Rosy Barb: Species Profile

Category: Barb

Common Names: Rosy Barb, Rosie Barb, Red Glass Barb, Red Barb

Scientific Name: Puntius conchonius

Family: Cyprinidae

Minimum Tank Size: 30 Gallons

Care Level: Easy

Temperament: Semi-aggressive

Max Size: 6 Inches

Temperature: 72-80 F

pH: 6.0-7.0

Tank Level: All

Colors: Red, Yellow

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Moderate

Rosy Barb Overview

rosy barbs are a popular fish because they’re versatile, holding up well in freshwater aquariums and ponds. These are among the largest fish within the barb species, meaning their bright colors stand out in a tank.

Since rosy barbs are friendly under the right conditions, they get along with many other tank mates. They’re also schooling fish, so they’re happiest when you put them in a tank with other rosy barbs.

Rosy barbs are low-maintenance fish, making them an excellent choice for beginner and intermediate aquarium keepers. Although they can fall ill with several diseases, simple prevention strategies can help thwart many potential health issues.

Left Side of Rosy Barb on Black Background

Distinguishing Features

It’s easy to tell a male and female rosy barb apart, given that males have brighter colors.

Male rosy barbs come in a bright red color that can sometimes teeter on a pink appearance. In contrast, females have a muted color that varies between gold and a silver-ish look.

Both male and female rosy barbs may have a black spot towards the back of their tail. Some varieties of rosy barbs also have a black mark on the tips of some or all of their fins.

Unlike some barb species with more elaborate body designs, the rosy barb’s torpedo-shaped body has a classical fish appearance. It also has a simple forked tail.

Some people may even mistake a well-fed rosy barb for a basic Goldfish.

Short fins are iconic of the rosy barb. However, some breeders have been able to design a long-finned variety, so keep this in mind when picking out your fish.

Dozens of barb species exist, with many having more elaborate colors, patterns, and fin types than the rosy barb. Some examples include the Gold barb with a checkered body pattern and the Fiveband barb with tiger stripes and a lengthier body.


barbs are in the Carp group, belonging to the Cyprinidae family. You can encounter barbs in their natural habitat in many corners of the world, including Africa, Asia, and Europe.

But in the case of the rosy barb, these fish are most likely from the Bengal and Assam states of northern India. It’s also common to encounter them living in the wild in Bangladesh.

You may also see rosy barbs swimming freely in the waters of Australia, Singapore, Colombia, and more due to, in part, irresponsible aquarium owners releasing these fish into the wild.

rosy barbs gravitate to subtropical climates and freshwater lakes or areas with fast-flowing water, their preferred natural habitat. They’re active fish, so they have the energy to keep up with currents.

rosy barbs don’t spend much time at the bottom of their tank. However, their natural habitat often has a sandy bottom. As a result, they prefer clear over murky water, although they’re used to encountering debris in fast-flowing water in their natural habitat.

Aquatic plants make up the natural habitat of Rosy barbs. These fish love to play, eat and hide in plants like Java Fern. That said, they also require open space to swim, as they’re school fish that can take up a lot of room, depending on how many fish there are.

Group of Rosy Barbs on Black


Rosy barbs can grow up to six inches long, making them one of the largest species of barb fish.

In most cases, females will grow up to the full six inches, while males will be slightly smaller.

Once either fish reaches approximately 2.5 inches long, you can assume they’re sexually mature and ready to mate.


You can expect your Rosy barbs to live for up to five years.

These fish can reach the five-year mark if you take care to give them the proper tank parameters, offer them high-quality food, and prevent parasites and diseases from entering the tank.

The information we’ll be sharing here will help ensure that you set up your Rosy barb’s tank for the best success of them having a long lifespan.


The most significant differences between male and female rosy barbs are their size and color.

Adult female rosy barbs are usually larger than males, about six inches long. They also have more pale coloring, with a gold or silver hue.

In contrast, male rosy barbs are slightly shorter and boast deep red or pink-ish colors to attract a female mate.

It’ll get easier to tell the difference between male and female rosy barbs as these fish age, as their colors aren’t as bright when they’re young. Females usually have rounder bellies as well.


A rosy barb’s temperament depends on the tank conditions you give them. In the wild, these fish live in schools and are peaceful with most other aquatic life that shares their lake or stream.

