Clown Barb

Everett's Barb, Barbus Everetti

Family: Cyprinidae Clown Barb, Puntius everetti, Everett's BarbPuntius everettiPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Nick Duhning
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Now we're scared of Clown(barb)s! Just placed a dozen Rummy Nose Tetra in our 55 Gallon tank last night now that our fish-gulping Spanner-T Barb has passed on.... (more)  Harry S. White

The Clown Barb certainly looks rather clownish with its big polka dots on a reddish gold body!

The handsome Clown Barb Puntius everetti (previously Barbus everetti) is definitely one of the most interesting looking barbs. It has a background with a reddish gold sheen, colorful red fins, and the spotted "bands" add a large clownish polka dot effect. It has a nice size too, reaching up to about 4 inches (10 cm) in the aquarium, though it can get much bigger in the wild at about 6 inches (15 cm) in length. Another common name it is known by is the Everett's Barb.

A nice group of these colorful barbs will make for a very interesting and attractive aquarium. This is a very lively, hardy fish that will do well when kept in groups of 6 or more individuals. If kept with others of its own kind it will tend to school. Because of its size the recommended tank size is at least 25 gallons. But with its very active nature keeping it in a tank that is at least 30 inches long and 30 gallons or more, would be ideal.

This fish is best kept by fish keepers with some experience, and maybe kept in a species tank. Although this is a very durable fish and moderately easy to keep, it does need the proper tank conditions and the right tankmates.

These Cyprinids will usually do well in a community aquarium. However they can be fin nippers and may terrorize other fish because of their liveliness. It has been suggested by some that they may actually eat other fish, especially fish that are smaller. This barb also prefers warmer water than many freshwater fish, needing temperatures between 79 - 82° F (26-28° C). Tankmates need to be selected that are of a similar size and temperament, and that will also thrive at higher temperatures.

The Clown barb likes a well planted aquarium. This fish will nibble on plants though, so be sure to use hardy varieties and only include those that can thrive in warmer water. Place them around the inside perimeter, along of the sides and back of the tank, to leave open areas for swimming in the middle. Rocks and wood for hiding places make a good central decor.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Puntius
  • Species: everetti
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Clown Barb - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Size of fish - inches: 5.9 inches (15.01 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 79.0 to 82.0° F (26.1 to 27.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Clown Barb Puntius everetti (previously Barbus everetti) was described by Boulenger in 1894. They are found in Southeast Asia, Singapore, Borneo, and the Bungarian Islands. They are not endangered and this species is not listed on the IUCN Red List. Other common names they are known by are Everett's Barb and Barbus Everetti, which was its previous scientific name.

They inhabit quiet forest streams, tributaries, and forest pools in the foothills. These waters are normally clear with variable currents. These fish show a preference for shallow areas of the water, around 6 inches deep. They are foraging omnivores and feed on worms, insect, crustaceans, plants and other organic debris.

  • Scientific Name: Puntius everetti
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed


The Clown Barb has a torpedo shaped body and its tail is forked. It has only one dorsal fin. Lacking an adipose fin, a second dorsal fin to the rear of the first, is a characteristic of all the Cyprinid fishes. This is a good sized fish reaching a length of up to 6 inches (15 cm) in the wild, though they generally only reach about 4 inches (10 cm) in the aquarium. They have a lifespan of 4 to 8 years with proper care.

They sport a body color pattern that is true to their name, the Clown Barb. It is orangish brown on its upper body, orangish red on the sides, and has a yellow to whitish belly. Overall this combination gives it a reddish gold sheen. Then there are several (usually about four) dark spotted band type markings on the sides. It has red fins and sometimes a touch of red in the iris of the eye. All of these elements give this fish a rather 'clownish' appearance.

