Puntius nigrofasciatus

Common Names: Black ruby barb, ruby barb, purple-headed barb, black barb

Type Locality: Sri Lanka

Range: Forest streams in Southern Sri Lanka

Taxonomic Troubles: Originally described as Barbus nigrofasciatus. Puntius is now the genus for all Asian barbs, though it will undoubtedly undergo revision.

Size: 6–7 cm (2¼–2¾ inches) TL.

Preferred Water Chemistry: Tropical freshwater. Since it is from hill streams, it is happy anywhere between 68° and 79°F. Maintain water quality with good filtration and water changes. Softer, acidic water that is a bit warmer is ideal for spawning.

Difficulty: A hardy and peaceful barb. Good for beginners and for community tanks.

Tank Setup: Should be kept in schools of six or more, with plenty of swimming space and hiding places. Appreciates a planted tank, but may nibble on plants.

Feeding: Omnivorous. Will take all standard aquarium fare. Make sure to include vegetable matter in the diet.

Breeding: Easily spawned egg scatterer. Males are slimmer and more colorful. Live plants or spawning mops make a good substrate for the eggs. It is best to condition the sexes separately and to remove the pair immediately after spawning so they don’t eat the eggs. Eggs hatch in about a day. The fry will need infusoria or other tiny foods when they become free-swimming several days later.


A fairly high-bodied barb with three broad bars and a reddish head. Strains differ in relative color, and a given fish will change color with mood and condition. A reddish head and a grayish body are the base coloration, but fish in top condition positively glow with red and iridescent black coloration.


This colorful barb has been a favorite for decades. It can even be maintained in an unheated aquarium at normal room temperatures. It is very important to keep these fish in groups. Although they do not school tightly most of the time, they love to play and spar with each other, and they will be stressed without conspecific tankmates. This is a fish that typically appears washed-out and drab in a dealer’s tank but will blossom into a gorgeous gem once settled in. Spawning males positively glow. They lose out compared to barbs that are much more colorful on display at the store, but those hobbyists who take them home will be well rewarded.