Golden Barb Care Guide: Tank, Feeding & Breeding

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

What are Golden Barbs?

Golden Barbs or Chinese Barbs (Barbodes semifasciolatus) are a small Barb species; members of the family Cyprinidae, which is one of the largest families of fishes, including things like Carp, Minnows, Goldfish, Rasboras, Danios and Barbs.

Golden Barbs are characterised as bright yellow fish with peppered speckles of green and black down their flanks, with red finnage. They are a pleasant little fish that like to live in schools and are a great deal of fun to keep in an aquarium.

Where are Golden Barbs from?

Golden Barbs originate from South East Asia, particularly parts of South Western China, Vietnam and Thailand. They are found in sub-tropical rivers and are found in the Red River Basin.

In modern times however, these fish are usually sourced from farms in Singapore or parts of North America where they are bred in huge numbers to be shipped off and sold to wholesalers worldwide, eventually to end up in a local fish store.

Water parameters for Golden Barbs

The sub tropical rivers which Golden Barbs are found contain high oxygen and a low to moderate mineral level.

Like many Cypriniformes, they are highly adaptable to change and differing water parameters. Being bred in captivity also helps with this, but they will always prefer water similar to their ancestral natural habitat.

pH6.5 – 8.0
HardnessModerate KH and GH
Temperature16C – 25C (60F – 77F)
Ammonia (NH3)0 ppm
Nitrite (NO2)0 ppm
Nitrate<5 ppm

Feeding and diet of Golden Barbs

Golden Barbs are omnivores, enjoying a diet of variety. They will feed on most prepared fish foods, as well as boiled veg like green beans, peas and cucumber, and as well as protein rich foods like Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp and Daphnia.

Golden Barbs will feed from all levels of the tank, but typically prefer being up near the top where they are often the first to get food, being very competitive feeders.

Best tank mates for Golden Barbs

Golden Barbs are semi-aggressive fish – they are known to nip fins and harass slow moving fish with long fins and extremities.

They are also very fast eaters, so choices for tank mates need to be fast and able to hold their own against attackers.

Zebra Danio

Danios are ideal tank mates for Barbs as they have virtually the same temperament and energy. They too are highly active swimmers, quick to get at food and are able to dart away from tank bullies with ease.

Zebra Danios also live in a similar river environment and like similar water parameters to Golden Barbs.

They are also easy to feed and eat from the same level of the tank as Golden Barbs. They even prefer the same cooler temperatures, and neither species requires a heater!

Tiger Barb

A relative of the Golden Barb, Tiger Barbs are again just as active and boisterous as the Golden Barb, making them good tankmates.

They require the same care and water parameters and lead a very similar lifestyle, although they can tend to bully fish a little more than Golden Barb. If housed in large numbers and given plenty of room, there should be no issue housing these fish together.

Yoyo Loach

Golden Barbs go surprisingly well with loaches, mainly due to the fact they inhabit different areas of the tanks. Given the loaches’ fast movement and defensive spikey barbels, the Golden Barbs know to stay clear and not bother them.

They enjoy similar water parameters to Golden Barbs, although they do tend to like it a little warmer (around 25C / 77F).

Just be sure when you house them together, that you are getting food to the Yoyo Loaches, as Golden Barbs can be quite competitive and often nail food before it reaches the bottom.

Feed plenty of sinking algae wafers, bloodworms and pellets which the loaches can get to before the Barbs gobble it all up.

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose Pleco

Bristlenose are highly adaptable to a range of communities, and semi aggressive tanks are one of them. As they are heavily armoured, not many fish out there will bother with them, including Golden Barbs, who will live with Plecos benevolently.

They like similar water parameters, but again like to be kept on the warmer side much like Yoyo Loaches at around 25C / 77F.

They also will need target feeding with plenty of pellets, green beans, bloodworms and other sinking foods. The trick is to feed the tank at night time when the Barbs are asleep and the Pleco is most active.

How to breed Golden Barbs

Golden Barbs aren’t very difficult to breed – they are especially easy if you can set up a separate breeding tank and move the adults around.

To condition them, like breeding many other fish, feed them heavily for around 2 weeks to put extra weight on them and give them the nutrients necessary to produce plenty of eggs and sperm.

Once they are large, full of colour and are swimming around confidently, it is time to set up a breeding tank, or change the environment of the tank to suit their breeding parameters. With many Cypriniformes, buffering the water with calcium and performing a cold water change often induces them to spawn.

Generally, Golden Barbs prefer a lower pH and hardness level, but buffering the tank slightly can sometimes trigger breeding.

How to sex Golden Barbs

Golden Barbs are quite sexually monomorphic, making them hard to differentiate between sexes. However, there subtle differences can be easily pointed out in mature specimens, by those who know what to look out for.

  • Female Golden Barbs generally have rounder, more plump bodies and duller colours than the males. 
  • Males are more slender and long and look thinner when viewed from above. Their yellows are more opaque and their black blotches are more dark and dense.

Golden Barb spawning and fry

Golden Barbs are egg scatterers and will drop their eggs over a surface, often preferring to stick them on dense plants, mosses and thick sheets of algae.

Golden Barbs will also eat their eggs and fry, so it is recommended to have large pebbles for the eggs to fall through where the parents can’t access them.

What tank size do Golden Barbs need?

Golden Barbs are open water swimmers. They are true pelagic fish and need plenty of space to accommodate for their active lifestyle.

They also need to be housed in large groups as they are highly social – in small groups or pairs, they can bicker and scrap due to stress. It is generally recommended to keep around 5 or more at least, that way they can feel more comfortable. 

To keep them in larger numbers like this, requires lots of space, so we recommend nothing smaller than 20 gallons.

What plants are best for Golden Barbs?

Golden Barbs have a portion of their diet taken up by plant matter, and will chew on and eat soft leaf plants if they begin to go hungry. For this reason we suggest strong, thick-leaved plants such as these:

  • Java Fern
  • Anubias barteri
  • Anubias nana petite
  • Pothos (grows out of water)
  • Moneywort

Tips and tricks for Golden Barb care

For the best chances of success with Golden Barbs, it is best to keep their environment as near natural as possible – a river setting with a flowing current, high oxygen levels, cooler temperatures and large pebbles below.

Providing them with plenty of swimming space with a long tank and housing them in large numbers will allow your Barbs to properly school.

Housing them like this reduces stress, minimises bickering and reduces fighting, something that Barbs are renowned for. In the right conditions and when most comfortable, Golden Barbs are very peaceful and easy going fish.