  • Size of fish - inches: 5.9 inches (15.01 cm) - In the wild these fish can reach up to 6 inches (15 cm), but in captivity they generally only get about 4 inches (10 cm).
  • Lifespan: 8 years - Their have an average lifespan of between 4 - 8 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Clown Barbs are hardy durable fish, but they are suggested for an aquarium keeper with some experience. They require an aquarium that is at least 25 gallons or more and warmer water than most typical tropical fish. Although they are considered to be a good community fish they can get nippy, and may even snack on smaller species.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Intermediate

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous the Tiger Barb will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance give them a high quality flake food everyday. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat. This fish will eat as much as you feed them so the aquarist should determine a reasonable amount of food. The rule of thumb when offering food several times a day is to offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding. When offering food just once a day, provide what they can eat in about 5 minutes.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet / Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.

Aquarium Care

Clown Barbs are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean and at the proper temperature. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless on size all need some maintenance. Over time decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and the water hardness increases due to evaporation. Replace 25 - 50% of the tank water at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked 20 - 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

  • Water Changes: Monthly - It the tank is densely stocked the water changes should be done every other week.

Aquarium Setup

The Clown Barb is a species that will swim in all parts of the tank, but prefers to swim in open areas in the middle. They can reach up to 4 inches in length so a school will need at least a 25 gallon aquarium. But because they are very active swimmers it is better to have a tank that is 30 inches long and 30 gallons or more. Provide good filtration and do regular water changes. Additionally, the tank should be covered as they may jump.

These fish will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks which simulate their natural habitat. Provide a sandy substrate, some rocks and wood for hiding places, and some plants. They will nibble on plants, so use hardy varieties. Placing the plants around the inside perimeter of the tank, along the sides and back, will leave lots of open swimming space. An efficient filter and good water movement are needed for the male fishes to develop their coloration.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 25 gal (95 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes - A Nano tank needs to be 25 gallons or more.
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 79.0 to 82.0° F (26.1 to 27.8° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: - Temperature between 79 - 82° F (26 - 28° C).
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 8 - 12 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium. Prefers the middle of the aquarium.

Social Behaviors

These fish are commonly listed as a lively peaceful species that make an excellent community fish. Although this is mostly true they can be fin nippers and may terrorize other fish because of their liveliness. This is highly dependant upon the individual fish as some are worse than others so they should be watched as closely as possible. It has also been suggested that they may actually eat other fish, especially fish that are smaller or even similar size.

These barbs should be kept in schools of at least 6 or more fish with a good mix of males and females. This will make the Clown Barb less skittish and will help keep aggression with in its school. Other tankmates need to be of a similar size and temperament, and be able to thrive at the higher temperatures required by this species.

The personality of this fish is not neutral enough to fit the casual description of a community fish. It is usually not too aggressive, particularly if kept in a group of its own kind. But it is a skilled hunter and may eat fish of a smaller, and even similar size.

  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive - The personality of this fish is not neutral enough to fit the casual description of a community fish. It is usually not too aggressive, particularly if kept in a group of its own kind. But it is a skilled hunter and may eat fish of a smaller, or even similar size.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - It is best kept in groups of 6 or 7, with a mix of males and females..
    • Peaceful fish (): Monitor - Clown Barbs are fin nippers, and may even eat smaller or similar sized fish.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - May nip at fins, especially if not kept in a large group of its own kind.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Monitor - The Clown Barb will nibble at plants. Make sure to pick very hardy plants.

Sex: Sexual differences

The female is heavier, especially during the spawning season. The males are more brightly colored and slender.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Clown barbs are not easily spawned in the aquarium. Successes have only been done with very large aquariums. The age of the fish will have an impact on a successful spawning. Most problems arise from either a pairings that have a male that is too young, or if the male is ready to breed, the female is unable to produce. Males do not mature until it 1 1/2 years of age, while females mature at 1 year.

To breed them requires a larger aquarium with shallow water at about 4 to 6 inches deep. It needs to be dimly lit and have clumps of Java moss or spawning mops. The water should have a hardness between 6-12° dGH, be slightly acidic with a pH of about 7, and have a temperature between 79 - 82° F (26 - 28° C).

