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Fish Files - Cherry Barb


The Cherry Barb: Puntius titteya. Formally (Barbus titteya). Overview: The cherry barb is a small colourful fish ideal for a mixed aquarium. Unlike many of its barb counterparts that get aggressive and nippy in a community tank, the cherry barb tends to be rather shy. The colour of the humble Cherry Barb is red/rust top, dark lateral line, and silver/pinkish under-belly, it is the males that give the fish its name by becoming a bright cherry-red colour when in spawning condition. Cherry Barb quick statistics • Minimum Tank Size: 40 Litres • Size of the fish: 4cm

• Temperature: 22 to 28°

• Temperament: Peaceful fish

• Latin name: Puntius titteya

• Best kept in groups of 6 or more

• Will live in most water conditions, but prefer low pH 6.5 - 7.0 being ideal

• Will eat pellets, flakes or frozen food so long as it fits in their mouths Origins of the Cherry barb: A member of the Cyprinidae family, cherry barbs are native to Sri Lanka, but have since been introduced to areas of Mexico and Colombia. Its preference is for pond-like or slow moving waters with a silt type bottom, heavily shaded and with high leaf fall. In the early days of the tropical aquarium trade it was fished almost to extinction. Nowadays you are unlikely to be able purchase wild caught specimens. A species which is easily bred by the big tropical fish farms, cherry barbs are reasonably cheap to buy, and in the right conditions will breed in the home aquarium. They will provide greater tank interest if bought in groups of four or six. There is also a captive bred albino variety of the cherry barb available. Aquarium Conditions: An 80ltr tank (36”x 12”x 15”) should be considered the smallest if your barbs are to be part of a mixed community. A small fish growing to around 2” maximum length, your cherry barbs will have plenty of room to settle in with around 25 other small community fish of a similar disposition. The UK’s water hardness varies from area to area but shouldn’t prove problematic. The most important thing to worry about in your new set-up is a rise in nitrite levels caused by immature filters, introducing to many fish to early, or decaying food due to over feeding. Temperature range for cherry barbs runs from 22-28ºC. Tank decoration: Tropical aquarium decoration is one of personal choice. However, if you are trying to emulate your fishes underwater world, paint the back and sides of your aquarium black, use a couple of inches depth of dark aquarium gravel sloped front to back. Densely plant the back, sides and corners of the aquarium and add bogwood and rockwork for additional hiding places. All good aquarium shops will stock a range of aquatic plants, rockwork and wood which is safe for aquarium use. Feeding your cherry barbs: Far more tropical fish die from overfeeding, than ever die from starvation, and this relates to all coldwater and tropical fish. Your barbs will be quite happy eating the same good quality flake food carefully rationed, as their tank mates. A weekly bag of live daphnia or brine shrimp released into the tank always goes down well, and will give your community something to hunt out. Likewise frozen bloodworm or mosquito larvae once or twice a week will be appreciated. Once your fish have been fed they should be hunting around plants and across the gravel looking for titbits they’ve missed. Uneaten food lying on the bottom will start to decay, putting unnecessary strain on the filters, and lead to nitrite levels increasing which could pollute the water and kill your fish. Compatible community fish: Some people prefer to keep as many different species in one tank as they can. Others prefer to have one large shoal, with just a few other fish for added interest. As a general rule of thumb, don’t try to keep two types together where one can fit in the mouth of the other – because it invariably will. Most tetras; neon, cardinal, and rummeynose are three favourites. Most of the genuine rasboras, the harlequin often the favourite here, and one or two of the danios such as the zebra danio all make good community fish. You should always include two or three scavengers. Corydoras catfish are small attractive bottom feeders which forever make themselves busy hunting out uneaten morsels on the tanks substrate. This is by no means a comprehensive list; seek the advice of your local aquatic shop who can point out many other species classified as ‘community’ fish. Quote CHERRY20 in store to get a 20% discount on Cherry Barbs (while stocks last) Breeding the cherry barb: Equipment needed: • 5-10 gallon tank. 10 gallon would be better, with black back and sides. • Heater. • Air driven sponge filter. • Clear aquarium divider. • Java moss or bushy plants with lead weights. • Prepare an infusoria culture for fry feeding. Run your sponge filter in the main tank for a month to mature it. Don’t add any substrate to the tank. Fill the tank with water taken from your main aquarium, add sponge filter and heater, and then drop in your java moss or other plants. Wait 24 hours then check temperature and water quality. Males will tend to be slightly redder than females even out of breeding condition. Most breeders use two females and one male. Separate the fish using your aquarium divider, increase the heater thermostat just one or two degrees and begin 40-50% daily water changes for a week. Within the week the females should be noticeably plumper with eggs, and the male a bright cherry red. Remove the tank divider and let nature take its course. You will see the eggs dropping as the females release them. Once the females appear slimmer, and the male begins to lose interest, the fish need to be removed to the main tank, if left they will begin to eat their own eggs. Eggs should start to hatch after 36 hours. Now comes the hard bit. Prepare some fry food: When setting up the breeding tank take a glass jar, fill with mature tank water, and add a lettuce leaf or plant leaves from the aquarium. Place the jar on a window sill where it can get sun light and leave. Three days later repeat the process with another jar. Within a few days the jar should look cloudy and greenish. This is caused by the proliferation of microscopic plant and animal life, the only thing your fry will be able to eat. Using an eye-dropper or syringe, take some infusoria from the jar and squirt it near the fry. Repeat twice a day, checking to see if fry bellies are expanding, meaning they are taking the food. After a week they should have grown enough to start taking baby brine shrimp. The cherry barb - an ideal starter fish for those new to fish keeping, and equally amenable for those who wish to begin breeding their own stock.

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