The Cherry Barb is an extremely popular tropical freshwater schooling fish that can be found in the tanks of many hobbyists. They originate from Sri Lanka and are readily available in North America. This is an attractive fish that gets its name from the reddish colouring that darkens when approaching breeding time. They like to live in communities of at least five, with females outnumbering males being the healthiest ratio. Cherry Barbs will get along with most other calm varieties.
Care for these fish is considered to be low maintenance, so they are suitable for beginner hobbyists. The tank should be well planted with adequate space left for swimming. Slightly acidic water conditions are the preference of these fish. As omnivores, Cherry Barbs will eat all kinds of live, fresh or flaked foods, preferring to be fed daily.
The males tend to be more brightly colored than females. This species of Cherry Barbs has an elongated body with females having a rounder body around their tummies. The dark stripe running from the head to the tail is darker in males while in females it tends to have a brownish tinge. The red cherry color is more pronounced in males but the females have a whitish appearance.
Before we cover anything else we should list the most common varieties of Cherry Barbs.
Cherry Barbs are very timid and peaceful fish. Don’t let their timidness fool you. If kept in a group of 6 or more fish, they become very confident and active. They will happily swim around the tank in a pack.
Their confidence comes from their group. If they are placed alone in the tank they will spend most of their time hiding. These fish are usually very stressed, and can easily become sick.
The fish love swimming from the middle of the aquarium but it’s also common to find them at the surface or the bottom of the tank. During mating, the males may display aggressive behavior especially with the wrong ratio of males to females in the tank.
You should not place one male and a female in one tank because the female may become stressed and tired from all the chasing during the mating season. The best living arrangement is a ratio of 2 females to 1 male to give the females time to rest.
In the wild, Cherry Barbs live in calm waters with deep rooted trees that form canopies and only allow minimum light into the water. Due to the presence of many trees and leaves that fall to the bottom of the waters, the waters in the fish’s natural habitat tends to be slightly acidic.
If you choose to keep Cherry Barbs, then you should try mimicking the natural conditions to make your pet comfortable. The aquarium should have many plants to offer your fish hiding places and to give their home a natural feel. The plants also offer shade to the tank therefore minimizing the amount of light.
Having coarse gravel mixed with some fine sand gives the fish a good substrate. As you choose the substrate, choose darker colors so that your fish stand out with their bright colors in the aquarium.
The water temperatures should be in the range of 73°F – 81°F. The fish does well in a variety of temperatures. The pH of the water is ideal between 6 & 7.5. The water flow should remain slow to moderate. Water flow is determined by the suction from the filtration system you have in the tank.
To give your pets the best habitat and life, you need to maintain the fish tank by regular cleaning and maintaining water conditions at optimal levels.
You should have a substrate vacuum cleaner to pick up all food particles that end up at the bottom of the tank at least once a week. 25 to 50 percent water changes should be done once a month to ensure water quality remains safe for your fish.
Water testing kits are also a must have if you own Cherry Barbs. Testing the pH, salinity, and water hardness helps to prevent any drastic changes from occurring and that could cost you the lives of your fish. Having a thermometer at one end of your tank also helps you monitor the temperatures of the water at all times.
Lighting in your fish tank should be dimly lit because Cherry Barbs naturally thrive in darker habitats. Having plants such as Java Fern is a good way of limiting the amount of light penetrating into the aquarium. The plant grows rapidly spreading its roots and branches creating shade for your fish.
As you can see from the maintenance requirements, the fish don’t require a lot of attention thus making them a great choice for beginners.
Best Tank mates for Cherry Barbs
Since the Cherries are a community fish, they love living in groups. As you choose tank mates for your pets, only go for peaceful species. Here are some of the best fish to place together with your Cherry Barbs.
Some aggressive fish like the guppies, Cichlids, and Oscars shouldn’t be kept together with the Cherry Barbs because they could harass them or even nip on their fins. When Barbs are under stress they tend to look paler and can easily get sick.
Cherry Barbs are a healthy species of fish and rarely catch common fish illnesses. The only time they may become ill is if the quality of the water in their tank deteriorates. If you maintain water conditions at the recommended levels, then you shouldn’t have any health issues with your Barbs.
