How Many Cherry Barbs Can I Put in a 10 Gallon Tank?

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

Cherry Barbs are an excellent nano fish, they are great picks for small planted aquariums; small, peaceful, brightly coloured and very interesting to observe, they are one of our top recommended fish for beginners and experts alike.

But are they ideal fish for a 10 gallon tank?
Can they live in a community setup?
Can you keep Cherry Barbs with Shrimp?
How many Barbs should you keep?
And what is involved in maintaining them?

This and more we will answer below:

How many Cherry Barbs should be kept together?

Cherry Barbs are social fish, they like to stick together in groups, naturally forming large shoals and moving together, grazing along rocks and plantlife.

It is for this reason that you need to keep Cherry Barbs in groups, as keeping them on their own or in pairs goes against their natural way of life and removes them of the proper level of social interaction they need.

We would recommend starting with a group consisting of no fewer than 5 individuals, any less can cause the fish to become skittish, stressed and irritable.

What happens if you add too many Cherry Barbs to a 10 gallon tank?

Adding too many Cherry Barbs to a 10 gallon tank will result in a quick build up of ammonia.

Every tank has a set amount of fish it can support, this is all dependent on the water volume, tank dimensions, and filtration capabilities, as well as the level of maintenance you are willing to put in.

When you place too many Cherry Barbs into a 10 gallon tank, you need to feed the tank more to accommodate for them all, more food means that more waste is being produced by the fish, which dissolves into the water as toxic ammonia.

Unless this ammonia is converted to a less harmful state by the filter, or removed with water changes, it will build up and create an imbalance in the tank.

Over time this ammonia causes damage to the fish and will kill them outright in high amounts, so it is very important that you do not push the limits and try to cram 30 Cherry Barbs into your 10 gallon tank.

How many Cherry Barbs can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Cherry Barbs like to live in groups as they are highly social and need to be kept with other members of their species.

Unfortunately, a 10 gallon tank is fairly small, and limits the number of fish you can keep greatly.

However, you are able to keep a small school of around 6 Cherry Barbs in a 10 gallon without much issue.

This number is great to start with as it isn’t so low that the Barbs become stressed, but isnt too much for the tank to handle.

If you want them to really do well however, they are best housed in a 20 gallon, as the additional space lets you keep a larger group.

How many male Cherry Barbs can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Male Cherry Barbs are easy to distinguish from the females as they are bright red in colour.

Males can become competitive in a small group, as they will spar over mating rights to females and will fight over territory when they are in peak condition.

For this reason, in a 10 gallon, it is best to keep a ratio of 1:2, with more females than males present in the tank, to reduce competition.

It would be best to have 2 males and 4 females in a 10 gallon.

How many female Cherry Barbs can I put in a 10 gallon tank?

Female Cherry Barbs are more of a golden yellow in colour, and are not as territorial or competitive as the males.

However, like any social animal, there is still a chance they may not always get along, and small scraps or disputes could break out from time to time.

These little scraps or dominance displays are very rarely damaging and neither fish is usually harmed, but it is best to always provide plenty of space and cover in the tank so that they may avoid each other and reduce stress if ever necessary.

Can I breed Cherry Barbs in a 10 gallon tank?

Cherry Barbs can be bred in a 10 gallon, but it is best to do this using 2 aquariums, one for the adults to live in, and another for the eggs and young to be raised in.

Cherry Barbs will eat their eggs and fry, so it is important that they are kept separate from their parents until they are large enough that they can no longer be swallowed.

Having 2 tanks allows you to move the parents into a different tank after they have dropped their eggs, or lets you collect the eggs from one tank and move them into another, raising the resulting fry on their own, without the threat of being eaten.

What is the best filter for a 10 gallon Cherry Barb tank?

Any filter appropriate for a 10 gallon tank will work well with Cherry Barbs, just make sure that the filter produces enough surface distortion to allow for effective oxygen diffusion.

You may need to aim your filter’s outlet towards the water line to ensure it is breaking the surface tension enough, or you may need to add an airstone for additional oxygen.

We would also say to stay clear of filters which have large open intakes, that could potentially suck up any small Cherry Barbs into an impeller.

10 gallon Cherry Barb tank maintenance

If kept in a live planted tank, Cherry Barbs can be very low maintenance fish, of course you still need to test the water, perform regular changes and filter cleans, and obviously feed the fish, but as far as small tropical fish go, Cherry Barbs are very easy to look after.

They do not have any specific dietary requirements that set them apart from other fish, are non aggressive, and have a low bioload, all ideal traits for a beginner nano fish.

Can I keep other fish with Cherry Barbs in a 10 gallon tank?

You can, however, we always suggest keeping community setups in larger aquariums, as a 10 gallon is very limiting to the amount of fish you can keep.

A school of around 6 Cherry Barbs is usually enough for one 10 gallon tank.

A 20 gallon tank would be a much better option for a mixed community, but there are a few other nano fish that you can keep with Cherries in a 10 gallon:

  • Endlers 
  • Galaxy Rasboras
  • Chili Rasboras
  • Clown Killifish
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Mountain Minnows

Can I keep invertebrates with Cherry Barbs in a 10 gallon tank?

Cherry Barbs are a great fish to live with invertebrates, their small size, placid temperament and preference for planted aquariums makes them ideal tankmates for Shrimp and snails.

They are one of our top recommendations of fish to keep with invertebrates, but not all species will work in a 10 gallon.


Cherry Shrimps

Cherry Shrimp, Amano Shrimp, Vampires and Bamboo Shrimp all make great tankmates for Cherry Barbs!

As they are nano fish, Cherry Barbs lack the strength or size to effectively kill an adult shrimp, and while they may occasionally eat newly born young shrimplets, adult shrimp are quite safe.

If kept in a planted tank with lots of cover, Cherry Shrimp can even be bred in the same tank as the Barbs, which makes for a very rewarding and interesting setup.



Snails are another great tankmate for Cherry Barbs, and all species of aquarium snail will work well, the eggs, young and adults of most aquatic snail species will be perfectly safe around Cherry Barbs and they can be bred in the same tank.

Snails make excellent clean-up crew and are essential to planted nano tanks in helping with waste disposal and filtration.

We highly recommend keeping snails with Cherry Barbs.

Crayfish and Crabs

Some species of Crabs such as Vampire Crabs and Red Claw Crabs can do very well with Cherry Barbs, accepting that appropriate housing is provided.

In a setup with both Crabs and Cherry Barbs it is best to have plenty of rockwork for the crabs to occupy, and an area of land for them to rest on.

The Cherry barbs need their own space too, so an area of more open water with plants should be provided as well, so that the fish and Crabs live in their own spaces within the tank.

This is much easier to do in a larger tank, but it is possible to keep small crab species with Cherry Barbs in a 10 gallon, due to the fish’s small, nimble nature.

Dwarf Crayfish may also work with Cherry Barbs in much the same way, so long as both species have their own areas of the tank to dwell in.

Large Crayfish species however, we do not recommend, as they will most certainly eat your Cherry Barbs, you may be able to keep them together in a larger tank, but in a 10 gallon, this is a bad idea.