Category: Cyprinids

All about Cyprinids.

Golden Barbs – A Fish With Attitude

Contributor’s Note: Are you tired of being bogged down with all those technical articles and that side of the hobby? If you are this is the perfect article for you. It was written in fun as keeping fish and the aquarium hobby should be.

Hi, let us introduce ourselves, our names are Goldie, Golden Rod, Gill, (short for short gill covers), Georgina, and well, Whatz-it. We are golden barbs, Barbus semifasciolatus. There were many more of us, but we were very young when we traveled the path to get to our current home. It seemed each time we were scooped up in that big green thing, there were fewer of us, when we landed. I can only hope that our relatives were as lucky as we are now, although we did have a few problems a while back.

I, (Goldie, that’s me) fell fin over tail for Golden Rod just after we moved into our new home. I was about four months old. Pretty young, eh? I didn’t tell anybody though, just thought it would be best to keep it to myself. Our new owners were okay, they sure fed us a lot. We had brine shrimp flakes, color flakes (as if we weren’t bright enough already) oh well. Plankton, yuk!!! I despised this at first, but then I saw Golden Rod eating, so I joined in. After all, if Golden Rod liked it, it must be really good, and it gave me a chance to swim by and maybe get his attention. After all Georgina is always flirting with him! We don’t get along to well, I try to stay at opposite ends of this 120-liter glass box. Oh yeah, we also appreciate those sinking wafers and flake pellets that are supposedly thrown into our glass box for the Aspidoras. I think our owners get a little annoyed with us when we can stuff the whole pellet into our mouths. We also get several different kinds of worms. With all these good foods, we grew very quickly! I wonder sometimes though about our owners. They throw in those very tiny worms, I think they are called micro worms, as if they are big enough for us to fill our bellies with. Ha. This is usually followed with an “OOOOPS, That’s not exactly what I meant to do”. We swim around and try to eat them just to please them, although they are really hard to see.

Did I mention that our glass box was filtered with a big gray box? [outside powerfilter, Ed.] I have no idea what that big white spongy thing is for on the intake tube. They seem to keep the temperature swimmingly warm at 26C. The water is very hard, I thought at first that they thought we were some kinda fish from one of those lakes in Africa! Of course I have very good manners, so I didn’t tell them.

Then one day, I was scooped up in that big green thing and dumped into a smaller glass box. The next thing I knew, Whatz-it was dumped in with me. Our owners seemed to be performing a marriage ceremony. How dare they!!! I don’t want to marry Whatz-it. Oh the thought of it! I will dream forever of Golden Rod…my owners thought that Whatz-it was the nicest looking male in the glass box. Oh, if only they knew. Just to get even with them, I scattered a couple hundred eggs all over the place. To my surprise, this helped my cause. I was scooped up along with Whatz-it and put back in the glass box with Golden Rod. He seemed to be much more interested in me.

My owners, were none to pleased to see every single egg disintegrate to nothing. Ha! That will teach them to marry me off without asking me first!

There were a few more attempts with them trying to make this marriage work, but I was very stubborn. Then one day, they quickly performed an annulment ceremony. We were both dumped back into the 120-liter glass box and pretty much forgotten about for a few months.

Then all of a sudden, I heard some grunting and groaning and “this had better work, this thing is really heavy, I wonder how many other people are this stupid to carry water just to get these fish to spawn successfully. If we had any brains at all we would just keep cichlids”. I had no idea what they were up to, but I was pretty sure it had to do with us. I stuck very close to Golden Rod. If it is us they are talking about then maybe they will take the hint They poured 1/3 of that R/O water that they packed in from who knows where, and 2/3 regular tap water. This water had the same pH and temperature as the water that we are usually in. However it is a bit softer.

I decided to really show these people that it was Golden Rod that I wanted to be married to and started swimming very fast around the glass box. Before long, I had Golden Rod and Gill chasing me. What fun! I am swimming as fast as I can, I’m at the top of the water, I know, I’ll turn upside down and throw a bunch of eggs at the ceiling. Oh what fun!! “Hey you guys, quit eating them, that’s not what you are suppose to do”. Then all of a sudden that big green thing came in and pulled me out.

