Rosy Barb – Species Profile & Facts

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Rosy barbs are a sought-after barb variety that grows bigger than most barbs averaging a length of around six inches in the wild.

In captivity, they reach around 4 inches, although, if offered enough aquarium space, they can grow larger in captivity too.

They’re active fish that enjoy being kept in schools, which should be large enough to curb their semi-aggressive behavior that’s specific to most barbs.

They can do well both in ponds and aquariums, being a species that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions.

They’re generally thought of as hardy fish that will make a great addition to a community tank, looking just as beautiful in a species-only tank.

What is Rosy Barb Fish?

A subtropical climate fish, the rosy barb is native to India, Bengal, and Assam. Fish of these species have torpedo-shaped bodies with forked tails.

They have black markings on the sides and fins. Females feature colors that aren’t as vivid such as olive, golden and olive, while males features brighter, reddish colors.

Rosy barbs are not difficult to care for and they’re mostly suitable for all skill levels, although they do have a few caveats like their tendency towards aggression and some breeding arrangements that must be made.

They’re schooling fish that should be kept in groups of no less than five rosy barbs. Generally, the bigger the school the more focused they are on their own kind, and their aggressivity is more tempered.

These fish don’t have water requirements or feeding requirements out of the ordinary, however, their breeding requires artificial hatching of the eggs, since rosy barbs have a strong tendency to eat their own eggs.

Unfortunately, this behavior cannot be helped, only prevented, which means you’ll need to remove the adults from the breeding tank immediately after spawning.

Rosy Barb Water Requirements

Rosy barbs enjoy water that’s up to 10 dGH in hardness and has a pH of 6.5. The ideal temperature for this barb variety is in the 64 to 72 °F range.

They’re known to withstand higher nitrates levels, which makes them a good pick for newly cycled tanks. Avoid extreme conditions and offer them enough space, so they can grow.

Do add some live plants into the tank but stay away from soft-leaved plants that rosy barbs will surely graze on. Pick something like the Java Moss, which offers them shelter and shade.

That said, rosy barbs will even eat some types of algae (e.g. hair algae) that may grow in your tank, keeping excessive algae growth under control.

As for the size of the tank that’s suitable for a small school of rosy barb fish, I recommend the 30-gallon tank at the very minimum.

Because they tolerate wider temperature ranges, they’re a suitable choice for ponds as well, provided that you move them in the winter when weather turns chilly.

The bottom substrate should be fine-grained, and a dark substrate will contrast well with the colors of this fish.

Clean and fresh water is ideal for these fish, so a weekly water renewal is advisable. I also recommend ensuring some water flow with a water filter and lighting should be dimmed.

Rosy Barb Tank Mates


Rosy Barb Tank Mates

Rosy barbs aren’t solitary fish and will do poorly if kept by themselves. Having said that, keep them in a group of at least 5, so you can observe their schooling behavior and prevent them from bothering other fish.

That’s right, rosy barbs aren’t that “rosy” when it comes to tank mates, and they do tend to nip at the fins of their slow-moving, long-finned tank mates.

Other than this tendency that can be corrected, rosy barbs are a good community fish companion that can get on well with the following fish:

Rosy barbs have been used as dither fish in American cichlid tanks helping shy cichlids get out of their hiding spaces. In fact, rosy barbs are more agile and can outswim cichlids of the same size.

Fish compatibility is an important aspect of successfully housing fish together in a community tank.

Aggressions and fights between fish are never a good thing as they can cause injuries, death, and secondary infections due to lesions on their bodies.

Make sure the tank mates you pick for your rosy barbs are suitable mates that won’t lead to trouble in the tank.

Rosy Barb Diet

Rosy barbs are known as opportunistic eaters that will thrive on an omnivorous diet. Therefore, offer them both meat-based and plant-based foods for a well-balanced diet.

Quality flake foods, pellets, frozen or freeze-dried brine shrimp, blood worms, and other small insects or worms, crustaceans make for plentiful meals.

Complete their meaty snacks with plant matter including soft boiled zucchini or peas. They may even take to cleaning up your tank of algae, so that’s an added plus for keeping rosy barbs.

Because rosy barbs have a huge appetite it’s easy to overfeed them, so be careful with the amount of foods you’re giving them at a time.

Overfeeding can cause digestion issues, constipation, and can foul the tank causing ammonia levels and other toxin levels to spike.

Rosy Barb Breeding


Rosy Barb Breeding

Rosy barbs are egg-layers that are relatively easy to breed provided that you don’t leave the eggs in with the parents and you hatch them artificially.

1.  Sexing Rosy Barbs

While they’re still juveniles, determining the gender of rosy barbs is a true head scratcher. Once they hit sizes of around 2.5 inches and they become sexually mature, you can notice differences between the two genders:

  • The male rosy barb is slender, and its colors are more pronounced (they’re redder);
  • The female rosy barb has a rounder, fuller belly and they lack the red coloration of the males, showcasing olive, yellow or gold colors instead.

A typical rosy barb breeding setup has two females and a male.

2.  Breeding Tank

When they reach sexual maturity, rosy barbs can be paired and a separate breeding tank of 20 to 30 gallons should be set up.

The breeding tank should be 1-2 degrees warmer than their source aquarium.

Prior to breeding, they should be well-fed with nutritious foods to prepare them for spawning.

The breeding tank should have water only a few inches deep with a few plants that can serve as a hiding spot. Select breeding pairs that have good markings and colors.

When the pair is ready to breed, the female will become more vibrant and if you observe their behavior, you’ll notice them being more playful around each other.

Spawning will usually happen early in the morning.

The female will lay her eggs on a plant, spawning site, or simply just scatter the eggs around the tank.

Eggs will adhere to surfaces; however, you must remove the adult fish from the tank once spawning took place.

Barbs won’t hatch the eggs themselves let alone care for their fry, therefore, if you don’t want the eggs to be eaten, you should take measures to prevent the adult fish from getting to the eggs.

A netting or spawning rope can be placed onto the bottom of the tank as a prevention measure to keep the adult fish from eating the eggs.

3.  Hatching Eggs

The female rosy barb will lay several hundred eggs that will hatch in about 30 hours. It’s a good idea to treat the water with methylene blue that will prevent fungus from growing on the eggs.

When the eggs hatch, baby rosy barbs will be in a larval stage and they’ll feed on the yolk sac of the eggs. Once that’s absorbed, they’ll feed on infusora and other small microorganisms in the tank.

4.  Caring for Fry

Their first food should be offered to them as soon as they become free swimmers. Baby brine shrimp is a good food to start them on to give them a nutritional boost.

Slowly you can move onto fry flake foods.

When they’re eating normally, you can move them to a grow-out tank that should be big enough to not stunt their growth.

Be careful not to overfeed them and to keep the water clean, so they won’t get sick.

Final Notes

Rosy barbs grow larger than most barbs and they have semi-aggressive tendencies that can be helped by being careful in selecting mates and keeping the fish in appropriately-sized schools.

Because they tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and they’re not as sensitive to nitrate levels, they can make a good starter fish for a community tank.

As omnivorous fish, it’s important to add variety to their diets, so they can develop their beautiful colors and have stronger immune systems to ward off diseases.

Breeding them requires conditioning and setting up a separate breeding tank. Hatching the eggs artificially if the only way to breed these fish.

I hope that my guide to rosy barb fish has given you an idea about what to expect from raising this fish and under which conditions should you be adding them to a community tank.

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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