The cherry barb (puntius titteya) is a small, colorful fish that is active and peaceful--unlike many other barbs who may nip at other fish. Reaching a length of about 2 inches, these fish are well suited to small or medium community tanks. The males and females are easily distinguishable, as the males have a distinct bright red color, especially during spawning, while the females are closer to brown. There is also an albino variant available, and even among them the males are quickly noticeable as having a brighter red color than the females. This allows for an interesting combination in which simply buying enough fish for a small school can still result in a wide variety of colors.
A pair of cherry barbs, female above and male below.
Native to Sri Lanka, this fish's natural habitat is mostly made up of shallow water that does not move too quickly nor receive excessive sunlight. As usual, it is advisable to try to emulate these environmental factors to achieve the best results with the fish. It is best to offer them some plants to hide in but also to allow adequate room for them to swim about, so a moderate strength light such as the Flora Sun flourescent tube light should be considered as a lighting option. It will not be as bright as some other plant lights but can still grow several types of plants, like anubias or cryptocoryne species.
Two albino cherry barbs, male in front and female in the background.
Cherry barbs are omnivores, and should be given a fair amount of both plant-based foods as well as meatier options. One possible diet would be the Sera Flake Menu, which contains four types of flakes each with a different main ingredient, supplemented occasionally with bloodworms. Cherry barbs should be kept in tanks 15 gallons or larger, and suitable tankmates for cherry barbs include other peaceful fish. For example, harlequin raspboras and corydoras catfish would do nicely.