Cherry barb care guide

Cherry barb (Puntius titteya) is a small and nice tank fish, one of the most popular barb species. Further in the article, you’ll find out how to keep cherry barb, feed it, select tank mates, and breed it.

Cherry barb (Puntius titteya)

Habitat in the wild

The cherry barb is native to freshwater ponds of Sri Lanka South-West areas – Kelani and Nilwala river-valleys, where they live in shadowed soundings of streams and small rivers with muddy bottom, which has large amount of plant matter and small drain system between them. Some shallow pristine streams with transparent or a bit colored water are cherry barb habitats.

Through thick three cover very few light reaches the water surface, that’s why water plans are shadowed. Water temperature in these streams varies from 23 °C to 27 °C, dH: 5 — 19, and pH: 6.0 — 8.0.

As a rule the pond bottom is sandy with a layer of sunken leaves and tree brunches. Nowadays export of wild species from Sri Lanka is prohibited, though the fish capture obviously continues.

According to reports, the number of brightly colored barbs in the natural population decreases day by day. This is caused by selective capture of brightly colored species.


Cherry barb body size is about 5 cm (2 in) long, it’s a small fish. Lifespan in captivity is about 4-5 years. It has elongated body, its back profile is rather curved, and lateral line isn’t complete. The fish has inferior mouth and one pair of barbs.

Male has brown-green back and reddish or body bottom which is separated from the body sides with brown-red lateral line. The fish iris is bloody-red on top. Female abdomen is whitish, the back is yellow-gray and lateral line is also brown-red. The fins color varies from yellowish to red.

In captivity you may encounter albino cherry barbs species.

Scientific NamePuntius titteya
Common NamesCherry barb, red barb
Range and habitatSri Lanka
Size 5 cm (2 in)
Lifespan3 years
Ease of keepingEasy
Minimum tank size40 liters (10 gallons)
Temperature73 – 81 °F (23 – 27 °C)
pH6.0 — 8.0
Water hardness5-20 dGH

Difficulties in keeping

Temper is rather peaceful and the fish isn’t demanding itself, so it does well with all peaceful fishes. However, the cherry barb requires well-kept tank with stable water parameters and clean water. If this is about your tank, than there should be no problem with keeping.

cherry barb female

Care and keeping in a tank

Cherry barb is a schooling fish, so it’s desirable to keep about 6-10 species in a tank. This reduces the stress and makes it less timid. Besides, the male demonstrates brighter coloring in the presence of rivals.

Recommended tank volume is 40-100 liters (10-25 gal), the tank should be thickly planted since cherry barb is rather timid fish and they need a possibility to hide in the plants. However, you should leave some free, not planted area in the tank, where the fish can swim. You should ensure good water filtration and some slow water flow in the tank.

As a rule the cherry barb swims in the middle and bottom water layers. As we’ve already mentioned, tank mates should be peaceful, since this one is a peaceful, too.

Avoid the fishes that may consider fish as food or a rival. Males often fight with each other by “dancing” in front of the rival, but this never has any serious consequences. When keeping several cherry barb males in the tank, they gain more intense coloring.

Choice of tank decorations isn’t a crucial factor, although cherry barb becomes brighter in a thickly planted tank with dark bottom substrate. It’s desirable to add some fluctuant and snags into the tank.

Water parameters: temperature 73 °F to 81 °F (23 °C to 27 °C), pH 6.0 — 8.0, 5-20 dGH.


The cherry barb isn’t demanding, so it eats all types of feed, but you have to keep in mind that the fish is small and it won’t be able to swallow large grained food.

cherry barb in aquarium


Unlike lots of its relatives cherry barb behavior is very peaceful and calm. They don’t even touch long finned fishes.

It’s an ideal fish for community tanks, but it has to be kept with fishes of the same small size. Small and helpless cherry barb will be an easy prey for any predator fish. It’s good to keep it with tetras.

Cherry barb becomes a good tank mate for: white cloud mountain minnow, harlequin rasbora, otocinclus catfish, cardinal tetra, neon tetra, betta. Although, angelfish is rather large and aggressive tank mate. However, cherry barb won’t attack them, but they may do this.

Cherry barb is also tolerant towards any shrimps, even so small as cherry shrimp.

Gender differences: male vs female

When cherry barb is young it’s difficult to see between the male and female. However, when the fish becomes reproductive the differences become more visible: the female is fatter with rounded abdomen while the male is slim and brighter colored. Also male have their so called fights, without any fight actually, but demonstrating their best colors.

cherry barb two males


As spawning tank you may use a small volume 20-25 cm (8-10 in) long with small amount of water, which temperature is 26-28 °C (78-82 °F).

Tank plants presence is a must. First put the cherry barb males and females apart for 7-10 days and feed them well. You may also renew some part of the tank water and rise its temperature a bit. Optimal ratio of the males and females in the tank is 2:1.

After spawning (usually in the morning) the tank with eggs should be shadowed and the fish are removed from the tank. Incubation period for the eggs is 36-48 hours. The larva becomes a juvenile 2-3 days later. When being a juvenile the fish becomes 1.2-1.8 cm long, this period lasts for 45-60 days.