Cherry Barbs - Tank Mates - Planted Tank Mates
Cherry Barbs

Cherry Barbs – Tank Mates


Cherry Barbs are great community fish!  Barbs in general have a bad reputation for being aggressive, but Cherry Barbs are the exception.  They max out at 2” in size and are very hardy.  They can tolerate PH from 6.0 – 8.0, providing a variety of options for acidic or alkaline tank mates.  Males are always brighter in color and you must minimize mating aggression with a 1:2 male to female ratio.

cherry barb fish side profile
Male & Female Cherry Barb – available on Amazon

Mid-Dwelling Tank Mates

You should have at least 6 Cherry Barbs in a small 10 gallon tank.  That might actually be the limit of your community unless you can provide a larger habitat.  In a 30 gallon or greater, you can start adding other nano fish like tetras, rasboras and danios.  A nice combination could be Bloodfin Tetras, Black Harlequin Rasboras and Zebra Danios.  Each species should have a minimum of 6 or more of their kind. Also, be sure your tank has ample space to swim and it’s not overloaded with decorations.

Black Harlequin Rasbora, Zebra Danio, Bloodfin Tetra – available on Amazon

Bottom-Dwelling Tank Mates

Bottom feeders like otocinclus, corydoras, loaches and plecos are great tank mates Cherry Barbs.  They will sometimes oddly eat algae wafers at the bottom, making people think they’re bottom dwelling fish.  Physically, they do not have sucker-type mouths and do not graze through the substrate like a corydora would.  While they do like to be near the bottom of the tank, the truth is they’re actually timid omnivores and just prefer keeping a low profile.  Great bottom-dwelling tank mates for Cherry Barbs could be German Blue Rams and Kuhli loaches.

German Blue Ram
German Ram cichlid Mikrogeophagus ramirezi – available on Amazon

Top-Dwelling and Larger Tank Mates

Top-dwelling fish like dwarf gouramis, and platys are also great companions.  Because they dwell in separate areas of the tank, they’re out of each other’s way and less of a problem.  Barbs in general can be fin-nippers, so smaller fish like fancy guppies might become occasional victims.  Larger fish are always another great option.  Their size alone will help maintain peace and will even keep Cherry Barbs shoaling together.  Rainbow fish can be nice tank mates for Cherry barbs.

bosemani rainbowfish side profile
Bosemani Rainbowfish – available on Amazon

Cherry Barbs and Shrimp?

If your tank is heavily planted, you might have some luck with Cherry Barbs and adult shrimp.  More often than not, dwarf shrimp are going to end up as luxurious snacks.  Size matters for this species and larger Amano shrimps have a better chance of living peacefully in the community.  If you’re looking for invertebrates to help control algae, Zebra Nerite Snails would be a great alternative.

nerite snail algae eater
Zebra Nerite Snail – available on Amazon

All Things Considered

Unlike other Tiger and Odessa barbs, Cherry Barbs are more of a peaceful community fish.  They’re very hardy and can be good for beginners, but require a little more attention to detail.  The habit of plants, decorations and tank mates should all be considered.  Males can become annoyingly aggressive with each other when competing for mates.  It’s important to maintain a higher female ratio even though their colors are not as vibrant and eye-catching.  Maintaining a group of 6 or more is important, and longer tanks give them more space to swim near the bottom.

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