Types of Barb Fish

Updated July 20, 2017

Barbs are popular freshwater tropical fish among aquarium hobbyists. They are small, hardy and active and come in a variety of colours that enhance freshwater tanks. Barbs typically do well as community fish when you keep five to seven or more in your aquarium to reduce their aggressive tendencies. There are many types of barbs, with several varieties commonly sold in pet stores. They make beautiful additions to freshwater aquariums.

Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs are one of the most well-known barbs and a popular aquarium fish in general. Also called the Sumatra barb fish, they are known for their shimmering yellow, tan or red bodies with black stripes. Tiger barbs will nip at smaller fish; however, this behaviour is reduced by keeping at least seven in a tank. Tiger barbs do best in aquariums with rocks, plants and driftwood, because they enjoy areas in which to hide and play.

Striped Barbs

Striped barbs have longer bodies than other varieties. They are yellow with black horizontal stripes, which make them attractive additions that complement most tanks. Because they are active swimmers and have longer bodies striped barbs do best in larger aquariums.

Rosy Barbs

Also called red barbs, rosy barbs get their name from their colour. The male has brighter colour than the female. They are one of the easiest barbs to keep, because they are peaceful, love to be around other fish and do well in cooler water. Rosy barbs are active and enjoy plant life in their living space.

Tinfoil Barbs

Tinfoil barbs have shimmering, silver bodies which give them their name. They are a larger barb and do best in a larger tank with other larger fish. They are peaceful and can get stressed if not kept with other fish. Tinfoil barbs are easy to keep but are hard to breed in home aquariums.

Denison Barbs

Denison barbs have a bold, black stripe through the centre of their silver bodies. Their fins are often tipped with red and yellow, giving them an exotic appearance. Denison barbs are thin and long, so they do best in tanks that are not too small or crowded. These colourful fish are peaceful and enjoy swimming in schools with other tinfoil barbs.

Cuming's Barbs

Cuming's barb is easy to keep and a favourite among aquarium hobbyists for its colourful body. It's gold with red fins. Like the tiger barb, the Cuming's barb loves to hide and play among aquascape, so it's best to fill your tank with plenty of plants, rocks and decorations. This lively fish will perk up any freshwater aquarium with its fast swimming and playful nature.

Odessa Barbs

Odessa barbs are easy to keep, social and enjoy a tank full of other fish. It's known for its shimmering body with a red middle and yellow fins. This barb is one of the easiest to breed in captivity. The female Odessa barb is larger than the male, while the male has brighter colouring.

Gold Barbs

Gold barbs add an exotic colour to freshwater tanks with their gold bodies and red fins. If you prefer brighter colours, the males are more colourful than the larger females. Like other barb types, gold barbs are peaceful and enjoy the company of other fish in their tanks. You might find gold barbs fairly easy to breed in your aquarium.

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About the Author

Jennifer Lynn has been writing as a correspondent and reporter since 1991. She has written for numerous newspapers and currently writes as a correspondent for Gannett. Lynn has a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on English from Ohio University, where she also studied journalism at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.