Are you looking for an attractive, interactive, and sturdy freshwater fish for your fish tank? The rosy barb, a South Asian beauty, should be your first preference.

It simply fulfils all the criteria of an aqua-pet, and the keeper does not have to worry about managing complex methods for breeding, care, and maintenance.

These species have an enticing appearance that captures the attention of the viewers. They have also developed several varieties with radiating colors and slight variations in characteristics.

We found great potential in this aquatic species and researched it to bring you the most comprehensive care guide for the rosy barb. It also includes a briefing on its types, tank mates, behaviors, and other related facts.

Fact: Rosy barbs were previously classified as “Puntius,” but evidence such as the absence of rostral barbels, an unbranched dorsal fin, an overlapping preoperculum, and other characteristics led to a re-claassification of this fish into the Pethia group in 2012.

Species Overview

About Fish
Scientific Name PethiaConchonius
Nick Names Red Barb
Family Cyprinidae
Source North India
Average Age 5 years
Max Length 14 cm
Type Freshwater
Color Pattern Pinkish

Where are They Found?

The barb rosy fish finds most of its preferred habitation in the Indian sub-continent region, prominently in the West Bengal and Assam states.

Other Asian countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Singapore, along with Australia, Mexico, and Columbia have also witnessed them in significant numbers.

These are sub-tropical species and easily thrive in the currents of streams, or rivers, as well as ponds, lakes, and swamps.

How big do they get?

Since the population of rosy barbs is spread over a wide area around the world, they technically vary in shades and sizes. Species taken from the Bengal region can be slightly larger and more vibrant than those in other tropical regions.

A full-grown wild species may attain a maximum length of 5.5-6 inches, while those bred in artificial conditions may only reach up to 3.5-4.5 inches size.

The appearance of the Fish

The rosy barb has gained high popularity among fish enthusiasts for its glittering scales and flamboyant colors.

The breeds availed from the East-Indian states form a rich personality in appearance, while the ones from other parts have subdued shades.

The upper part of the fish is metallic pink, while the lower part is greenish in color, with highly reflective scales.

They have long slender bodies with conic heads and a forked tail. Instead of an adipose fin, the rosy barb has double dorsal fins on its body.

Fact: It is noted that species collected from the Bengal region display bright shades and mirror-like scales.

What is Their Lifespan?

These species live a substantial life, whether in the open waters or in the fish tanks. They usually live up to five years, whether in the wild or in captivity.

It is often seen that the rosy barb fish attracts a lot of predators due to its striking colors, and gets killed. So, the species living in the aquarium may finish their entire life cycle, since they are not kept with hunter species.

Differentiating Male vs. Female Fish

The barb rosy fish displays multiple dimorphism factors, which are quick to identify even by beginners. We have listed some of the major differences between the male and female fish.

  • The foremost difference is in their coloration, where the males have a greater area covered with a pink shade than the females.
  • The males have black edges on their fins, while the females do not show any black color on their bodies.
  • During mating, the males become brighter and attain an intense reddish or darkish pink shade with blackness on fins. On the other hand, females remain dull.
  • Females at the time of spawning gain weight with a swollen body shape, while the males remain thin.
  • If kept in groups, the females remain disciplined, while the males start circling and swimming around the group with fins spread wide.
  • Females are generally smaller in size than the males.
See also  Ruby Tetra - Care Guide of the Red Fish

What is Their Market Price?

The IUCN Red List confidently claims that there is literally zero threat to the existence of this fish. Thus, the rosy barb is an easily available ornamental aquatic in local and online pet stores.

They look phenomenal in living room aquariums, and male species especially have high demand in the international market due to their tempting appearance.

The price of male species is somewhere around $25 – $30, while females may be purchased for a bit less amount.

Types of Rosy Barbs

To meet the increasing demand and manage the supply rate to the retail pet stores, the fish breeders started breeding them in ponds and fish tanks.

That is when many expert keepers developed captive-bred color morph varieties of this species. These have captured relative attention from hobbyists. Let us discuss some of its major variants.

  • Neon Rosy Barb: These sub-species are slightly shorter in size when fully grown. The males appear in a deep red shining texture, while the females have an intense golden shade.

They are peaceful and can be best kept in a group of 5-6 fish, where they can enjoy the company of tank mates with a similar temperament.

They are reputed fish in the aquarium trade and can be purchased for $6, excluding shipping charges.

  • Longfin Rosy Barb: As the name suggests, they possess long and floating fins, with the dorsal and anal fins being half the size of the fish. These fins are thin and translucent that make the fish appear more elegant.