Picture of a Clown BarbThese fish are egg layers that scatters their eggs. The eggs are adhesive and will fall to the substrate. The sexes need to be separates for two to three weeks prior to breeding and conditioned with a variety of live foods like brine shrimp. Once eggs are laid, they will hatch in 20 to 30 days. The free swimming fry can be fed infusoria, a liquid fry food, or newly hatched baby brine. See the description of breeding techniques for Cyprinids in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Barbs. Also see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Difficult - Spawning is not easy to induce.

Fish Diseases

Clown barbs are hardy so disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. They are primarily susceptible to Ich if good water quality is not provided. Anything you add to your tank can also bring disease. Not only other fish but plants, substrate, and decorations can harbor bacteria. Take great care and make sure to properly clean or quarantine anything that you add to an established tank so not to upset the balance.

A good thing about these barbs is that due to their resilience, an outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Barb the proper environment and give them a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease.

These fish are very resilient, but it is recommended to read up on the common tank diseases. Knowing the signs and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Clown Barb is readily available basically anywhere, both in stores and online, and is reasonably priced.


Author: David Brough CFS, Clarice Brough CFS
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Lastest Animal Stories on Clown Barb

Harry S. White - 2007-03-15
Now we're scared of Clown(barb)s!

Just placed a dozen Rummy Nose Tetra in our 55 Gallon tank last night now that our fish-gulping Spanner-T Barb has passed on. Had bought no new fish for months bordering on a year due to it's high-priced "sushi" appetite. Between our 2 Clown Barbs, we now have 6 Rummy Nose left this morning. Both Barbs were sporting Rummy Nose tail moustaches when we turned the lights on and were seemingly stalking their next snacks when we left for work. That Clown Barbs are community fish seems a bit overstated... saying they are omnivorous is too modest.

  • raymond - 2010-04-25
    We have 4 green barbs, 12 tiger barbs, a algae eater, and 2 puntius everetti (clown barbs). . The clown barbs only hide under or in decorations (i. E. Castle, logs, etc. ). They seem to be coward fish always running and yet fast when we chase them from their hiding places. Was going to get rid of them since they only hide. Welcome information, etc.
Clayton - 2005-12-16
I have a pair of them, they are really interesting to watch. The first day I brought home the 2nd of the pair it was chased around constantly, until the lights came on the next morning, atleast 12 hours. I tend to have to over feed the fish to keep the community tank happy, this really seems to keep the nipping to a minimum. Also slightly colder than recommended temp at 75-76'. All combined this seems to keep them from being thugs. I must say that I do see chasing each other as I'm writing this. they are nose to nose fighting. But so far not one other fish has been nipped. I have 7 tiger barbs, 2 dwarf gourami,4 golden barbs,
2 Clown barbs, and 1 swordtail platy.

lola - 2010-08-02
I would definitely agree, that rather than being good community fish, they are a semi-aggressive, fast moving fish that can be kept with other fish if they are of a similar size and temperament. I would recommend keeping a school rather than just a couple, that way any aggression is spread out. I have six which are living very successfully and peacefully with the same number of giant danios. There is some chasing, but no fighting, and everyone's fins are intact. Mine have proved both hardy and fun and will eat from my hand.

  • Frank - 2011-08-09
    I was thinking of adding a few to my American Datnoid, Black Diamond Cichlid, Parrot Cichlid, Polypterus bichirs, Redtail Shark. I'm guessing this will be OK? I want them more as a dither fish. Im kinda worried about my Ghost Knife tho since it's only 5 inches at the moment.
Rickie - 2005-01-27
I have 5 of these fish. I adore them as they are wonderful to watch, however they are gluttons. they are extremely lively and very very territorial and they do not get along with other fish well at all. In 2 months they have consumed 1 Angel fish, 1 Gourami, 1 upside down catfish and yesterday I caught one with the tail of a sucking catfish hanging out of its mouth. So peaceful stikes me as amusing, I would not recommend them for community tanks at all. I feed them well twice daily.