This time however, I wasn’t just dumped into the other glass box, I was as they say “acclimatized slowly”. I however am not to impressed. When they finally released me, quite a while later, I was alone. Then those!, those!!, those people!!!, who call themselves “fish people” had company. They seemed to be more interested in the glass box beside mine than in my predicament. Hummm I really wonder…. Finally after the company left, they slowly acclimatized, not only Golden Rod, but Whatz-it too. I was so happy to see Golden Rod, we decided to start scattering eggs all over. Whatz-it, however decided to get involved in the chasing but all he ever did was eat our eggs. I certainly would have thought those people would have clued in by now. I heard them say “look, these barbs breed more like goldfish than barbs”. I wonder what a goldfish is? After about three hours, we were acclimatized back into our 120-liter glass box. Did I mention that all the action took place in an 80-liter glass box, with only an air stone and no filtration?

After about a week, my owners seemed quite pleased. They soon performed a marriage ceremony of myself and Golden Rod. After all we now have a rather large family. Whew! Sure glad we have those people trained to look after them all for us. I think, I would just prefer to eat them, its much less trouble.

I heard they fed our babies microworms and baby brine shrimp. Then they added Grindal worms and flakes to their diet. At three weeks of age they started changing the mixed R/O water back to just regular tap water. They said something about a being easier to acclimatize to pet shops’ tank water. I think I was there once, but I really don’t remember much.


: As stated in the 1994 edition of the Baensch Aquarium Atlas, page 398, the golden barb is a yellow morph of Barbus semifasciolatus even though it is commonly identified as Barbus schuberti.?

Cherry Barbs: Barbus titteya


Cherry barbs (Barbus titteya) come from the shaded streams and rivers on the plains of Sri Lanka. The males of this species are a bright red color, and a bright glowing red color when in breeding season The females are a reddish brown color. They get to a total length of 3cm to 5cm. They are more peaceful than some of the other barbs I have kept.


The ideal temperature for cherry barbs is 23C to 28C. They like soft water with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. And some hiding spots or a planted aquarium

I purchased five very small cherry barbs two years ago. The only problem was they were really small and I couldn’t tell if there were any males in the tank. As it happened there wasn’t. I looked for several months in the local pet shops and all they ever got in was the females. Where were all the males going? Then finally a few months later I spotted two males in one store. One was very sickly, the other wasn’t as bad, so I purchased the best one. I took him home, treated and quarantined him for a couple of months. When I did place him in with the others he was much smaller and disappeared into the plastic plants. I have to admit, I didn’t see much of him and wasn’t even sure he was still in there for a while.

These barbs were housed in my 240-liter aquarium, with 3 flying foxes, 5 checker barbs, and 4 Rosy barbs. From time to time they had other tank mates such as Aspidoras and Corydoras. The conditions of this aquarium were Temperature of 24C, 290 PPM hardness and pH of 8.0. Water changes were done an a weekly basis with about 50% of the water being changed. There were two filters on this tank, one an outside canister filter, the other a large outside power filter. There were some caves and plastic plants in this tank for cover

These little barbs were fed, all kinds of flakes, micro pellets, Grindal worms, and frozen blood worms. They also ate the sinking algae wafers that were suppose to be for the flying fox.


After having two spawns that flopped, I decided to try much softer water this time. I set up the 80 liter ¼ full, with a water mixture as follows ¾ RO water and ¼ tap water. I also added black water extract. The hardness of this water was 7 PPM, with the pH still at 8.0. I placed the 20 liter black undergravel filter on the bottom as well as some plastic Cabomba and spawning grass. Then the chosen pair was acclimatized slowly. Two days later, when checking to see if there were any eggs, I was shocked to find the eggs under the undergravel filter already bouncing. I quickly moved the pair back to their original aquarium. Hmm, I wonder how many they ate.

