Rosy Barb

Red barb

Family: Cyprinidae Rosy Barb male, Puntius conchonius, Red barbPuntius conchonius
Latest Reader Comment - See More
So I'm thinking of stocking these in my tank, 55 gallon with sand substrate. As per the written information it recommends sand with these guys. However 'my... (more)  Sereya

The lively Rosy Barb is "color in motion" with its metallic rosy cast and continuous swimming!

The Rosy Barb Puntius conchonius (previously Barbus conchonius) is one of the most beautiful of the freshwater fish. They have a silvery or coppery pink color with a green cast along the back, and the males will have more pink on their under bellies. They are hardy, undemanding, and fun to watch because they are constantly on the move. These qualities make them one of the most desirable starter fish.

The color of these fish is always attractive but it most impressive when they are spawning. The males silvery color intensifies to a deep rosy red or a purplish red, and the fins get pink and black. Though usually referred to as a Rosy Barb, another common name they are known by is the Red Barb. They have also been developed in several ornamental varieties. Some of these include the Neon Rosy Barb, Long Fin Rosy Barb, Red Glass Rosy Barb, and Gold Neon Rosy Barb.

These barbs are a delightful choice for a beginning fish keeper, but will make a dynamic display in any aquarists tank. They are peaceful and will do well in a community aquarium, with only an occasional nip on a tankmates fins. They do prefer cooler water than many other tropical fish, needing temperatures between 64-72° F (18-22° C). Be sure to select tankmates that will also thrive in a cooler tank.

Depending on the region they are from these fish vary some in appearance and size. They are one of the larger barb species so do need at least a 20 gallon tank. In the wild they can reach lengths of up to 6 inches (15 cm). In the aquarium however, it is more common for them to only reach about 4 inches (10 cm). Not only are they very active, they are great jumpers, so the aquarium needs to be covered.

When kept in a school, the males display an interesting behavior. They will continually swim around each other with their fins spread out, showing off their best colors. These fish are very prolific breeders but they will need a breeding tank with shallow water. They will happily spawn in water that is just a couple of inches deep.

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

Geographic Distribution
Puntius conchonius
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Puntius
  • Species: conchonius
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Rosy Barb - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 5.9 inches (15.01 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 73.0° F (17.8 to 22.8° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Rosy Barb Puntius conchonius (previously Barbus conchonius) was described by Hamilton in 1822. They are found in northern India, Bangal, and Assam. There are also feral populations in Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia. This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC). They are widespread and common in their range with no major identified threats. Another common name it is known by is the Red Barb.

Depending on the region they are from these fish vary in appearance and size. The fish from West Bengal are more intensely colored with reflective scales. These barbs occur in a variety of habitats, from flowing hill streams and tributaries of rivers to very still waters like lakes, ponds and swamps. They are omnivorous and feed on insects, diatoms, algae, small invertebrates and detritus.

  • Scientific Name: Puntius conchonius
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern


The Rosy 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 are mature at 2.5 inches (6 cm) and have an average lifespan of about 5 years.

The general coloration is silvery or coppery pink body with somewhat of a greenish cast along the back. Males are a more reddish color, especially on the underbelly and sides. There is a black spot just in front of caudal peduncle, and there may be some black along the top margins of the anal and dorsal fins. These fish will vary some in appearance and size, depending on the region they are from.

  • 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: 5 years

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Rosy Barb is a great addition to most tanks and is a great choice for beginners. They handle changes in their water conditions very well and are usually great eaters.They do need a cooler aquarium so be sure to take care when picking their tank mates. These barbs also like to nip the fins of slow swimming and long finned fish, so need active companions.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous the Rosy 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. Supplement with color foods for best results in appearance. When offering food just once a day, provide what they can eat in about 5 minutes. When offering food several times a day, offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less at each feeding.

