barb-fish-types

20 Different Types of Barb Fish

Barbs are fish abundant in variety – they come in a variety of sizes, colors and interesting features.

Some of them are aggressive, others are more peaceful, but for the most part, they are suitable to be kept in a mixed-species aquarium.

In this article on barb fish types, I will discuss some of my favorite barb fish focusing on their unique characteristics and keeping requirements.

Without further ado, here are 20 different barb fish types for your consideration:

1. Clown Barb

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 4 Inches (6 inches in the wild)
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 25-30 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 79-82° F

The clown barb is an interesting-looking barb fish type that has colorful red fins and a gold-reddish body decorated with spotted bands that remind of polka dots.

Since they’re a schooling fish, you should keep them in groups of at least 6, although it’s preferable to keep them in higher numbers, especially when housed in a community aquarium.

Like most barb species, clown barbs are fin-nippers, so choosing the right tank mates is crucial for preventing fights in the tank.

As active swimmers they enjoy larger tanks with swimming space in the middle. Heavily planted tanks are ideal for them, but make sure you choose some hardy species as they like to nibble on plants.

They’re omnivorous fish and enjoy all types of foods such as flakes, live, freeze-dried or frozen foods.

2. Arulius Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 4 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 25-30 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 66 – 77° F

A barb species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Arulius barb can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and conditions.

They do best in well-oxygenated and spacious tanks with dense vegetation. In tanks where water is clean and well maintained, the Arulius barb develops more beautiful colors.

They should be kept in schools of 8 or more, which will make them feel at ease and temper their fin-nipping tendencies in a community aquarium.

They enjoy both meaty food and vegetable matter, and they’re ferocious eaters, so careful not to overfeed them.

3. Cherry Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 73°F-81°F

These barb varieties stand out thanks to their red-cherry color, contrasted by a black lateral line that goes from head to tail.

They’re schooling fish, so keeping them in a larger group is a must for the cherry barb. The tank should be at least 25 gallons and it should be well planted to offer them hiding spaces.

A dark substrate will nicely complement their bright red colors, although they have no specific substrate requirements.

They’re peaceful barbs, therefore, they make great community fish and you can even keep them with shrimp and other invertebrates.

4. Checker Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25-30 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 68°F-79°F

Like most barbs, the checker barb is a schooling fish too that must be kept in a group of at least 9 for best results. These fish are fin-nippers, so avoid housing them with fish that have long fins.

When kept in large enough schools, they will keep to themselves and won’t bother the other members of the tank.

These fish are low-maintenance, have a lively demeanor and thrive on an omnivorous diet. Careful with feeding them worms, however, as they’re prone to bloating.

5. Curmuca Barb

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 40 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: Not suitable for home aquariums
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 68°F-79°F

Of all the different barb fish types presented in this article, the Curmuca barb is probably the least impressive in coloration. However, what the fish lacks in colors, it certainly makes up in size.

In the wild, the fish can grow to 40 inches, which means it’s not suitable for home aquariums. As other barb fish in this list, the Curmuca too in on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

6. Denison Barb

  • Experience Level: Experienced
  • Max Size: 6 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 55+ Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.8-7.8
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Sensitive to high toxin levels
  • Water Temperature: 60°F-77°F

Speaking of endangered species, the Denison barb is also an endangered barb fish featured on the IUCN Red List.

They’re a larger type of barb fish that requires bigger tanks (50+ gallons) and should be kept in schools of at least 6.

Due to overfishing and environmental destruction, wild populations are constantly decreasing. The Denison barb has a peculiar torpedo-shaped body with black and bright red lateral lines.

They’re difficult to breed and breeding in captivity can only be achieved through injecting the fish with a spawning inducing hormone.

7. Chubbyhead Barb

chubbyhead-barb

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chubbyhead_barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 5 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.8-7.8
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 60°F-71°F

The Chubbyhead barb is a gold-silvery fish with a black lateral line running through its body. They do well in brackish water too and should be kept in schools.

They enjoy planted tanks with plenty of cover and hiding spots. In the wild, they feed on algae, insects and zooplankton, therefore, they should be fed a mixed diet when kept in captivity.

8. Gold Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 3 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 64°F-75°F

Otherwise known as the Chinese barb, the gold barb is another type of barb that’s suitable for home aquariums and community freshwater tanks, especially that they’re a more peaceful barb fish variety.

Like most barbs, they should be kept in a school of at least 6 and should be kept in a well-planted tank with a fine-grain substrate.

Although they’ll accept most foods, they should be given a varied diet, which will better bring out their yellow-gold colors.

9. Beardless Barb

beardless-carb-cyclocheilichthys-apogon

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4.1.2_Cyclocheilichthys_apogon_78.0mmSL.jpg

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 7 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 30 Gallons
  • Water PH: 5.5-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 68°F-78°F

Named “beardless” because of its lack of barbels, the Beardless barbs is a peaceful fish that suitable to be kept in larger aquaria.

