Rosy Barb (Pethia Conchonius)

Order: Cyprinidae
Family: Barbinae
Genus & Species: Pethia Conchonius
Common Names: Rosy Barb, Red Barb, Shining Barb
Temperature: 64.5 – 72ºF (18 – 22ºC)
pH: 6.0 – 8.0
GH: 5.0 – 19 dGH
Max Size: 12 – 15 cm (5 – 6 inches) in length
Lifespan: 4 – 7 years
Depth Preference: Mid dweller
Tank Size: 40 gallons

Rosy barb fish are frequently used to create hybrids of green tiger barbs and albino tiger barbs. Selective breeding has also produced various other strains including veil-tail, red, neon, golden, and long-finned varieties.

Origin & Habitat

Rosy barbs are a freshwater species of fish that were first described from ponds within northeastern Bengal, Kosi, Ami rivers, and India. Due to their popularity within the aquarium trade, introduced populations have been found in Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Nepal, and Bangladesh waters.

Their natural habitat consists of moderate to fast-flowing streams and rivers with sandy substrates that are littered with rocks of varying sizes. Aquatic plants are scarce in most locations that they predominately inhabit.

Rosy Barb Care

One of the more hardy species of Cyprinidae, the rosy barb is a great choice for those new to the aquarium hobby.

Due to their hardiness and preferred water parameters, they are ideal candidates for outdoor ponds and river setups within warmer climates. As long as the temperature of the water outside does not rapidly cool and heat up between day and night cycles.

Brighter colorations are displayed in heavily-planted aquariums with a dark substrate. Normally found in murky waters; placing floating plants, driftwood and large over-hanging types of plants to dim the lighting tends to embolden their behavior and subdue timidness.

Rosy Barb Diet & Feeding

Rosy barbs are an omnivorous species of fish that are predominately found feeding on worms, insects, and other small invertebrates, as well as algae and fine-leaved plants. A mixed diet of artificial flake foods and live foods has proven to increase their growth rates and overall health.

A proper diet for your rosy barb will consist of at least one protein-based food on top of a granulated or flake food. Color-enhancing foods with astaxanthin or taurine ingredients added noticeably brighten their pigmentation.

The best sources of food for rosy barbs that are high in protein consist of blood worms, insects, insect larvae, microworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and brine shrimp. High-quality tropical flake food, pellets, or other granulated foods that contain spirulina should also be integrated into their diet.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Rosy barbs are a rather peaceful schooling fish when kept in groups of 6 – 8 or more, in smaller groups they tend to become mildly aggressive towards other tank mates and may nip their fins. Larger schools will not only make the fish a little less timid but they will begin to display brighter colors, males naturally compete with one another for female attention by displaying bright colors.

Maintaining a healthy male-female ratio of at least 1:1 will further reduce the stress that females may incur since males will constantly seek out female attention by chasing them around.

Ideal rosy barb tank mates include species of angelfish, barbs, corydoras, dwarf cichlids, danios, rasboras, livebearers, loaches, tetras, catfish, and plecos. Virtually any tropical fish that prefers cooler temperatures that are not slow-moving or do not have long-flowing fins.

Male & Female Differences

Adult males are noticeably smaller, slimmer, and display brighter colors than females. Females develop larger, rounder bodies while displaying lighter red colorations throughout with a gold or yellow tint that is less apparent in males. In some ornamental strains, the female rosy barb may be entirely gold in color.

The tip of a male’s dorsal fin will also have a larger area of black coloration which is absent in their female counterparts; during spawning seasons, a male develops tubercles (small bumps) on his head and snout.

Rosy Barb (Pethia Conchonius)

Breeding & Spawning

Rosy barbs are egg-scattering free-spawners that exhibit no parental care. In an established aquarium, they may occasionally spawn with very little to no human intervention. Heavily planted aquariums with various hiding spots will increase the fish fry’s odds of survival from falling prey to their parents or any other species of fish that may eat them.

During spawning seasons, males develop breeding tubercles, which are small bumps on their head and snout that either diminish in size or disappear shortly afterward. Females will begin to look pregnant while developing eggs that can be seen under the proper lighting in some cases.

Spawning occurs during the early mornings, usually between 4 – 8 am depending on the time of year. Males will begin to chase, circle, and nudge the females; when the females are ready to spawn they will scatter their eggs on fine-leaved plants, and shortly after, males will fertilize the eggs. Embryos typically hatch between 24 – 48 hours post-fertilization, depending on the temperature of the water – higher temperatures will reduce the incubation period.

For a more controlled approach, separating the males from the females and placing them in their own tanks specific to their gender will allow the females to produce a healthy amount of eggs.

Conditioning both the male and female rosy barbs with a healthy diet of live foods such as brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, or mysis shrimp will further increase the yield of eggs and hatch rates. Continue conditioning them until the females become noticeably plump and pregnant-like.

While they are being conditioned, set up a breeding tank with either rainwater, diluted distilled water, or similar acidic waters that are ideal for breeding, with a pH value of around 6.0. This tank will also require air stones to oxygenate the water since highly oxygenated water will properly incubate and increase hatch rates.

The breeding tank will also need either spawning mops or fine-leaved aquatic plants placed in various locations of the tank, this will give the female rosy barbs a few choices to scatter her eggs onto.

The temperature of the water doesn’t play a significant role in breeding rosy barbs. However, a slightly higher temperature in the breeding tank will speed up the incubation period. If you are planning on using a filtration unit, ensure the intake is safe for the fish fry. Water thyme (Hydrilla) has been observed to catch the most eggs with increased hatch rates of up to 88.14%. The survival rate was attributed to the high concentration of dissolved oxygen that the Hydrillas produced.

When your rosy barbs are properly conditioned and you have a breeding tank set up, relocate both the males and females into the breeding tank while also ensuring that they are properly acclimated. The male-to-female ratio should be a minimum of 1:1, but a slightly higher male-to-female ratio tends to produce quicker results.

Each morning the breeding tank will need to be monitored for any signs of eggs, as the adults will need to be quickly removed shortly after the males fertilize the eggs otherwise they will begin to eat them.

For the first several weeks, the fish fry will need to be fed live infusoria before they are large enough to eat commercially made flake food.

More Information

Rosy barbs and numerous other species were traditionally categorized under the Puntius genus of closely related species; however, in 2012, Rohan Pethiyagoda transferred many to the brand new genus Pethia.

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 Pethia Conchonius’s former names frequently refer to it as Puntius Conchonius.

The combination of the following traits is used to identify Pethia species: There are no rostral barbels, few or no maxillary barbels, a stiff, serrated final unbranched dorsal-fin ray, a black spot on the caudal peduncle, and frequently black patches, bars, or blotches on the side of the body. In addition, infraorbital 3 is deep and partially overlaps the preoperculum.

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