Are Cherry Barbs Aggressive?

Cherry barbs are generally peaceful and not aggressive fish, especially if they are looked after and have enough resources. They might get aggressive under certain circumstances, such as during the spawning season, but they mostly keep to themselves, and it’s uncommon for them to nip other fish.

Cherry barbs are known to be calm fish that don’t get aggressive but can lose their peaceful demeanor and become unfriendly at times. That said, as long as they are cared for correctly and have enough space to swim and hide, they won’t be outwardly aggressive and can live happily with other fish, with certain species being especially suitable.

Can Cherry Barbs Get Aggressive?

Cherry barbs may be assumed to be aggressive because their relatives, tiger, and rosy barbs, are known to nip and harass other fish. But this assumption is incorrect because those who have observed these fish have noticed that they are usually more docile than many other species.

Cherry barbs are unlikely to participate in aggressive situations, much less cause them. However, some signs of aggression may show when cherry barbs are in the same tank as other fish with very different temperaments, such as male guppies.

Like any other fish species, cherry barbs will get aggressive if their life feels threatened or if they experience stress. In this sense, if other fish harass them, or they hav + Add New Category e to compete for resources, they may not appear to be friendly, but if cherry barbs have enough food and live in a clean tank, the odds of seeing signs of aggression are slim.

One Cherry Barb in Front of Plants

When Do Cherry Barbs Get Aggressive?

Cherry barbs are not known to be aggressive, but there are times when these fish become more hostile. These instances are few and far between, but it’s always good to know when these fish need to fight or nip.

  • When you first put cherry barbs in a tank or aquarium, they can chase and fight each other to sort out a pecking order. After this, the fish become relaxed and feel no need to enact any further aggression.
  • If other fish harass cherry barbs, they may need to nip them to be left alone. However, this slight aggression is directed at the one fish and doesn’t extend further.
  • If they’re starving, cherry barbs may fight over food. This is only when they get desperate and if they feel that the food is in short supply.
  • If there is a noticeable size difference between fish, the larger cherry barbs may be more aggressive as they ensure their dominance is known. If the other fish respect the size of the larger fish, there’ll be no need to assert this dominance.
  • If these fish can’t swim, hide or make territories, they will get aggressive and possibly even kill each other because of the stress.

Understanding the situations where cherry barbs may become aggressive is key because keeping these fish calm and happy is easy if you know what to look out for. Any extra activity may not invite aggression if the tank is big enough for the fish to get space.

Aggression During The Spawning Season

Male cherry barbs do tend to harass other male and female fish. The males are more likely to seek dominance, especially in a small environment, and when it’s time to spawn, males have more energy which may lead to aggression.

During the spawning season, if there are many male cherry barbs and few females, they may become aggressive and competitive. But, if there are more females than males, there will be little reason to compete, and the fish will remain tranquil.

At times, male cherry barbs may appear to show signs of aggression but don’t be too quick to assume that’s the case. These fish are playful, and it may not be aggression that you’re seeing but rather their playful nature.

Are Cherry Barbs Aggressive With Other Species?

These fish are ideal residents in an aquarium or fish tank because of their pleasant nature and tendency to keep to themselves. They are a perfect fish to add to any freshwater tank.

It’s preferable to keep cherry barbs with 6-10 other fish of the same species as they enjoy swimming in a school, making them calmer. This doesn’t mean they’ll become aggressive if they can’t swim in a school, but they will be less prone to hiding.

That said, an overcrowded aquarium may invite aggression, but that is a space issue rather than an issue that the cherry barbs have with other fish. If the aquarium or tank is suitable for the amount of fish within it (a 25-gallon tank being the minimum size required), cherry barbs won’t be aggressive with other fish because there isn’t competition for resources.

Far from being aggressive, many cherry barb owners have noticed that these fish leave other fish alone, are more likely to spend time hiding, and even appear shy. This means cherry barbs won’t be the source of fighting in the tank or aquarium, and if aggression is warranted, it’s usually directed at other cherry barbs for a good reason.

If you want to make sure that cherry barbs are especially peaceful, pair them with bottom feeders such as the blue ram cichlid, as cherry barbs stay at the top of the tank and the fish rarely bump into each other as they have separate and defined spaces. Also, fish such as the chocolate gourami are less likely to bring out aggression as they are similar to the cherry barbs in nature, ensuring happy cohabitation.


Altogether, people who have owned or observed cherry barbs emphasize that they are shy and peaceful fish that aren’t known to be aggressive or nip any other fish and are ideal to house with other fish. If they ever show signs of aggression, it’s usually due to extreme conditions such as fighting for resources or the breeding season, but for the most part, these fish will not fight with other barbs or other species unnecessarily.