Cherry Barb

Red Cherry Barb

Family: Cyprinidae Cherry Barb, Puntius titteya, Red Cherry BarbPuntius titteyaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
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I have two male cherry barbs and I have two female cherry barbs. These fish get on most tropical fish and they are very placid. The males are darker than the... (more)  Connor

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. As its name implies, the Cherry Barb can develop a deep red "cherry" color, which intensifies during spawning times when the male becomes a bright, beautiful red. Wild-caught Cherry Barbs are more intensely colored than their captive-bred counterparts. This fish is also known as the Red Cherry Barb, and an albino color morph, the Albino Cherry Barb, has been bred in captivity.

A good beginner barb, the Cherry Barb can be kept in community tanks and is generally peaceful and undemanding as well as fairly easy to breed. This fish is a great choice for fish keepers at any level provided the tank 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 fish is generally peaceful with its conspecifics, it is also perfectly content when kept singly. However, when kept singly, the Cherry Barb will not develop its best color. To get your Cherry Barbs to their best and brightest reds, keep them in a mixed group of males and females in a planted tank.

Like most barbs, these lively little 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 leave a large open 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 it seek cover.

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

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Puntius
  • Species: titteya
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.

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° 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 as the 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 forked tail, and 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. The small Cherry Barb reaches just shy of 2 inches (5 cm) in length and has an average lifespan of 4 years, though they can live 5 to 7 years with proper care.

The Cherry Barb's silvery body tends toward a rich, reddish brown. As its name implies, the Cherry Barb can develop a deep red "cherry" color, sometimes becoming almost maroon. The color intensifies during spawning times when the male becomes a bright, beautiful red. A horizontal black stripe runs from 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 of size, all need some maintenance. Over time, decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and water hardness increases due to evaporation. Replace 25 to 50% of the tank water at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked, 20 to 25% 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. These very active fish will also need 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 that simulate their natural habitat. They will appreciate an aquarium with lots of dense vegetation and floating plants where they can 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° 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 in a 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
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

Cherry Barbs are difficult to sex when they are young, but as they get older, males become redder and more slender while females remain smaller and plumper. Males turn bright 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 Barbs are 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 to 6.5, and a temperature between 74 and 79° 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 3 times 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, see Breeding 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 introduce 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 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 if dealt 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 their natural 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 should read 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.


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

Connor - 2014-10-15
I have two male cherry barbs and I have two female cherry barbs. These fish get on most tropical fish and they are very placid. The males are darker than the females and are more attractive. They swim around with the neon tetras, zebra danios and glow light tetras. So I recommend that you get these gorgeous fish.

kye turnbull - 2013-05-12
my male looks staved even after being fed blood worms, he is eating fine has no ripped fins no symptoms of being sick and acts fine? anyone know whats wrong? hes been like this for about 5 months

  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-05-12
    What else do you feed the fish?  How often?
  • kye turnbull - 2013-05-12
    2 blocks of blood worms per day it is with a whole bunch of guppies and some more cherry barbs
  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-05-13
    I would try adding some High quality flake food to their diet.
  • kye turnbull - 2013-05-13
    i feed em some fish eggs, flake and pellets to
Gilly - 2009-06-01
I would really like to start an aquarium with 3 or 4 cherry barbs but am looking for something else to put with them - I'd like a nice blue or yellow/orange fish of no more than 5cms size if there are any that would live happily with them. Can anyone recommend anything?

  • fish boy - 2011-02-18
    Dwarf Gouramis or gold barbs would be a good choice. Also platies.
  • kye turnbull - 2013-03-25
    Even though it's not yellow, blue, or orange, the kissing gourami is a very nice peaceful fish.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2013-03-26
    mixing other barbs is always a nice look and there are many variations.
patrick - 2011-07-16
Can you use fake foliage in the aquarium or do I need to use real plants with these?

  • Anonymous - 2011-07-17
    You can use whatever you like. Plastic plants work great!