Caring for the Rosy Barb Aquarium Fish

Puntius conchonius - Rosy Barb
Rosy Barb. Dornenwolf

The Rosy Barb is one of the larger members of the Barb species and it can grow up to 6 inches in the wild. This fish enjoys company, and if it's school is large enough, it won't bother others in the aquarium.

Rosy Barb: Basics

  • Scientific Name: Puntius conchonius
  • Synonym: Barbus conchonius, Cyprinus conchonius, Systomus conchonius
  • Common Name: Red Barb, Rosy Barb
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Origin: Bengal, India
  • Adult Size: 6 inches (15 cm)


Rosy Barbs are one of the most popular and readily available fish for aquarium hobbyists, for many reasons. They are an active fish with a peaceful temperament and bright color. Rosy Barbs make great additions to an aquarium but also do well in ponds. Males have a brighter red coloration as opposed to the females that look more gold or silver than red. Both sexes have black markings on the fins and sides.


Ideally, don't house fewer than five Rosy Barbs in an aquarium because they are a schooling fish and will feel stressed in solitude. Rosy Barbs have a tendency for aggressive or “fin nipping” behavior; keeping them in schools of five or more will help reduce that tendency.

Because of their fin nipping nature, avoid housing them with slower moving long finned fish.

Rosy Barbs make great community fish, socializing well with much other nonaggressive fish of a similar size that enjoys cooler water. Fish including Swordtails, Gouramis, Angels, Knifefish, Ropefish, Paradise fish, Danios, Tetras, many American Cichlids and other Barbs make suitable tankmates.

Aquarium hobbyists have had success using Rosy Barbs as a dither fish in Cichlid tanks. Their bright colors and luminescence attract shy Cichlids out of their hiding spots. Because Rosy Barbs are so agile, they can outswim most Cichlids of the same size.


Rosy Barbs are found in lakes and fast flowing waters in subtropical parts of Asia. They are native to India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Rosy Barbs have also been introduced in Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Columbia. Because they are one of the hardiest barbs, they are quite easy to care for in captivity. As long as you avoid extreme water conditions, Rosy Barbs can adapt to a wide range of conditions. They have been known to tolerate higher levels of nitrates, making them a good candidate for a new tank because they are more likely to survive the initial nitrogen cycling.

Although a 20-gallon tank will suffice for a school of Rosy Barbs, a 30-gallon tank or larger is better. Live plants are ideal but stay from having soft-leaved plants. Rosy Barbs will nibble on plant matter in the tank, and soft leaved plants won’t survive said snacking. Java moss has been used readily with Rosy Barbs, offering them shade and shelter.

Because of their tendency to graze on vegetation, many have reported Rosy Barbs eating away the hair algae that grows in aquariums. Always keep a secure lid on your aquarium, as Rosy Barbs are very good jumpers.

They tolerate a larger temperature range than most fish, from 64-72 F (18-22 C). Because of this, they can be kept as pond fish as well. Move them in during the winter, however, especially in areas that are prone to severe weather.


Rosy Barbs are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters. Feed them plant matter, insects, worms, crustaceans, flakes, pellets, and frozen foods. They will eat live foods as long as they are small enough, such as insects, worms or crustaceans. In order to provide some nice variety, boil some zucchini or peas for them as a treat. Because Rosy Barbs are omnivorous they will fend off excessive algae in your tank.

Be careful, though, Rosy Barbs are happy eaters, so be sure not to overfeed.


When selecting a tank for breeding Rosy Barbs, a 20- or 30-gallon is optimal. Rosy Barbs will only breed in water a few inches deep, but make sure to raise fry in a bigger tank or their growth may become stunted. Allow for plenty of plants in the tank as they offer seclusion as well as a place to lay eggs.

Females remain smaller and plumper while males get bigger but slimmer. Females lack the brighter red coloration of the males; they are usually being more yellow, olive or gold. For a breeding set up, have one male and two females. Once ready to breed, the female will change color and become more vibrant. When a male and female initiate breeding, they display behaviors of love play and mock mating. Once the female's eggs are fertilized, she will scatter the hundreds of eggs into the substrate, on a plant or decoration, or simply expel them into the open water. Neither parents care for the eggs after spawning and will eat them if not separated from the tank immediately. The remaining eggs will hatch within 30 hours of being planted.