Snakeskin Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius Rhoomoocellatus)

Order: Cyprinidae
Family: Barbinae
Genus & Species: Desmopuntius Rhoomoocellatus
Common Names: Snakeskin Barb, Snakeskin Rhombo Barb, Rhombo Barb
Temperature: 72 – 82ºF (22 – 28ºC)
pH: 4.0 – 7.0
GH: 4.0 – 10 dGH
Max Size: 6.5 – 8.8 cm (2.5 – 3.5 inches) in length
Lifespan: 7 years
Depth Preference: Bottom and mid dweller
Tank Size: 20 gallons

Among all of the fish in the aquarium hobby, snakeskin barbs must be one of the most underrated species. Since they spend a lot of time at the bottom levels of the tank, these species make excellent candidates for community tanks looking to fill the lowest levels of the aquarium.

Origin & Habitat

Snakeskin barbs are a freshwater species of fish endemic to Central Kalimantan in Indonesia’s Borneo island. They are found in swamp-like river systems and peat swamps with water ranging from clear to humic acid-stained waters.

The waters in which they reside are often found with dense vegetation surrounding the bodies of water they live in. Causing an abundance of organic litter such as leaves, branches, and trees to fall or run off into the water. This abundance of organic waste creates acidic waters to drop as low as 4 pH.

Snakeskin Barb Care

One of the more hardy barbs due to their natural habitat being a swamp or swamp-like where traces of salt can be found and a wide range of varying water parameters. Snakeskin barbs are highly adaptable to varying acidic water ranges but are not tolerant of hard waters.

Aquariums should be set up to mimic their natural habitat with a fair amount of driftwood and almond leaves that will produce tannic acids to help with lowering pH. Since they will hover around the bottom of your tank most of the time, creating caves, having large rocks, and densely planting your aquarium will provide the right environment.

Snakeskin Barb Diet & Feeding

The snakeskin barb is an omnivorous natural micro predator, they mainly feed on small insects, worms, zooplankton, and other crustaceans that they can swallow in the wild.

They will readily accept most commercially prepared flake or pellet foods. The best sources of food for the snakeskin barb that is high in protein consist of live, frozen, or freeze-dried blood worms, insects, insect larvae, tubifex, brine shrimp, daphnia, and other microworms.

To maintain a healthy and active shoal, their diet should be mostly composed of a variety of prepared and frozen food, with two to three feedings per day. Snakeskin barbs will voraciously consume from the top and bottom levels of the tank, so if they’re cohabitating with other bottom-dwelling species, make sure they’re getting a fair portion of the food.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Snakeskin barbs can be mildly aggressive but for the most part, they are a rather peaceful shoaling fish. They’re best kept in groups of 6 – 8 or more since they may become more aggressive and timid when alone or in smaller groups.

Suitable snakeskin barb tank mates include species of angelfish, barbs, corydoras, dwarf Cichlids, danios, rasboras, livebearers, loaches, rainbowfish, tetras, catfish, plecos, and most other species of Cyprinidae.

Aggressive bottom dwellers such as the red tail shark are not recommended considering the snakeskin barb does tend to spend a lot of its time near the bottom of the tank.

Larger shoals inhabiting a spacious tank are capable of being housed with many varieties of peaceful fish. Although, if you plan on housing them together with fish that have long-flowing fins, it is suggested you thoroughly monitor them at first, temperament can vary.

Male & Female Differences

Males are thinner than females, and during spawning seasons, they start to show reddish coloring around their gills and nose, which is absent in females. There are no other visible characteristics of sexual dimorphism in adults.

Snakeskin Rhombo Barb (Desmopuntius Rhoomoocellatus)

Breeding & Spawning

Snakeskin barbs are an egg-scattering species of fish that display no signs of parental care. Fish fry typically spawns within 36 – 48 hours post-fertilization.

Species of fish that live in waterways with varying water parameters are usually difficult to breed in home aquariums. This is usually because home aquariums lack the necessary triggers to initiate breeding behavior. A home aquarium has much more stable water parameters; temperature, water flow, and pH values are constant rather than fluctuating similarly to their natural habitat.

The two triggers that are absent in home aquariums to condition breeding behavior are a slow and steady rise in temperature and then a steady drop in pH, creating a warmer and more acidic environment ideal for breeding. To begin conditioning snakeskin barbs for breeding, you will need two tanks. The pH values of the conditioning tank will need to be near the neutral range (6.5 – 7.0 pH) and the temperature set to the cooler range, 73.5º Fahrenheit (23º Celsius).

Over a 3 – 4 week period of time, a daily feeding routine consisting of 3 small portions of live foods given throughout the day will need to be maintained. Cultured daphnia, microworms, and blood worms are great sources of live foods.

Within this 3 – 4 week conditioning period, the temperature of the tank will need to be slightly raised every 2nd or 3rd day until the temperature reaches 79 – 80º Fahrenheit (26º Celsius). Once this temperature is reached, the females should appear to be a little plumper. When the conditioning phase is complete, you will need to relocate 6 – 10 snakeskin barbs into the breeding tank.

Once conditioned, you will need to acclimate 6 – 10 snakeskin barbs and then relocate them into an already prepped breeding tank. While trying to maintain a female-to-male ratio of 2:1, sexually mature females will have a rounder and plump belly.

The breeding tank’s water parameters should be set up with 5.0 – 6.0 pH with a temperature range of 79 – 80º Fahrenheit (26º Celsius). Using a smaller 5 – 10 gallon aquarium, with either no filtration or a filtration unit with a very low flow rate that is dimly lit; placing some leaf litter or other floating objects into the aquarium will also dim the lighting. The filtration unit should not disturb the water too much, attaching mesh around the intake may be necessary to protect the baby fry.

A few inches of organic compost from the local hardware store is an easy method to reduce the pH of water that also mimics their natural habitat. An aquarium will need a few days or more for the compost to settle back to the bottom of the tank once you’ve filled it with water. The filtration unit should not be on during this process.

When the water has cleared up, place either spawning mops, coco peat, or java moss in the corners of the aquarium to allow several places for the females to scatter their eggs on. This tank should also be located in a low-traffic area of your home to produce the best results.

Continue the feeding routine of live foods and investigate each morning when you first turn the lights on for any signs of eggs. If you spot any eggs, remove the adults and place them back into their home aquarium. Fish fry typically spawns within a few days and will readily accept cultured microworms or daphnia as a source of food.

More Information

In 2013, Kottelat published an extensive update and assigned new names to various fish from Southeast Asia, creating the genus Desmopuntius. The snakeskin rhombo 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 Snakeskin Rhombo Barb’s (Desmopuntius Rhoomoocellatus) former names frequently refer to it as Puntius Rhoomoocellatus.

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 horizontal stripes and the snakeskin rhombo barb’s vertical stripes appear in blotches.

Differences between Desmopuntius species

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