After the fry hatch, they bounced around for a while and stuck to the sides of the aquarium or what ever they landed on. The fry went free swimming five days later. After all the fry were free swimming, and the undergravel filter as well as the plastic plants were taken out.

The first fry food was APR. This is fed every three days. I have found that a water change must be done after the third day before more of this is added. Instead of doing a water change this time, fresh tap water was added. They were kept on this food until they were big enough for micro worms or baby brine shrimp. The fry are very small, white or almost clear glass slivers, so their first foods have to be very tiny. When they were a month old, they were introduced to the baby brine shrimp and then to Grindal worms. They were not all big enough to eat these foods though, so the APR was still being added. Once they started eating these foods, they started to grow quickly.

Regular tap water was added, about one centimeter every night until the tank was full. Then water changes were done every night at about 50% so the uneaten food didn’t pollute the water. Changing the water conditions over so fast didn’t seem to be a problem, and it saved me from having to mix and try to match the existing conditions.


Cherry barbs are a peaceful fish that can fit quite nicely into a community aquarium. For the most part, they seem to mind their own business. However, I did see them teasing the flying fox a few times. They sat outside the hole of the ceramic log and would pretend to enter, when the flying fox didn’t have his head sticking out. The other thing they did was steal the algae wafers that were put in for the flying fox.

Another problem I encountered was when I went to sell these fish to the local pet stores. One store told me, they didn’t want any because they were horrible fish and could not be put into a community tank. I was shocked! Another store told me cherry barbs weren’t fast movers and they only wanted fish that were guaranteed to sell quickly. The third store kept telling me to try back in a couple of weeks. After the third call (six weeks later) this store finally decided to take some of these fish. I finally got rid of them all when they were almost six months old. I only raised around 50: I always thought barbs were a bread and butter fish. Oh well, you just never know. ?

S.A.E.: A Fish Worth Its Weight In Gold

In the rivers of south-east Asia lives a very plain-looking fish, one that most aquarists would ignore if it wasn’t for Dr. Baensch’s discovery that it eats hair algae. In fact it is considered to be the best algae eater available. I am speaking of the Siamese algae eater (Crossocheilus siamensis), known to wired aquarists simply as SAE.

I first encountered this fish at a store when I was setting up my large (1.5 m long) planted community tank. It was to be my Amazon tank. The plants and fish had to come from the Amazon region or at least from South America. That was the theory. Since Siamese algae eaters are from the other side of the world, I just considered them neat and was glad that the store had them.

A few months later I started running into a familiar problem with new tanks: algae. I figured I had just about all types of green algae. My Amazon swordplants were covered in a carpet of algae and weren’t growing. I tried increasing the plant density with mixed results. Hornwort first became a weed that I had to remove weekly, then a small type of Salvinia exploded on the surface of the tank, followed by the giant duckweed (Spirodella polyrhiza). These fast growing plants kept the algae in check, but also provided shade for the swordplants. I needed something that would eat the algae, not just compete with it for nutrients.

As part of my Amazon fish collection I had a pair of whip-tailed catfish (Rineloricaria sp.), five Otocinclus affinis and two clown plecos (Peckoltia vittata). It turns out they weren’t eating enough algae. The otos fattened themselves on algae, then died looking emaciated (selective algae eating perhaps). I still don’t know what the whip-tails eat in my tank, for they are strictly nocturnal and freeze as soon as a light goes on. The clown plecos kept two pieces of driftwood very clean and polished. In fact they are great wood eaters.

Fellow club members suggested that I add a few bristle-nosed plecos (Ancistrus sp.). They also spoke very highly of its algae eating abilities. My reference books agreed, so I overcame my aversion to the fish (I find the bristles on the head simply revolting) and took a fully-grown male on loan. I also went to my favourite fish shop to get more bristle-noses as reinforcements. There was only one, so off to another shop for more. It was then that I found a tank full of Siamese algae eaters.

