Active and hardy-shoaling fish barbs make a great addition to any aquarium with suitably sized inhabitants, and they’re an excellent choice for beginners. Though they prefer slightly acidic water, they can adapt to various conditions and are easy to feed and look after. Here, we discuss in-depth Barb information for types and breeding.
Energetic as they are, barbs can be intolerant of more placid tankmates. However, this is a frustrated expression of their desire to play and will usually stop if they have enough others of their own species to interact with. For this reason, you should always keep them in groups of six or more.
Most barbs are quite small, but they’ll need plenty of room in the aquarium to swim about. They enjoy having plants to chase around, and the quieter species appreciate hiding places.
Adding bogwood to your aquarium is often a good way of keeping barbs happy and maintaining the right water conditions.
Barbs are omnivorous and do best on a varied diet. They will accept flakes but should be given live food like daphnia, shrimp and bloodworms every week or two. They also enjoy spirulina algae discs.
Types of Barbs
There are numerous different species of barbs available for your aquarium, but some of the most popular are as follows:
- Rosy Barbs –These medium-sized red and goldfish are happiest in shoals, with two females to each male. They are more likely to be aggressive if kept in smaller numbers.
- Tiger Barbs -These handsome stripy silverfish are also available in green. They’re highly active and like to play within their shoals.
- Panda Barbs -Also known as striped barbs, these attractive black and silverfish are naturally shy and peaceful. They need to be with others of their own kind but also interact amicably with other fish.
- Cherry Barbs –These slender little fish get their name because of the colour assumed by males during spawning. They tend to be shy. ‘Albino’ varieties with golden colouration are also available.
- Denison Barbs –Sometimes mistakenly called sharks, these bright, angular fish are peaceful and get on well in community tanks. Give them plenty of vegetables and beware of their fondness for jumping.
- Two Spot Barbs –Among the smallest barb species, these delightful little fish are happiest in a large shoal with two females to every one male.
Most barb species, including those listed above, are fairly easy to breed in captivity. To do it successfully, you’ll need to set up a separate spawning tank for one male and one or two females (depending on the species and how your fish bond – watch them closely beforehand to determine their preferences).
In all barb species, the males are smaller and slimmer than the females. Ensure your spawning tank has very clean water (with no ammonia build-up) and is full of fine-leafed plants.
When spawning occurs, the eggs will stick to these. You should immediately remove the parents from the tank so they don’t eat the eggs.
Despite the small size of the adults, most barb fry are born large enough to eat small brine shrimp from the start.
Alternatively, they can be fed on powdered flake food or with a special fry food. Barb fry are often numerous and grow fast, so make sure you’ve got plenty of space for them.
Barbs may be seen as a beginner’s fish, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re nothing to get excited about. Alert and vigorous, they’re always interesting to watch and have various fascinating group behaviours.
They’re generally assertive enough to look after themselves without being too aggressive for your other fish, and their small size means they’re easy to keep in the sort of shoals they prefer. Give them a try and you’ll find they’re lots of fun.