Cherry barb

The Cherry barb, Puntius titteya is a tropical fish belonging to the spotted barb genus of the Cyprinidae family. It is native to Sri Lanka, and introduced populations have become established in Mexico and Colombia.

Physical description

The cherry barb is an elongated fish with a rather compressed body. It is fawn-colored on top with a greenish sheen. Its sides and belly are gleaming silver, often reddish. A horizontal stripe (brownish black to deep bluish black) extends from the tip of the snout through the eye to the base of the caudal fin. Above it is an iridescent, metallic line, gold at the front turning to blue or sea green toward the tail. At breeding time, males attain a deep red color. Females are lighter, with yellowish fins. The cherry barb will grow in length up to 2 in (5 cm).


Its native environment is one of heavily shaded, shallow, and calm waters. Their native substrate is one of silt with leaf cover. Cherry Barbs natively live in a tropical climate and prefer water with a 6.1 – 8.0 pH, a water hardness of 5.0 – 19.0 dGH, and a temperature range of 74 – 81 °F (23 – 27 °C).

Importance to humans

The cherry barb is of commercial importance in the aquarium trade.

Conservation status

The more colorful varieties of the cherry barb are in danger of being overfished for the aquarium hobby industry.


An open water, substrate egg-scatter, the adult barbs will spawn around 200 to 300 eggs in a single spawning. The pair will try to eat as many eggs as possible when finished. The eggs hatch in 1 to 2 days and then will be free-swimming after 2 more days. After 5 weeks, the hatchlings will be about 1cm long and easily identifiable as cherry barbs.

Name origins

The cherry barb was originally described as Puntius titteya by P.E.P. Deraniyagala in 1929 and has also been referred to as Barbus titteya and Capoeta titteya.

In the aquarium

This peaceful cherry-red fish is mostly found in community tanks by fish keeping hobbyists. The cherry barb is less of a schooling fish than other Barbs and should best be kept in groups of five or more individuals. It will live for many years in captivity. They prefer a tank with abundant furnishings, about two-thirds to three-quarters of the tank, but still need space to school. It likes shade and will withdraw under the cover of plants. Younger males are often aggressive. Appropriate tankmates include Rasbora and similar peaceful fish.