Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya) in the Aquarium

cherry barb

Everything you need to know about the Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya)

Cherry Barb is a peaceful, small, attractive-looking aquarium fish which was introduced around 80 years ago. It has since become a standard in aquariums.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Basic Profile

Scientific NamePuntius titteya
Other NamesCrimson Carplet, Red Cherry Barb
Care LevelSimple and easy

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Full Profile

Feature Description
NameCherry Barb 
Scientific namePuntius titteya
Other namesBarbus titteya, Capoeta titteya, Crimson Carplet, Red Cherry Barb
Size4-5 cm
OriginWest of Sri Lanka, in slow-flowing rainforest streams and lowland rivers, not too far from the capital Colombo.
Keeping & CareSimple and Easy
Aquarium sizefrom 54 liters (60 cm)
pH value8-Jun
Water temperature20-28 ° C
ColorThe whole body is more or less bright red, in younger specimens only beige. From the mouth through the eye to the end of the caudal fin there is a dark brown, roughly pupil-sized stripe, which is barely visible in colored animals. Above it is an equally wide, mostly barely visible, lighter stripe. The back of the only slightly red specimens is clearly darker than the belly. All fins are also reddish.
Gender differencesFemales are clearly plump and always paler than the males. In courtship mood the males are almost crimson, including the fins. Outside of the courtship season, the females can only be colored red on their fins, like the young. As such, the sexes are difficult to distinguish.
ReproductionA couple that has been well fed for several days is placed in a small aquarium (from 15 L) with spawning rust or fine plants (moss) on the ground and soft and slightly acidic water at around 25 ° C. The fish should spawn after two days at the latest. Up to about 300 eggs can be released per female. The larvae hatch after about a day and swim free after another three days. They can be fed immediately with newly hatched Artemia nauplii.
Life expectancyThe Cherry Barn lives for about 5 years
NutritionCherry Barbs are omnivores. It can be based on flake food or granules that are served daily. Live or frozen food should also be served once or twice a week.
Group sizeEven if the males can be a bit quarrelsome with one another, no fewer than six specimens (ideally the same number of males and females) should be kept.
Aquarium SizeAn aquarium for these relatively calm barbels should have a volume of at least 54 L (60 cm edge length).
Pool equipmentPartially dense vegetation and some hiding places made of wood or leaves are important. With so much coverage, the bitterling barbs are not very shy and can usually be seen all day. Since the small fish love to swim, there should be enough free space in addition to the hiding places.
Socialize Cherry BarbIn the presence of much larger fish, the CHerry Barbs quickly become shy, but otherwise they can be socialized with almost all other peaceful fish. If the larger fish – like thread fish – tend to colonize the upper basin areas, this hardly affects the behavior of the bitterling barbel.
Required water valuesThe temperature should be between 20 and 28 ° C, the pH value between 6.0 and 8.0.
cherry barb

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Ideal Food

Bitterling barbs (Puntius titteya) reach a length of approx. 5 cm.

They eat a lot and practically any food such as

  • Live food
  • Frozen food
  • Flake food
  • Food tablets

The feed must have a vegetable content.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Suitable water conditions

The water for bitterling barbs should be soft to medium hard.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Living in groups

Cherry Barbs only feel really good in a group of 6 or more animals. You need a lot of swimming space. A larger aquarium is therefore more suitable, even if they can be kept in aquariums from 60 cm in length. Only bitterling barbs without additional stock should be kept in such small aquariums. In 60 liters z. B. easily kept 6 males and 3 females. How many males and females are kept together does not seem to play an essential role.

As a rule, the Cherry Barb is on the move in the lower third of the tank and searches the ground for anything edible. The bitterling barbs often beat the armored catfish.

The aquarium should be well planted in order to create enough hiding and escape possibilities, because the males are sometimes outspoken bullies among each other.

Cherry Barbs are peaceful towards other fish species. Socialization with other fish in the community tank should not be a problem.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Plucking long fins.

Cherry Barbs are usually very peaceful. However, they can easily tear off the fins of fish with long fins such as the guppies and fighting fish.

Please note that poses a danger. For example, the fins could be so shredded overnight that the male guppy or fighting fish dies.

You could technically keep 10 guppies and 5 Cherry Barbs together in a 70 liter aquarium without any problems.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Gender differences

The males are colored red, the females more yellowish with red fins. During the mating season, the male is bright red, whereas the female remains rather inconspicuous.

