Do Denison Barbs Eat Plants?

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It’s always rewarding to craft a stable and thriving aquatic setup with colorful and vivacious fish and a variety of aquatic plants. Diversity is, naturally, the name of the game, though this can be more difficult to achieve than one might think. One major problem to consider is the relationship between your fish and the population of live plants.

Today, we will discuss Denison barbs, their diets, and whether they show any predilection towards live plants. To cut it to the chase, yes, Denison barbs eat live plants since they are omnivorous fish. This is another way of saying that they consume anything that provides them with adequate nutrients.

What do Denison Barbs Eat?

Denison barbs are omnivorous, opportunistic feeders. So they won’t pass on anything that they can get nutrients from. These fish require a varied diet, combining animal-based products and veggies and plant matter to keep them healthy and happy over the years.

So, always be ready to feed your Denison barbs, shrimp meat, algae, spirulina, daphnia, bloodworms, and even homegrown veggies. These fish may also occasionally nibble on some live plants, which can become annoying for some aquarists.

Why do Denison Barbs Nibble on Plants?

They do so mostly when they’re hungry and don’t have anything to eat nearby. You have to remember that Denison barbs are energetic fish with an accelerated growth rate. Their metabolic rates are quite elevated, allowing the fish to outgrow their tankmates rather fast. Especially if there’s sufficient food available.

The problem is that Denison barbs won’t accept their fate if there’s no food available. Instead, they will improvise and look for nutrients wherever they can find them. Live plants are the most obvious choice since they’re readily available, fresh, tasty, and satisfy some of the fish’s nutritional requirements.

In other words, feed your Denison barbs properly, and they won’t feel as inclined to nibble on your live plants.

Also, keep in mind that these barbs are schooling fish. So, you’ll need to keep them in groups of at least 5-6 individuals to improve their quality of life over the years. Denison barbs can live up to 5 years in optimal conditions in captivity.

Can You Keep Denison Barbs in a Planted Tank?

Yes, you can easily house Denison barbs in planted tanks. In fact, it’s recommended that you do so. Their natural environment is heavily planted with a variety of rocks and hiding areas for them to retreat to when stressed. A heavily planted environment will also boost the fish’s coloring and help them feel safer and more peaceful.

The problem is finding the balance between the barb’s darting speed and energetic temperament and your plants’ resilience. Denison barbs are notorious for unearthing tank plants by mistake due to their explosive and careless style of swimming.

Anubias is a great choice for them thanks to its low profile, strong stems and roots, and robust leaves. I also recommend prioritizing resilient plant species that won’t be bothered by your fish’s activity.

Increasing the tank’s size will also help protect your live plants tremendously. The added space will provide your Denison barbs with extra training ground for them to exercise their swimming adequately. So they will be less prone to ram into plants or decorations along the way. A thriving barb school requires at least 55 gallons of water.

Naturally, these values may change based on your fish’s size and personality, the available tank decorations and plants, and their tankmates. You need to account for all these when crafting the ideal environment for your Denison barbs.

Do Denison Barbs Eat Algae?

Yes, Denison barbs consume algae as part of their main diet, but don’t rely on them to control your algae population on their own. These are not professional algae grazers. If you’re experiencing algae issues, you need to consider several other options, such as:

  • CO2 injections – Algae cannot breathe CO2, unlike plants. So, CO2 injections will nourish your plants and counter the algae population at the same time. Just ensure that your plants can use the additional CO2 effectively. Fish also have no use for this element, especially since the amount of CO2 in the water is inversely proportional to that of oxygen. So, the more CO2 in the water, the less the oxygen content, causing your fish to suffocate.
  • Less light – Algae bloom in high-light environments. If your plants don’t need that much light, to begin with, cut it down a notch. Most fish will do just fine in low-light conditions.
  • Algae grazers – Consider introducing shrimp, snails, or other algae grazing fish like plecos or other species. These animals will feed primarily on algae, so they will prove quite useful in this sense. Just make sure to handpick your algae grazers carefully. For instance, snails can reproduce excessively under the right conditions, shrimps will appear as food for barbs, and smaller fish may get bullied. So, you’ll need to resort to some planning beforehand.
  • Manual removal – This approach is useful at any stage of algae development. The process consists of simply cleaning algae deposits from the tank’s walls, rocks, and aquatic decorations to keep the population in check. I only recommend performing this job sparingly, not to disturb your fish too often.

Naturally, the fact that your Denisons also consume algae will help in this sense.


Denison barbs are adaptable and friendly fish with a varied and rich diet. You should ideally cycle their meals so that they don’t experience nutrient deficiencies along the way. These may force them to turn their attention towards your live plants, and we all know where that goes.

Other than that, Denison barbs’ needs are easy to fulfill since they’re not that pretentious about their food.

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
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