Puntius titteya

Common Names: cherry barb

Type Locality: Ambagaspitiya, Sri Lanka

Range: Sri Lanka

Taxonomic Troubles: Also found as Capoeta titteya and Barbus titteya

Size: 5 cm (2 inches)

Preferred Water Chemistry: Freshwater. Very adaptatble, pH 6 to 8, soft to hard, 90 to 340 ppm.

Difficulty: Easy. Great for beginners.

Tank Setup: Medium to large tanks for a school of these active fish. Planted tank appreciated.

Feeding: Omnivorous. Naturally feeds mostly on vegetable matter. Will accept any type of prepared live food.

Breeding: Extremely easy to breed. A conditioned pair will lay 200 to 300 adhesive eggs among plants or in a sunken spawning mop and should be removed right away, or they will eat the eggs. Eggs hatch in a couple of days, and fry are swimming in a couple more. Fry must have tiny foods such as microworms or vinegar eels for several days until large enough for brine shrimp nauplii.

Fish Description

A small, slender barb, torpedo-shaped rather than rounded like the tiger barb Puntius tetrazona. Both sexes have a creamy abdomen and two dark stripes, one running along the back and the other running from nose to tail. The female has hints of red, especially in the fins, but the male has an overall reddish coloration. When in his spawning finery, the male develops an intense velvety maroon red glow. An albino morph has become established in the hobby. Its temperament is peaceful and inoffensive, especially for a barb. Well-suited to a community setting. A loosely schooling species.


This is one of those perfect fish that combines beauty, hardiness, adaptability, peaceful behavior, small size, low price, and ease of spawning. The cherry barb is an ideal beginner fish and cannot be beat as a choice for someone's first breeding attempt. Even though they come from shallow shaded streams, they are usually bold and adventurous as long as they have cover into which they can zip if they feel threatened.

A heavily planted tank shows them off to especially good advantage, since the dark green background accentuates the cherry barb's red coloring, and the plantings offer shady spots and make them feel secure. When kept in large schools of a dozen or more, there will almost always be some fish spawning, meaning at least one male will be in his best color, and that means that probably several males will be showing off, trying to outdo each other.

Although they spawn very freely, to maximize success, condition breeders separately with live/frozen/freeze-dried foods. You can use pairs or trios of two females and a male. They should spawn shortly after being placed into a 5- or 10-gallon spawning tank, and they will actively seek out and eat their eggs after spawning. The fry are easy to raise if fed properly, and they will grow rapidly with plenty of food and plenty of water changes.

The rich velvety red of a displaying male cherry barb is hard to believe. Even if the females weren't pretty fish themselves, they would be worth keeping just to get the males to display, and while a school of these fish would enhance almost any community aquarium, a large species tank with 20 or 30 of these fish make an unforgettable display.