Best 7 Barbs For Your Community Aquarium

Cherry Barb - (Puntius Titteya)

Best 7 Barbs For Your Community Aquarium7 mins read

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Sydney Perry
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Barbs list for your community aquarium ( Cherry Barb - Puntius Titteya)
Image from Flickr

Barbs are a freshwater fish species from the cyprinid family. They can be found in natural habitats all the way from Asia through to Africa. Are you wondering ‘what are some of the Best Community Aquarium Barbs?’ for a mixed tank?

This article describes some of the most peaceful barb fish that get on with other tankmates. Barbs are available in various sizes and color variants, though this article focuses on smaller and more colorful barbs for your Community Aquarium.

Species Information

Aquarists often keep Barbs as pet fish in community tanks and are peaceful schooling fish. Peaceful barb fish come in many different color variations and sizes, with different color morphs in each species.

So,  let’s get started with our list of the 7 best barbs for your Community Aquarium, and a few details on each of them.

1. Odessa Barb

What is the Full Size and Lifespan of Odessa Barb?
In Odessa Barbs the male will have a beige or lighter brown base color with a bright red stripe across the body, and red eyes with a narrow black streak through them.

The Odessa Barb (Pethia Padamya) is a spectacular species of smaller barb originating from Central Myanmar. In the wild, it lives in the Chindwin River and is a very good Community Aquarium Barb. These fish have striking colors, and a peaceful to semi-aggressive nature depending on how they are kept.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – In Odessa Barbs, the male has a beige or lighter brown base color with a bright red stripe across the body, and red eyes with a narrow black streak through them. Males have yellow-green dorsal, anal and pelvic fins with black spots in them. Males become more intense in color when spawning. Female Odessa Barbs have a plainer color with beige bodies and a reflective silver, green sheen. Color variations such as silver, yellow, orange, and black are a common feature in Odessa Barbs.
  • Water Conditions – Odessa barbs prefer cooler water temperatures of around 64.5 – 71.5° F (14 – 22° C), and a slightly acidic pH of between 6.5 and 8.0. They enjoy water with a moderate current like their natural habitats of streams and rivers.
  • Tank Size – Because Odessa Barb needs to be kept in groups of 6 or more fish you will need a larger 75-gallon tank to accommodate the group, and even larger if you plan on adding more tank mates.
  • Tank Decorations – Odessa Barb are active and lively, they also make excellent jumpers so a tank with a lid, and plenty of open spaces is ideal. You can use more natural décor such as Rocks and driftwood, with sand or gravel as a substrate. Odessa Barb loves lush plants and may even nibble on them occasionally, so I would advise long-stemmed aquatic plants and floating aquatic plants.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – Generally they do not grow much larger than 4.5cm (1.8 – 2 inches) in size, though there have been instances where they have reached up to 7 cm (2.8 – 3 inches) in size.  Odessa span has an overall lifespan of 3 years, but in very good conditions can live up to 5 years.

Feeding And Behavior:

  • Feeding – Odessa Barb are omnivores and likewise very vigorous eaters. Feed them a variety of meat and plant materials, three times a day, as much as they can eat within five minutes. Good quality flakes, frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms, and vegetables such as zucchini, pea shells, and spinach that are blanched are just a few main items they enjoy eating.
  • Breeding – As with most Barb species they are egg scatterers and will need a separate breeding tank for spawning and to raise the fry. Once they have laid and fertilized the eggs, all adult fish need to be removed, as they may eat their eggs. Eggs hatch within 24 hours and the fry will mature within 5-8 months.
  • Temperament – Odessa barbs are tremendously fast-moving and need plenty of wide-open spaces for swimming. They are generally peaceful but can become slightly aggressive if not kept in large enough groups.

2. Gold Barb (Chinese Barb)

Gold Barb (Chinese Barb)
Golden Barbs are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups of six or more fish, and they do get along well with other smaller peaceful fish species.