Its distinguished black spots along lateral scale rows and black blotch at the base of the caudal fin confers the Beardless barb an unusual appearance.

This barb variety requires small live and frozen foods on a regular basis in addition to fish flakes and granules. It does not breed in captivity.

10. Five Banded Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Water PH: 4.0-7.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 77°F-82°F

Immediately recognizable after the five black vertical bands on its body, this barb type is a community-friendly fish that does best in a school of 6 or more.

The type of barb fish is difficult to breed in home aquaria and special requirements are needed to induce spawning.

11. Greenstripe Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 20 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 65°F-79°F

The Greenstripe barb can live in tropical freshwater and brackish water as well. It’s a hardy fish that does well in community aquariums since it’s a generally peaceful fish.

The silvery body with a green stripe on the sides of the fish are the signature marks of this fish, which despite the fact that it’s widespread and easy to keep is not as popular in home aquaria.

12. Khavli Barb / Maharaja Barb

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 2.5 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.8-7.8
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Sensitive
  • Water Temperature: 65°F-79°F

Also known as the Maharaja barb, this barb variety is not difficult to keep in a well-maintained tank. Since it requires more or less spotless water to thrive, I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners.

It’s not as difficult to breed in captivity as some other types of barb fish in this list, but they do require special conditions to induce spawning.

The Khavli barb is an omnivorous, schooling fish that can peacefully coexist with well-researched tank mates.

13. Redside Barb / Two-Spot Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 65°F-75°F

Otherwise known as the Two-spot barb, the Redside barb is a beautiful barb variety with a round dark spot at the base of its caudal fin and another dark spot at the base of dorsal rays.

Its sides are colored with a green-reddish hue that makes this barb fish stand out in a community tank. It’s not a particularly demanding fish and does well in a community tank.

It must be kept in schools of 6-8, otherwise they become skittish and they fail to develop their beautiful colors.

14. Rosy Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 4 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 30 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 64°F-72°F

Rosy barbs can be described as having torpedo-shaped bodies with forked tails and they come in bright reddish colors.

They’re easy to care for, which makes the suitable for all skill levels. Because of their semi-aggressive tendencies, they should be housed only with compatible tank mates and their behavior should be monitored.

15. Spanner Barb

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 6 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 30+ Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 68°F-82°F

Robust in size and quite boisterous, the Spanner barb can easily intimidate other species, therefore, they should only be kept with like-sized fish.

Because of their aggressive tendencies, they should always be kept in a school of at least 6-8 and should be provided enough tank space.

16. Swamp Barb

swamp-barb

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Swamp_barb.jpg

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 5 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 5.5-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 68–77 °F

The Swamp barb is not a maintenance-intensive barb variety and compared to all the different types of barb fish discussed in this article, it isn’t as impressive when it comes to coloration.

They’re peaceful, do best in groups of 6-8 and can be kept in a community tank with similarly-sized fish.

17. Ticto Barb / Odessa Barb / Red Crystal

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 2.5 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 64°F-77°F

A peaceful barb fish that’s not sensitive to tank conditions and enjoys a heavily planted aquarium. It makes a good community fish for similarly-sized fish.

It thrives on an omnivorous diet and should be kept in a school. 

18. Tinfoil Barb

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Max Size: 14 Inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Min Tank Size: 100+ Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-7.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 72°F-77°F

Tinfoil barbs should come with a warning sign in pet shops alerting buyers that they’ll grow quite large (14 inches) and easily outgrow typical home aquariums.

Despite being easy to keep, I don’t recommend them for beginners, precisely because of the enormous sizes they reach in adulthood. Plus, they also tend to live long, 8-10 years on average.

19. Tiger Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 3 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.5
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 72°F-78°F

My go-to choice when it comes to barb fish, the tiger barb is an extremely popular community tank fish that’s very hardy and even recommended for beginners with a few caveats.

They’re the ultimate fin-nippers, so careful when selecting tank mates. They’re brightly colored and lively fish that require plenty of swimming space and should be kept in a school.

20. Sawbwa Barb

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Max Size: 1.5 Inches
  • Temperament: Semi-aggressive
  • Min Tank Size: 25 Gallons
  • Water PH: 6.0-8.0
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Hardy
  • Water Temperature: 64°F-71°F

Of all the different barb fish types, I think the Sawbwa barb is the most beautiful. They feature a silvery-blue body with a bright red color on the snout and two red spots on their caudal fins.

They’re too small to make a good addition to a community tank, plus they’re aggressive towards other males. They should be kept in larger groups and with a higher number of females compared to males.

Final Notes

If you’re a barb fish fan, there are plenty of different barb fish types you can choose from. Most are easy to keep, and they’re even recommended for beginners.

With some you should be careful when housing them with other fish since almost all barbs tend to be fin-nippers.

And because some types of barb fish can grow quite big and outgrow home aquariums, make sure you research them well before you purchase one for your aquarium.

Tiger Barb Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rick_leche/4276549129/

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