Discovering the Beauty of Rosy Barbs: Care and Keeping

The rosy barb (lat. Pethia conchonius) is one of the most beautiful barb species. Another good thing about the fish is that it’s not demanding, good-tempered, and it is interesting to watch it in a tank since it moves all the time. These qualities have made the fish one of the most renowned fishes among beginning aquarists. In this article, we’ll tell you about rosy barb keeping, breeding, and feeding.

Habitat in the wild

The rosy barb, scientifically known as Puntius conchonius, is a popular freshwater fish belonging to the family Cyprinidae. The family Cyprinidae is also referred to as the carp family and is one of the largest and most diverse fish families in the world. This family includes a wide variety of fish species, such as carp, barbs, danios, rasboras, and goldfish.

In 1822 the kind was described by a Scottish scientist Francis Buchanan-Hamilton for the first time ever. Still, the rosy barb appeared in amateurs’ aquariums only at the beginning of the 20th century.

The rosy barb dwells in Bangladesh, North-East India, and some other regions of South-East Asia. Also, there are fish populations in Singapore, Austria, Mexico, Colombia. They demonstrate some variations depending on the location. At that, some variations are larger than others, or their coloring and pattern change. For example, the fishes that inhabit East Bengal are considered the brightest and the most attractive ones.

They prefer lentic waters, but they can live in various conditions: from fast rivers and their tributaries to very small waters: lakes, ponds, and bogs.

Unlike any barbs, this kind dwells in relatively cold water. Nowadays, rosy barbs aren’t captured in the wild, and they are grown in special fish farms since they are quite easy to breed. Due to selectionists efforts, several color variations of the rosy barb were obtained. They have quite an intensive coloring, and the fins length is different.



In a tank, they grow to be up to 8 cm (3.3 inches) large, while in the wild, they are up to 10 cm long (according to some data, it can be 14 cm long). Typically reach a size of around 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) in length when kept in an aquarium.

It’s important to note that the size of rosy barbs can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, diet, water quality, and the overall environment they are kept in. Providing a well-maintained tank with proper nutrition and suitable conditions will contribute to their growth and overall health. Keep in mind that these fish are known to be fairly active and may benefit from a tank with plenty of swimming space.


The lifespan of rosy barbs can vary depending on their care, environment, and genetics. When kept in a well-maintained aquarium with proper care, Rosy Barbs typically have a lifespan of around 4 to 5 years. Some individuals may live even longer, reaching up to 7 years or more under optimal conditions. This is one of the most resilient tank fish kinds. Provided with proper care and tank conditions, they almost don’t get ill when living in a tank. To support their activity, experienced aquarists advise adding young rosy barb species into the school about 2-2.5 years later.

To ensure that rosy barbs live a healthy and long life, it’s essential to provide them with a suitable tank setup, balanced diet, and good water quality. Keeping them in a stress-free environment with appropriate tank mates can also contribute to their overall well-being and longevity. Regular monitoring, maintenance, and prompt response to any signs of illness or distress will help support their health and maximize their lifespan.

Body and coloring

The rosy barb body is oval-shaped, elongated, and flattened from sides. It has no barbels. Male fish back is green or olive-colored. The abdomen and sides have a yellow or red tint. There is a dark spot at the beginning of the fish tail fin.

The male fish body has a strong pink tint (due to which the rosy barb got its name). When the fish is excited, the tint becomes brighter.

The rosy barb fins are reddish with a copper tint. The anal, dorsal, and abdominal fins top is black. Rosy barb has a long-finned species as well.

Last update on 2024-02-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Common NameRosy Barb
Scientific NamePuntius conchonius
FamilyCyprinidae (Carp family)
OriginSouth Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh)
HabitatRivers and streams with dense vegetation
SizeUp to 6 inches (15 cm) in length
Lifespan4 to 7 years or more
TemperamentPeaceful and generally non-aggressive
ColorsMales: Bright red with black markings
Females: Duller, with yellowish-olive coloration
Tank SizeMinimum 30 gallons for a small group
Water ParameterspH: 6.0 – 7.5
Temperature: 68°F – 78°F (20°C – 26°C)
Hardness: 5 – 15 dGH (moderate)
DietOmnivorous, accepts flakes, pellets, and live/frozen foods
Tank CompatibilityPeaceful community fish, avoid keeping with aggressive species
BreedingEgg-scattering species, can lay hundreds of eggs during spawning
Special ConsiderationsPrefer well-planted tanks with hiding spots
Thrive in groups of 6 or more individuals

Difficulties in keeping

This is a perfect pet for those who are just getting to know aquarium husbandry. They take easily various relocations and are undemanding in terms of feeding.

However, it’s better to keep the rosy barb in a tank with cool water. Therefore the tank mates should have the same requirements for tank conditions. Another drawback is that the fish can nip its tank mates fins, so they should be fast and without long fins.

This is an active and quite large fish that swims in all water layers in a tank. You should keep it in a school since this is when you can see its temper and in this case its aggression towards other fishes decreases.

Keeping in a tank

How many rosy barbs should be kept together?