The Golden Barb (Barbodes semifasciolatus), or Chinese barb is a peaceful to moderately aggressive small communal barb fish species. It is native to the Red River Basin in Southeast Asia, and is a schooling fish that needs to be kept in groups of six or more. However, they also get along well with other smaller peaceful barb fish species.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – An interesting fact is that in its natural environment, the Golden barb has a more greenish color. However, in captivity, they are a golden yellow color with a slight green tint. The males have a slightly different body shape than the rounder and bulkier females, and much bolder colors than the duller-colored females. The Albino Golden barb comes in a few distinctions such as the more flesh-colored pink, and tri-colored varieties.
  • Water Conditions – Water temperatures that are cooler, around 65°F to 78°F (18°C to 26°C), are ideal for Gold Barbs, and they do well with pH ranges between 6.0 and 8.0 which is quite a large spectrum. They are not overly fussy with water conditions but do prefer clean water with a moderate current, so it’s best to use a filter that provides some current.
  • Tank Size – A tank of around 20 -30 gallons will be ideal for a group of six or more Gold Barbs, and slightly larger for adding other species of tank mates.
  • Tank Decorations – A more natural atmosphere is preferred by the Gold Barb, including plenty of lush long-stemmed plants and hanging plants. Thick gravel or sand works well as a substrate. You can also use Rocks and driftwood to create hiding spaces. However, ensure that there is plenty of space for swimming, as they are relatively active simmers.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – Gold Barbs mostly only live for three years. However, if you keep your tank in pristine quality, and feed them a proper diet, they can live up to five years. Most Adult Gold Barbs are 2.8 inches to 3 inches (7cm-8cm) in size.

Feeding And Behavior:

  • Feeding – Gold Barbs are not fussy eaters though they do like variety in their diet. They are omnivores, requiring meat and plant-based foods. Feed them high-quality pellets and flakes, live and frozen foods such as Brine Shrimp, MicroWorms, and Grindal Worms. You can include vegetables such as zucchini and shelled peas (make sure they are blanched!). You can feed them a meal twice a day, and a snack once, too. Always feed them enough to finish within three to five minutes, and clean up all wasted food.
  • Breeding – Gold Barbs will usually spawn in the early morning and require a separate tank with plenty of plants. You will need equal amounts of males and females, and to ensure you remove the adults after spawning. Eggs will hatch within a day and the fry should be free swimming within another day’s time.
  • Temperament – Overall Gold Barbs are peaceful to moderately aggressive. They do nip at fish with long flowing fins and may destroy some of the plants in their tanks.

3. Panda Barb

Panda Barb
The Panda Barb, or Melon Barbs (Dravidia Pethiyagoda), is quite an interesting barb species that has bold colors and markings and is a smaller peaceful species for your communal tank.

The Panda Barb, or Melon Barb (Dravidia Pethiyagoda), is an interesting barb species with bold colors and markings. It is a smaller peaceful barb fish species for your communal tank. Native to the Western ghats of India, it lives in tropical water with cooler temperatures.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – One great thing about the Panda Barb is its striking colors and markings. They are variable, with 3 or 5 prominent black bars on the sides of their bodies. They also come in color variants from peach to orange, red, and the even rarer purple color.
  • Water Conditions – Panda Barbs enjoy cooler tropical waters with a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 – 7.5, and temperatures of  22–26 °C (72-78°F). Always compare them with barbs and other species of fish that need more neutral pH levels before adding them to a communal tank.
  • Tank Size – A 20-gallon tank is perfect for a group of 6 panda Barbs, as they are schooling fish. If you intend on adding more tank mates a larger tank size is better.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – The Adults are quite small around  6 cm (2.4 in) in size, and they have a lifespan of 3 – 5 years depending on their diet and living conditions.

Feeding And Behavior:

  • Feeding – Panda Barbs are omnivores and you should feed them quality pellets and flakes, alongside fresh or frozen brine shrimp, and bloodworms. They also like plant matter including algae and blanched green leafy vegetables. They are moderate eaters and can be fed two to three times a day, only enough for them to finish within a few minutes.
  • Breeding – Most Panda Barbs are moderately easy to breed when they are adults at around 5 months. They need a separate breeding tank in which they will spawn and scatter the eggs among thick plants and vegetation. Ensue you remove the adults, as they will eat their eggs. The young hatch within a day, and quickly become free swimmers.
  • Temperament – Panda Barbs are peaceful schooling fish, but they will nip at fish that have long-flowing fins, attracting their attention.

