Are Cherry Barbs Livebearers?

Cherry barbs are not livebearers but rather reproduce by spawning, which they do readily. Female cherry barbs usually produce 200- 300 eggs at a time, which are fertilized instantly by a male in the tank. Cherry barb eggs hatch within two days of being laid, and the parents do not raise their fry. 

Whether this is your first time keeping cherry barbs and you are eager to breed them or are simply curious, read on for everything you need to know about how they reproduce, including their spawning behavior, number of eggs, and the development of the eggs into fry.

Are Cherry Barbs Livebearers?

Cherry Barbs are iridescent little fish, which are beautiful to look at, and add a splash of color and warmth to any aquarium. If you are starting your cherry barb collection, you may be wondering about breeding them – and the first question is, are cherry barbs livebearers?

Cherry barbs are similar in size and shape to fish like mollies and guppies, which causes some new owners to assume that, like these fish, cherry barbs give birth to live young.

However, cherry barbs aren’t livebearers. These colorful little fish instead reproduce by spawning (that is, the female lays eggs, while the male cherry barb that has successfully courted her swims directly behind her and fertilizes the eggs immediately).

In this way, they are like other members of the tropical fish family Cyprinidae, which all reproduce by spawning rather than giving birth to live young.

Cherry barbs typically lay their eggs strategically by scattering them in water plants so that they become tangled in the stems and leaves.

Being tangled in the plants in the tank protects the cherry barb eggs from larger members of the tank, which will otherwise eat eggs and small fry.

The eggs also stick to the substrate and rock features on the tank floor and fall into cracks between small pieces of gravel. This position protects the vulnerable eggs, as larger fish cannot access and devour them before they hatch.

The eggs remain attached to these structures (unless eaten!) until they hatch.

Cherry Barb with Single Leaf Behind

Do Cherry Barbs Raise Their Fry?

As cherry barbs lay eggs rather than live young, you may wonder whether they protect and raise their fry to adulthood.

Cherry barbs do not raise their young and offer them more threat than protection. Mother cherry barbs will eat their own eggs and fry as readily as any other member of the tank and will

need to be removed from the tank to ensure the next generation’s survival.

How Many Eggs Do Cherry Barbs Lay?

Given that cherry barbs lay eggs, you may be curious about how many eggs they lay in a single spawning period. This information will help you plan logistically for the new generation of fish in your tank.

Cherry barbs typically lay between 200 and 300 eggs each time they spawn. The number of eggs laid is not, however, anything near the number of young cherry barbs that you will have in the end!

Many of the cherry barb’s eggs will be eaten by fish in the tank – including the mother fish herself – before they get a chance to hatch.

The predatory nature of other fish in the tank means that while the mother cherry barb lays between 200 and 300 eggs, the amount of fry that hatch will be much smaller.

As the tiny fry is also vulnerable to being eaten by the other tank members, the amount of cherry barbs that grow to adulthood is still smaller.

How Long Does It Take Cherry Barb Eggs To Hatch?

If you are planning on breeding your cherry barbs, you may also wonder how long the eggs will hatch after spawning.

Cherry barb eggs hatch fast, and within 24 hours of being laid, the first fry will begin to emerge. Within two days, all your cherry barb eggs should have hatched.

However, the fry will be very small and will continue to cling to the waterweeds and other plants to avoid being hunted by bigger fish in the tank – so don’t be distressed if you can’t spot them right away!

Approximately three days after the cherry barb fry have hatched, they will start swimming about freely in the tank. You may be able to spot them at this point, although they may not be easily visible until they are a week old.

Within five weeks, the fry should reach one cm in length and will be easily identifiable by their shape and color as young cherry barbs.

How Often Do Cherry Barbs Lay Eggs?

Cherry barbs spawn often and easily, which makes them one of the easiest non-livebearers to breed.

Female cherry barbs typically carry their eggs for three days before laying them. If you are planning on breeding your cherry barbs, it is vital to be able to recognize when the females are ready to produce eggs.

It is important to spot this, as you will need to separate the mating pair from the rest of the tank to save the eggs from becoming a communal breakfast.

Here are some signs that your female cherry barb is ready to lay:

  • The female is much rounder and fatter in shape than usual. When female cherry barbs are carrying eggs, it is evident through their bloated and enlarged stomachs, which are easy to spot with the naked eye.
  • The males in the tank are courting that female. The behavior of the male cherry barbs in the tank is also an indication that one of the females is carrying eggs, as they will all be very attentive to the female.
  • Male cherry barbs will increase in vibrancy during this time. You will notice that all the males in the tank will appear brighter as they for the position of the father of fry.


Cherry barbs are not livebearers, unlike some tropical fish of similar size and temperament. Instead, female cherry barbs lay eggs (usually 200-300 at a time), fertilized in the water by the male who has won her approval.

These eggs then hatch into cherry barb fry a day or two later, and begin their life in your tank!