Cherry Barb: Info, Size, Temperature, Facts & Breeding

The Cherry Barb is the most peaceful Barb around.

They are also one of the most popular Barbs because of their striking magenta red color.

These adorable fish are very fun to watch in groups and their social behaviors can be fascinating to observe up close.

Their small size makes them excellent for small setups and Nano tanks. However the possibilities are endless when it comes to designing the best home for this little fish.

If you think your tank benefit from Cherry Barbs then keep reading to learn everything you need to know about them…

Cherry Barb
Experience Required: None
Color Forms: Red, Albino
Minimum Tank Size: 25+ Gallons
Tank Temperature: 72°F to 81°F

Cherry Barb Swimming

All About Cherry Barbs

Puntius titteya

The Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya) is endemic to the wet zone of lower Sri Lanka. They come from the Cyprinidae family and belong to the subfamily Barbinae.

Most Barbs from this subfamily come from the Puntius genus, including the Cherry Barb, Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona) and the Spotfin Barb (Puntius viridis).

Cherry Barbs are best known for their beautiful appearance and peaceful nature. Because of this they make excellent beginner fish. They have a lifespan of around 5-6 years and will grow anywhere from 1-2 inches long, which makes them one of the world’s smallest Barbs.

You will find them in virtually every pet store and aquarium supplier and should expect to pay between $3-$6 per fish.

They make a wonderful tank make and are one of the most popular species for small setups. You will need at least a 25 gallon tank to house a small group.


  • Very hardy and beginner friendly.
  • Stands out in any tank.
  • Fun to watch in a group.
  • Easy to feed.
  • Friendly to other fish.

  • Cannot be kept on their own.
  • Very shy and easily startled.
  • Can be aggressive during mating.
  • Cannot handle temperature changes.

Tank Mates

Group Of Cherry Barb

In the wild in Sri Lanka this fish lives with the other native species of Barbs, as well as other Cyprinids, Killifish and Gouramis.

Because of this they make one of the very best community fish and there are so many different kinds of fish that they are compatible with.

When you are picking their tank mates you need to remember the Cherry Barb’s timid nature. Because of this they do not get along with rambunctious, large or aggressive fish.

Some of the best tank mates for them are Tetras – Neon, Glowlight, Cardinal, and Lemon Tetras are among the best.

The always friendly Zebra and Celestial Pearl Danios also make excellent companions for Cherry Barbs.

Harlequin and Chili Rasboras will also make wonderful tank mates. You can also keep:

  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Sparkling and Dwarf Gouramis
  • Paradise Gouramis
  • Otos
  • Cories
  • Bristlenose Plecos
  • Nerite and Mystery Snails
  • Amano, Cherry, and Bee Shrimp
  • Tiger Barbs

Just remember to avoid mixing them with the more aggressive Barb species. Large Gouramis and Goldfish should also be left out. All freshwater sharks, large Pleco Catfish, and large Loaches make very unsafe additions too.

Can You Keep Cherry Barb Together?

These fish are very social and like to spend all of their time in a group with other Barbs. This is how they feel safe in an aquarium full of other fish.

Because of this you should keep your Cherry Barb in a groups of at least 5 individuals.

The larger the group, the happier your Barbs will be. Just remember to keep 2 females for every male in your group. to help reduce aggression and competition.

Breeding Cherry Barb

Three Cherry Barb Swimming Together

Cherry Barbs are so easy to breed that they normally do not need any external interference.

Most of the time they will surprise you with a sudden crop of eggs. But if you want to give the offspring a better chance at surviving, you should breed and rear them in a separate tank.

A breeding group should have at least 6 individuals (with 2 females to every male).

The tank should be well stocked with leafy plants for the female to scatter her eggs on (Use a Cryptocoryne or a Java Fern carpeted with Java Moss). It should also be equipped with a sponge filter.

You can tell when your Cherry Barbs are in breeding condition because the male’s red color will deepen and the female’s body will round out. A diet high in protein will get them into breeding condition more quickly. Pregnant females have very distended abdomens and can lay up to 200 tiny eggs.