4. Black Ruby Barb

The Black Ruby Barb originates from Sri Lanka, in natural streams and river basins.One great Community Aquarium Barb is the Black Ruby Barb (Pethia nigrofasciata). This striking and charismatic fish is also known as the purple-headed barb. It is a colorful and friendly schooling fish that has a gentle nature in communal aquariums with other fish species.

The Black Ruby Barb originates from Sri Lanka, in natural streams and river basins. They are an imaginative and vibrant smaller barb species where both the males and females have striking colors.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – Young Black Ruby Barbs appear yellow-gray with prominent black vertical stripes. Eventually, the adult fish becomes a darker ruby red. Females have basal parts of their fins that are black whereas the whole fin in the males is black. The anal fins are red/black, and the pelvic fins are purple. Otherwise, you may find a few variations in colors and markings in Black Ruby Barbs..
  • Water Conditions – These barbs enjoy tropical climates and quiet flowing streams with fresh water, in shaded areas. A more acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5 is ideal and water temperatures of 72–79 °F (22–26 °C).
  • Tank Size – Black Ruby Barbs are schooling fish kept in groups of six or more fish, and need at least a 20 to 30-gallon sized tank.
  • Tank Decorations – The tank decoration and set-up are slightly more tricky as they need half-light and half-shade, which you can achieve with floating plants. You can use sand and gravel substrate with a layer of humus on top and plenty of long-stem live plants on the edges of the tank. They need space in the center for swimming. Driftwood and larger pebbles and rocks work well for additional natural décor.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – Black Rosy Barb fish are quite small, rarely reaching more than 2 inches 95cm) in size, and they have a relatively short lifespan of around three or more years.

Feeding And Behavior:

  • Feeding – The Omnivorous Black Ruby Barb enjoys a diet of Detritus which consists of dead organic materials, and dead organisms, as well as algae. You can likewise feed them specialized quality pellets and flakes. Feed them two to three times a day, enough to finish within 2 to 5 minutes at most.
  • Breeding – They are egg-scattering fish, and they require a separate breeding tank with shallow water and plenty of plants. Eggs hatch within 24 hours, and the fry is free swimming the next day. Likewise, it’s best to remove the parents after spawning.
  • Temperament – Black Ruby Barbs have a temperament much like Panda Barbs. They are quite peaceful and active swimmers but will nip at fish with long flowing fins that might seem interesting to them.

5. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb
The Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya), is a tropical fish that is native to Sri Lanka.

The Cherry Barb has a delightful red-to-orange color that will brighten up any community Aquarium. It is a peaceful schooling barb fish that is small and very easy to care for.

Also known by its scientific name, Puntius Titteya, this barb is a tropical fish that is native to Sri Lanka. However, these are quite sensitive fish and prone to disease, thus the utmost care should be taken with their tank conditions.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – Most Cherry Barbs will be a primary color of red or tan. They will have flecks of red or orange, and there will be a darker line of scales along the midline of the body. The female has a white belly and a more greenish body color with a lighter midline.  There are quite a few other color morphs in Cherry Barbs, but the red, orange, and yellow morphs are found most often.
  • Water Conditions – in their natural habitat, Cherry Barbs are found in heavily shaded water that is shallow and calm. They prefer cooler water with a pH of between 6.0 and 8.0, and temperatures between  73 °F to 81 °F (23 °C to 27 °C).[2]
  • Tank Size – A group of six or more Cherry barbs requires a community tank of 20 to 30 gallons at least. Ideally, this also includes additional space should there be other species. Cherry Barbs need to be kept in a ratio of two females per male to prevent aggressive behavior.
  • Tank Decorations – Your Cherry Barbs are active and will enjoy some swimming space. However, they also love the cover of floating plants. You can include plenty of planted plants, rocks, and driftwood that resemble their natural habitat. The best substrate to use is thicker soil and gravel to easily plant live plants.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – Cherry Barbs are one of the longest-living smaller barbs listed so far. In fact, they have a lifespan of between 4 and 7 years. They can reach a size of around 5 cm (2 inches), therefore they are also quite small.

