Gold Barb Fish Breed Profile

Pretty, Friendly, and Easy to Care For

Gold Barb - Puntius semifasciolatus
Valentin Hintikka

Originating from the Red River basin in China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, this fish is known worldwide as the "Chinese Barb." The gold form is highly popular in the aquarium trade, giving rise to the name "Gold Barb," by which it is commonly sold. This golden form was selectively bred by Thomas Schubert in the 1960s and was at one time thought to be a distinct species, referred to as Barbus schuberti or Puntius semifasciolatus var. Schuberti. It is now known to be the same species as the wild form, which is greenish in color. The green form is not often seen for sale in the aquarium trade. Due to damage to the native habitat in Taiwan, the species populations there are at risk. The gold form is widely sold in the aquarium trade and is captive bred in many locations.


Scientific Name Puntius Semifasciolatus
Synonym Barbus aureus, Barbus hainani, Barbus semifasciolatus, Capoeta semifasciolata, Puntius semifasciolata
Common Name China Barb, Chinese Barb, Chinese Half-Striped Barb, Gold Barb, Green Barb, Half Banded Barb, Half-Stripes Barb, Schubert's Barb, Six-Banded Banded Barb
Family Cyprinidae
Origin Red River Basin China, Taiwan, Vietnam
Adult Size 3 inches (7.5 cm)
Social Peaceful schooling fish
Lifespan 5 years
Tank Level Bottom, Mid dweller
Minimum Tank Size 20 gallon


Omnivore, eats most foods
Breeding Egg scatterer
Care Easy
pH 6.0–8.0
Hardness up to 10 dGH
Temperature 64–75 degrees Fahrenheit (18–24 degrees Celsius)

Origin and Distribution

Gold Barb are native to a fairly large area of Asia from the Red River basin in Vietnam and southern China to Fujian (further north). Golden Barb are also found in the Mekong basin in northern Laos and southern China; it's likely that these fish were introduced intentionally in these areas as well as in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hawaii, and Uruguay. 

Colorings and Markings

The naturally occurring color of this Barb is green, but that color is rarely seen in the aquarium trade due to the popularity of the gold form. Virtually all specimens currently sold are captive bred, and a few other color variations have subsequently arisen, including an albino variant as well as a tricolor variation.

Reaching an adult size of about three inches, the Gold Barb has a steeply-sloped back and short barbels positioned at the corners of the mouth. The males will be metallic gold or gold-green, with a lighter belly that turns red when ready to spawn. Females will be much duller overall in color and are generally larger than males. A number of dark vertical bars or blotches are visible along the flanks of the fish. Well-conditioned specimens may have red coloration on the fins.


The peaceful nature of this species makes them an excellent choice for community aquariums of other similarly-sized peaceful fish including tetras. Gold Barbs are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least a half-dozen or more.


Gold Barbs are quite hardy and undemanding of water conditions and habitat. They tolerate a fairly wide range of water conditions, which makes them adaptable to a variety of habitats. A current would be welcomed by this species, as they originate in free-flowing streams and rivers. They should be provided with a good-sized open space for swimming, along with plants, driftwood, or other decor to provide some hiding spots. Use a fine grade substrate, preferably a darker color to showcase the colors of the fish. Because this fish does well in cooler water, it can be kept in an unheated tank.

Gold Barb Diet

In their natural habitat, this species lives on a diet of insects and their larva, as well as worms, vegetation, and even detritus. In other words, it's a prime example of an omnivore, eating just about anything available. To maintain optimal health, a varied diet is advisable. Flake, pellet, freeze-dried and frozen foods will all be readily accepted. When possible, include live foods such as insects, brine shrimp, and worms of all types. Fresh vegetables are an excellent supplement and will be readily accepted.

Sexual Differences 

Females are overall much duller in coloration and larger than the male, as well as rounder in the belly. The belly of mature males who are ready to spawn will turn red to red-orange in color.

Breeding the Gold Barb

Gold Barbs are relatively easy to breed, but as with breeding any species, a separate breeding tank is recommended. The tank should be well-planted with fine-leafed plants such as Java Moss. Spawning mops can also be used, or a mesh cover could be placed over the bottom of the tank to allow the eggs to fall through. Regardless of which medium is used for spawning, make sure there are plenty of hiding spots for the female, as the male can be quite aggressive during the spawning process. Lighting should be dim and the water should be soft at about 8 dGH, and pH between 6 and 7. Use a sponge filter with a very gentle flow.

Spawning can be attempted with pairs or by the group method. When spawning in a group, use a half dozen of each sex. If spawning in pairs, maintain separate tanks of males and females. Select the plumpest female and most brightly colored male, and introduce them to the spawning tank late in the day. Prior to spawning with either method, condition the breeders for several days with live foods.

Typically, spawning occurs in the early morning around dawn. Males will begin to circle the female, nudging her in order to position her near the area he has selected for spawning. The female will release a hundred or two eggs, which will then be fertilized by the male. Adults will readily eat the eggs, so as soon as the eggs have been fertilized, the adults should be removed from the tank.

The pale yellow eggs are will hatch in about 48 hours and the fry will be free swimming in a few days. The fry (baby fish) will feed on infusoriafine fry food, and freshly hatched brine shrimp. Both the eggs and fry are rather sensitive to light, so keep the tank as dark as possible until the fry are several weeks old.

More Pet Fish Breeds and Further Research

If you’re interested in similar breeds, you may want to check out the Black Ruby Barb, Tiger Barb, or Denison Barb.