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Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Barbinae

Common Name: Rosy Barb

Origin and Habitat: Widely distributed in areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Occurs in a variety of habitats from flowing streams and small rivers to lakes and ponds. Has been introduced to Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Columbia.

Compatibility/Temperament: Lively but peaceful fish that will normally do well in a larger aquarium with similar-sized non-aggressive fish such as other barbs, rasbora and loaches. Must be kept in a group of at least six. Not suitable for slow, sedate fish because of its active swimming. Tankmates however must be able to manage with the lower temperatures this species prefers.

Rosy Barb Diet

Omnivorous in nature, feeding on worms, insects, crustaceans, and plant matter, it accepts most prepared foods; offerings of live worms, frozen bloodworms, daphnia and brine shrimp will give variety and help to keep it colourful.


Some sources suggest 6 inches, but most accept 3 inches as maximum.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

36 inches in length but better with 48 inches

Water parameters for Rosy Barb

Moderately soft to moderately hard (5 to 20 dGH), slightly acidic to basic (pH 6 to 8) water, temperature 18-23C/64-74F. Prefers cooler temperatures than normal tropical community aquaria.


A hardy fish, good for beginners. It is a lively and active swimmer, and a group of this barb would admirably suit a river aquascape: an aquarium with a dark gravel or sand substrate, well planted along the sides and back, driftwood, minimum lighting with floating plants to further lessen the light, and a moderate flow down the length of the tank from the filter. Several of the smaller loaches and barbs that suit a lower temperature would make good tankmates.

This fish prefers the middle and lower areas in the aquarium. As with all barbs, they must be in a group of at least 5 or 6; there are several reports of fin nipping and other fish being killed by lone specimens. These behaviours have not been reported when the fish was maintained as a group.

Females are less colourful and thicker bodied than males; the red colouration in the male becomes more intense when they are in spawning condition. In the photo below, the fish on the upper right is a male, and the lower left a female. A prolific and easy spawning fish. Typical of barbs, the eggs are scattered and the adults will eat them if not removed immediately after spawning.

Originally described by F. Hamilton (1822) as Cyprinus conchonius, it was moved into Puntius by J. Shrestha in 1978. In a significant study on the Puntius species on the Indian subcontinent, Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) placed this and several other "Puntius" species into the newly-erected genus Pethia; the name is the generic vernacular name for small cyprinids in Sinhala. Fish described as Systomus pyropterus by J. McClelland (1839) and as Puntius conchonius khagariansis by Srivastava & Datta Munshi in 1988 are conspecifics [the same species] so these names are invalid. The name Barbus conchonius appears in Baensch & Riehl [Aquarium Atlas, Volume 1] but this is also invalid.

This is one of 16 small closely-related species that were designated as the "Puntius conchonius group" by Taki et al. (1978). The colour pattern characteristically includes prominent dark blotches or vertical bars on the sides, and though some species have limited geographic distribution, the group as a whole is widely distributed in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and partially in Laos and Thailand.

The genus Puntius was erected in 1822 by F. Hamilton for the spotted barbs, and some 139 species have up until recently been included; 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) suggested 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. The revision considering the species native to Southern Asia (the Indian subcontinent) by Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) has moved six species into the resurrected genus Systomus, and erected three new genera, Dawkinsia, Pethia and Haludaria [originally Dravidia in the paper, but subsequently changed], for several other species respectively.


Pethiyagoda, Rohan (2013), "Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae)," Zootaxa (correspondence), 3646(2), p. 199.

Pethiyagoda, R., M. Meegaskumbura, and K. Maduwage (2012), "A synopsis of the South Asian fishes referred to Puntius (Pisces: Cyprinidae)," Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters, volume 23 (no. 1), pp. 69-95.

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 (1996).

Taki, Y., T. Urushido, A. Suzuki and C. Serizawa (1978), A comparative chromosome study of Puntius (Cyprinidae: Pisces). I. Southeast Asian species.

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