Feeding and Behavior:

  • Feeding – As with most peaceful barb fish species, Cherry Barbs are omnivores. They enjoy a diet of flakes, pellets, and algae, as well as live and frozen foods and green leafy vegetables. Live foods such as Brine Shrimp and bloodworms are great snacks, while vegetables including zucchini and shelled peas provide fiber.
  • Breeding – Spawning takes place in separate tanks where the male will chase other males away from a female. She lays between 200 and 300 eggs, after which all adult fish are removed from the breeding tank. The eggs hatch in two days and the fry takes another two days before they become free swimming.
  • Temperament – Cherry barbs are known to be the most peaceful of barb species if kept in groups of 6 or more. They are schooling fish that are quite likely to form a hierarchy. Males love to chase the females around relentlessly, therefore, it’s best to have more females than males.

6. Checker Barb

Checker Barb
It is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, and Colombia, and is a tropical fish found in lakes, rivers, and creeks. Image from Flickr

The Checker, or Checkered Barb (Oliotius oligolepis) is a peaceful schooling fish that needs to be kept in groups of 6 or more.

The group should be majority female, as males may occasionally brawl with each other. Otherwise, this fish is native to Sumatra, Indonesia, and Colombia, and is a tropical fish found in lakes, rivers, and creeks.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – Adult males will have red fins with black tips, and shiny silver scales with black scaling mimicking a checkerboard. There are two varieties of Checker Barbs, the one with greenish fins and the one with red fins. The females are similar in color, but much larger and bulkier than the males.
  • Water Conditions – Checker Barbs enjoy cooler water temperatures of around 68–75 °F (20–24 °C) and pH levels of between 6.0 and 6.5.
  • Tank Size – Checker barbs are kept in groups of at least 6. Therefore, they need a tank of between 20 and 30 gallons per group. This should be even larger if you are keeping more species of fish. It’s also best to keep more females than males, as males tend to spar with each other.
  • Tank Decorations – Checker Barbs enjoy a well-planted and more natural tank, with sandy or gravel substrates. They enjoy floating or planted aquatic plants that they can hide under, and occasionally nibble on, too.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – The Checker Barb takes our top spot for one of the smaller barbs having the longest lifespan of 8 years in captivity. They are small 5 cm (2.0 in) and will do well with similar-sized tank mates.

Feeding and Behavior:

  • Feeding – The Checker Barb is an omnivore that will feast on a variety of small worms, crustaceans, and insects. Additionally, you can feed them blanched leafy greens, and good-quality flakes and pellets. They will eat with eagerness, so feed them small amounts three times a day.
  • Breeding – Checker Barbs are egg scatterers that spawn in the early mornings on plants in the female’s territory. Therefore, introduce females into the breeding tank first. You should remove both the male and female after spawning. The eggs will hatch within a few days if water temperatures are kept slightly higher. The young fry will take a few days before they swim freely.
  • Temperament – Generally the Checker Barb is peaceful and gets along well with other species’ tank mates. They are schooling fish, so keep them in groups with more females than males.

7. Ticto Barb

Ticto Barb
The Ticto Barb is native to Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Image from

The Ticto Barb, also known as the Stolickae’s or Pethia Stoliczkana, is a small, active, schooling fish that is an excellent addition to your community tank. It is native to Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. The Ticto barb thrives in a well-planted environment like the still shallow water of their natural habitat.

General Care Guide:

  • Colors And Variations – Many times the Ticto Barb is confused with the much similar Odessa Barb. To tell them apart, remember the Odessa barb has more of an orange color. Meanwhile, the Ticto Barb is silver or gold, with black spots near the tail and pectoral fins on their body.
  • Water Conditions – Water temperatures of 14–22 °C (57–72 °F), are ideal with silty and still water that has a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0, and water hardness of around 10dGH.
  • Tank Size – A 20-gallon tank is needed, as the Ticto Barbs need to be kept in groups of 5 or more fish.
  • Tank Decorations – Ticto Barb enjoys a tank with lush plants and sand or gravel substrates. They will likewise need ample space for swimming.
  • Fish Size And Lifespan – Ticto Barb grow up to 10 cm (4 inches).

