Barbs – Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya)

Updated on November 20, 2020 by

Easy to care for and displaying fiery nuances of orange and red, the Cherry Barb is very common in the aquarium world. They are shy and very peaceful, so a well planted tank should be provided. The name comes from the bright cherry red color displayed by males during spawning​.

Quick stats – Cherry Barb

OriginSri Lanka
Max size2” / 5 cm
AquariumMin 25 gallon / 90 liters
Water74-79° F / 23-26° C

KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.0

Care levelEasy
ColorsRed, orange

Cherry Barb description

The Cherry Barb (Puntius titteya) is a rare beauty of the freshwater originating to the lakes and river basins of Sri Lanka. Nowadays though, they are also making homes in Mexico and Colombia.

They are peaceful and shy in nature, hence the reason why they love heavily shaded areas with thick and dense vegetation. However, plenty of swimming space should be provided as well.

Cherry barbs are social species, allowing them not only to live and co-exist with other small cyprinids, but also to swim and move together in packs. Co-existing in larger groups gives them the group safety feeling.

The bright red coloration of the male is displayed when attracting the female during breeding. The female on the other hand is rather brownish in color. The male Cherry Barb is also more streamlined than the female. Males have a pair of barbs, a forked tail and one dorsal fin, and they can reach up to 5cm in length.

Growing in popularity among aquarists, the Cherry Barb can be found abundantly in pet stores and shops all over the world.

Cherry Barb in the natural habitat

Native to the lakes and river basins of Sri Lanka, the Cherry barb can be mainly found in still waters, particularly enjoying deep shaded areas with thick and dense vegetation. Originating from a tropical climate, where fluctuations in temperature are slim and do not happen often, the Cherry Barb prefers therefore a warm environment with no sudden changes.

The natural habitat of the Cherry Barbs, has a silty base substrate with a rich leaf cover. The water’s pH levels range between 6.0 and 8.0, with a hardness (dH) of 5-19° and temperatures between 23-27°C.

Being a shy and peaceful species, the thick and dense vegetation provides comfort to the Cherry Barbs, offers them protection from predators and also gives them the opportunity to ambush prey.

Cherry Barb in the ideal aquarium

Cherry Barb - Puntius titteya

A minimum 25-30 gallons tank (with base dimensions of at least 12 x 24 inch) should provide the ideal environment for the Cherry Barbs. Being a hardy fish, they’re not very demanding in terms of water conditions, but nevertheless, the parameters listed in the quick stats table should be kept at all times.

Being a schooling species, the Cherry Barbs are best housed in groups of at least six in the ratio of 1:3 males to females, to offer the group safety feeling and also to lessen the harassment during breeding.

They should be housed in a peaceful tropical aquarium community having a silt or sand substrate with driftwood, plants, leaf cover, root structures and plenty of hiding places to mimic the natural habitat of the Cherry Barbs. This shall provide the comfort of feeling like home and move about freely.

Being a shy species, the Cherry Barbs prefer a shady place with dim lights. So the aquarium should have enough vegetation to shed them from direct light.

Very peaceful species, the Cherry Barbs should be housed with other peaceful and/or less aggressive species alike such as Tetras, Gourami and Danios. Shrimps and other invertebrates such as Ghost Shrimp, Cherry Shrimp, or Mystery Snail would also make perfect tankmates for the Cherry Barb.

Aggressive species should be greatly avoided in the Cherry Barbs aquarium. Even though belonging to the same family, Tiger Barbs are known for attacking the fins of other fish including the Cherry Barbs and as such should be avoided in the tank. They will harass the Cherry Barbs and force them into hiding. Oscars and large Cichlids should of course be avoided as they will prey on the Cherry Barbs.

Cherry Barb feeding

Cherry Barbs are omnivores, and can therefore enjoy and thrive on a diverse diet. However, frozen or live food such as daphnia, brine shrimp, tubifex worm, or blood worms will make a perfect meal for the Barbs.

Nutritious high quality flakes combined with vegetables like zucchini, cucumber medallions and shelled peas will do extremely well for the Cherry Barbs. Only consider to remove after a while any uneaten vegetables to prevent them from fouling the water.

Cherry Barbs should be fed 2-3 times daily, without overfeeding or underfeeding. This can be achieved by watching their eating habits daily, knowing how much they eat and adjusting accordingly. The key about their diet is to ensure they are getting all the minerals and nutrients they need.

Cherry Barb breeding

The coloration of the Cherry Barbs is an indication of their readiness to spawn. At the brightest red, they are most likely ready for spawning. They will spawn often and are easy to breed.

During this period, the males will show signs of aggression and the females will have less energy after laying eggs, so depending on the tank setup, could be advisable to remove the female after she laid eggs. Being separated in another tank for a while, she will regain strength much faster and will be ready to return to the main tank.

A pair will lay over 200-300 eggs, spread over the substrate and the vegetation with no parental care. As a matter of fact, the eggs must be removed to another tank with the same water condition as the main tank because the Cherry Barbs have the tendency of eating their own eggs.

In a couple of days tops, the eggs will hatch, and another day after, the fry shall start swimming freely. The fry can be fed with commercial food recommended for fish fry or with tiny food such as vinegar eels or micro worms until they are large enough to eat frozen or live meals such as brine shrimp.

After two months the fry will mature and will be ready to explore other aquarium worlds.

Cherry Barb - Puntius titteya

To conclude

The Cherry Barb is a great fish to have in your aquarium. Due to their peaceful and shy nature, their aquarium should be prepared to mimic their natural habitat with a fine substrate, and lots of plants to provide them with hiding spots and comfort.

However, kept in a school of at least six Cherry Barbs, their shy nature will reduce significantly. They should be adequately fed with rich nutritious foods just as much they can take within a few minutes, not being overfed or underfed.

When they breed, the eggs must be removed to another tank with the same condition as the main tank where they are allowed to hatch and grow into adult Cherry Barbs before they are reintroduced to the main tank.

Cherry Barb FAQs

What is the best food for Cherry Barbs?

Being omnivores, they can live on a variety of foods, including live and green plants. But small live prey such as tubifex worm and brine shrimp would certainly make the day for you Cherry Barb.

How many Cherry Barbs could be housed in a 30 gallon tank?

A school of 5-6 Cherry Barbs with a 1:3 ratio of male to female would be perfect for a 30 gallon tank.

Which species are the perfect tank mates for the Cherry Barbs?

Peaceful and less aggressive species such as celestial pearl danios, glass catfish, gouramis, mollies and platies are perfect tank mates of the Cherry barb.

What is the lifespan of a Cherry Barb?

Provided with the optimal conditions and utmost care these beautiful fish can live up to 5-6 years.