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Fish Bio: Barbus Barbs Aplenty

Ruby Barb
Ruby Barb


Although the term “barbs” may be used for many different species of fish, it is properly used for the genus Barbus. There are more than 70 species of barbs. As a whole, barbs are a peaceful fish and can get along well with other fish in the aquarium. Barbs are also a schooling fish, meaning they need constant companions of their breed in the tank. Barbs can become slightly aggressive if they are the only barb in the aquarium. Five to eight barbs are a minimum recommendation. In numbers under five, the barbs’ aggression may turn into fin nipping. For this reason, it is recommended not to have long-finned fish, such as angelfish, in the tank.


Usually found in South-East Asia, barbs can also be found in Africa and India. Those who breed barbs for captivity can be found both in the United States and abroad. The natural habitat of the barbs includes many plants. These vibrant fish will add a splash of colour to your home aquarium.


Barbs need an aquarium with a tightly fitted lid. When they are startled, barbs will leap from the aquarium. The water in the tank should be neutral to slightly acidic. If the water conditions do not meet the needs of your barbs, their colours will dull and they may not be able to reproduce. Your tank should be full of plants, including rooted and floating plants, to mimic their natural environment. Stone structures, caves and other hiding places are also well desired by barbs.


Green Tiger Barb
Green Tiger Barb

Barbs require a high-quality flake food diet for omnivores. It is recommended for you to look up your particular barb’s species to discover the meat to plant ratio needed to keep your barbs healthy. Diets may include romaine lettuce, zucchini, peas, frozen or freeze-dried bloodworm’s, tubifex worms, mosquito larvae and daphnia.


Popular species of barbs include the tiger barb, the short-fin barb and the Congo barb. Although the tiger barb has been moved to the Puntius genus, it was considered a barb for a very long time. The maximum length of a tiger barb is about seven centimetres Tiger barbs can be black, green and albino.


The short-fin barb can grow to about four-and-a-half centimetres  Like all barbs, they are egg layers and omnivorous. Barbs have been known to lay up to five hundred eggs at a time. In captivity, the number of eggs is significantly less.

Odessa Barb
Odessa Barb

Named for their native habitat in the Congo River, the Congo barb will grow to five to six centimetres  Like most barbs, the Congo barb is known to be skittish. It is important to have a tightly fitting lid to keep the barbs from leaping out of the tank.

Although barbs are a wary fish, they are beautiful to look at. Bring a bit of the tropics to your tank through the magic of barbs.



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