Feeding and Behavior:

  • Feeding – They are omnivores and will feed on small crustaceans, insects, and plant matter. Quality fish flakes or small pellets are ideal. Beyond this, you can include in their diet small amounts of brine shrimp, daphnia, and blood worms. For vegetables, they enjoy lettuce, spinach, and blanched zucchini.
  • Breeding – Ticto Barbs are egg layers and enjoy spawning on coarse gravel. They need to be removed as they will eat the eggs and young. The eggs hatch within a day, and the fry will be free swimming the next day.
  • Temperament – The Ticto Barb is peaceful and an active swimmer who will not bother other fish. Keep them in groups to prevent them from becoming aggressive.

How These Community Aquarium Barbs Were Chosen

How we chose the community aquarium barbs
The average tank size for a group of 6 of the smaller barbs is around 20 to 30 gallons. Image from Flickr

Most peaceful barb fish species come in varied sizes from very small-sized fish such as the Black Ruby Barbs, to the very large tinfoil barb species. This list concentrates mainly on the smaller-sized barb species, however, for more information, there are also specific Care Guides that cover individual varieties.

In This Article, Barb Fish Species for communal aquariums meet the following criteria:

Size And Lifespan

This article sticks to smaller barbs that are between 4.5cm (1.8 – 2 inches) in size, and 7 cm (2.8 – 3 inches) in size at the largest. They mostly have a lifespan between 3-5 years.

Water Condition Compatibility

As you will see some of the barbs prefer slightly more acidic water conditions, though most barb species are quite forgiving in this aspect. They mostly enjoy cooler temperatures and can easily adapt to temperatures as tropical fish; therefore most species here have similar temperature requirements.


The smaller barbs are usually between peaceful and some are moderately aggressive, though nothing to worry about. If you keep them in groups of six or more fish, they will be relatively calm and peaceful as they are all schooling species. Keep in mind most barbs are active and tend to jump, so invest in a tank with a lid.

Compatibility with Other Species

Most barb species will get along with small peaceful fish species. Try to avoid species that have long flowing tails, and that can be aggressive. Some of the best tank mates for most smaller barbs are Tetras, Danios, Plecos, Rasboras, Platys, Dwarf Gouramis, and Loaches.


All of the smaller barbs here are omnivores and enjoy a varied diet. This involves three meals a day, including one snack. They will eat fresh and frozen meat-based foods, green leafy vegetables, and algae, as well as quality pellets and fish flakes.

Tank Requirements

Most barbs here come from natural streams, springs, and river basins. Thus, they enjoy a moderate current from their filtration system. They are active swimmers who enjoy space to swim, as well as plenty of plants on the edges of their tank. The average tank size for a group of 6 of the smaller barbs is around 20 to 30 gallons.

In Conclusion

Barbs fishes
barbs are active and lively fish that are fun to watch with some funny antics.

Hopefully, this list has narrowed it down for you to find the perfect Community Aquarium Barbs. All of these are schooling fish that work best in groups of at least 6. Additionally, they are all small fish that get along well with other species’ tank mates.

The species here are also active and lively fish that are fun to watch with some funny antics. If kept in the right tank conditions, they are hardy, and you should have very few issues with them as a pet.

Just remember most of them enjoy jumping, so keep a lid on your tank!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the General Barb Fish Sizes?
Most Barb fish are between 2-3 inches in size, thus they are quite small and ideal for communal tanks.
Are Barb Fish Aggressive?
Barb fish, if kept in groups, are peaceful, though some species are moderately aggressive. They tend to nip at long fins of other fish occasionally.
What is the Red Barb Fish?
The red barb fish is basically another color morph of the well-known Tiger barb fish which is genetically modified. It is mainly known as the Starfire Red Barb Glofish.
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Tal Halperin

Tal is an avid fish keeper and has been raising ornamental fish for decades. As a little boy, he drove his father crazy to buy him an aquarium with all the necessary equipment. Now, after a career in the field, he has set up Your Aquarium Place to offer the most comprehensive guide to ornamental fish keeping available and share his passion for the different species he has looked after.