The fish itself only reaches up to 10cm in size and has a similar copper shade as the rosy barb. It can be purchased at a price of $9 from the pet stores.

  • Gold Neon Rosy Barb: Males of these species are a mix of red and gold, while the females have a scintillating golden appearance. They are a good companion once fully grown, and are generally priced around $14.
  • Red Glass Rosy Barb: These variants are pretty glossy or translucent, with a minimal red tint in their shade. They bag lesser demand in the market, but one can buy them at $5 from online pet stores.

Note: Although it is not yet proven, some keepers claim that red glass rosy barbs can achieve a maximum size of 12inches in optimum conditions.

Fish Care

Quick Care Points
Care Level Elementary
Social Friendly
Temperament Harmonious
Diet Omnivore
Breeding Simple

What do They Like to eat?

These are some of the most undemanding aquatics in fish tanks, especially regarding their feeding habits. This barb rosy fish is primarily an omnivore fish, and conveniently consumes all types of plant matter as well as live or frozen meaty foods.

Because they do not stop while eating, it is necessary to prevent them from overfeeding. For this, you must consider offering them food once a day, which is enough to be eaten in five minutes. But if you provide them food twice a day, then do not let them eat for more than three minutes.

Here is a list of food items that you can offer them.

  • Flakes
  • Pellets
  • Green vegetables (boiled zucchini, peas, etc)
  • Plants matter or green algae
  • Insects
  • Worms
  • Crustaceans
  • Brine shrimps

Behavior and Temperament

The rosy barb is a schooling fish that is observed to continuously roam around in groups of about five to six of its own kind.

They are calm and peaceful in fish tanks, and never really found to irritate their tank mates. However, they occasionally start fighting or fin-nipping each other or the companion.

The reason for this behavior is usually a small number of co-species in the group which leads them to feel uneasy or anxious.

These species are quite active and entertaining in aquariums. They often make high jumps over the water surface. It is advised to use tank covers to protect the fish from spilling out of them.

How to Breed Them in Fish Tanks

The rosy barb fish is considered an easy-to-breed fish, as they are mass-produced by breeders in artificially created conditions.

See also  Powder Blue Tang (Blue Surgeonfish): Facts, Food, Tank Setup

A fish keeper only has to ensure that the eggs are successfully fertilized, because the parents do not show any care towards the new-borns. The eggs mostly get eaten up by them, immediately after laying.

Before beginning with the mating procedure, you must ensure that you have arranged the necessities of a breeding setup.

Fact: Rosy barbs mature to reproduce once they reach 6.5cm length.

Breeding Requirements

The rosy barb species find it best to mate in low depth water settlements with temperature ranging between 22-25 degrees Celsius. Use a separate container for this purpose with an approximate water capacity of 5-10 gallons.

Get suitable adult species with bright coloration for breeding; usually one male with two females will be sufficient for successful reproduction.

You should also spread green plants and vegetation on the water bed where the eggs get scattered after spawning.

Alternatively, gravel stones or surface dividers can be used through which the eggs will pass down.

Note: Do not use flashy lights in the breeding tank. The medium range LED light to maintain visibility in the tank is sufficient.


The fish needs to be well fed with a protein-rich diet to provoke the mating process. As the female feels the urge to spawn, it will start changingcolors to attract the male.

Together, the pair will make specific mating formations of courting and mock mating. The pregnant rosy barb’s body appears swollen with eggs while the males start pinching its head and stomach.


Spawning usually takes place during the early hours of the day, when the fish are in the wild. Maintain the water temperature at a specific level to catalyse spawning.

The eggs get scattered randomly in the water and settle below the vegetation or gravel. The parent fish should be removed from the tank after successful spawning, as they do not have a role in parenting or protecting the eggs.

Know everything in detail about Spawning and Caring for fish eggs here.

Eggs Hatching

It takes between 24-30 hours for the babies to come out of the eggs. The fry sticks to the plants or the aquarium walls. You can feed them with liquid fry food or infusoria.

These juveniles start swimming in a week’s time and can eat brine shrimps thrice a day.

Do They Face Health Issues

A common reason for fish lovers preferring this fish is its hardy nature. It rarely gets any serious health problems, and adapts to a vast range of tropical conditions maintained in a fish tank.

Besides serious issues, the rosy barbs frequently carry ich as troublemakers. This may happen due to declining water quality.

So, you should make schedules for maintaining cleanliness in the tank, and ensure to put anything inside the tank only after properly sanitizing it.

Creating an environment similar to the wild surrounding of the fish, including temperature levels, lighting, and other parameters, will keep them happy, stress-free, and away from diseases.

Note: A theory says that if one of the rosy barbs from the group acquires any trouble, it will not affect others in a contagious manner.

