Cherry Barb: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Cherry Barbs are vibrantly colored tropical freshwater fish with adorable schooling instincts. They are beautiful, hardy, and easy to care for, making them a dream pet fish for aquarium enthusiasts.

But if you are just getting started with the popular Barb fish, you will want to master all the crucial aspects like general tank setup and the choice of tank mates.

For Cherry Barbs, perhaps the three biggest questions will be, “do the Cherry Barbs live up to the hype around them? Will they coexist with my beautiful snails at home? Is it possible to keep them in a small group?”

It appears a simple yes would be enough to answer each of those questions but to help you have a better understanding of proper Red Cherry Barb care, this guide will break down all the vital aspects of the fish’s living in captivity.

We will start by reviewing the details of the fish’s origin before covering other important guidelines like lifespan, appearance, tank size, diet, behavior, tank mates, breeding, and more.

Species Overview

Cherry Barbs are scientifically called Puntius titteya, an eye-catching freshwater fish that has become popular with aquarists of all backgrounds. 

Aquarium enthusiasts love them for their interesting look, but if you introduce them to your tank for the first time, you will love them even more for their ease of care.

The Cherry Barbs were first discovered in Sri Lanka, like a tropical fish that thrives under the right conditions.

But in recent years, they’ve been spotted in various parts of the globe, with some unverified information claiming they’ve been discovered further south of India as well as regions of Mexico and Columbia.

Unfortunately, in recent years, human activities haven’t been kind enough to Cherry Barbs. Currently, IUCN classifies them as a vulnerable species, pointing to their dwindling wild population that has been attributed to excessive capturing.

Unlike in the past, Cherry Barb’s natural habitat has been encroached by man, leaving just a handful of them, which, again, many people still want to capture and sell in the global pet market.

Given their limited wild population and increased vulnerability to different conditions, we are always reluctant to recommend Red Barbs to newbie aquarists.

So, if you are unsure of how to care for these fish at home, you’d better consider other species with a widespread population.

Color Red with a dark band from head to tail; brightly colored males
Lifespan5-6 years
Care LevelEasy
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful
Compatibility Other peaceful fish
Food and DietOmnivores
Size1-2 inches
Tank SetupPlanted community
Tank Size (Minimum)25 gallons


Typically, Cherry Barbs have a long lifespan ranging from 5-7 years in captivity. But that’s assuming everything around quality care is well taken care of.

These fish will struggle to reach even the 5-year standard mark in other scenarios, especially if the tank water conditions are unsatisfactory. When it comes to proper Cherry Barb care at home, you will want to pay attention to the tank set up, water parameters, and the choice of tank mates.

Unsurprisingly, some fish lovers have kept Cherry Barbs for as long as eight years in captivity, but that’s only because they are committed to quality care.

There’s no way you will ever recreate such success stories if your lovely pets are vulnerable to common freshwater fish diseases.


Cherry Barb’s general appearance is a true reflection of their incomparable beauty. And if you will be seeing them for the first time, their matchless aesthetic appeal will probably draw you even closer.

As their name suggests, these fish have their bodies covered in vibrant cherry red coloration, with the males showing a more dominant display than the females.

Typically, the male Cherry Barbs assume beautiful vibrant red coloration instead of the slightly faded or pale females.

What’s more, Cherry barbs have a visible dark line on both sides of their bodies, starting from the mouth to the caudal fin. 

For the general body configuration, Red Barbs have long, thin bodies, massively contributing to their speed and agility in captivity.

On the other hand, their fins have the standard shape like any Barb fish, with the dorsal fin extending backward to resemble a shell. It is neatly tucked back when the fish’s swimming, giving it a characteristic torpedo-like appearance that’s quite common in many species.

Similarly, Cherry Barbs have moderately-sized pectoral and anal fins, with a symmetrical caudal fin that’s just as beautiful as their entire bodies. All the fins will have translucent base coloration, even though the female species have more transparent types. 


So, how big do Cherry Barbs get? Now, that will be an interesting question for many reasons. Firstly, you might be mistaken to assume Cherry Barbs are a larger species.

