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Family: Cyprinidae, Subfamily Barbinae

Common Name: Golden Barb,Schuberti Barb, Half-Banded Barb

Origin and Habitat: 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.

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+ so they have sufficient space for swimming.

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.


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 between 4 and 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 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. 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.

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.

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