As mentioned, Golden Barbs are known to tear at and eat soft leaved plants, which means that not every plant is usable in a Golden Barb setup.
The best plants for Golden Barbs are those which are strong enough to not be easily torn at, or those which are particularly distasteful to fish.
Java Fern is a very hardy plant, and comes in a few different varieties which are all usable in a tank with Golden Barbs.
The plant itself has hard, distasteful leaves which Golden Barbs show little interest in eating and struggle to tear apart.
Java Fern is highly versatile, able to live in a range of different water parameters and temperatures and does not need to be planted into a substrate. It can simply be tied onto a log or stone, making it even more viable in those river setups with plenty of pebbles and rocks down below.
For the same reasons Java Fern works well with Golden Barbs, Anubias is also a great pick for your planted Golden Barb tank. It has large, broad leaves which provide shade and cover.
The leaves, roots and body of the plant are very strong and a Golden Barb would be hard pressed to destroy a mature Anubias.
Again, this plant can also be tied to a rock or piece of driftwood, making it ideal in a tank where you may need high flow or have plenty of pebbles at the base to emulate the river environment.
Very similar to Anubias, Buce is yet another Rhizome plant. It has tough leaves and is hard to destroy, and grows along a surface, leeching passing nutrients from the water column as opposed to rooting itself into the ground.
Buce has a different look to it than many other plants, with its dark leaves and crumpled texture, it adds something different and is well suited to living in a tank with Barbs.
What plants should you avoid putting in a Golden Barb tank?
Avoid adding soft leaf plants to your Barb tank, such as Water Sprite or Rotala, as they will be shredded up by the Barbs easily and will find it hard to become established, often being killed before they even get a chance to root.
Anything with a soft and fragile body, from root to stem to leaf, will all be ripped apart and eaten as it’s in a Barbs nature to break apart and consume plant matter.
It is best to avoid soft plants in your Golden Barb tank, however, you can use the Golden Barb’s appetite to your advantage in some cases, and if you have an issue with a plant taking over, such as duckweed, adding it to your Barb tank is a good way to dispose of it.
Do Golden Barbs need live plants?
Golden Barbs do not exactly need live plants in order to be kept healthy. They are pelagic swimmers, preferring to live in the upper, more open areas of rivers and streams, mostly taking shelter amongst rocks and wood.
They will however, benefit from the added filtration that plants bring, as well as the additional oxygen they produce.
Golden Barbs will also graze on algae/infusoria that grows on the plant leaves, providing themselves with a meal and keeping the plant free of pest algae which would otherwise block it from photosynthesising.
Golden Barbs do not need live plants, but adding plants to your Barb tank can prove beneficial, as they will keep your water clean and stable, reducing the level of maintenance you have to perform.