Rosy barbs (Puntius conchonius) are social and shoaling fish, meaning they prefer to be kept in groups rather than being solitary. For these fish to display their natural behaviors and reduce stress, it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least 6 individuals or more.

Keeping them in groups also enhances their coloration and activity levels, making for a more visually appealing and enjoyable display in the aquarium. However, always ensure that the tank is adequately sized to accommodate the number of fish, and monitor their behavior to ensure they are getting along well in the group. Providing plenty of hiding spots and plants can also help reduce aggression and create a more harmonious environment for the fish.

Tank size

Rosy barb feels more comfortable in a company of 8-10 relatives in an elongated tank. Don’t forget to close the tank with a cover since rosy barbs easily jump out of water when they start swimming very fast.

The minimum tank size recommended for a group of rosy barbs is 30 gallons (113 liters). Rosy Barbs are active swimmers and are best kept in groups of at least 6 individuals to promote their natural shoaling behavior and reduce stress. Having a larger tank will provide more swimming space and allow them to exhibit their natural behaviors comfortably.

A 30-gallon tank will accommodate a small group of rosy barbs, but if you plan to keep more individuals or have additional fish species in the tank, you should consider a larger aquarium. Providing enough space is important for the well-being of the fish and helps maintain good water quality.

Water parameters

There are no special requirements for keeping rosy barbs. Here are the recommended water parameters for these fish:

  1. Temperature: 68°F to 78°F (20°C to 26°C). The ideal temperature range is around 72°F to 75°F (22°C to 24°C). This kind of barb isn’t demanding for tank water temperature (in a short period). That’s why in tanks with rosy barbs, water heating isn’t obligatory, it can stand the water temperature decrease up to 15–16 °C. But it is quite a difficult thing to do in summer. Luckily, the fish has adapted and can stand summertime quite well, though if you have a chance, try to keep the water temperature low.
  2. pH Level: 6.0 to 7.5. Rosy Barbs can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline water conditions.
  3. Water Hardness: 5 to 15 dGH (degrees of general hardness). A moderate level of hardness is suitable for these fish.
  4. Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: It’s crucial to keep these levels at zero. Regular water changes and proper filtration are essential to maintain a healthy nitrogen cycle in the aquarium.
  5. Chlorine and Chloramines: Tap water may contain harmful chlorine and chloramines. Be sure to use a water conditioner to remove these chemicals before adding water to the tank.
  6. Dissolved Oxygen: Rosy Barbs require well-oxygenated water. Adequate surface agitation, air stones, or a quality aquarium filter will help maintain proper oxygen levels.

It’s essential to monitor water parameters regularly using a reliable water testing kit. Perform partial water changes (about 20-30%) every 1 to 2 weeks to maintain water quality and remove accumulated waste.

Remember that sudden and drastic changes in water parameters can stress and harm the fish. When making adjustments, do so gradually over time. Keeping the water quality within the appropriate range will help ensure the health and longevity of your Rosy Barbs.

Tank setup: decorations and plants

Use dark and small-grained bottom substrate, and this is when the rosy barb coloring looks the best. The tank should be thickly planted with small-leaved plants with some free space for the fish to swim. Put a school of 6-8 species in it. Sometimes rosy barb in planted tank start nipping leaves of soft-leaved plants but adding food with plant components to the fish diet usually solves the problem.

If you want, you can keep a couple of rosy barbs in a smaller tank. However, in this case, it should be rectangular-shaped and elongated. Dim lights, lots of shelters, and tank plants (they can be of various kinds since barbs are quite indifferent towards them) – this is how the rosy barb tank should look.

There should be some free space for the rosy barb to swim. Floating tank plants that scatter the light from the surface, snags, and tree branches make the biotope look more natural.


Meanwhile, rosy barbs are quite sensitive to the oxygen content in water. Therefore, a tank must be equipped with an airpump of medium power, and twenty-four-seven water aeration must be ensured.

It is desirable to have a water filter in the tank since it will help remove mechanical particles and chemical compositions from the water. Also, the rosy barb likes water flow in a tank, and you can create it using the water filter. Weekly water renewal is a must since the fish likes clean and fresh water.


The rosy barb eats all kinds of live, frozen, and artificial food. It is desirable to provide it with a diversified diet to make sure that it is healthy and active. Give it some supplementary vegetable components as well – such as scalded lettuce and dandelion leaves. Spineless species are the main fish food. Rosy barb eagerly eats maggots, worms, mussels. Its diest also includes soft twigs of aquatic vegetation.

When keeping the fish in a tank, it is recommended to feed it with quality dry food. Unlike live or frozen ones, it contains all necessary nutrients and is completely safe for the fish. Another important advantage is that dry food is convenient to store. Due to the high digestibility of such food when using it regularly, nitrates and phosphates content in the water raises slowly.

You must feed barbs several times a day and give them a food portion that they’ll eat in several minutes. Don’t forget that they tend to overeat; therefore, try not to overfeed them.