But in an aquarium, rosy barbs may become aggressive with other non-rosy barb fish if they don’t have companions of their own species. For this reason, we recommend purchasing rosy barbs in groups of a minimum of five.

It’s also essential to give your rosy barbs plenty of space in the aquarium to swim. Otherwise, close quarters could cause them to nip the fins of fish with flowy tails.

Ensuring your rosy barb has at least four other companions of its same species is another way to decrease the chances of finding chunks missing from your other fish’s tails.

Finally, we encourage you to pair your rosy barbs with other fish of the same size or larger. Otherwise, they might get aggressive with chasing and picking at smaller fish.

There typically isn’t a difference in aggression between male and female rosy barbs. However, you might notice either gender chasing each other if they’re interested in mating.

Two Rosy Barbs on Black Background

Tank Parameters

Caring for rosy barbs starts with ensuring their tank is ready for them before you bring them home. Below are the parameters you should ensure your aquarium meets.

Minimum Tank Size

You should offer your rosy barbs at least 20 gallons of water for every five fish, which is four gallons per fish. But the reality is that these fish would prefer an even larger tank.

The reason being is that these fish like to school and need plenty of open space to swim.

Furthermore, if you’re adding non-rosy barb tank mates to your aquarium, you’ll need to buy an even larger tank according to their size needs.

Water Parameters

Below are the water conditions you should arrange before bringing your rosy barbs home. Checking these parameters at least once weekly to ensure they don’t change is vital for your fish’s health.


rosy barbs can tolerate water temperatures that range from 64°F to 79°F.

That said, their ideal temperature range is from 72°F to 74°F, mimicking the subtropical temperatures they usually experience in the wild.

Unlike some fish species, rosy barbs have a relatively high tolerance for temperature changes. So, if you have other species of fish requiring a specific temperature outside the 72°F to 74°F range, you can feel confident that your rosy barbs will manage fine.


rosy barbs require a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

That means that these fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water. However, it’s a relatively large range, making it easy to accommodate certain fish species with a smaller pH range requirement.


rosy barbs are freshwater fish, so you should never put them in a saltwater tank.

But under certain circumstances treating their water with aquarium salt may help boost their immune system and ward off parasites and diseases.

Two Rosy Barbs on Black Background with Orangish Color

Tank Setup

Now that we’ve covered the essentials of caring for your rosy barb’s tank, let’s explore more of the fun side of making it look good.


rosy barbs aren’t picky about the substrate you use, as they rarely dwell at the bottom of their tank.

Using sand is best to keep their tank looking more natural and to support live plant growth. Otherwise, feel free to use whatever substrate that calls your attention.


Because rosy barbs are so active and curious, they enjoy having some decorations in their tank. Decor mimicking their natural habitat or anything they can swim through and hide in is ideal.

However, you should never compromise lots of decorations for less swimming space. These fish need room to swim in open water, and the amount of space they need depends on how large of a school you have.


Rosy barbs love live vegetation, but live plants don’t always love them. That’s because Rosy barbs often eat plants, leaving them a shredded mess.

For this reason, we recommend choosing a sturdy live plant like java ferns. Of course, you can also add artificial plants to your rosy barb’s tank.


You don’t need to invest in expensive lighting equipment to keep your Rosy barbs. But offering them an LED aquarium light set to a day and night cycle can benefit their happiness and health.

The idea is to mimic a standard day-night cycle, with approximately 12 hours each of daylight and darkness.


A filter is crucial for reducing wastes that can cause deadly toxic buildups in your aquarium.

rosy barbs have a high tolerance for any kind of filter, though those that create currents are ideal. These fish enjoy water movement since it mimics the currents they congregate in when in the wild.


Unless you live in year-round warm conditions without an air conditioner, a heater is necessary to keep your rosy barbs healthy.

In addition to setting a heater to these fish’s preferred temperature range, you should keep a thermometer in your tank. That way, you can catch a malfunctioning heater early before it hurts your rosy barbs.

Right Side of Rosy Barb on Black Background


In the wild, rosy barbs live an omnivorous lifestyle, eating a combination of plants and meat.

Some rosy barb owners stick with giving their fish flakes or pellets since these are such convenient foods. But to give your rosy barbs a nutritional boost and make them happier, we recommend feeding them foods such as:

  • Bloodworms
  • Brine shrimp
  • Plant matter

rosy barbs may even snack on a live insect or worm if it’s small enough. But to prevent any health issues, it’s best to purchase live food from a pet store.

