What to Know About Cherry Barb

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on January 05, 2023
4 min read

Cherry barb fish are a great addition to any tank. They are a fun, easy to care for, vibrant species and are beautiful to observe. 

Not long after they were discovered, cherry barbs became popular with aquarium enthusiasts. Their population decreased. Now, due to a lack of harvesting, the wild populations of cherry barb fish are slowly replenishing.

Because of their size, cherry barbs often require nothing more than a Nano tank. These fish make an excellent schooling addition to freshwater community tanks and are best kept in groups of five or six.

They are great freshwater fish for beginners and add a pop of color to any tank with their distinctive and striking magenta color. Not only will they add to the aesthetic quality of your fish tank, but caring for them can be easy. 

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about cherry barb fish and how to care for them properly.

Cherry barbs are freshwater fish that belong to the Cyprinidae family. They grow up to 2 inches long, and the males are often smaller than the females. These fish have a black lateral stripe spanning their entire body and glimmering scales. 

Cherry barbs are famous for their red color, and males are often found in deeper shades of red and pink, while females are more amber-brown. They also tend to be larger and rounder than their male counterparts and often paler. If you want to ensure that your cherry barbs stay on their best behavior, be sure to keep more males than females. 

These fish have glimmering scales, distinctive black lateral lines, and a small spot of blush on each cheek. The body of cherry barb fish is torpedo-shaped, and they have a thin abdomen with six brightly colored red fins. 

These fish are timid yet social and do well in community aquariums. Cherry barbs prefer to spend most of their time in shaded areas for extra security and enjoy swimming in the middle of the bottom levels of the tank.

These fish have an average lifespan of five to seven years with the proper care and water conditions. While these fish aren’t susceptible to any specific health issues, they are often affected by diseases like fin rot or Ich. Ich is an infection caused by a parasite. When cherry barb fish are infected with Ich, they develop a salt-like white spot on their body. 

Fin rot affects the fins and tails of cherry barbs and causes discoloration and inflammation. Their fins and tails may appear ragged or tattered. To avoid fin rot, feed your fish the proper nutrients and keep water parameters stable. 

Velvet disease is another common parasitic infection that affects the scales of cherry barbs and shows up as a sprinkle of yellow spots. This disease can affect your cherry barbs when their tank is dirty or overcrowded.

These fish have a varied diet and are primarily omnivores, although there is little that they won’t eat in the wild. In captivity, feed them two or three times a day. Be sure not to overfeed your cherry barb. Not only will they overeat, but any leftovers can affect the water quality. 

Give them food like algae flakes, and be sure to crush it into pieces that are small enough for them to consume. While most cherry barbs are accustomed to a pelleted diet, you can occasionally supplement their diet with frozen treats and fresh veggies.

Here are some foods your cherry barb can eat:

  • Mysis shrimp 
  • Fish flakes
  • Moina 
  • Tubifex worms
  • Daphnia
  • Algae 
  • Microworms 
  • Insect larvae 
  • Phytoplankton

In the wild, cherry barbs feed on small insects, crustaceans, and detritus. You can simulate this varied diet with your fish in captivity by feeding them vegetables, blood shrimp, and blood worms for a protein-rich meal. Keep in mind, any food you give your cherry barb must be small enough to fit into their mouths.

If you have other fish in the same tank as your cherry barbs, you might want to feed them at different times. They often have difficulty getting food before other fish because they live and feed at the bottom of the tank. Decide on a time of day to feed your cherry barbs without them being disturbed.

Cherry barbs are peaceful pets that tolerate water fluctuations well and thrive in tanks that mimic their natural habitat. The water in their native streams of Sri Lanka is in a rainy zone where light is low, water is on the murkier side, and there is a bit of turbidity. Care for your cherry barb by keeping the water neutral or slightly acidic and adding plenty of plants.

While cherry barbs can handle some changes in their water, you should do your best to keep water parameters consistent. In some cases, sudden fluctuations in the water temperature, acidity, or salinity can make your cherry barbs sick.

Choose a safe filter like a hang, back, or sponge filter. Cherry barbs are tiny fish and can be easily swept up into a filter. Cover the floor with silt and leaf litter, or add caves and pieces of driftwood. Giving your cherry barb plenty of hiding places where they can feel safe is important and will help them.

Get at least a 25-gallon aquarium. This size tank should be suitable for a group of five. For each additional cherry barb, add five more gallons.