How Long do Cherry Barbs Live?

Cherry barbs have a lifespan of between four and seven years, with most captive fish living for at least five years. They are hardy, easy to care for, and not susceptible to any unique diseases. A well-kept tank and nutrient-rich diet will ensure they live long, healthy lives.

For those that want to populate their freshwater fish tank with lively, colorful, and easy-to-care-for fish, cherry barbs should be near the top of the shortlist. These cherry-red fish are not difficult to introduce. They are hardy and not sensitive to slight fluctuations in habitat, so they make for a beautiful addition to your freshwater setup.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Cherry Barb?

Cherry barbs are freshwater fish that belong to the cyprinidae family. These small fish are red in color, with males darkening around breeding time and growing to around two inches in size. The lifespan of a cherry barb is very much dependent on the conditions that it lives in, and while they are hardy by nature, they won’t handle extreme fluctuations in water well.

For the most part, these fish can live anywhere from four years to six, although with good care, proper nutrition, and ideal habitat, they can live up to seven years in captivity.

Three Cherry Barbs with Plants and Black

Factors Affecting How Long Cherry Barbs Live

As is the case with any fish, their environment is vital to ensuring longevity. Cherry barbs will thrive in a tank that is as close to their natural habitat as possible. Puntius titteya, also called the cherry barb, is endemic to Sri Lanka but can also be found in Mexico and Colombia in shallow, calm waters that aren’t exposed to too much sun.

To imitate their natural habitat, cherry barbs need enough space to swim openly and many little nooks and crannies to hide in when they’re feeling shy. They are also community fish and thrive in smaller groups and alongside tank mates.

As is the case in their natural environment, the tank should have neutral or slightly acidic water that doesn’t flow too fast. While they are tolerant of fluctuating conditions, it’s never good for too much change in your tank, as this will considerably stress the cherry barbs and their tankmates.

To ensure their environment is conducive to a long and happy life, you will need the proper setup and equipment, such as a thermometer and pH meter, for continuous checks. Let’s look at other factors that influence how long cherry barbs live.


The environment where these fish live is likely most pertinent to ensuring they live as long as possible. While cherry barbs are tough little fish, they won’t be able to thrive if their habitat is constantly disrupted, changing, or fluctuating.

Firstly, a school of cherry barbs requires at least a 20-gallon tank; in fact, for anything more than a school of five, consider 25 gallons at the very least. To make it feel most like home, the tank should be set up in dim lighting – or at least away from direct sunlight.

Plants and places to hide are essential to cherry barbs, so make sure to add aquatic vegetation like java fern, hornwort, and anacharis. This is important for breeding, as cherry barbs are egg scatterers and will likely use these plants to deposit their eggs.

Furthermore, little caves or sheltered areas where they can hide are also essential – especially if they are new to the tank. Cherry barbs tend to be quite shy in a new tank, so they’ll want to hide while they acclimatize.

While cherry barbs will tolerate a wide range of water parameters, slow-moving water, abundant vegetation, and suitable leaf litter and silt are just the start. The ideal tank requirements for cherry barns include a water temperature between 74 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit and pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0. Water hardness should be between 2 and 18 dGH.

Good filtering is essential to prevent ammonia and nitrate build-up, but remember that gentle, slow-moving water is ideal. Bigger tanks are always better, too, and the more space they have the better.


What you feed or don’t feed, your fish is crucial to ensuring they live long lives. Cherry barbs are naturally omnivorous, feeding on small insects, crustaceans, algae or plant matter, or detritus in the wild. In a tank setup, you want to simulate their varied diet as much as possible.

This means using high-quality fish foods such as flakes and pellets and adding in good vegetables such as zucchini or shelled peas. Adding protein-rich foods to their diet is also highly recommended, so make sure to add brine shrimp (either live or freeze-dried), bloodworms, Mysis shrimp, and daphnia to what you feed them.

What’s vitally important is the timing and quantity that you feed them – keep to feeding them two or three times a day, and only as much as your school of cherry barbs can consume in three minutes. Cherry barbs do like to eat, though, so overeating is possible.

If there are any leftovers, this is likely to pollute the tank and cause a dirty, unhealthy environment for your fish. It’s also worth noting that while they may be picky or shy about eating in a new tank environment, they are easy to appease once they’ve settled.

Diseases And Illnesses

We’ve already mentioned how hardy cherry barbs are, which is also true of their health. They aren’t overly sickly or susceptible to strange illnesses but aren’t free of the risks of exposure to more common freshwater fish illnesses and diseases.

These common issues include:

  • Ich: The parasite ichthyphthirius multifiliis causes an infection that is characterized by white spots and flashing behavior in fish. This includes rubbing against rough surfaces as though to rid themselves of the salt spots on their skin. Treating ich requires removing carbon in the filter, raising the aquarium temperature by a few degrees, and adding aquarium salt and medication to the water.
  • Fin rot: A common illness, fin rot affects the fins and tails of freshwater fish, leading to discoloration and a ragged appearance. This infection is caused by either bacteria or fungus and can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, it will kill the fish and spread throughout the tank.

To prevent such illnesses, you must keep a healthy tank environment and a consistent one at that. Be sure to quarantine any new fish properly before introducing them to the tank, and keep to a varied, high-quality diet to optimize their health.

Ensuring proper oxygenation and ensuring dead plant matter doesn’t accumulate on the bottom of the tank. This will pollute the water with high levels of nitrates, which isn’t great for any of the fish in your tank.

Tank Mates

The habitat in which your fish live is not just limited to inanimate objects and vegetation, and the tank mates you choose to add will be more critical than ever. Cherry barbs are generally good community fish that get along well with other species. They do particularly well in schools of around five or six, at a minimum.

Cherry barbs are known for being peaceful and keeping out of the way of other fish, which means they can pair really well with most other docile species. Cherry barbs don’t engage in fin-nipping or chasing other fish, and it’s only in breeding season that the males can get a little territorial and follow the females around to ensure they deal with potential rivals.

For this reason, it’s also a good idea to have at least four females to each male fish to prevent any aggression between them. Having enough hideaway spots will also help to break the line of sight that may break out with territorial disputes.

That being said, cherry barbs won’t do well with aggressive tank mates. It’s essential to research any pairings well so that you don’t offer your peaceful cherry barbs up to cheekier or dominant fish that may decide to take a bite out of them.

Good pairings include:

  • Loaches
  • Mollies
  • Tetras
  • Platies
  • Gouramis
  • Docile bottom feeders
  • Otociclus


Because they are peaceful, easy to care for, are tolerant of a range of water conditions, and not particularly susceptible to major diseases or specific illnesses, cherry barbs can live long and happy lives in a well-maintained tank. An average life expectancy of four years or more is possible with attentive care and a large, well-kept tank.