Rosy Barb: Tank Setup, Care Guide, Breeding And More…

There are many peaceful tropical fish available for a community aquarium.

Rosy Barbs are a great choice, they are active, colorful and peaceful.

Their hardy nature makes them easy to care for, so both veterans and beginners can enjoy them.

This shoaling species loves to be in large groups. The more you can keep, the more remarkable their group behaviors become.

Whilst they are easy to keep, Rosy Barbs still have their own personal preferences that need to be replicated for them to live a long, happy life. In our article we will cover the best setups, tank mates, diet and much more…

Category Rating
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Color Form: Red/Pink
Lifespan: Up to 5 years
Size: Up to 6″
Diet: Omnivore
Family: Cyprinidae
Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons
Tank Set-Up: Freshwater with plants and swimming space
Compatible: Peaceful community

Overview

Rosy Barb Overview

The Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius) is a freshwater aquarium fish in the Cyprinidae family – which also contains the closely related Carp and Minnow groups.

It is sometimes known as the Red Barb, and beginners often choose them because they are hardy and easy to care for.

This species is native to Southern Asia where you will find large populations in the tropical waters. They have now spread globally to Australia, Mexico, Colombia and further.

These fish are a favorite for those with more experience too because of their peaceful and active nature.

They spawn regularly, so specialist breeders will mate them in large quantities.

You should be able to pick these fish up for $2-4, so it is not too expensive to start a shoal. They will live for up to 5 year when kept in the right conditions.

Typical Behavior

Rosy Barbs have a peaceful temperament, so they work well as part of a community. If you want one, you will need to buy a few – they are a shoaling species that become stressed on their own.

They are active and love to swim around in groups in the middle levels of the tank.

Many Barbs have gained the reputation of being fin-nippers, Rosy Barbs are no exception. This problem is reduced when they are part of a large shoal because they feel less stressed. Avoiding tank mates with long fins is still advisable though.

Rosy Barb Appearance

Rosy Barb Appearance

These fish have gained popularity because of their subtle beauty. One individual may not look particularly colorful, but a shoal can be remarkably attractive.

Their body is torpedo shaped and can reach 6 inches, but they are mature by 2.5 inches. Fins are short and generally lack color and the tail is forked.

They have a reddish-pink coloration all across their body. This becomes more intense during periods of mating and will fade when stressed. The larger the shoal you have, the bolder their colors appear.

Feeding them foods high in carotenoids can help to maintain their colors.

Interestingly, Cyprinids like Rosy Barbs are stomach-less and have toothless jaws. They chew their food using specialized gill rakers.

There are a few ways to tell males and females apart. Males have a brighter pink coloration on their body and have dark colors on their fins. Females tend to be gold rather than red and are rounder and plumper too.

Habitat and Tank Conditions

Rosy Barb
Rosy Barb by Mark Hanford (Flickr)

Their natural habitat is the subtropical lakes and rivers of Southern Asia. The waters here are cooler than most other aquarium fish are used to, which is something to bear in mind when picking tank mates.

They prefer fast flowing waters with a high oxygen supply. Around them would be a mixture of plants and debris to acts as refuge, but they usually feel safe in a group.

Below we describe how to create their perfect aquarium environment, by recreating their natural habitat.

Tank Setup

Rosy Barbs don’t spend much time at the bottom of the tank. So whilst the substrate is not very important, it is safest to use a fine-grained gravel or sand.

They enjoy having live plants around them, as they release oxygen, offer shade and provide shelter to stressed fish. These Barbs may nibble at plants with large leaves like Java Fern, so use fine-leaved plants like Hornwort.

Make sure to leave plenty of empty swimming space, as this is where a shoal of Rosy Barbs will spend most of their time.

Though the species is hardy, they need water conditions to be maintained within their preferred range to be healthy in the long term.

  • Heat the water to 64-72°F.
  • The pH should be 6-8.
  • Hardness should be less than 10dGH.

A powerful filter outlet should create a strong enough current, but if you don’t feel that the water is moving, then you might want to invest in an air or water pump.

What Size Aquarium Do They Need?

The minimum tank size for a small group of Rosy Barbs is 30 gallons.

Each Rosy Barb you add to the shoal will need at least 5 gallons of water – the more space you can provide the better.