Cherry barb fish male and female differences

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Characteristics, Shape and Color

  • There are red and bluish versions of the bitterling barb.
  • In general, however, the basic body color of the male is more brownish-red and turns into a strong red during the reproductive period.
  • The females are colored yellow-brown.
  • The males also have slightly larger fins than the females.
  • Both sexes have a dark brown longitudinal ligament that extends from the tip of the snout to the base of the caudal fin. This band can be interrupted several times.
  • The upper edge of this longitudinal band is lined with an equally wide, pale gold-colored band, which merges into an iridescent blue-green towards the caudal fin.
  • A row of dark points can often be seen below the dark longitudinal band.
  • The fins are tinged with reddish; the anal fin is more strongly colored red. Bitterling barbels have a pair of barbels. The sideline is greatly reduced and is limited to 3 scales on which holes can be seen. The body is elongated and slightly compressed at the sides.
  • The Cherry Barb is only slightly higher back in front of the caudal fin.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya):  In the aquarium

The Cherry Barb is a lively but peaceful schooling fish that lives mainly in the middle water layers.

  • A group should consist of at least 10 bitterling barbs. There are often rivalries between the Cherry Barb males in a group.
  • In addition to free space for swimming, the aquarium should have adequate border planting and individual solitary plants and roots as a retreat and area markers.
  • A dark ground with a soft substrate, sand or fine gravel and a subdued skylight, e.g. with a floating plant cover.
  • Bitterling barbs are also suitable for the community tank, but they should only be kept together with barbel or other peaceful, smaller species of ornamental fish.

To maintain ideal conditions in the tank, please remember that Cherry Barbs are lively creatures and are considered to be peace-loving towards other species. They are great for beginners as they don’t require a lot of maintenance. Together with the following keeping conditions, the barbel will feel really good in the aquarium.

  • Aquarium size of at least 60 cm
  • Temperature between 22 ° C and 28 ° C
  • PH value between 6 and 8
  • GH not higher than 12 ° dGH
  • Dense vegetation in the aquarium
  • Enough hiding places – leaves, wood or stones
  • Dark floor
  • A varied diet
  • Keep in a group of at least six animals – more females than males

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya):  Feed

Cherry Barbs are omnivores.

You should feed them varied:

  • water fleas
  • smaller mosquito larvae
  • daphnia
  • Cyclops
  • now and then a bit scalded lettuce

Since the Cherry Barbs are mostly in the middle to lower water layers, you should, if at all, feed non-buoyant dry food that does not float on the water surface, but dry food that sinks to the bottom or feed tablets that are glued to the inside wall of the aquarium.

It is important to feed regularly but moderately. Because bitterling barbs tend to become fatty when there is an oversupply of food.

Under optimal conditions, the Cherry Barbs can live up to 5 years.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya):  Breeding under aquarium conditions

Breeding under aquarium conditions is not easy.

The water values have to be right; The water temperature should be increased slightly to around 25 to 26 ° C and the water hardness should be low (total hardness 4 to a maximum of 8 ° dH). Before spawning, the fish are fed with enchytrae.

Although they are spawn robbers, they do not attack the egg clusters so easily and fish larvae hatch. To be on the safe side, the parent animals should be returned to the general housing tank after the eggs have spawned and fertilized. The young hatch after just one day.

  • A breeding aquarium with 10 liters of water is sufficient for breeding.
  • We recommend using a breeding aquarium 30X20X20 cm with spawning grate.
  • We use clear water with 3 ° dH and pH 6.5 as make-up water
  • The approach takes place in pairs in the late afternoon.
  • The pairs then spawn the following day.
  • After spawning, the breeding animals are removed from the breeding aquarium.
  • The hatch occurs after approx. 24 hours. The larvae then hang on the discs and on the underside of the spawning grid.
  • After a further 3 days, the larvae swim freely and are transferred with the water to a larger aquarium without a substrate with normal tap water without filtering and air supply.
  • The larvae are fed with freshly hatched Artemia nauplii.
  • Later Cyclops and fine flake food.
  • The floor must be cleaned of leftover feed every day to avoid the formation of infussoria. It is best to use a 16×18 air hose with a fine filter sponge placed over it at the opening so that the young larvae are not sucked off.
  • A slow running filter can be installed after about a week.
  • Use air lifts for this so that the young fish cannot be sucked in by the filter.
  • With good feeding, the young fish will have reached the retail size after approx. 3 months and are colored so that the sexes can be clearly distinguished.

