About the Golden Barb
Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Care Level: Moderate. May tolerate only a narrow range of water parameters, have specific dietary requirements including frozen or even live foods, may have behaviors that severely limit potential tankmates or may require a specialized aquarium setup.
Origin: The Golden Barb is a developed strain of the wild species native to the Red River basin in SW China and into Vietnam; also likely occurs in parts of Laos, though it may have been introduced there. This "green" wild form occurs in flowing streams and lakes.
Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful, but it is a barb and thus very active. Must be kept in a group, preferably 8 or more, or it may become shy and stressed. In a sufficiently-sized aquarium and depending upon water parameters it will manage well with similar-sized non-aggressive fish like small to medium barbs, danio, loaches, rainbowfish, and livebearers. Should not be kept with slower fish as it may nip fins.
The Golden Barb may also be encountered under the common names Chinese Barb, Schuberti Barb [named after the strain's developer, Thomas Schubert], Half-Banded Barb and Green Barb. The original wild form is very rarely seen in the hobby, but this golden strain is very common. It was developed through selective breeding by the American aquarist Thomas Schubert in the 1960's. An albino form and other variants are sometimes seen. Most sources agree that the mass-production through inbreeding of this strain has led to inferior fish compared to the wild species, with smaller fins and various other deformities.
The cooler water preferences makes this fish a good choice for outdoor ponds in summer; it must be brought indoors during cold winters as it cannot survive cold to freezing temperatures as can goldfish. In the aquarium, it requires swimming space and a current from the filter. A substrate of gravel with rocks and bogwood, and plants around the edges and back would make a nice replica of its habitat. Sources vary on the lifespan, giving 4 to 8 years.
This fish will readily spawn, and frequently. Females are rounder, and males more colourful. They are typical egg scatters, and must be separated after spawning or the eggs will be devoured.
The original species was described by A. Gunther in 1868 as Barbus semifasciolatus; this name was a replacement for B. fasciolatus assigned by Gunther the same year. Several other names assigned by various individuals over the years have included Barbus aureus, B. fernandezypezi, B. hainani, and B. sachsii and all are now deemed synonyms. In 1978, D.Y. Mai moved the species into the genus Puntius.
The genus Puntius was erected in 1822 by F. Hamilton for the spotted barbs, and currently contains some 139 species; the name Puntius comes from the Bangla term pungti (small cyprinids). Some ichthyologists do not recognize all member species as such and believe that a full revision is needed. Rainboth (1996) suggests that the old demised genus Systomus should be reinstated as valid because Puntius currently appears to be a polyphyletic grouping of species. [Polyphyletic means the taxon is composed of unrelated organisms (here, fish species) descended from more than one ancestor, i.e., not from a common ancestor.] Rainboth described physiological differences between certain species in Puntius to support his proposal. At the time of this writing, Puntius is the recognized genus for this species [Fishbase; California Academy of Sciences].
Mai, D.Y. (1978), "Identification of the fresh-water fishes of North Viet Nam," v. 1: 1-340, Pls. 1-48 [In Vietnamese]. Selected parts translated into English appear in Kottelat (2001):74.
Rainboth, Walter (1996), "The taxonomy, systematics, and zoogeography of Hypsibarbus, a new genus of large barbs (Pisces, Cyprinidae) from the rivers of southeastern Asia," Volume 129 of the University of California publications in Zoology.
Golden Barb Diet
Wild fish feed on worms, crustaceans, insects, plant matter and detritus. In the aquarium, most prepared foods including flake, pellet, and frozen will be accepted; vegetable matter is also advisable.
Attains 7+ cm, about 3 inches.
Minimum Tank Suggestion
Some sources suggest 36-inch as minimum but we prefer a 48-inch tank for a group of 8+.
Ideal water parameters for Golden Barb
Medium soft to medium hard (5-19 dGH), slightly acidic to slightly basic (pH 6-8), temperature 18-24C/64-75F.