Often, whole protein sources come in frozen or dried forms. Frozen is ideal, given that if your rosy barbs eat too much dry food, they might suffer from intestinal blockages.

Overfeeding rosy barbs—and any fish species in your aquarium, for that matter—is a common scenario among new fish owners. Doing so is dangerous for your fish’s and your tank’s health.

So, you should allow your rosy barbs to dine on their food for only two minutes twice daily. Then, remove any remaining food before it falls to the bottom of the tank.

You’ll soon be able to estimate two minutes’ worth of food so that you don’t have to stand by your aquarium the entire time when you’re on the go.

While keeping your rosy barbs on a feeding schedule is ideal, they’ll survive if you get caught at work and feed them later than usual.

But we don’t recommend making them go through long periods of not eating; a study performed at Harvard showed cavefish binge eat if they go extended periods without food.


Once your rosy barb fish reach 2.5 inches in length, they’re ready for breeding. You’ll need a separate 20 to 30-gallon tank for breeding, but there’s no need to fill it with lots of water.

Instead, rosy barbs prefer breeding in shallow water with only a few inches of water.

It’s crucial to ensure this water has the same parameters as their tank to avoid making them go into shock.

Once you’re ready, choose one male and two females and move them to the breeding tank. Some qualities to look for when selecting your fish include:

  • Bright colors
  • Markings that you like
  • Good physical health

You’ll know the female is getting ready to release her eggs when she turns a deeper color. She typically does this in the early morning hours when it’s starting to get light.

It’s also possible to tell when mating will happen soon when the male and females start chasing each other. Once the female lays her eggs, the male will proceed to fertilize them.

Although it’s hard to time the fertilization perfectly, try to remove the male and female fish shortly after it happens. That way, you prevent the likely scenario of them eating the eggs.

Within 30 hours, you can expect to see fry (baby fish) swimming in the breeding tank.

By Twowells [Public domain]

Common Diseases

No matter how much care you take in caring for your rosy barbs, no fish can live forever. And unfortunately, parasites and diseases sometimes cause their demise.

Below are some of the most common diseases, cures, and preventions for rosy barbs.


Ich is an external parasite that gets its name because rosy barbs often itch against hard surfaces in the tank to remove them.

Ich appears in the form of small white spots on your fish’s scales and fins. The most common cause of Ich is introducing a new, infested fish into the tank.

So, quarantining new fish is critical to preventing this parasite.

Getting rid of Ich involves treating the water with anti-Ich medicine, changing at least 25% of the water frequently, and increasing the water temperature.


Dropsy is a general term to describe a host of conditions that cause similar symptoms in rosy barbs. Fish with dropsy have swollen bellies that result from fluid accumulating in their body cavities.

Some of the common causes of dropsy include:

  • Stress
  • Poor water conditions
  • Bacterial infections

To remedy the situation, remove the infected rosy barb and add aquarium salt or anti-bacterial medication to their water. Also, check to ensure the tank’s water parameters meet the rosy barb’s needs.

Hole-in-the-head Disease

Biologists still don’t know much about hole-in-the-head disease in rosy barbs, but it appears that it’s a condition caused by a parasite protozoan called Hexamita.

Symptoms of hole-in-the-head disease include small holes with yellow mucus that emerge from him. The holes typically occur in the head, though they can also happen on other parts of the fish’s body.

Poor water conditions, an overcrowded tank, and a lack of nutrients are some potential causes of hole-in-the-head disease.

Treating hole-in-the-head disease is tricky. However, you might be able to cure your rosy barb if you catch the situation early by adding metronidazole to the water.

Potential Tank Mates

It’s best to pair rosy barbs with short-finned fish that move at least as fast as they do. They should also be a similar size.

Remember, having a minimum of five rosy barbs living together is crucial before introducing other fish. That way, it’ll keep your rosy barbs in a stress-free mood, and they’ll have each other for entertainment rather than picking on other fish.

Some examples of excellent tank mates for rosy barbs include:

Furthermore, since rosy barbs primarily dwell in the middle to the upper part of a tank, you can add snails and large shrimp without worrying about them bothering these crustaceans.