And even though that shouldn’t be an outright deal-breaker, we are sad to break the news to you that Cherry Barbs are a small freshwater fish, only measuring about 2 inches long in total length.

It shouldn’t be surprising to see your Cherry Barb stagnating at only 1 inch in maturity because everything depends on other factors like genetics and quality care.

Like many fish, one of the first steps to getting a healthy and larger Red Cherry Barb is purchasing your fish from reputable sellers. So, find valuable information by doing quick online research before heading to your local pet store to make your purchase.

Shall we emphasize the need to maintain a pristine environment again? Probably not because you know that any freshwater fish wants the best environment to thrive in captivity.

Cherry Barb Care

Cherry Barb care is pretty straightforward if you can commit to providing an ideal environment at home. If you are passionate about your fishkeeping hobby with a strong desire to create a captivating aquarium, you shouldn’t face any challenge keeping Cherry Barbs at home.

Newbie aquarists can try their luck with these fish even if we never recommend them for conservation issues.

But even with their low maintenance traits, you must know the crucial aspects of Cherry Barb care, as we will cover in the next section.

Tank Size

As passionate fish lovers, you may already know that we will always advocate for the largest possible tank size for any freshwater fish kept at home. And the recommended minimum tank size for Cherry Barbs should have a 25-30 gallon capacity.

With enough swimming space, Red Barbs will fit effortlessly in their new habitat, constantly exploring different parts of the tank, searching for food without worrying about their safety.

Water Parameters

Luckily for many aquarists, Cherry Barbs allow for flexibility regarding the accurate tank setup. They are a hardy species that can tolerate different conditions at home.

But just like most species, there’s always the baseline standard for setting up an ideal aquarium. For anyone who doesn’t want to keep up with the constant hassles of setting up a new tank, be sure to maintain consistent water parameters as we’ve highlighted below;

  • Water Temperature: 73°F-81°F
  • Water Hardness: 5-19 dH
  • pH Levels: 6.0-8.0

We encourage Cherry Barb lovers to frequently measure the tank water status using the right aquarium testing kit to ensure it’s well-suited to the beautiful pets.

What to Put in Their Tank?

There’s no better way to create the perfect habitat for eye-catching Cherry Barbs than replicating the actual conditions in their natural habitat.

So, as you add new tank decorations, your priority should be to introduce a natural feel that your Cherry Barbs will adore while guaranteeing their safety and comfort.

As for the substrate choice, stick to darker sand to replicate the actual conditions in the natural riverbeds and create a comfortable environment for your Cherry Barbs. 

Darker sand also adds to the visual appeal of your aquarium, becoming a central part of Cherry Barbs’ lives as far as their care and maintenance goes.

Other decorative elements like moderately-sized rocks, caves, and driftwood aren’t mandatory, but you can include them to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium.

Most importantly, don’t limit your Barbs’ swimming abilities by blocking their paths with unnecessary decorative elements. 

Have the shallow, calm waters with lots of vegetation in mind because that’s what the Cherry Barbs are fond of in their natural environment. In a nutshell, Cherry Barbs appreciate a well-planted aquarium with lots of decorations.

We only recommend the best possible options like the water wisteria, anacharis, and hornwort when introducing new plants.

Common Diseases

Despite their small body sizes, you wouldn’t believe just how resilient the Cherry Barbs can be in captivity. This is one of the biggest advantages of keeping them at home.

But at the end of the day, Cherry Barbs aren’t an invincible species. They need the best possible environment to flourish, and failing to meet their standards may sometimes expose them to specific freshwater fish diseases.

As expected, Cherry Barbs can never escape the wrath of Ich if the general tank water conditions are unsatisfactory. Ich results from reduced tank water quality and increasing stress levels inside the aquarium.

And in case of an unexpected outbreak, its classic symptoms will include:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • White spots on the fish’s body.
  • Rubbing against the tank elements.

Aside from Ich, other common ailments that can bother Cherry Barbs at home include dropsy, fin rot, and gill burn.

