Are Cherry Barbs Peaceful?

Native to Shri Lanka, cherry barbs are known to be peaceful and timid. This character may be what makes them vulnerable to predators. However, a robust male cherry barb or a school of cherry barbs can become quite aggressive, refusing to be intimidated by larger fish.

Hence it is advisable to keep them away from fish that threaten their habitat. Cherry barbs are happy to co-exist with other fish if these fish match their size and demeanor.

What Makes Cherry Barbs Peaceful?

Belonging to the Cyprinidae family, these small fish are peaceful by nature. Inherit in each cherry barb is a timid, calm, shy demeanor.

However, as with other fish species, they will maintain their peaceful demeanor as long they do not feel threatened. Hence it is advisable to separate this species from larger fish.

Since they are schooling fish, having the companionship of a minimum of six cherry barbs will give them a sense of belonging and security.

As long as a cherry barb is in suitable habitat, with the right tank mates and tank size, they are likely to feel less stressed; the ripple effect is a peaceful cherry barb.

Their calm, timid nature enables them to adapt to any environment.

Cherry Barb in Front of Plants

Factors That Cause Aggression In Cherry Barbs

It is hard to believe that these petite, beautiful fish are anything but peaceful. Below are some of the factors that may result in some aggression.

Inappropriate Tank Size

A misconception amongst many aquarists is that a tank size of 10 gallons will suffice due to the size of the cherry barbs. Although cherry barbs grow to a maximum adult size of 2 inches, in hindsight, even a 10-gallon tank still needs to be increased.

A 25-gallon tank will ensure that the cherry barb has enough room to school with the other barb fish.

Their shy nature dictates that they have ample hiding places with lots of plants and rocks. A tank that is too small will result in stress causing them to lose its beautiful red color.

Besides losing their beautiful red color, the robust cherry barbs will become territorial over the limited space, in some cases, become aggressive.

Since cherry barbs are active and love to dart around from the bottom to the center of the tank, the aquarist needs to cater to the need for ample space. Lack of recreation will result in a frustrated cherry barb. Frustration will eventually translate into aggression.

Although peaceful, cherry barbs are known to nip at the fins of other fish, especially tetras, when they have limited tank space.

Unsuitable Tank Mates

Tank mates determine the dynamics of the tank.

A school of cherry barbs will include fishes of different temperaments, including robust ones. An aquarium built around the cherry barbs and their suitable tank mates will determine how well they co-exist.

The existence of other small peaceful fish will result in the creation of a very zen tank atmosphere. Hence a suitable match needs to be found. If your cherry barb is kept in full-spectrum lighting, you might see an iridescent green sheen illuminating their bodies.

Pat yourself on the back as you have succeeded in creating a tank environment with your cherry barb’s approval.

The below tank mates are suitable companions.

  • rosy barb
  • black ruby barb
  • chocolate gourami
  • black neon tetra
  • diamond tetra
  • guppies
  • blue ram cichlid
  • bristlenose pleco
  • chili rasbora
  • celestial pearl danio
  • nerite snails
  • bamboo shrimp

Insufficient Food

Cherry barbs are omnivorous and traditionally eat both plant and animal matter. However, a tropical pellet will take care of their nutritional needs. Due to their varied diet at certain times, live, and frozen foods such as blood worms and brine shrimp will suffice.

As long as a cherry barb receives a daily dose of their nutrition, they will remain peaceful and calm. As soon as competition for food arises, resulting in insufficient food, the robust cherry barbs in their school will become aggressive in their quest for survival.

These are some of the reasons that may result in cherry barbs receiving insufficient food.

  • Too many fish in one tank.
  • Larger fish dominating the feed.
  • Lack of food to accommodate the needs of all the fish in the aquarium.
  • Insufficient food is being fed to support gender differentiation and developing offspring.

Hostile Environment

Adding larger fish in the same tank as cherry barbs will create a hostile environment, resulting in vulnerability to predators. Threaten their habitat; the cherry barb will stand their ground despite their small stature.

Since they are schooling fish with a sense of community, their support will go as far as standing together in each other’s defense.

Limited Female Mating Partners

Male cherry barbs’ once peaceful, calm behavior can soon change during spawning to one of aggression. This behavior change is evident if there are insufficient females during mating.

Male cherry barbs are prepared to fight other males in their school to win over their counterparts. These fights are anything but peaceful.

To limit competition during spawning and maintain a peaceful atmosphere, it is advisable to keep more female cherry barbs than males. A ratio of 2 females per male is advisable.

Are Cherry Barbs Community Fish?

Cherry barbs are excellent community fish often found at the bottom of the tank in search of food. Since they are schooling fish, they love the companionship of other fish, especially those of the same species.

Cherry barbs are an aquarium favorite; even for a novice aquarist, they are easily manageable. They demand very little care and are easily adaptable to a community aquarium.

These vibrant red torpedo-shaped fish rarely bother the rest of their tank mates. They pair well with other small, docile species.


Cherry barbs are generally a peaceful fish species and remain calm until their tank environment becomes hostile. Since they are schooling fish, it is not uncommon to find robust cherry barbs in the group that may be territorial, resulting in some aggression.

A sense of community might be displayed when the entire school of cherry barbs supports each other to defend their species. Male cherry barbs are also known to be more aggressive when seeking companionship during mating.