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Tank mates

This is a very active fish, and it is quite interesting to observe it. As for its good temper, the rosy barb is a peaceful one, and it gets along well with its tank mates in a community tank.

However, sometimes the rosy barb may nip the fins of its long-finned neighbors. These are goldfish, angelfish, betta, and guppies. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how rosy barb will behave with these tank mates. I had a situation in my experience when a school of tiger barbs living together with angelfishes didn’t hurt them at all, but rosy barbs had almost destroyed them. At that, both of the barb species lived in quite large schools, so this must be about their temper. Because, as a rule, keeping barbs in a school sufficiently decreases the level of their aggression.

As for definitely trouble-free tank mates for rosy barbs, these are tiger barbs (they look quite appealing in one tank with rosy barbs), Odessa barbs, neon tetras, livebearers (mollies, platy, swordtails).

Large predator cichlids (oscar fish, flowerhorn, green terror) are dangerous tank mates for barbs, so you mustn’t keep these together. Don’t keep rosy barb with discus as well since they require different water temperatures. Barbs like cold water, while discus vise versa.

Gender differences: male vs female

Rosy barbs exhibit sexual dimorphism, which means there are noticeable physical differences between males and females. Before the fish gets reproductive, it is almost impossible to tell between the rosy barb male and female. When the fish gets older, it is easier to do. Gender differences are the most obvious during the spawning period.

Here are the key differences between male and female rosy barbs:

  1. Coloration: The most apparent difference is in their coloration. Male rosy barbs have vibrant and striking colors, especially during breeding season or when they are trying to court females. They typically have bright red bodies with black markings on their fins and sometimes on their bodies. In contrast, female rosy Bbarbs have a more subdued coloration. They are generally paler with yellowish-olive tones and lack the intense red coloration of males.
  2. Body Shape: Male rosy barbs often have a more slender and streamlined body shape compared to females. Females tend to have a slightly rounder and fuller body, especially when they are carrying eggs.
  3. Size: In some cases, males may grow slightly larger than females, but this difference is not always significant.
  4. Fin Shape: During the breeding season, males may develop slightly longer and more colorful fins, especially the dorsal fin and caudal fin, to attract females.
  5. Behavior: Males can be more active and territorial, especially during breeding times when they may display courtship behaviors and chase females. Females are generally more peaceful and less territorial.

These differences become more pronounced during the breeding season when males display their vibrant colors and courtship behaviors to attract females. However, outside of breeding periods, the color differences between males and females may be less noticeable.

When keeping rosy barbs in an aquarium, it is essential to have a balanced ratio of males to females to prevent excessive aggression among males. A recommended ratio is to have two or three females for every male to create a more harmonious and less stressful environment.


Breeding the rosy barb isn’t a difficult thing to do. It becomes reproductive at the age of 6-8 months old. These fish are relatively easy to breed, and under the right conditions, they can spawn readily.

Here’s a general overview of the rosy barb breeding process:

  1. Selecting Breeding Pairs: Before breeding, ensure you have a group of healthy and mature rosy barbs. It’s best to have a ratio of one male to two or three females to prevent excessive harassment of individual females by the male. It is possible, but not necessary, to keep males and females separately during this time.
  2. Conditioning: To encourage breeding, provide the adult rosy barbs with a varied diet that includes high-quality flakes, live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. This conditioning period should last for a couple of weeks to prepare the fish for spawning.
  3. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank of at least 10-20 gallons with fine-leaved plants like Java moss, or provide a spawning mop. The tank should have gentle filtration and a temperature around 75°F to 78°F (24°C to 26°C).
  4. Spawning Behavior: Once the fish are conditioned, the male will begin to display courtship behaviors, such as chasing and flaring his fins. When the female is ready to spawn, she will become plumper, and her colors may intensify. The male will chase the female around the tank to encourage her to release her eggs. When the female’s abdomen gets full with eggs, put it and two male rosy barb into a separate spawning tank of 10—15 liters capacity with water level not higher than 15 cm. Water temperature in a spawning tank should be 2-3°C higher than that of the tank where the fish used to live. The spawning process starts in the morning. Once it is over, the fish should be removed from the tank.
  5. Egg Laying: When the female is ready, she will scatter her eggs among the plants or on the spawning mop. The male will then fertilize the eggs.
  6. Removing Adults: After spawning, promptly remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs.
  7. Incubation: The eggs will hatch in about 24 to 48 hours, depending on the water temperature. The fry will initially feed on their yolk sacs.
  8. Feeding Fry: Once the fry have absorbed their yolk sacs and start swimming freely, you can start feeding them infusoria, liquid fry food, or finely crushed flakes. As they grow, you can gradually introduce larger foods like baby brine shrimp.
  9. Growth and Development: Rosy Barb fry grow relatively quickly and should be separated into a larger grow-out tank as they grow to avoid overcrowding and potential aggression.

It’s important to note that adult rosy barbs may eat their own eggs and fry, so it’s essential to provide a separate breeding tank for successful breeding. With the right conditions and proper care, you should be able to witness the fascinating process of rosy barb breeding and successfully raise the fry into healthy juveniles.