Five-Banded Barb (Desmopuntius Pentazona)

Order: Cyprinidae
Family: Barbinae
Genus & Species: Desmopuntius Pentazona
Common Names: Five-Banded Barb, Five Stripe Barb
Temperature: 77 – 84ºF (25 – 29ºC)
pH: 5.0 – 6.5
GH: 5.0 – 12 dGH
Max Size: 5.5 – 8.8 cm (2.16 – 3.46 inches) in length
Lifespan: 5 – 8 years
Depth Preference: Bottom dweller and mid dweller
Tank Size: 20 gallon

For a community aquarium searching for bottom-dwelling species to occupy the lower levels of their tank, five-banded barbs are an active and sociable type of fish that make excellent candidates.

Origin & Habitat

Five-banded barbs are a freshwater species of fish endemic to Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, China, and Thailand.

Their natural habitat consists of slow-moving blackwater streams, rivers, peat swamps, and other still waters. Fallen leaves, branches, and submerged tree roots release plenty of humic and tannic acids that are predominately associated with the stained brown acidic waters in which they reside.

Five-Banded Barb Care

Five-banded barbs will appreciate soft and acidic waters that are dimly lit with floating decorations or plants that will help provide cover. They will predominately spend the majority of their time near the bottom of your tank, an aquarium with plenty of plants and hiding places will ensure that they thrive.

Filtration units should provide them with enough media to keep the nitrogen cycle balanced, but water flow should be minimal. Too strong of a current in an aquarium will lead to increased stress and odd behavior.

Five-Banded Barb Diet & Feeding

In the wild, five-banded barbs are omnivorous micro predators that prey on small insects, worms, crustaceans, and zooplankton while also feeding on organic debris and plant material. An omnivorous species of fish, a healthy diet will consist of algae, plant, and protein-based foods.

Since they rarely swim to the surface to feed, ensure that a decent amount of food sinks to the bottom of the tank. If they are sharing a home with fast-swimming or other bottom-dwelling community members, you may need to experiment a little so that each fish receives a healthy amount of food.

The bulk of their diet should be made up of protein-based foods, such as dried or frozen blood worms, tubifex, insect larvae, and brine shrimp. Cultured or procured daphnia, microworms, brine shrimp, and infusoria which are free of diseases and parasites are great sources of live foods.

Once or twice a week, supplementing their diet with blanched vegetables or algae tablets will provide them with all of the nutrients that they require. Blanched zucchini, squash, spinach, and cucumbers can either be anchored down or clipped to the side of the tank.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Five-banded barbs are one of the more peaceful species of barb suitable for most community tanks that are not home to aggressive bottom-dwelling fish. They are a schooling species of fish often found swimming in tight formations.

Maintaining larger schools of 8 – 10 or more will not only make the fish less timid, but they will produce a more natural-looking and brighter coloration. Males will also display their best coloration as they compete with other males during spawning seasons.

Fast-swimming species of fish will very likely outcompete the five-banded barb for food if they are fed improperly, experimenting with varying methods of feeding and food will be essential when sharing a habitat with nimble fish.

They can also become shy around larger or very active fish in open waters. Including enough décor, plants, and rocks for fish to retreat to will help with reducing stress.

The ideal five-banded barb tank mates are species of barbs, corydoras, dwarf cichlids, danios, rasboras, livebearers, loaches, rainbowfish, tetras, catfish, plecos, and most other species of Cyprinidae.

Male and Female Differences

Sexual dimorphic characteristics in five-banded barbs are relatively indistinguishable in unmatured fish. Although, fully mature males are noticeably smaller, slimmer, and exhibit brighter coloration than females.

Five-Banded Barb (Desmopuntius Pentazona)

Breeding & Spawning

Five-banded barbs are an egg-scattering species of fish that exhibit no parental care, fish fry typically spawn within 36 – 48 hours post-fertilization; they will become free-swimming within 3 – 5 days.

Under rare circumstances, they may likely spawn without any intervention in a matured aquarium with ideal water conditions and a nutritionally balanced diet. However, five-banded barbs will proactively eat any eggs that they find, fine-leaved plants provide eggs from falling prey to the adults.

A more controlled and effective approach would require separating both sexes for 1 – 2 weeks while conditioning them on a live food diet consisting of cultured daphnia, artemia, or infusoria. Feeding intervals should be increased to 4 – 5 times daily in smaller amounts without causing too much excess waste.

During this time, female five-banded barbs will become plumper and their eggs may even become visible. Separating the sexes and placing them on a live diet will significantly increase the number of eggs leading to optimal results.

A second 10-gallon spawning aquarium will be set up with a matured filtration unit, aeration stones, and water. There are two different methods you can use, the first being set up with a mesh breeding box and the second would be without.

5 gallon spawning tank

Soft waters between 5 – 10 dH, with 5 – 6 pH, and a water temperature in their upper range will be the ideal water parameters for spawning. Place fine-leaved aquatic plants throughout the base of the aquarium for the females to scatter eggs onto. If a mesh breeding box is used, place the aquatic plants underneath and inside the box, this will separate the eggs from the adults to prevent predation.

Some aquatic plants produce higher quantities of eggs and hatch rates when it comes to breeding barbs. Water thyme (Hydrilla) has been observed to catch the most eggs with impressive hatch rates of up to 88.14%. The survival rate was attributed to the high concentration of dissolved oxygen that the water thyme produced.

Place the females into the spawning aquarium first for one day to allow them some time to settle into their new surroundings, the males can be integrated into the tank the following day. Continue feeding them live foods in frequent yet small amounts throughout the day. Each morning you will want to investigate the tank for any signs of eggs so that you can remove the adults in order to prevent them from eating their eggs.

The fish fry will need to be fed cultured daphnia or infusoria for the first couple of weeks before they’ll readily accept flake food and brine shrimp.

More Information

In 2013, Kottelat published an extensive update and assigned new names to various fish from Southeast Asia, creating the genus Desmopuntius. The five-banded barb was one of eight former Puntius species that was allocated into this new genus.

Previously, the genus Puntius was considered to be a polyphyletic universal term that included over 100 different species, but this problem has now mostly been addressed. Older publications that use five-banded barb’s (Desmopuntius Pentazona) former names frequently refer to it as Puntius Pentazona.

There are currently eight different distinct species within the Desmopuntius genus with slight genetic differences, four of which are commonly confused with one another and persistently mislabeled due to their striking similarities (Desmopuntius Pentazona, Desmopuntius Rombochelatus, Desmopuntius Hexazona, and Desmopuntius Johorensis).

The five-banded barb and six-banded barb are the two most closely resembling species, the only visible difference between them is that the six-banded barb has a 6th horizontal stripe at the base of its caudal fin (tail). Whereas the striped barb will have vertical stripes and the snakeskin rhombo barb’s horizontal stripes appear in blotches.

Differences between Desmopuntius species

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