Once the eggs are laid, place the parents back in the main tank. The eggs will hatch in approximately 2 days and the larvae will survive off of their yolk sacs for another day or two. After this you can fill the tank with infusoria for them to eat.

for the first week you should keep feeding them infusoria. After this you can give them microworms to eat.

Once they reach around 2 months old they can join your main tank.

Cherry Barb Care

School Of Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbs are easy enough for anybody to care for.

There is really not much that they need beyond the basics. The most important thing is to keep your water parameters consistent. Sudden fluctuations in temperature, salinity, or acidity can stress these fish and make them sick.

Changing 25% of the water every 2 weeks will keep the tank clean enough to keep your fish healthy. Still, bacterial and parasitic infections are always possible.

Ich and Velvet Disease are two of the most common illnesses with Cherry Barbs.

Both are parasitic infections that appear as a dusting of spots over the fish’s scales.

A fish with ich will have a dusting of white spots over their scales and fins. Velvet Disease, or Gold Dust Disease, shows up as a sprinkling of yellow spots.

These are caused by parasites that can make their way into an overcrowded and dirty tank. New fish that you bring home from the store can also carry them. Because of this you should quarantine new fish and plants for up to 2 weeks before you add them to your tank.


There is very little that these fish will not eat.

In the wild they will eat micro-prey, algae and detritus.

You should give them algae flakes and other flake foods that contain a bit of greenery. Make sure to crush flake foods into a powder that is small enough for them to eat.

Brine shrimp and Mysis shrimp are among their favorite live foods to eat. They also enjoy Tubifex and other microworms, small bloodworms, insect larvae, daphnia and moina.

For greens, you can give them algae and microscopic phytoplankton. Diatoms are one of their favorite foods in the wild. You might catch them nibbling on the detritus that makes its way to the bottom of the tank. They will nibble on your plants on occasion too – though not enough to cause any damage.

Just remember that all their food must be small enough to fit into their tiny mouths.

Because they live and feed at the bottom of the tank it can be difficult for them to get their food before the other fish eat it. You should feed them at different times to avoid this problem. Set a morning, afternoon, and evening feeding time when they can eat without being disturbed. An automatic fish feeder can help with this.

Can’t decide what to feed your Cherry Barbs? Here is a list of all of the food they can eat:

  • Fish flakes
  • Algae flakes
  • Daphnia
  • Moina
  • Brine shrimp
  • Mysis shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Tubifex worms
  • Microworms
  • Insect larvae
  • Algae
  • Phytoplankton
  • Plant material
  • Detritus


Cherry Barb With Neon Tetra

Cherry Barb will spend most of their time in the bottom levels of the tank.

They like to use the shady areas for extra security. When startled, the entire shoal may quickly dart behind the nearest leaf or log.

These fish are very shy yet social.

They will be friendly among their own kind, but will shy away from others. When they are kept in a large shoal they will look after one-another so they feel safe. The larger their group is the more outgoing they will be.

Cherry Barb are perfectly peaceful, even to the most sensitive members of the tank. However, they can be a little testy with each other when looking for mates. Males will harass one another if there are too many of them in the group. The best way to keep them on their best behavior is to make sure there are 2 females to every male.

Habitat and Tank Set Up

This fish is native to the forest streams of Sri Lanka’s rainy zone.

Here the light and the flow are both down low, and the water is a little on the murky side. There is usually a bit of turbidity from kicked up sediment.

The water is dense with leaf litter and floating plants and maintains a pH just below 7.0. Tannins released by decaying plants turn the water tea colored in these areas.

You should try to replicate these conditions in your aquarium.

Cherry Barb Close Up

Water Conditions

You will need at least a 25 gallon tank to host a small school of these fish.

Your heater will need to maintain a stable temperature between 71-82°F. Any temperature in this range is fine, however it must stay the same at all times.

The lighting should be very low and your bottom levels should be shaded with plants and other decorations.

A bit of turbidity from an under gravel filter is fine, but the safest filter for this tank is a sponge filter or a hang on back filter. Make sure that any filter you use is set to its lowest power, as these tiny fish can be easily swept up into a filter intake.

The pH should be 6.5-7.5 and you can use peat moss or bogwood to keep it reasonably low. The water hardness should be between 4-10 dGH.