Don’t waste any time if you spot anything out of the normal. And just to relieve your worries, Ich is readily manageable with a combination of conservative methods and antibiotics.

As for the conservative approach, start by increasing the water temperature to the recommended levels. But if the disease symptoms fail to go away even with antibiotic usage, it’s time to seek an experienced vet’s advice.

What Do Cherry Barbs Eat?

Cherry Barbs have a flexible feeding routine in the wild and captivity, and that’s down to their omnivorous traits. In the wild, they are fond of plant-based foods and small critters. Also, they love plankton, algae, insects, and worms.

They will have an equally varied diet in captivity, but you can keep things simpler by sticking to high-quality flakes as the perfect starting point. On top of that, you can introduce your Cherry Barbs to high-quality proteins like bloodworms and brine shrimp for proper nourishment.

The wide range of healthy foods exposes Cherry Barbs to an increased risk of overeating. And if it’s taking longer than 2-3 minutes to feed your beautiful Barbs, probably it’s time to consider cutting down their dietary intake.

Behavior & Temperament

Cherry Barbs are relatively active freshwater fish if kept in the right environment. And as long as they have the right tank mates, they will want to explore different parts of the tank.

Like most schooling fish, Cherry Barbs are safer and happier in small groups, living in colonies of up to 5 species at a time. 

Regarding their typical behavior in captivity, we can conclude Cherry Barbs are peaceful fish, happier in their own space but less stressful in groups.

As usual, the mating season is characterized by a plethora of activities. And as the males assert their dominance, they can sometimes show aggressive behavior towards similar fish.  

Cherry Barb Tank Mates

Cherry Barbs’ peaceful demeanor allows them to cohabitate with most other fish exhibiting the same temperament. The list of ideal tank mates is almost inexhaustible but when looking for the right species, consider the newcomer’s behavior and activity levels.

Consequently, don’t pair your Cherry Bars with any aggressive or larger species to make the captivity life less stressful.

Ideally, the best tank mates for Cherry Barbs are other peaceful fish or natural bottom-dwellers that complement one another in captivity. And some of our best recommendations include the following;

And to shrimp lovers, we have some good news to psyche you up. Cherry Barbs are readily compatible with the Cherry Shrimps and Mystery Snails, among other popular invertebrates.

But can they live together with Betta fish? That’s a common question constantly lingering in many aquarists’ minds. Well, we would say yes and no at the same time.  

It’s a YES because some aquarists have successfully pulled it off at home. But at the same time, it’s a NO because we’ve heard some terrible stories about the Betta-Barb fish combination in captivity. 

And now to take a stand, we believe a Betta-Barb combination isn’t worth the effort at home. After all, why risk so much when the Cherry Barbs have an almost inexhaustible list of potential tank mates?


Breeding Cherry Barbs is straightforward as long as you’ve mastered the basics. Early preparation is the easiest way to navigate any challenges you may encounter along the way, and it involves an accurate tank setup.

Interestingly, Cherry Barbs demand just a modest tank for successful breeding. As part of the general setup, ensure the breeding tank has enough decorations starting with the live plants to mimic the actual spawning conditions. 

The female Cherry Barbs lay hundreds of eggs during the breeding season, but unfortunately, the adult fish lack parental instincts. Consequently, you must be alert to save the new fry by putting them in a new tank, far from the adult fish.

With the right conditions, the eggs should hatch after a couple of days, with the new fry readily feeding on brine shrimp and micro eels before their growth rate stabilizes.

Final Thoughts

Cherry Barbs are one of the most attractive freshwater fish you can have at home. We can’t remember the number of times we’ve recommended them to aquarium enthusiasts looking for a colorful species to spice up their tanks.

Turns out, the whole experience almost always ends in great success. It is not just Cherry Barbs’ peaceful temperament that makes them such an adorable species at home. They are attractive and easy to care for. And who wouldn’t love such traits for an ideal pet fish?

If you are still unsure whether to opt for the beautiful Red Barbs or not, perhaps you will want more guidance on effective care and breeding. And we will be glad to help you in whatever way you may need our assistance.