Tank Mates

Rosy Barb Tank Mates
Rosy Barb Tank Mates by Kkonstan (Wiki)

There are two ways to keep this social species:

  1. Either create a single species tank.
  2. Or add them in as part of a community.

A single species tank allows you to have a larger shoal and avoids compatibility problems. It would make breeding Rosy Barbs easier too. But, a community tank gives you the freedom to mix your favorite species together.

Suitable tank mates are peaceful and prefer cooler water.

Fellow Barbs are great choices, such as Tiger Barbs and Cherry Barbs. Alternatively, you could keep them with Swordtails, some Gouramis, Mollies, Pearl Danio or Neon Tetras.

Kuhli Loaches and Otocinclus are a couple of good options for adding activity to the lower levels of your tank.

If you are a fan of freshwater invertebrates, you will be happy to hear that Rosy Barbs make safe companions. You could add Ghost Shrimp or Nerite Snails (or others) without worrying about them disappearing.

Do not keep Rosy Barbs with aggressive or territorial species (like Oscars).

These fish are fin-nippers, so don’t keep them with any fish which have long flowing fins.

Keeping Rosy Barbs Together

Yes, in fact you should be keeping them in groups. As part of a large group, they are less likely to get stressed or nip fins.

There should be at least 5 Rosy Barbs in your tank to keep this shoaling species happy.

What To Feed Them

Rosy Barb Care

These fish are omnivorous and will take whatever food they can get. There are lots of foods you can choose from when designing their diet.

The healthiest foods are live or frozen as they have the highest nutritional content – brine shrimp and bloodworms are good options. In the wild they would sometimes eat plant matter too. You could add in some leftover green vegetables like zucchini or lettuce.

Dried foods are popular because they are cheap and commonly stocked. These are not as healthy though as they lose most of their nutritional content while they are made.

If you want to use dried foods, be sure to supplement them with other more nutritional foods.

Be careful not to overfeed since these opportunistic fish will keep eating until there is nothing left. Only give them what they can easily finish in 2 minutes, twice a day.

If there is any food left over, remove it before it contaminates the water.

Rosy Barb Care Guide

A fundamental aspect of caring for fish is keeping their aquarium clean. A dirty tank helps diseases thrive and spread.

Perform water changes every couple of weeks to prevent pollutants from building up. If you spot signs of disease, increase the frequency of water changes.

You should be wiping down excess algae too, as it will grow exponentially.

Illness is a greater risk to fish with a weak immune system because they are less able to kill off pathogens. A nutritious diet will maintain a strong immune system, so make sure you have read our feeding tips in the diet section above.

Newcomers to the hobby often don’t realize how bad overfeeding can be for their fish. It results in bloating, where the abdomen swells. Ration their diet and the swelling will decrease.

Although they are a hardy species, Rosy Barbs can catch a few diseases. If you notice an infected fish, quarantine them to prevent it spreading to your other fish.

Ich (white spot disease) is an ectoparasite that many aquarists have to deal with at some point. It causes white spots to appear across the body and fins. It enters your tank when you add new fish or dirty second-hand equipment. This is why it is recommended you quarantine new fish for a while before introducing them to your main setup.

How To Breed Rosy Barb

Rosy Barbs are quite easy to breed.

First of all, you need a specialized breeding tank kept within the correct parameters.

They only spawn in shallow water just a few inches deep. The water should be very clean with a temperature of 72°F.

Stock a group with a ratio of one male for every two females.

When the female is ready to breed, she will become more colorful. During this time a pair will begin courting and moving around the tank together. When the eggs are fertilized, the females will spread them around the plants in the tank.

Within 36 hours the fry will hatch and you should move them to a deeper tank – this will also separate them from the adults who might eat them.

Feed the fry small crushed foods or infusoria until they reach a size where they can eat adult foods.

Are Rosy Barbs Suitable For Your Aquarium? (Summary)

These are easy fish to care for because they are so hardy. If you already have some fishkeeping experience, then keeping Rosy Barbs will be a breeze.

They enjoy a broad range of foods and can be kept with many different species.

The only problem you might experience is fin-nipping. This is easily avoided by choosing tank mates with small fins.

Rosy Barbs are an ideal choice for someone looking to add color and activity. A large group of them will turn your aquarium into a wonderful attraction.

Do you keep your Rosy Barbs in a community tank? Let us know about your setup in the comments section below…

Robert Woods Portrait
Robert Woods is the creator of FishKeeping World, a third generation fish keeper and a graduate in animal welfare and behavior. He is also a proud member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America and the Nature Conservancy.

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