Striped Barb (Desmopuntius Johorensis)

Order: Cyprinidae
Family: Barbinae
Genus & Species: Desmopuntius Johorensis
Common Names: Striped Barb, Banded Barb, Lined Barb
Temperature: 73.5 – 77ºF (23 – 25ºC)
pH: 4.5 – 6.5
GH: 2.0 – 12 dGH
Max Size: 10 – 12 cm (3.94 – 4.72 inches) in length
Lifespan: 5 years
Depth Preference: Mid dweller
Tank Size: 30 gallon

Striped barbs are an uncommon species of Desmopuntius found within the aquarium hobby when compared to its close relatives. However, they are a great addition to the peaceful community and safe for planted aquariums looking for active schooling fish.

Origin & Habitat

Striped barbs are a freshwater species of fish originating from Malaysia within the states of Johor, Pahang, Terengganu, Selangor, and Pera; they are also found in southern Thailand, Singapore, and the islands of Sumatra.

Their natural habitat is normally located in blackwater streams, peat swamps, and other shallow water bodies with an abundance of aquatic plants and surrounded by dense vegetation.

The substrate is a mixture of soft sand and peat littered with fallen leaves, twigs, branches, and tree roots. With an abundance of decaying organic material, the waters in which they reside are often stained brown that are composed of soft, acidic waters with negligible mineral content and a pH as low as 4.0.

Striped Barb Care

As long as the striped barb is kept healthy within the boundaries of its recommended water parameters, this species of fish isn’t very demanding and is relatively simple to care for.

They will thrive in heavily-planted aquariums that mimic their natural habitat with soft substrates, dim lighting, driftwood, and other similar decorations. The filtration unit shouldn’t provide an overwhelming current, slow-moving or still waters are an ideal setup.

Striped Barb Diet & Feeding

Striped barbs are omnivorous species of fish that are found to be foraging for food such as algae, insects, insect larvae, decomposing plant material, and other organic debris.

A healthy diet will predominately consist of plant or algae-based food while occasionally supplementing them with protein-based food. Offering them one or two sources of food specifically blended for herbivores and one protein-based throughout the week will sufficiently meet all of their nutritional requirements.

Commercially made flake or pellet foods made for smaller fish with an algae-based ingredient such as spirulina are readily accepted.

Cultured or procured live foods from trusted sources such as daphnia, infusoria, microworms, and baby brine shrimp. In addition, dried or frozen insects, worms, tubifex, and brine shrimp are all great sources of protein. Insufficient sources of protein-based foods can cause loss of coloration in striped barbs.

Blanched vegetables are another healthy treat to give them on occasion, there are various nutrients in vegetables that help ward off bloat and many other digestive issues. Place squash, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, or finely chopped peas into a bowl of boiling hot water for 5 – 8 minutes, then cool in cold water prior to serving.

Tank Mates & Temperament

Striped barbs are a rather peaceful species of fish that school together under cover or near aquatic plants as an added sense of security. Maintaining schools of 6 – 8 or more will reduce stress and increase their activity levels. While in smaller groups, they may become rather timid and remain hidden.

Suitable striped barb tank mates are species of angelfish, barbs, catfish, corydoras, livebearers, loaches, plecos, tetras, gobies, sleepers, hatchetfish, pencilfish, danios, rasboras, rainbowfish, sunfish, and smaller cichlids that prefer similar water parameters.

Large schools of striped barbs are also excellent dither fish that can help reduce aggression in some species of fish.

Male & Female Differences

Adult males are typically smaller, noticeably slimmer, and display more vibrant colors than females. Females grow to be larger in length and width while displaying duller colors and thicker black stripes that run the length of their body.

Striped Barb (Desmopuntius Johorensis)

Breeding & Spawning

Striped barbs are an egg-scattering species of fish that exhibit no signs of parental care. Fish fry spawns within 36 – 48 hours post-fertilization and becomes free swimming 3 – 5 days thereafter.

In mature aquariums with the right conditions, spawning may occur on occasion with very little to no human intervention. The survivability of newly spawned fish fry would be completely dependent on the number of predators and hiding places available.

A more controlled and effective approach would require separating the males from the females, this will allow the females plenty of time to develop higher quantities of eggs.

Both the males and females should be conditioned for several weeks on a higher protein-based diet with live foods such as microworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. Feedings should be increased to 3 – 5 times daily in smaller amounts to avoid excess waste, 2 of which consist of live foods, and the remaining can be of high-quality dry or frozen foods.

While conditioning striped barbs, a small 5 – 10 gallon spawning tank will need to be set up with matured water and filter media. Filtration units should not provide a strong current, a small unit with some beneficial bacteria provides a healthy transition. Although, a filtration unit is not entirely needed.

Water parameters that are ideal for spawning would be slightly acidic with a temperature in their upper range.

Placing spawning mops or fine-leaved aquatic plants throughout the base of the spawning tank will provide numerous locations for the female striped barb to scatter eggs onto. Installing an air stone oxygenates the water which is vital for the development of the embryo, without providing a strong current.

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.

Once the striped barbs are properly conditioned, the females will appear to be pregnant. Acclimating and then relocating the females into the spawning tank for one full day prior to integrating the males will allow them to settle into their new surroundings and destress.

Spawning normally occurs during the early mornings within 1 – 5 days. Investigate the spawning tank each morning for signs of eggs, the adults will not hesitate to eat any eggs that they encounter and will need to be removed shortly after.

The fish fry will readily accept micro foods such as live daphnia, infusoria, or powdered food for the first 2 – 3 weeks before they are large enough to be fed commercially made flake 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 striped 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 the striped barb’s (Desmopuntius Johorensis) former names frequently refer to it as Puntius Johorensis.

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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