Rosy Barb 101: Care, Diet, Tankmates, and Lifespan (2024)

Sideview of a rosy barb
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: July 12, 2024
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In search of an eye-catching tropical fish that demands little maintenance and thrives in community tanks? The Rosy Barb might be just what you need! If you’re new to fishkeeping and feeling apprehensive about its care requirements, don’t worry! We’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide to help you take care of a Rosy Barb.

Article Summary

  • Rosy Barbs are characterized by their bright red coloration with bold black markings, and they can grow up to six inches in size which is influenced by tank conditions and they have a fast growth rate, reaching half of their mature length within the first year.
  • Rosy Barbs are generally peaceful, but they are known for fin-nipping.
  • Although susceptible to freshwater diseases such as dropsy, ich, and constipation, Rosy Barbs can live up to 5 years with proper care.

Species Overview

Common namesRosy barb, red barb
Scientific namePethia conchonius/Puntius conchonius
SpeciesP. conchonius
Size5 inches
Lifespan5 yrs
DistributionSouthern Asia
Minimum tank size30 gallons
Place in tankMiddle
Care levelBeginner

Rosy Barb History and Background

This fish was originally known by the scientific name, Puntius conchonius, until 2012 when the genus, Pethia, was created. Since then, its official name has been Pethia conchonius, but many still refer to it by its original classification. So don’t be surprised if you see a Puntius conchonius for sale one day. Continue reading below to learn more about this fish and where it comes from.

What is a rosy barb?

The rosy barb is a popular aquarium fish due to its bright red coloring and peaceful temperament. It makes a great community fish and is well known for its hardy nature. Keeping rosy barbs is generally considered to be easier than other barb species as they have low care requirements.

Where did the rosy barb come from?

The rosy barb fish originated in Southern Asia, more specifically in Northern India, in the states of West Bengal and Assam. Its natural habitat includes fast flowing water in subtropical climates. Feral populations of rosy barbs have been found as far south as Australia and west as Mexico and Columbia. These wild rosy barbs are likely due to aquarists releasing domesticated ones in their local waters.

Rosy Barb Appearance

sideview of a rosy barb swimming in a tank
Sideview of A Rosy Barb

Part of the appeal of the rosy barb is its bright red coloring, but only through proper rosy barb care can you maintain that cherry red appearance.

What do rosy barb look like?

Rosy barbs have bright red coloration with bold black markings. In particular they have a black spot right before their caudal peduncle. Their torpedo shaped body lends itself to their speed and they are well known as an active fish. They have a forked tail and only one dorsal fin. Like most other cyprinid fish they lack the adipose fin.

Rosy barb male female difference

Male fish tend to have bright red coloration whereas females tend to have a more gold and silver sheen to their body. Young females lack any red coloration and are olive-brown.

How big does a rosy barb get?

These fish can grow up to six inches long, but generally remain closer to four inches in length.

How big do rosy barbs get in an aquarium?

Depending on the conditions of your community tanks your rosy barb can be slightly bigger or smaller. In a high stress environment it’s likely that this fish will be smaller than those in a low stress environment. On average rosy barbs grow to be around four inches.

How fast do rosy barb grow?

They are fairly fast growing and you can expect your fish to reach half of its mature length within the first year.

What determines the color of a rosy barb

You might notice your fish changing color slightly throughout the year. During spawning season both the male and female fish become more luminous and their red coloring will become more vibrant.

Rosy Barb Temperament and Tankmates

beautiful fishes swimming in a planted tropical freshwater aquarium
A Planted Aquarium With Different Fish Species

A mostly peaceful fish when housed in the right environment, it is important to know what tank mates are compatible with your fish to ensure the community’s happiness.

How many rosy barbs should be kept together?

As a schooling fish you should plan to keep at least 5 fish together. This will help keep your fish healthy and happy.

What fish can live with rosy barb?

When choosing suitable tankmates for your community tank it’s best to choose non-aggressive fish of a similar size. They can be housed together with peaceful Synodontis catfish, as these catfish thrive in the same environment. Rosy barbs are well known for their fin nipping behavior so you should avoid keeping rosy barbs with other species of fish that have long flowing fins or are slow swimmers.

Top 6 tankmates

  • Dwarf gourami-a similarly sized and very peaceful fish that will get along with your rosy fish.
  • Roseline shark also known as denison barb is another barb species that is peaceful and similar in size that can get along with rosy barbs.
  • Other rosy barbs-like those mentioned above, as shoaling fish it is necessary to have at least five fish together. You can have a larger school of fish if you have the appropriate tank!
  • Paradise fish (Paradise gourami)-if you’re looking to add some more bright, tropical colors to your tank this is definitely a good choice.
  • Tetras-most tetras will get along with rosy barbs and don’t mind the company of another school of fish.
  • Danios-another peaceful option that comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors for you to choose from.

