A few Cherry Barbs in full color will create a dazzling show in any aquarium!

The Cherry Barb Puntius titteya (previously Barbus titteya) is a pretty little fish that ranks near the top of the barbs in popularity. Asits name implies, the Cherry Barb can develop a deep red “cherry” color, whichintensifies during spawning times whenthe male becomesa bright, beautiful red. Wild-caught Cherry Barbs are more intensely colored than their captive-bred counterparts. This fish is also known asthe Red Cherry Barb,and an albino color morph, the Albino Cherry Barb, has beenbred in captivity.

A goodbeginner barb, the Cherry Barbcan be kept incommunity tanks and is generally peaceful andundemanding as well asfairly easy to breed. This fish is a great choice for fish keepers at any level provided thetank is properly set-up and maintained.

This barb tends to be a loner and can be a bit nervous with others, sometimes even with its own species. Although this little fishis generally peaceful with its conspecifics, it is also perfectly content whenkept singly. However, when kept singly, the Cherry Barbwill not develop its best color. To get your Cherry Barbs to their best and brightest reds, keep them ina mixed group ofmales and femalesin a planted tank.

Like most barbs, these livelylittle fish make a fun addition to a community aquarium.The best tankmates are a small school of their own kind and a selection of other smaller fishes. Add a dark substrate and leavea largeopen area in the center for swimming. Because they tend to be shy, they are almost always found in shaded areas. Plant the aquarium with lots of dense vegetation and floating plants to let itseek cover.

For more Information on keeping freshwater fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Freshwater Aquarium

Cherry Barbs

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Cherry Barbs in a Planted Aquarium

This pretty little fish ranks near the top of the list for popular barbs. Like its name implies, the Cherry Barb can develop a deep red “cherry” color. This color intensifies during spawning times with the male becoming a bright beautiful red. Wild caught Cherry Barbs are more intensely colored than captive bred. Recommended as a good beginner barb, the Cherry Barb is generally peaceful, undemanding, and fairly easy to breed. Like most barbs, it is a lively little fish and makes a fun addition to a community aquarium. It does tend to be a loner and can be nervous with others, sometimes even with its own species. The best tankmates are a small school of its like kind and a selection of other smaller fishes.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Puntius
  • Species: titteya
Cherry Barb – Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish – inches: 2.0 inches (5.08 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 79.0° F (22.8 to 26.1&deg C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Cherry Barb Puntius titteya (previously Barbus titteya) was described by Deraniyagala in 1929. They are from Asia where they are found in the Kelani to Nilwala basins of Sri Lanka. Feral populations of Cherry Barbs have also been found in Colombia and Mexico. They are also known asthe Red Cherry Barb.

They are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Least Concern (LC), with a more specific designation of Lower Risk and conservation dependent (LR – cd). From 1988 to 1994, they were listed as Vulnerable (VU), but their status has been upgraded recently.

This fish is found in heavily shaded streams and rivers on the plains of Sri Lanka. They prefer areas of slow moving, shallow water with a bottom of silt and plenty of branches and leaf litter. In nature, this barb is an omnivore and feeds on diatoms, algae, invertebrates, and detritus.

  • Scientific Name: Puntius titteya
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: LC – Least Concern


The Cherry Barb has a torpedo-shaped body, a forkedtail, and onlyone dorsal fin. Lacking an adipose fin, a second dorsal fin to the rear of the firstis a characteristic of all the Cyprinid fishes. The small Cherry Barbreachesjust shy of 2 inches (5 cm) in length and hasan average lifespan of 4 years, though theycan live 5 to 7 years with proper care.

The Cherry Barb’ssilvery body tendstoward a rich, reddish brown. Asits name implies, the Cherry Barb can develop a deep red “cherry” color, sometimes becoming almost maroon. The color intensifies during spawning times whenthe male becomesa bright, beautiful red. Ahorizontal black stripe runsfrom the tip of the mouth to the tail with a rather metallic stripe just above it.