Approach time: every twelve to fourteen days

Egg number: up to 350 pieces

Growth: fast 1 to 2 year old animals are used for breeding.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Spawning

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Attitude

Bitterling barbs are schooling fish and therefore feel most comfortable in a group. Puntius titteya are active swimmers and need enough space in the aquarium. Although the males of this species can be very territorial during the spawning season, the fish are very suitable for community tanks due to their peacefulness. The animals are easy to socialize with other calm fish such as small labyrinth fish. During the spawning season, the larger group forms smaller groups in which a dominant male gathers several females around him. In the aquarium, the Cherry Barb prefers to occupy the middle basin region.

In the Cherry barb aquarium, its natural, hiding-rich habitat should be reproduced as closely as possible with the help of roots and dense planting. The animals quickly become startled and shy if they are not given sufficient opportunities to retreat. Since the males are quite aggressive towards one another, more females than males should be kept in the group.

This takes the tension out of the group and reduces the fighting. Inferior males take on the paler color of the females to avoid fights. The males form separate territories within the aquarium that can change. It is therefore of particular importance to have a lot of hiding places in the tank so that every male has hiding places in his territory.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Planting and decoration

The animals prefer a weed aquarium with dense vegetation. In addition, the bitterling barbs should be given enough hiding and retreat opportunities through roots. The Cherry Barb must also have enough free swimming space. A dark substrate is also recommended.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Diseases and treatment

Although Cherry Barbs are resilient in the aquarium, they can contract common freshwater fish diseases especially when the water conditions are not ideal or properly maintained.

Cherry Barb can be affected by Ich


Ich normally presents itself in the form of tiny white dots on Cherry Barb’s body. These are the symptoms of Ich. It is the most common health issue for freshwater fish. You should remove any fish with these symptoms to a hospital tank.


Ich normally becomes an issue when new introductions are made into the aquarium such as new fish, new decoration, new plants, or anything else into the tank. To prevent the disease from affecting all the Cherry Barb, it is important to quarantine everything before introduction into the aquarium.


The most effective treatment regime is by raising the water temperature of the tank – as high as the Cherry Barbs can handle – and maintain that temperature for two weeks. This will power through the life cycle of this nasty bug at a faster rate and get rid of it faster.


You should make sure that you focus on the prevention of Ich. Prevention is your best fight against diseases in your freshwater aquarium. Keep the tank clean, the water pure, and always isolate and treat anything – fish, invertebrate, or decoration – before introducing it to the tank. And make sure that your filtration system is working properly. If you do notice any symptoms, immediately remove them to hospital tanks and follow recommended treatments.

Ich basics Tips

Best Antibiotics: Rid Ich Plus, any antibiotic for freshwater fish

Treatments to Avoid: Nothing specific.

Food Recommendations When Sick: Duckweed and frozen peas often help with recovery.

Hospital Tank or Isolation within the Community Tank Specifics: If symptoms or signs of illness, remove your Cherry Barbs to a hospital tank immediately. Thankfully, these hardy fish won’t likely spread any illnesses to each other, but best to take the precaution.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): Important Fact

Due to the destruction of its natural habitat, the bitterling barb is considered endangered in the wild, like all endemic fish species.

Cherry Barb (Puntius Titteya): 5 Trivia Facts

  1. Cherry Barbs are omnivores.  That means they love meat and plant-based foods. However, thy will eat just about anything. That makes them very easy and beginner friendly
  2. Cherry Barbs (and all cyprinids) are considered important for a number of fields, including as food sources, ornamental and aquarium keeping, and in biological research (especially research on Carotenoids which are routinely incorporated into ornamental fish diets with the aim of enhancing companion fish coloration which may concomitantly affect fish behavior).
  3. Cherry Barbs are closely related to carps, goldfish, Koi, reek chub, zebrafish, bitterlings, fallfish, chubs, stoneroller, golden shiner, common shiner, and various dace and minnows.
  4. Cherry Barbs are popular all over the world and are considered as the go-to species for most aquariums. In Sweden, Cherry Barbs are known as kopparbarbs, in the Czech Republic as titeja, in Denmark as stregbarbe, and as vishnevyi puntius in Russia.
  5. Cherry Barbs are primarily bred for the aquarium industry in either certain regions of Asia or in the U.S.

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