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Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Barbinae

Common Name: Black Ruby Barb

Origin and Habitat: Endemic to Sri Lanka. Occurs in quiet still waters such as streams, ponds and pools in the hills, in waters containing aquatic plants or shaded by terrestrial vegetation. Exportation of wild fish is currently prohibited; available fish will be commercially raised.

Compatibility/Temperament: Lively but peaceful when kept in a group of six but preferably more. A good community fish with other similar non-aggressive fish such as barbs, common (medium sized) gourami, rasbora, loaches, medium to larger characins like the Congo Tetra, Emperor Tetra, Pristella, etc, and catfish.

Black Ruby Barb Diet

In its habit, it is benthic (a bottom feeder) eating algae, detritus; accepts most prepared foods, frozen bloodworms, artemia, algae foods, boiled spinach.


Attains 2.4 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 inches length due to its active swimming.

Water parameters for Black Ruby Barb

Soft (hardness < 12 dGH) acidic (pH below 7) water, temperature 22-26C/72-79F.


One of the best barbs for a community tank--colourful, active and very peaceful. Will look its best in an aquarium with a dark substrate, well planted along the back and sides to provide open swimming room (this is an active swimmer), and subdued lighting (partly achieved with floating plants). This fish will move throughout the aquarium, browsing every surface (plant, wood, etc) for bits of food including some algae. Males will display in pairs, sometimes very actively including rapid revolutions, but physical damage does not result.

Young fish show no obvious signs of sexual dimorphism; females are rounder, and males have some red in the anal and pelvic fins. In spawning condition the males develop deep maroon colouration on the front half and are almost black on the remainder of the body, as illustrated in the second photo below. Easy to spawn; typical egg-scatterers, and the adults will readily eat the eggs if not removed.

Originally this fish was described as Barbus nigrofasciatus by A. Gunther in 1868. The species epithet nigrofasciatus is from the Latin and means "with black stripes." In 1991, R. Pethiyagoda moved it to Puntius, though Taki (1978) had earlier referenced it as P. nigrofasciatus. Pethiyagoda et al. (2012) placed this species along with several others in their newly-erected genus Pethia; the name is the generic vernacular name for small cyprinids in Sinhala. The species epithet changed from nigrofasciatus to nigrofasciata, to agree with the feminine gender of the new genus name.

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 (such as the subject) 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 to 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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