  • Size of fish – inches: 2.0 inches (5.08 cm)
  • Lifespan: 4 years – Their average lifespan is 4 years, but with proper care they could live between 5 and 7 years.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

Cherry Barbs are very hardy little fish. They are great eaters and get along with most tankmates. Their water requirements are fairly easy to meet with regular partial changes. Provided with proper care, these little beauties make a great choice for the beginning fish keeper.

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

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, the Cherry Barb will generally eat all kinds of live, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high quality flake food every day. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat. Several small feedings a day are ideal, and at least one feeding a day is absolutely necessary. A general 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

The Cherry Barb is easy to care for provided the water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems, and regardless ofsize, all need some maintenance. Over time, decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up andwater hardness increases due to evaporation. Replace 25 to50% of the tank water at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked, 20 to25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

  • Water Changes: Monthly

Aquarium Setup

Cherry Barbs will swim in all parts of the tank, but especially like to take cover in planted areas. Thesevery active fishwill alsoneed stretches of open areas for swimming. A small school will need at least a 10-gallon aquarium. Provide good filtration and do regular water changes.

These fish will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks thatsimulate their natural habitat. They will appreciate an aquarium with lots of dense vegetation and floating plants where theycan seek cover. Provide a dark substrate and an open area in the center for swimming.

An efficient filter and good water movement are needed for the male fishes to develop their coloration. Try, if possible, to plan for one or two hours of sunlight hitting the tank at a time when you can view the tank. This illumination will make the fish even more stunning.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate – normal lighting
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 79.0° F (22.8 to 26.1&deg C)
  • Breeding Temperature: – Breeding temperatures are between 74 and 79° F (24 – 26° C).
  • Range ph: 6.5-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 – 18 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All – These fish will swim in all areas of the aquarium. They especially like to take cover in planted areas.

Social Behaviors

Cherry BarbCherry Barbs are lively and fun to watch. They are a very good community fish but shy, so keep them with smaller tankmates. They will be more confident and social ina well-planted aquarium. These fish do best in groups of 6 or more with a good mix of males and females to keep the colors strong.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful – This fish is a little shy unless given a tank with some plant cover.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Cherry Barbs are difficult to sexwhen they are young, but as they get older, males becomeredder and more slenderwhilefemales remainsmaller and plumper. Males turnbright red during spawning season.

Breeding / Reproduction

Cherry Barbs are egg layers. These fish will spawn in areas with dense vegetation to deposit the eggs. The eggs are adhesive and will be seen hanging from plants by a small thread. Cherry Barbsare moderately easy to breed, and raising the fry is relatively simple.

A separate breeding tank should be set up that is dimly lit with clumps of Java moss or spawning mops. The water should be a medium hardness of 12° dGH, slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0 to6.5, and a temperature between 74 and79° F (24 – 26° C). The female will deposit 1 to 3 eggs at a time until as many as 300 eggs are released. After the spawn, remove the parents as they will eat the eggs. Males can be very aggressive during breeding, and the females may need to be put in a rehabilitation tank afterward to recover their strength.

Eggs will hatch in about 24 hours. Free-swimming fry can be fed infusoria, a liquid fry food, or newly hatched baby brine at least 3times a day. Pay close attention when feeding, as uneaten foods can quickly foul the water. The fry require clean water to survive. For a general description of breeding techniques, seeBreeding Freshwater Fish: Barbs. Also, see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

Cherry Barbs are extremely hardy, so disease is not usually a problem in a well-maintained aquarium. They are susceptible to Ich if good water quality is not provided. Remember that anything you add to your tank can introducedisease. 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 as 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 ifdealt with at an early stage. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your Barb the proper environment and a well-balanced diet. The more closely their environment resembles theirnatural habitat, the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happier. A stressed fish is more likely to acquire disease.

These fish are very resilient, but all aquarists shouldread up on 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 popular Cherry Barb is widely available,both in stores and online, and is moderately priced.