Do Checker Barbs Need a Heater?

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

Checker Barbs are very pleasant fish to keep for both beginner and expert alike, their pleasant appearance, matched with their active nature and schooling habits make them a splendid addition to those peaceful – semi aggressive community tanks.

But what temperature do they need to be kept at if they are to do well? Do you always need a heater when keeping Checker Barbs? What happens to them when it gets too cold? How cold is too cold for Checker Barbs? And how do you properly heat a Checker Barb tank?

To find out, keep reading this article;

Can Checker Barbs live in cold water?

Checker Barbs are somewhat temperate fish, as they are able to live in cooler subtropical waters, and can be kept at room temperature.

However, the term “coldwater” implies that the water consistently stays below 20C / 68F and regularly dips below 15C / 59F throughout the year.

Checker Barbs cannot survive in an environment like this, as they need to be kept at stable warm temperatures at all times.

Can Checker Barbs live in a tank without a heater?

Despite not being able to survive in truly cold water, it is still possible to keep Checker Barbs without a heater, accepting that the outside ambient temperature stays regularly above 20C / 68F.

If you live in a cold part of the world however, it is best to install a heater even if the room stays warm, as during the night in winter time, it can get quite cold, and consistent cold spikes and fluctuations in temperature will cause harm to the fish over time.

How long can Checker Barbs survive without a heater?

As mentioned, Checker Barbs are able to stay and live at room temperature, and can be kept without a heater for as long as the room stays above 20C / 68F.

If the room has a draught, or gets particularly cold during the night however, then it is highly advisable to install a heater, even if it is set relatively low, just as a safety measure.

A bitter cold spike in the night could send your fish into shock, and an over exposure to drastic dips in temperature over a number of days can kill them.

Why do Checker Barbs need a heater?

We always suggest keeping Checker Barbs heated as it allows you to have better control over the environment, and gives you the ability to respond to changes in the fish’s health.

Checker Barbs generally prefer to live in water that is above room temperature.

In these conditions, they are able to digest and process food more effectively, are most comfortable, have a more active lifestyle and a much stronger immune system.

Checker Barbs will always tend to be more showy in a heated tank too, and display more brilliant colours (a sign that they are well conditioned.)

At lower temperatures, Checker Barbs will have a slower metabolism, will be less active and may have a slightly more vulnerable immune system.

What temperature should a Checker Barb tank be?

Checker Barbs naturally live in subtropical waters, with frequent heat waves during the summer.

Because of this, despite being able to survive in cooler waters, Checker Barbs generally prefer to be kept in tropical conditions, and are typically best kept at anywhere from 21C / 70F to 26C / 78F.

They can of course go outside of this range by a couple degrees, but these temperatures seem to show the best results.

From our experience, we like to keep Checker Barbs at 24C / 76F, here they are warm enough to have strong immune systems, be very active and show brilliant colour, yet are cool enough that they do not become irritable and aggressive.

Types of aquarium heaters for a Checker Barb tank

You may use a myriad of different heating equipment to keep your Checker Barb tank warm, it all depends on the situation and the tank setup.

Some people have large external heaters which keep the whole room warm.

Other people use high tech equipment designed for huge sump filters and pools.

But most people use a standard glass aquarium heater, the reason being that they are the most widely available, versatile and effective aquarium heaters on the market, and have been for a long while.

The good thing about them is their cheap cost, ease of use and modular design.

Glass thermometers come in a huge range of sizes, for small 5 gallon tanks, all the way to huge 100 gallon displays.

We always recommend glass heaters, as they can fit into almost any aquarium.

When it comes to placement, they should be held at a 45 degree angle, either suspended in the water or stuck to the glass using suction cups.

The heater should be fully submerged at all times, and needs to be unplugged whenever a water change is performed, so it does not become exposed to air and burn out while powered.

When choosing the size of a glass heater, all you need to do is correlate the wattage of the heater to the literage of your aquarium.

For example, for a 100 litre tank, you would need a 100 watt heater, or something that is as close as you can get.

FAQs about heating Checker Barb tanks

How do you test the water temperature in a Checker Barb tank?

Testing the temperature in your Checker Barb tank is fairly simple, there are a number of ways to do it, involving different types of thermometers, such as tapes, glass rods, probes and digital devices.

These different tools have varying levels of accuracy, and from our experience in using almost every type of thermometer in the aquarium scene, we find digital thermometers to be some of the most accurate and up to date of all.

They are very easy to use and install to a tank, show the temperature clearly, and are the most accurate.

There are many different types of digital thermometers out there, but perhaps the most easy to use are submersible LCD thermometers.

They work by being stuck to the inner glass of the aquarium, and will show the temperature on a battery powered heads up display, giving an exact figure.

Do Checker Barb fry need a heater?

Checker Barb fry don’t always need a heater to be raised successfully, the eggs and young can be raised just fine at room temperature.

However, it is best to still use one in some scenarios, especially if you are raising the fry in a small tank, as most do.

In a small tank, the lower volume of water will heat up and cool down very quickly, and sharp fluctuations in temperature can quickly shock and kill any tiny fry that lack the fat reserves to cope with it.

For this reason, even if the heater is set low, it is still best to have one active in the fry tank, just in case.

What happens to Checker Barbs if the water is too cold?

Once the water starts to drop below 20C / 68F the Barbs will begin to slow down their body processes as a response.

Fish are cold blooded animals, and rely on the temperature of the surrounding water to keep their bodies warm enough to function normally.

As the temperature drops below the normal range which they are used to, their metabolism will slow down, and some of their non essential body processes will begin to slow and shut off, as a means of preserving energy during tough times.

Some fish can enter a state of hibernation once things get extremely cold, but Checker Barbs are not as adept at doing this, and once the temperature drops too low for too long, they will eventually succumb to organ damage and death.

What happens to Checker Barbs if the water is too warm?

When the water begins to warm up, Checker Barbs will do the opposite, they will become more active as their metabolism speeds up, they will need to eat more and will become more irritable and aggressive.

If the water continues to increase in temperature, they will start to struggle to absorb oxygen effectively and may be seen gasping for air at the top of the water.

Past 32C / 90F they will become highly stressed and will be very lethargic, lying at the bottom or the top of the tank, rapidly flapping their gills.

If the water continues to warm up, they will eventually die of heat stress, which is why it is so important to maintain a safe temperature.