Tank mates to avoid

  • Betta fish-a long finned fish that will likely receive fin nipping there will likely be much aggression between these fish.
  • Goldfish-another fish that will likely be nipped at by your rosy barb, causing potential problems.
  • Giant barb-while it may be tempting to keep other barbs in the same tank this is one example where you should not. The giant barb can reach sizes of 3 meters, meaning that it will likely mistake a small group of rosy barbs as a snack.
  • Snails– This is a bit of a hit-or-miss tank mate for rosy barbs. While the two can be compatible, your rosy barb may view small invertebrates as a food source, especially if underfed. For these reasons, we do not recommend placing them together.
  • Angelfish– These long-finned fish are at risk of having their fins nipped if placed with rosy barbs. Better to keep the two separate!

Rosy barbs are often used as dither fish in cichlid tanks. In the wild rosy barbs bright colors are a sign that there are no predators nearby, which will draw timid cichlids out of their hiding spot. Additionally rosy barbs can outswim aggressive cichlids making them excellent rosy barb tank mates.

Rosy Barb Tank Requirements

aquarium on black background
A Planted Fish Tank with Rock Decorations

The rosy barb is a fairly hardy fish when it comes to water requirements and tank setup giving you the ability to design your tank how you want it.

Water Parameters 

Tank Size>30 gal
Water TypeFreshwater
Water Temperature64-72
Water pH6.5
Water Hardness<10 dGH

Tank setup:

What kind of substrate to use?

You will have the best luck with a fine, soft sandy substrate. While rosy barbs don’t spend much time at the bottom of the tank, sand will help anchor any aquatic plants you want to have. Additionally, the addition of coarse gravel can be dangerous if accidentally swallowed.

Do I need a filter?

Yes, it is necessary to have a filter in your rosy barb tank. These freshwater fish likely pristine water conditions and require an excellent maintenance schedule and a filter to keep things crystal clear.

Should I add a pump?

It is recommended that you pick up a pump for your rosy barb tank as they generally enjoy fast moving water. Additionally if you are planning to have live plants in your tank setup you will need a pump to make sure that the water is properly oxygenated.

Is a water heater necessary?

For a tropical fish rosy barbs can tolerate surprisingly low temperatures. In fact, they’re such a hardy species they have been known to be kept as pond fish. However, you will have to bring them inside during the winter time as the temperature will get too low or have a heater in your pond.

All in all a heater is a personal preference when it comes to rosy barbs. If your aquarium is not able to maintain the proper water temperature range you should purchase one.

What kind of lighting is appropriate?

Rosy barbs aren’t extremely particular when it comes to lighting and you can provide a normal LED bulb for your rosy barb habitat. However, they do greatly appreciate a regular light/dark schedule. Be sure to turn your aquarium lights off for 12-16 hours of the day and have them on for 8-12 hours. This will ensure your rosy barbs and other fish are getting enough rest during the dark hours.

Can I add plants?

Yes, having a planted tank is a great way to provide enrichment and entertainment for your fish. Be aware that rosy barbs have been known to nibble on soft-leaved plants when they’re searching for a snack. One of the most successful plants in a rosy barb tank is java moss as this will provide both shelter, and shade from high intensity light sources.


Plants such as Marimo moss balls can be a great addition to freshwater tanks as many fish will play with them and roll them across the tank floor.

Rosy Barb Diet and Health

Fish flake food
Fish flake food

Proper rosy barb care includes feeding them the appropriate diet and the correct amount of food. Proper diet can go a long way to prevent potential diseases and health problems.

What do rosy barb eat

Rosy barbs are omnivores and will eat whatever food they can find. Wild rosy barbs have been known to eat insect larvae, smaller fish, and plant matter.

What to feed rosy barb?

You can feed your rosy barbs a varied diet of meaty foods, live food, frozen food, and commercial food. About 80% of their diet should be commercial flakes or pellets to provide them with nutrition that will enhance their coloring. The remaining 20% can be supplemental foods such as brine shrimp, micro worms, daphnia, and vegetables.

Rosy barbs are one of the most popular freshwater fish because of their affinity for eating hair algae.

How often to feed rosy barb?

You should feed your rosy barbs once daily. You can correlate feeding time to match their other tank mates.

How much to feed rosy barb?

