Cherry Barbs (Puntius titteya) are one of the smaller Barb species in the aquarium hobby. They belong to the Cyprinidae family, which includes thousands of freshwater fish species.
They are related to fish like Carp, Goldfish, Freshwater Sharks, Rasboras, Danios and of course, Barbs.
Where are Cherry Barbs from?
Cherry Barbs originate from India and Sri Lanka; however, have been introduced to a number of different places around the world, such as the Southern areas of North America.
Their natural habitat is substrate filled “silty water” which is hard to see through as it is rich with mud, sand and decaying plant material.
Today, many Cherry Barbs are bred in captivity, so the fish you purchase from your local fish store are likely to have been bred and grown on a farm.
Water parameters for Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are highly tolerable of a wide range of water parameters, being able to withstand pHs from 6 – 8 and varying degrees of hardness.
What they don’t like however, is rapid and constant change, so whatever you do keep them at, try to keep the parameters stable and avoid steep fluctuations
Through our experience, we have found Cherry Barbs to do best in these parameters:
|6.5 – 7.5
|Low to Moderate KH and GH
|22C – 26C (71F – 78F)
Feeding and diet of Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are omnivorous and eat very small invertebrates like tiny shrimps and daphnia, soft algae and plant matter.
In captivity, they are not fussy; although they will benefit much more from being given smaller food items, crushed flakes or fry powder, as well as things like frozen cyclops and live daphnia for protein.
As for vegetable and plant matter, they can be fed things like algae wafers, green beans, broccoli and naturally occurring algaes in the aquarium.
Best tank mates for Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are one of the best community Barbs for smaller tanks. They are peaceful, small and are beautifully coloured, taking to a wide range of water parameters and having a varied diet – they fit well with many tankmates.
However, due to their small size, they can fall victim to predation if housed with larger fish species, so our list contains some of the smaller community fish and aquarium creatures that make ideal tank mates for Cherry Barbs:
The smaller cousin of Guppies, Endlers are a nano livebearer and seldom get larger than 2”. They have similar diets to Cherry Barbs and are peaceful.
They do particularly well in smaller planted aquariums.
They do however, need hard water to be able to do well, so keep them at a moderate to high hardness level and maintain a pH of around 7.0 – 7.5.
This allows you to provide a good balance for both fish.
One of the best community fish, Corydoras do well with Cherry Barbs too, as they prefer similar water parameters, are peaceful and stay around the bottom half of the aquarium.
Cories oppose no threat to Cherry Barbs as they have no interest in eating them and are not aggressive by any means, making them ideal tank mates.
Although only doable in larger tanks, upwards of 25 gallons, Plecos actually make pretty great tankmates for Cherry Barbs. They do not tend to bother them at all and stay on the bottom of the tank, searching for food and grazing on surfaces.
They are an interesting fish to keep in any peaceful community tank, and do well with Cherry Barbs as they like similar water conditions.
Just be sure that you are feeding your Pleco specifically, with plenty of algae wafers, green beans and bloodworms so that they can stay fit and healthy.
Although not a fish, snails are something that always works well in community tanks. They are incredibly hardy, eat any leftovers, so are a great cleanup crew, and are non-aggressive.
They do however, require calcium for their shells, so occasionally buffering your water and providing calcium is necessary. You can do this by adding crushed coral, cuttle bones or a KH powder.
You can even use a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to add calcium as well.
Another invertebrate for your tank, Cherry shrimp do well with Cherry Barbs because they are at little threat of being overly predated on by the fish.
Cherry Shrimp tend to do quite well when housed with small fish like Cherry Barbs, as the fish are too small to eat the adults, although they may snack on a few baby shrimp from time to time.
Provide plenty of cover from dense plant life, rocks and wood and they should be able to live in harmony with your Cherry Barbs.
Much like snails, shrimp also need a level of calcium in the water too, so maintain a moderate hardness level.
How to breed Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are fairly easy to breed for an egg layer. To condition them, the adult fish need to be fed well to put a little extra weight on. The adults should also be moved to a species-only tank with no other fish to bother them.
In this breeding tank, you should have pebbles, spawning mops and dense plant life for them to scatter their eggs on.
To try and induce spawning, you can also try to increase the temperature and perform a partial water change.
But first of all, you will need to make sure that you have a mix of male and female fish.
How to sex Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are easy to sex as they are sexually dimorphic (male and female look different).
- The males are bright red, almost crimson with a darkened lateral line.
- Females are lighter in colour; light brown, with a bright yellow lateral line that is dark underneath. Females also tend to have a heavier build than the males, like in most fish.
Rationing Cherry Barbs
Since male Cherry Barbs can be quite competitive when it comes to breeding, these are a fish where it is best to have more females than males, typically a 1:2 ratio.
During spawning, males will often spar with each other to attract a female and this can get quite aggressive.
Because of this male aggression when it comes to spawning time, it is also important to keep them in big groups and provide plenty of cover.
Spawning, eggs and fry of Cherry Barbs
Cherry Barbs are egg scatterers like many members of the Cyprinidae family, and simply cast their eggs onto a surface they feel is safe enough.
They have no parenting instincts and once the eggs are laid, they will eat them and any fry that hatch from them, so it is important to remove the adults to a different tank, or to remove the eggs and raise them separately.
After being fertilised, the eggs will take around 24 hours to hatch into wigglers, where the young fish will glue themselves to a surface and absorb their yolk sack for the next 3 days.
After 3 days are up, they will start to become free-swimming and will need to be fed on very tiny foods, like infusoria and walter worms.
As they grow, they can be transitioned onto crushed flakes, daphnia and brine shrimp.
What tank size do Cherry Barbs need?
Cherry Barbs need a minimum of a 10 gallon tank, however, it is best to go higher as they prefer to be in larger groups. You could probably house around 3 – 4 in a 10 gallon, but be sure to provide plenty of cover.
If you want them to truly thrive, then house them in a 20 gallon or larger, as it allows you to keep them in a bigger group of around 8 or so and provide them with much more swimming space.
What are the best plants for Cherry Barbs?
As Cherry Barbs are small, they really benefit from having highly dense plants and do particularly well when kept with mosses, as it provides them with somewhere to hide, a place to graze on infusoria and somewhere to spawn.
A tank with plenty of moss will make Cherry Barbs feel most comfortable, so here are some aquarium mosses that we recommend:
- Java Moss
- Willow Moss
- Taiwan Moss
- Christmas Moss
- Peacock Moss
Tips and tricks for Cherry Barb care
Some of our best advice for Cherry Barbs is to keep them in a stable planted aquarium, with heavy levels of plant foliage and dense cover.
Cherry Barbs, while accustomed to a range of parameters, do best when the water is kept stable, and do not like fluctuation.
Providing an aquatic ecosystem, with live plants, shrimps and snails, you can house them in an environment which tends to look after itself and remains very stable.
Keeping your tank as natural as possible is the best way to ensure success with Cherry Barbs.