Rosy barb care guide

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

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.

Scientific NamePethia conchonius
Common NamesRosy barb; rosy fish; pink barb
Ease of keepingEasy
Lifespan5 years and more
Tank size 80 liters (17,6 gallons) and more
Tank typeCommunity of fishes
Temperature18-22 °C (64–72 °F)
Water hardness9–20 dGH
Sizeup to 8 cm (3.3 inches)


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).

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.

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


Rosy barb lifespan is up to 5 years. 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.

Tank size

Rosy barb feels more comfortable in a company of 8-10 relatives in an elongated tank. For a couple of fish, 40 liters (8,8 gallons) tank is enough, and for the school – 80 liters (17,6 gallons). Don’t forget to close the tank with a cover since rosy barbs easily jump out of water when they start swimming very fast.

Water parameters

There are no special requirements for keeping rosy barbs. 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. The optimal water temperature for them is 18–22 °C.

The main tank parameter for the rosy barb is cool water – the temperature should be 18-22 °C (64–72 °F), 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.

If you are planning to breed the fish, keep it at lower water temperature values. Fish will easily stand water temperature decrease.

Chemical water compositions aren’t of crucial importance. Water hardness may vary from 4 to 15 degrees, and water pH is about 6,5–7.

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.

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

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. Males are smaller, brighter colored, and females have rounded and wide abdomen. Gender differences are the most obvious during the spawning period.

Males body becomes bright red during this time. The dorsal becomes orange with a black edge or spot on top. Females have unshowy gray or dim-bronze coloring with almost colorless fins. Barb females become rather fat during their spawning period.


Breeding the rosy barb isn’t a difficult thing to do. It becomes reproductive at the age of 6-8 months old.

For several days feed the fish well with live food, raise tank water temperature at 1—2 degrees. It is possible, but not necessary, to keep males and females separately during this time.

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.

Put a separating net on the tank bottom to save eggs from being eaten by their parents. Some green plants like java moss should be put on a tank bottom.

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. The egg stage lasts for 1,5—2 days, and the larva starts to swim in 3—4 days after hatching. Start food for the juveniles is infusorian and other small microorganisms.