Feed your rosy barbs according to the three minute rule. Because rosy barbs are opportunistic eaters they are prone to overeating. During the day you might notice them scavenging the plants and substrate for more food, though this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re hungry.

Common diseases of rosy barb?

There are no species-specific diseases for rosy barbs, however they are susceptible to freshwater diseases if exposed to them by tank mates or kept in less than ideal conditions. Common freshwater diseases can include

  • Dropsy-Often mistaken for bloatedness, if you notice your rosy barbs having a pinecone appearance with their scales sticking outward it is likely that they are dropsy. This ailment is caused by the buildup of fluid inside the tissues and is the result of underlying conditions such as bacterial or parasitic infection. Treatment includes immediate quarantine, aquarium salts, antibiotic treatment, and monitoring your rosy barb tank mates for symptoms.
  • Ich – A common disease in freshwater fish that is symbolic of poor water quality and poor living conditions, symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and the appearance of white spots on the fins and body. Ich treatment includes aquarium salts and a broad spectrum antibiotic.
  • Constipation-a common ailment in omnivores that aren’t receiving enough fiber in their diet symptoms include stringy feces, reluctance to eat, and lethargy. Treatment includes increasing the amount of fiber in the diet by feeding them shelled peas and blanched lettuce or spinach.

How long do rosy barb goldfish live?

With the proper rosy barb care and ideal conditions these fish can live up to 5 years.

Rosy Barb Breeding

rosy barbs swimming together in a planted aquarium
Rosy Barbs Swimming Together

While breeding this fish isn’t difficult, it does take some work and you are unlikely to have an accidental clutch.

Can you breed a rosy barb?

Breeding rosy barbs is relatively easy, they become sexually mature when they reach 2.5 inches (roughly 1-1.5 years of age). The most important thing to consider when breeding rosy barbs is selecting the proper breeding tank.

How to breed a rosy barb?

How to Breed Rosy Barbs

Before beginning to breed choose a tank that is appropriate for breeding rosy barbs. This fish will only breed in shallow water but still needs a considerable amount of room to swim so a 20 or 30 gallon tank is ideal. Fill the tank up roughly four inches deep.

When selecting your mating group you will have to choose two females and one male that have shown signs of being ready to spawn (more vibrant coloring). After adding your small group to the breeding tank you might notice the slightly aggressive behaviors of their mating dance. The male fish will chase the females and possibly nip fins until they lay eggs. Then he will follow behind her to fertilize.

Female rosy barbs can lay several hundred eggs at once and as they are adhesive they will stick to almost any surface. Once the female lays her clutch you should immediately remove the parents from the tank.


I prefer to remove the eggs from the breeding tank and place into a larger tank as the fry will need plenty of room so their growth is not stunted. I find it easier to move the eggs before they hatch, however some aquarists remove the parents and then proceed to fill the breeding tank with more water.

The eggs will hatch 1.5 to 2 days later, and become free swimming fry roughly 24 hours after hatching. The new fish should be fed infusoria, liquid fry food, or baby brine shrimp at least three times a day. Be sure to monitor the nursery tank as this food can quickly foul the water and diminish your tank conditions.

What do rosy barb eggs look like

After breeding the rosy barb you will notice their cylindrical clear eggs all along the tank. The opaque color means that the eggs are fertile, however if they turn white they are no longer fertile.

How do you know if a rosy barb will lay eggs

All female rosy barbs will lay eggs when they are ready to spawn. Spawning indicators are usually evident by the changing of their coloring from silver/gold to bright red. Male rosy barb coloring will also become more vibrant.

Rosy Barb FAQS

Are rosy barbs aggressive?

No, rosy barbs are peaceful and make great community fish. However, they are known for fin nipping so you should avoid fish with long fins as tank mates.

Do Rosy barbs need a heater?

It is suggested that you add a water heater to your aquarium if the temperature is routinely lower than the suggested temperature range mentioned in chapter 4.

Are Rosy barbs jumpers?

Yes, rosy barbs are well known escape artists and it is strongly suggested that you keep a tight fitting lid on your tank.

Do Rosy barbs eat algae?

Yes, as omnivores rosy barbs require a significant amount of plant matter to be part of their diet. One way is by eating the algae that has accrued in your tank. This fish is known for eating most types of green algae and hair algae.

Is the rosy barb for you?

If you’re looking for an easy-to-keep fish that can tolerate a wide temperature range and can live indoors or outdoors the rosy barb should be your next purchase!


In conclusion, the rosy barb can make an excellent addition to any community tank, or will do well in its own species-specific tank. Regardless of where you choose to put it this fish will provide hours of entertainment.

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