  • 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

Rosy Barbs are easy 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 Rosy Barb will swim in all parts of the tank and they are a good sized fish. They can reach up to 4 inches in length. A school will need at least a 20 gallon aquarium but as they are very active swimmers, a tank that is 30 inches long and 30 gallons or more is ideal. They prefer cooler water at between 64-72° F (18-22° C). Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

As with most barb species, an aquarium best suited to them will provide plenty of swimming room, a soft bottom, and plants around the edges. They will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks which simulate their natural habitat. A sandy substrate, dense vegetation, and drift wood will echo their natural environment. Try to plan for one or two hours of sunlight hitting the tank as the illumination will make the fish even more stunning. An efficient filter and good water movement are needed for the male fishes to develop their best coloration.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 20 gal (76 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 73.0° F (17.8 to 22.8° C)
  • Breeding Temperature: - Breeding temperatures between 73 - 77° F (22 - 25° C).
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 10 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All

Social Behaviors

These fish are lively and fun to watch. They are peaceful and a very good community fish, with only an occasional nip on a tankmates fins. They are a schooling fish and will do well when kept in a group of 4 - 6 of their own kind. Make sure when selecting other tankmates that they also like cooler water, and are lively too.

  • Temperament: Peaceful - This fish is fairly peaceful although some may be a bit more dominant than others, and fin nipping is not unheard of.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Monitor
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - These are aggressive feeders which can make it difficult for slower or more timid fish to eat.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Rosy Barb, female Rosy Barb - female

Difficult to tell when they are young, but as they get older the male becomes redder and more slender. The female remains smaller in general.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Rosy Barb is moderately easy to breed and become sexually mature when they have attained a size of 2.5 inches (6 cm). Select breeding pairs from the school that have excellent markings and strong color. They are egg layers that scatters their eggs rather than having a specific breeding site. The eggs are adhesive and will fall to the substrate.

These fish can spawn in a 5 to 10 gallon breeding tank with shallow water just a few inches deep, and a temperature between 73 - 77° F (22 - 25° C). Use a coarse gravel on the bottom or a divider that allows the eggs to pass through to protect them. Put one male and two females in the breeding tank. The spawn is preceded with mock matings and courting, and then several hundred eggs will be laid. After the spawn, remove the parents as they will eat the eggs it they can reach them.

The eggs will hatch in about 30 hours. Free swimming fry can be fed infusoria, a liquid fry food, or newly hatched baby brine at least three times a day. Pay close attention when feeding, as foods if uneaten can quickly foul the water. The fry will require clean water to survive. See the description of breeding techniques in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Barbs. Also see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Easy

Fish Diseases

Rosy Barbs are extremely 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 Rosy Barb is readily available in pet stores and online, and is reasonably priced. Females are generally less than males.


Author: David Brough CFS, Clarice Brough CFS, Jeremy Roche
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Lastest Animal Stories on Rosy Barb

Sereya - 2015-03-20
So I'm thinking of stocking these in my tank, 55 gallon with sand substrate. As per the written information it recommends sand with these guys. However 'my aquarium' says they are not suitable for me because of the substrate.... A little confusion here.... Which is it?

  • Berenice - 2015-12-04
    I have five. Sand is a great substrate for them. They are boisturous and aggressive feeders but play and swim fast all the time, so very energetic and hyperactive. I have now moved them to their own tank so my other fish can have a life with less action and disturbance!
Anonymous - 2004-02-23
these fish are great maybe just a little aggressive.very hardy though

  • Anonymous - 2014-07-19
    I agree. I have five of them.
Anonymous - 2014-07-19
I have five rosy barbs and I'm not sure wat sex they are. 2 are big and fat the other 2 are smaller and well fed and then there is the last one which is very colourful but a bit smaller then the first 2 (they are all he same age). If you can help that would great thnx XD

  • Clarice Brough - 2014-07-22
    As they mature the males get more colorful and slimmer. It could be that your smaller two are male, but watch their color to see if they become real red as they age. See the 'sexing' section above.
MollieS - 2010-01-06
I keep my two rosy barbs with a tinfoil barb and a sucker fish in a 30 gallon tank. Do you think that I might be able to add two more rosys to my little fish family?

  • nm123 - 2011-12-09
  • Tom - 2014-02-08
    Absolutely not. The tinfoil barb and the pleco will grow too big for that 30 gallon. They get far too large, and leaving them in there could stunt their growth.