Layer dark colored gravel over sand or mud to replicate their natural substrate.

Decorations are not necessary but it is always nice to add a few to make your aquarium look more natural. Logs, driftwood, bogwood and medium sized rocks make great furniture for this setup. All of these decorations also have the bonus of adding tannins to the water column as they decay which keeps the water slightly acidic to this fish’s liking.

Your Barbs will remain close to the bottom of the tank so all of their furniture should be placed around this area.

Plants are the most important addition to this aquarium. You should use shady plants that are adapted to low light environments. Cryptocorynes are some of the best leafy plants for a low light tank. Other great options include Java Ferns, Anubias, and floating Anacharis.

Carpet your tank with Java Moss if your water needs a little more acidity.

Tank Parameter Requirement
Minimum Tank Size 25 Gallons
Tank Type Freshwater planted
Temperature 72-81°F
pH 6.5-7.5
Hardness 4-10 dGH
Flow Light
Substrate Dark gravel

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

Cherry Barb will need at least a 25 gallon aquarium.

This size will be suitable for an your initial group of 5. You should add 5 more gallons of water for each additional Cherry Barb

History and First Sighting

The Puntius titteya was first obeserved in 1929 and they were formally classified by one of Sri Lanka’s most famous zoologists.

However since then their taxonomy has undergone several changes before the Puntius genus was decided on.

Not long after they were discovered they started to gain popularity within the aquarium hobby, and by the 1970s they had already become well known.

Unfortunately this increased demand caused their populations to decline in the wild. In 1996, legislation was passed to ban the harvesting of this fish and several others from their natural habitat.

However the demand for this species continued so captive breeding programs were established.

To this day they remain the most popular Barb species as well as one of the most popular freshwater species in general. Their wild populations are slowly replenishing too due to the lack of harvesting.

Cherry Barb Appearance

These fish gets their name from their striking red color.

Only males can be found in shades from deep red to pink. Females on the other hand are an amber brown shade instead. Some breeders have managed to produce a super red variety by breeding males and females with the brightest colors together.

Both genders have black lateral lines and iridescent glimmering scales.

There is a little spot of pink blush on each of their cheeks, however this is more visible in females due to their lighter base color. A pair of beady black eyes matches the black markings on the scales.

You should expect them to grow to between 1-2 inches. While they are smaller than most other popular Barbs they certainly make up for it with their color and shine.

Cherry Barb are a characteristic arrow shape. The body is straight and resembles a torpedo with a thin abdomen and sharply pointed snout. The 6 tiny fins are bright red in color and they include a dorsal fin, anal fin, caudal fin, and two tiny pectoral fins.

In addition to the differences in color the females have more visible markings and lateral lines than the males. They also have a slightly distended abdomen for carrying eggs.

When in breeding condition the males are at their best and brightest. They will flash their most spectacular cherry red colors while they are trying to attract a mate.

Common Color Varieties

There are two different color varieties for this species.

The most popular is the cherry red to amber brown – you can also find this variety in a bright super red color.

However you can also find an Albino Cherry Barb.

Albino is a color variety that is specially bred for aquariums. They are bred by selecting for a specific homozygous recessive gene.

Albino Cherry Barbs come in shades of light orange, light pink, creamy white, or mixed.

They are more solitary than colored Barbs and do not shoal as much. They are also slightly smaller and just a bit more skittish.

Should You Keep The Cherry Barb? (Summary)

Cherry Barb
Other Common Names: N.A.
Scientific Name: Puntius titteya
Family Name: Cyprinidae
Distribution: Sri Lanka
Size: 1-2 inches
Color: Red, Albino
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Lifespan: 5-6 years
Minimum Tank Size: 25+ gallons
Tank Mate Compatibility: Nano fish and small invertebrates

The Cherry Barb is one of the very best freshwater fish for beginners.

Although their beautiful red color is the main attraction, there is so much more to them.

With the pop of color that they add to every tank, your attention will be directed right at them. There is really no downside to adding these friendly fish to your freshwater tank.

Just remember that these fish are not meant to be kept on their own. You should keep them in a group of 5-6.

Do you have a school of Cherry Barbs in your aquarium? Let us know in the comments section below…