Gold Barb (Barbodes Semifasciolatus)

Family: Cyprinidae
Sub Family: Barbinae
Genus: Barbodes Semifasciolatus
Names: Gold Barb, Schuberti Barb, Golden Barb, Chinese Barb, Green Barb
Temperature: 64.5 – 75ºF (18 – 24ºC)
pH: 6.0 – 8.0
GH: 5.0 – 19 dGH
Max Size: 7.5 cm (3 inches) in length
Lifespan: 4 – 6 years
Depth Preference: Bottom dweller & mid dweller
Tank Size: 20 gallons

Gold barbs have become rather popular throughout the aquarium hobby due to their vibrant yellow coloration and ease of care, they are considered to be one of the hardier and most undemanding species of tropical fish.

Origin & Habitat

Gold barbs are a freshwater species of fish endemic to Southwest China, North Vietnam, Taiwan, Northern Laos, and Russia. While there have been introduced populations recorded in Singapore and Hawaii.

In China, they are found in the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Hong Kong, and the islands of Hainan. In Laos, they are predominately found within the Nam Ou river within the Phôngsali Province.

Their natural habitat consists of slow-moving shallow waters with an average depth of 5 meters, the waters in which they reside harbor dense populations of aquatic plants and are surrounded by vegetation.

Gold Barb Care

These fish typically do better in aquarium setups with moderate filtration flow that generates a mild current, brighter coloration is also observed in heavily-planted aquariums with darker substrates.

Gold barbs will spend equal amounts of time at the bottom and middle levels of the water column, decorations such as driftwood, rocks, and plants provides comfort and places of rest on the lower levels.

Since they prefer cooler temperatures when compared to most other tropical fish, they are suitable candidates for outdoor ponds. While taking into consideration that they do breed frequently outdoors.

Gold Barb Diet & Feeding

Gold barbs are an omnivorous species of fish found foraging on worms, crustaceans, insects, plant matter, and detritus in the wild. A proper diet will consist of both plant-based and protein-based foods with 2 – 3 scheduled feedings daily.

They are not picky eaters and will readily accept live, frozen, or dry food. Healthy sources of food that are high in protein consist of blood worms, insects, insect larvae, artemia, brine shrimp, and other microworms.

Blanched vegetables are another healthy alternative to incorporate into their diet that is full of nutrients capable of warding off bloat, intestinal, and other digestive issues in fish. Place zucchini, cucumber, squash, spinach, or finely chopped peas into a bowl of boiling hot water for 5 – 8 minutes, then cool in cold water and serve.

Offering a variety of foods will ensure that they maintain their bright colors, fish food containing astaxanthin is routinely included in their diet to enhance coloration. High-quality tropical flake or pellet foods with a color-enhancing formula often contain natural sources of astaxanthin.

They may occasionally nibble on moss-like plants such as java Moss, stringy Moss, and moss balls. However, they are safe for planted aquariums as they do not uproot or excessively indulge in fine-leaved plants.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Gold barbs for the most part are a peaceful species of fish that rarely nip fins, but they may show mild signs of aggression during spawning seasons or when they are stressed.

They are a schooling species of fish that can be found swimming in the top, middle, and bottom water columns within an aquarium. Typically forming tight schools near the bottom of the tank when they are around larger or more active fish, schools loosen when they are comfortable and become familiar with their surroundings. This species is generally more active in groups of 6 – 8 or more and larger schools reduce timid behavior.

Suitable gold barb tank mates include species of barbs, corydoras, dwarf cichlids, danios, rasboras, livebearers, loaches, tetras, catfish, rainbowfish, sunfish, and plecos. Experienced aquarists with multiple tanks may be able to experiment with other species of fish with great success, caution would be advised since temperament varies in all fish.

Male & Female Differences

Sexual dimorphic characteristics are much more prominent when gold barbs are fully matured and during spawning seasons. Males are torpedo-shaped and slightly smaller while the females will appear larger, more noticeably in width, but also in length and height as well.

Males and females can be seen with red coloration, however, a male typically develops red pigmentation in the lower portion of their body underneath their belly and the female does not.

Male and Female Gold Barb (Barbodes Semifasciolatus)

Breeding & Spawning

Gold barbs are an egg-scattering species of fish that exhibit no signs of parental care. Spawning occurs during the early mornings in which females are capable of releasing 100 – 400 eggs, typically hatching within 36 – 48 hours post-fertilization, and 3 – 5 days later the fish fry will be free-swimming.

If they are in a matured aquarium and in good health, they may spawn frequently under the right circumstances. Adults will prey upon any eggs or fish fry that they encounter, the survivability of both the eggs and fish fry depends on numerous factors.

For a more controlled approach, we will review methods to condition gold barbs for breeding while also creating an environment most effective for hatch rates and the survivability of the fish fry.

Conditioning your gold barbs on a variety of high-quality sources of live, frozen, and dry foods will be key in the female’s process of producing numerous eggs. Live and frozen foods such as artemia, brine shrimp, and other sources high in protein should make up the bulk of their diet rather than dry food.

Feedings should be increased to 3 – 5 times daily in smaller amounts so that excess food does not overburden your aquarium’s nitrification process. Conditioning may last for a few weeks until the females appear gravid or pregnant.

A smaller spawning tank of around 10 gallons will be set up with matured aquarium water and filter media. This tank should be dimly lit, highly oxygenated, and located in a low-traffic area of your home so they are not constantly spooked by those who may walk by.

Place several plants or spawning mops in the center and corners of the tank, this will allow the female to choose several areas to spawn on. Live fine-leaved aquatic plants provide better hatch rates than spawning mops, but either or can be used.

Water thyme (Hydrilla) has been observed to increase survival rates and produced hatch rates by up to 88.14%. The survival rate was attributed to the high concentration of dissolved oxygen that the Hydrillas produced.

Egg-scattering fish spawning plants

While larger air bubbles are less efficient, placing aeration stones that produce small bubbles in the back corners will properly oxygenate the water. If you intend to use aquatic plants, however, this step is optional. The development of embryos requires adequate levels of dissolved oxygen, low levels significantly decrease hatch rates.

Optimal water parameters for the spawning tank consist of a neutral pH, moderate dH, and a temperature within their upper range of 75.2º Fahrenheit (24º Celsius).

When the adults are fully conditioned, properly acclimate them and then relocate either a pair or a small school with 2 females for every male. Spawning may occur the very next day and frequent monitoring for any signs of eggs each morning will be vital, the adults will need to be removed quickly otherwise they will prey on the eggs.

Once the adults are removed, disconnect the filtration unit to prevent the fish fry from falling victim to the intake. The fish fry will need to be fed cultured daphnia or infusoria for the first several weeks before they are large enough to accept smaller commercially made foods.

The fish fry will not produce enough waste to increase ammonia levels significantly, live foods also do not spoil and decompose similarly to dry or frozen foods, which will not contribute to any ammonia build-up.

You may also want to use a mesh lining at the base of your spawning tank to further increase the survivability of eggs, below is a 5-gallon spawning tank example.

5 gallon spawning tank

More Information

Kottelat (2013) published a literature update for Southeast Asian fish which was responsible for transferring numerous species within the Puntius genus into Barbodes, this species was among them.

The B. Semifasciolatus gold strain was initially developed through selective breeding by aquarium enthusiast Thomas Schubert in the 1960s and an albino strain was developed by Dennis Wilcox in the 1970s. The original strain is not yellow in color, wild strains are typically found with silver and green scales.

Variations of Barbodes Semifasciolatus

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