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. ?