The diet also contributes towards strengthening the immunity of your fish such that they don’t easily contract diseases.
Here are some of the common illnesses fish could have.
Ich is one of the most common diseases found in Freshwater fish. The disease is caused by a parasite that affects the gills and fins of the body. Poor water conditions and stress are major reasons that can lead to the fish catching this disease. When a fish becomes infected with Ich, it tends to rub against hard objects such as decorations, rocks and the substrate.
Symptoms include white spots on the body, breathing difficulty and fish rubbing against hard surfaces. In comparison to other fish diseases, these symptoms make it easy to identify if your fish is infected.
A major concern is that this disease is highly contagious and can easily spread to other fish in your aquarium. If not treated early on, it can even cause respiratory issues.
Treatments include slightly increasing the water temperature, adding medication to the tank and performing a large water change. If you have a community fish tank then it is suggested to move the infected fish into a quarantine tank and then treat them.
Fin and tail rot is a common freshwater disease that is named after what happens to the fish that have it. Fish infected with fin and tail rot will have fins or tails that appear frayed, or parts of them missing. The disease may also cause white milky areas on the body, especially on the tail or fins.
Like Ich disease, fin rot is also a result of poor water conditions and high stress levels. Fin and tail rot can be caused by fungi or bacterial infection. Identifying the cause of the disease, bacteria or fungi, is important to treat them because both are treated differently. Infected fish should be quarantined and treated in a separate tank.
The easiest way to prevent your fish from catching this is to keep their water as clean and healthy as possible. After that the next biggest causes are stress, or attack from other fish. Try not to keep fish that can attack other fish, and give your smaller fish plenty of places to hide with plants or decorations.
Antibiotics will be needed to treat any fish that have this disease.
Cherry Barbs aren’t picky eaters and will feed on whatever they’re offered. It’s necessary to make sure that you feed them on a well-balanced diet. The most readily available food for the Cherry Barbs is the commercial flakes. Before buying, confirm that the flakes are enriched with proteins and plant matter for proper nutrition.
You can also supplement the diet of your fish with frozen or live daphnia, bloodworms, insects, algae and brine shrimp.
Vegetables are also a good addition to your fish diet because they are loaded with vitamins and other essential minerals. Finely shredded fresh vegetables such as carrots, peas, spinach, and cucumbers make the best vegetable meals for Cherry Barbs.
Well-fed fish display bright colors and are much less susceptible to fish diseases. Also the line between underfeeding and overfeeding is very thin and can pose life threatening challenges to your fish.
The fish should eat two to three times in a day. As you feed the fish, observe their appetite and adjust accordingly. If you feed the fish on vegetables such as spinach, make sure to remove the leftovers because they will contaminate the tank when they start decomposing.
This species of Barbs lays eggs that then hatch into tiny fries. The females can lay between 200 to 300 eggs during the spawning season. It is a good idea to have plants and a substrate where the fish can lay and hide eggs to prevent other fish from eating them.
If you plan on breeding Cherry Barbs, you should also place a spawning mob when you notice signs of males wanting to mate. A spawning mob is a sponge-like material that can help you collect the eggs.
It’s also possible to notice when the fish wants to mate because the males become more brightly colored and often chase the females around. A female that’s ready to lay eggs also seems to have a rounder belly.
Since fries hatch in just a few days, you should transfer the eggs into another smaller tank. The tank should have the maximum temperatures ideal for Cherry Barbs, dim light, and slow flow of water. Transferring the eggs into another tank prevents the bigger fish from eating the baby Cherry Barbs.
You can let your fries grow in the smaller tank until they reach adulthood at about two months of age. After that, you can transfer them into the bigger aquarium with the rest of the pets.
It’s very common to find the female Barbs looking less active and tired after the spawning season. During mating the males chase the females a lot which drains their energy. Laying eggs also takes up a lot of energy and the fish requires enough time to rest.If the females seem tired and inactive, you could transfer them into another tank without the males so that they can recover.