The algae eaters were quite small, only 3 cm in length, so I bought ten. My algal problem was so bad by now that I didn’t care that the fish were not Amazonian. I set up the new fish in a quarantine tank and spent a few hours cleaning the big tank. I removed every leaf that had algae on it, cleaned the driftwood and glass panes. I kept the worst leaves in a bucket of water to feed the new fish. That’s when I was most pleasantly surprised. I would add a few leaves to the quarantine tank in the morning, and by the time I would return from work the leaves would be spotless! The SAEs were so efficient I almost ran out of algae-covered leaves during the two-week quarantine.

When I added the bristle-noses and the SAEs to the big tank, the algae were making a slow return that ended on that day. The next day the tank was virtually algae free. The bristle-noses took to a large piece of driftwood, with many hollow branches, and disappeared. Meanwhile the SAEs doubled in size in three months, and now after 11 months they are over 10 cm long. I was warned that they get territorial, and I’ve noticed that they will push one another out of the way on occasion, but I haven’t seen any real fights. In fact the fish are quite gregarious and like to sun themselves at the front of the tank. It is quite a sight to see seven of them lying on the sand at the front of the tank, bodies aligned with the current, enjoying the winter sun.

By now you are probably wondering what SAEs look like. If you have access to a copy of The Optimum Aquarium by Horst & Kipper, turn to page 125 and skip the rest of this paragraph. If you have access to the Internet, check out Liisa Sarakontu’s home page at, she has a good article on algae-eating cyprinids with identification tips and hand-drawn sketches.

SAEs are very similar to the flying fox (Epalzeorhynchus kallopterus) and were until recently placed in the same genus. The scales on the back have dark edges, giving the fish a reticulated appearance. They do not have the coppery reflection above the black longitudinal line as the flying fox, and unlike them have only one pair of barbels. Their more robust shape, clear fins and reticulated backs make them easy to spot when mixed with flying foxes.

According to my sources, nobody has managed to breed SAEs in an aquarium. I find this a little surprising because I’ve noticed two of my SAEs acting as if they were courting. They picked a fork at the base of a large piece of driftwood and remained there for a few days. The others were chased away. Unfortunately it was impossible to see inside the fork, so I couldn’t verify if there were eggs there, or if anything else was going on. At that time also, two of the bristle-noses had paired and the male was guarding a clutch of eggs inside the same driftwood. Who knows if the events were related.

One thing I find unusual is how the fish changes colour when there is any posturing going on. My experience with tetras, cichlids, and bettas is that the fish colour up and stretch their fins, looking quite impressive. SAEs become pale instead. Their black stripe fades to almost the same colour as their body, they wiggle and dash forward in mock attacks, with no injuries or undue harassment resulting from this. Usually two fish square off, do their posturing and then go on with life.

As for food, they seem to eat anything. Algae of course, frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, flakes, sinking pellets, freeze-dried tubifex, and boiled zucchini. They feed regularly with the rest of the fish in the tank, sometimes too eagerly, yet the algae is mostly absent even in winter when the tank can get up to two hours of direct sunlight on the front pane. I don’t think they clean the panes or the driftwood, the bristle-noses do that. SAEs seem to specialize in plants as I frequently see them mouthing the leaves looking for algae. They will uproot young plants when cleaning them, and I’ve seen them digging very shallow burrows in the sand with their bodies when they want to rest, but this is nothing if one is familiar with such behaviour from cichlids.

The one unfortunate thing about the fish is its scarcity. I’ve only seen it twice at the shops, and I’ve seen SAE alerts on the Internet whenever someone has found them for sale. They also seem to be affected by the infamous Internet curse that plagues plecos, causing death to the discussed animal whenever one dares to mention its species by name (see Grant Gussie’s article), hence the abbreviation SAE.

So what else can I say about a fish that keeps my swordplants and stargrasses (Heteranthera zosterifolia) clean and intact, is not a fussy eater, gets along fine with my tetras and armored catfish, and amuses me with its antics? This fish really is worth its weight in gold.


Gussie, G. (1996). “Aquaria on the Internet: Part 4”. The Calquarium Vol. 39 No. 3

Horst, K & Kipper, H. (1986). The Optimum Aquarium. Aqua Documenta, Germany.

Sarakontu, L. & Frank, N. ?