The Best Plants for Checker Barbs

Written By Lewis German  |  Tropical Fish  |  0 Comments

Checker Barbs are another small peaceful Barb species great for smaller planted aquariums, but which plant species are best to add to your Checker Barb tank and why?

In this article, we will go over some of our recommendations for the best live plants to add to your Checker Barb tank.

Do Checker Barbs like real plants in their tank?

Checker Barbs really appreciate live plants as the cover and shade they create simulates the natural forested areas they originate from.

In the wild, Checker Barbs take shelter within reeds, hanging shrubbery and aquatic plants which grow along the rivers and scrapes, so having lots of live plant cover is important in keeping them comfortable and happy.

Unlike some other Barb and Carp species, Checker Barbs do very well in planted tanks. They are plant safe and aren’t as destructive as their cousins who will occasionally tear up soft leaved plants and dig up shallow rooted grasses.

How do you know which plants are suitable for Checker Barbs?

When it comes to identifying which plants are best suited for your Checker Barbs, you need to think about the location where the fish and plants are found.

Checker Barbs are found in a few places around the world, but they originate from parts of sub-tropical Indonesia where the waters are warm, sitting at around 22C / 72F.

Because of their forested habitat, lots of dead leaves tend to fall into the rivers and streams, turning them tannic and lowering the pH to create a soft acidic environment.

Both plants and fish have specific preferred water parameters. 

Much like when choosing certain fish species to house in your community tank, (which need to be comfortable in similar water parameters), plants are the same, and need to have water preferences close to their tankmate’s in order to grow and survive.

Luckily, most plants prefer to grow in soft, slightly acidic water; however, not all plants can withstand tropical temperatures for prolonged periods of time.

When looking for plants, you need to search in the tropical plant section for plants which are able to survive in waters upwards of 20C /68F.

What plants do Checker Barbs eat?

Checker Barbs typically do not prey on plants. Although they may nip at the occasional soft leaf or swallow some dead plant material, they are not going to trash up and destroy your planted tank.

Checker Barbs are small omnivores and their main diet consists of tiny crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, infusoria, plankton and soft algae. They are not powerful enough to rip up healthy plant material and generally prefer to hide amongst plant life, rather than destroy it.

How to choose plants for a Checker Barb tank

As mentioned, Checker Barbs are sub-tropical fish, so when it comes to choosing plants, you need to look for those which can withstand warmer temperatures above 20C / 68F.

This rules out a few coldwater pond plants, so looking in the tropical section is the best way to go.

When selecting plants, you need to think about your setup. Things like tank size, light level and care level will all influence what plants you pick. 

Some plant species are easier to keep than others, so it is best to start off with slow growing, hardy plants like Java Fern if you are new.

The best plants for Checker Barbs

Checker Barbs go well with most aquarium plants, which is why they are one of the staple planted tank fish when it comes to small and intermediate sized tanks.

This gives you a level of freedom when it comes to selecting live plants for your Checker Barb tank, as many of the tropical plants you find in your local fish store will likely be usable.

As for recommendations, Checker Barbs seem to like very dense foliage with lots of hiding space, like thick moss beds and water sprite which provides them with lots of intricate leafage to hide in amongst.

Java Moss

Java moss is a great plant for many reasons. It is easy to grow, cheap, widely available, provides good cover for small fish like Checker Barbs and is highly versatile.

The moss can be incorporated in a number of different ways. A preferred method is to tie it to a piece of driftwood with a piece of cotton thread and allow it to grow and encase the wood, creating a thick blanket of moss for fish to use.

If you want to breed your Checker Barbs then Java Moss also works as a good spawning mop, as it is a preferred place for the parents to drop their eggs onto.

Elodea Densa

Due to the cooler water temperatures that Checker Barbs prefer, it allows you to keep some of the more temperate plant species, like Elodea, which thrives in cold water ponds.

It will also do well in your aquarium, especially in a Barb tank where the temperature doesn’t get much higher than 24C / 76F.

The plant prefers to be floated and grow up top, where its roots will hang down and extract nutrients from the water, but it can also be planted into the substrate and will grow tall like any other rooted plant, making it highly versatile and ideal for your Barb tank.

Water Sprite

Water Sprite is a very dense, thin leafed plant which again, can be either floated or planted into the substrate.

It grows much like a shrub and expands quickly, providing lots of cover for small fish and extracting lots of harmful nitrates from the water.

Water Sprite is very easy to grow and can survive in an array of different conditions. It is another ideal plant for your Checker Barb tank, and one that we personally recommend.

Although it may need to be occasionally pruned and cut back, as to prevent it from completely taking over the tank.

What plants should you avoid putting in a Checker Barb tank?

“Pond plants” include a wide range of species, but we generally recommend against adding any species with this title, as they are usually not ideal for tropical aquariums.

Pond plants will either melt under the consistent high temperatures or will overtake the tank, blocking off currents, growing into filters and emerging up out of the water. 

Unless you are well prepared, pond plants can cause several issues for your aquarium that are better off avoided.

Do Checker Barbs need live plants?

Checker Barbs do not necessarily need live plants, although they do heavily appreciate them.

By adding live plants, you will spot more natural behaviours and will see your fish exhibit more elaborate colouring as they are more comfortable in a natural environment.

Plants will also make your life easier as a fishkeeper, as they will feed on harmful nitrates, reducing the amount of water changes you will have to perform.

You don’t need to keep live plants with your Checker Barbs, but we highly recommend it.