Tank Care & Regulation

Capacity 80+ Litres
Water Temperature 64 to 73 F
Water Hardness 2 to 10 dGH
Tank Lighting Moderate
Water pH Level 6.5 to 7
Substrate Any
Brackish No

What is the Minimum Tank Size Required

Rosy barbs are pretty large in size and they do not like to rest in a place. On the contrary, these species prefer to stay in groups, and constantly move all around the available space.

They need ample space for these activities, and considering their choice of shoaling, it is vital to provide them with a bigger tank.

A 20-gallon tank is best for them, and if they are in multiple numbers, then you should consider increasing the size up to 35 gallons or more.

Tank Setup

Since these fish do not fuss about adjusting to the presented tank, there is no compulsion to induce any specific item to manage tank setup. However, you can check out the following items to design the aquarium for rosy barbs.


The most suitable tank space for this fish is when it depicts the natural environment of rivers, streams, and lakes. These places are generally filled with water plants, and vegetation.

See also  Engineer Goby: Care Guide of An Exclusive Fish

Thus, you can fill the bottom with dense plants like Java moss, and ferns, add some green algae. A log of driftwood will be an add-on to the tank’s beauty.


These fish usually stay in the shallow regions where sunlight easily penetrates. For your aquarium, you can use small LED bulbs with moderate lighting ability.

If possible, you can place the tank where sun rays can directly hit the tank for a few hours. This will refresh the fish while also illuminating their shine.


Soft sandy bottom with some gravel stones is most suitable for the aquarium with rosy barbs. It will also help in the plantation of green in the aquarium, while the fish can also rest on this substrate under the plants.


Filters are essential for freshwater fish to keep the water clean and free from impurities. It also saves them from getting bacterial infections or other health issues.

An average power filter will oxygenate the tank and create water movements, which help color enhancement of these species.


No specific decoration is needed in these tanks as the place is already occupied with plants. They need sufficient swimming space, and less than that will stress them.

But if you have some small toys that can settle down in a corner, it won’t be a bad idea though. Plastic pipes are also useful with enough diameter in which they can move in.

Water Parameters

Though a tropical fish, the rosy barb finds slightly colder water more suitable than the normal water. To keep them comfortably in aquariums, you must also follow specific parameters, in which they can thrive well.

  • They adjust comfortably in cold water that has a temperature range between 17.8 and 22.8 degrees Celsius.
  • They prefer slightly acidic water with pH ranging between 6.5 and 7 pH.
  • Maintain water hardness level at 2-10 dGH.
  • Replace a quarter to half of the water once a month, or more frequently if there are too many species. This will resist the water hardness level that may arise due to nitrates, phosphates, and decomposing matter.

What Fish Can Live With Them

These ornamental species are best suited to living with other aquatics as tank mates. But you must prefer picking companions that can comfortably survive with them in cold-to-warm water conditions.

The most notable factor while bringing them home is to consider getting them in a group of 5-6 of their kind. Rosy barbs feel secure to move in a group, and this will cancel out the possibility of loneliness feelings.

Peaceful fish with short fins stay comfortably with them, though sometimes there are cases of fin nipping from these barbs.

Here is a list of suitable tank mates that you can choose to keep with them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are rosy barb and cherry barb similar in their characteristics?

Both these species look beautiful, and belong to tropical regions. Although they belong to the same family, there are many dissimilarities between them. Some of them are discussed here.

  • Rosy barbs are almost three times the size of cherry barbs when fully grown.
  • Rosy is best in cooler water, while cherry dwells in slightly warm water.
  • Rosy barb is found in moving water, while cherry barb in calm water.

Can They Live With Goldfish?

Goldfish are a wonderful choice for aquariums. They appear graceful and charming with their skin color and fins, while their peaceful nature makes them a suitable tank mate for many species.

They can be a good companion to the rosy barb, provided their floating fins do not get nipped by the latter. If the barbs are kept in groups, chances are that they do not interfere with other species in the tank.

What do Rosy Barb Eggs Look Like?

These species can lay up to a hundred eggs during spawning. The eggs are almost spherical and too tiny in size. Being adhesive in texture, all the eggs settle down on the water surface, usually hidden under the leaves, until hatching.

Are They Worth Buying?

Without a doubt, the rosy barb has an incredible personality, and anyone who sees them once returns to admire their beauty.

The only condition that may put you back is the necessity to gather a group of a minimum of five fish, as they get anxious if kept in less than this number.

So, purchasing multiple fish at once may be costlier for some people, but other than that, there isn’t any difficulty in petting these creatures at home, even for beginners.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

View All Articles