Barb Fish Species – Cyprinids and Freshwater Sharks

There are over 2000 identified barb fish species of the Cyprinidae fish family (the barb fish species) and the cyprinids are probably the largest group of fishes in the wild.

The water requirements varies from species to species with some such as the Goldfish and the White Cloud Mountain Minnow doing well in sub-tropical water temperatures. Some barb fish get very large, such as the Tinfoil Barb and the Bala Shark. Others, like the Harlequin Rasbora and the Zebra Danio, stay on the small side.

Barb fish directory

Some can make good community tank mates whereas others may not be the best choice in a community tank setup. Some that you should think twice before adding to your community aquarium would be the Red Tail Shark and the Tiger Barb. The Rainbow Shark can sometimes be very territorial as well.

The term ”Barb” can cause some confusion, since it is used for a wide range of different fish species. Strictly speaking, it is only the species found within the genus Barbus in the family Cyprinidae that are considered true barbs. A lot of species belonging to other genera within this family are however also referred to as barbs, since they look similar to the Barbus-species. To make things even more confusing, a lot of species that used to belong to Barbus has been moved to the genera Puntius. In everyday speech they are naturally still referred to as barbs and their common names often include the word barb.

Many different barb fish species are kept by aquarists and even a beginner aquarist can find barbs that are beautiful, hardy and easy to care for. Generally speaking, barbs are tolerant to varying conditions, peaceful enough to keep in community aquariums and easy to breed in captivity. There are of course exceptions and it is therefore always advisable to research the specific species that you are interested in before making a purchase.


The Silver Shark

Bala Shark

The Bala shark (Balantiocheilus melanopterus) is a very popular fish among tropical fish enthusiasts which is also known as the Hangus, Malaysian Shark, Silver Bala, Silver Shark, Tricolor Shark, Tri-color Shark Minnow etc.

The Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb

The Cherry Barb has an elongated and torpedo shaped body with forked caudal fin. Dorsal side of the body is fawn colored with a slight greenish sheen. Sides of the body and belly have gleaming silver highlights.

A Fancy Goldfish in a bowl

Fancy Goldfish

The fancy goldfish (Also known as Carassius auratus) is a freshwater aquarium fish which is also known as the common goldfish.

A bright red Glofish


The GloFish (also known as Danio rerio) is a favoured tropical freshwater aquarium fish. It belongs to the Cyprinidae family of fish, under Order Cypriniformes and Class of Actinopterygii.

A small gold barb

Gold Barb

The Gold Barb is an extremely favoured freshwater aquarium fish for novice aquarists due to their rugged and tough body. It is also known as Goldfinned Barb, Chinese Barb, Golden Barb, Half-Banded Barb, Schuberti Barb and Sachsi Barb.

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequin Rasbora

The harlequin rasbora (Also known as the Trigonostigma heteromorpha) is a prominent aquarium fish that belongs to the Cyprinidae family under Order Cypriniformes of Class Actinopterygii.

A beautiful Odessa Barb

Odessa Barb

The Odessa barb is an alluring aquarium fish, but not as widely known as its famous barb relatives such as the Rosy barb and the Cherry barb. The Odessa can still be difficult to find in general pet stores.

A Rainbow Shark

Rainbow Shark

Also known as the whitetail shark minnow, ruby shark, whitefin shark, red fin shark, green fringelip labeo and the rainbow shark minnow, this fish is a favored freshwater fish that is associated to the family Cyprinidae under order Cypriniformes of Class Actinopterygii.

A stunning red tail shark

Red Tail Shark

Just like many other favored aquarium fish with “shark” in their name, the Red tail shark is not actually a shark. Accepted names for this particular fish include the redtail black shark, Redtail sharkminnow, Redtailed shark and the Red-tailed labeo.

A School Of Rosy Barbs

Rosy Barb

The Rosy barb is a rugged fish and stays fairly small. These two factors, combined with its placid nature and beautiful coloration, has made it a favored aquarium fish that can be kept even by amateur aquarists with fairly small aquariums.

The wonderful Tiger Barb

Tiger Barb

The Tiger barb is one of many barb species that are generally kept by freshwater aquarists. Around 2.6 million fish where imported to the United States in 1992, which made the Tiger Barb 10th on the list of the most commonly imported ornamental fish species.

A Tinfoil Barb

Tinfoil Barb

The Tinfoil barb generally grows rather large, anywhere up to 14 inches in length (35 centimeters) and it is therefore not viable for small aquariums. Amateur aquarists often purchase young Tinfoil barbs without first doing the research on how big this fish can actually grow.

A school of zebra danios

Zebra Danio

The zebra danio is a generally friendly and small fish. It is very rugged and able to adapt which makes it an ideal fish for the amateur aquarist. The zebra fish is a favored fish, and you can readily find it in nearly aquarium shop around the world.

Examples of well known barb species include Puntius tetrazona (Tiger barb) from South East Asia and Barbus brevipinnis (Shortfin barb) and Barbus callipterus (Congo barb) from Africa. Puntius tetrazona, The Tiger Barb, is one of the species that were moved from Barbus to Puntius. Most barbs should be kept in groups or large schools, since they are schooling species. Keep at least 5-8 individuals together, preferably more. Peaceful barbs should not be combined with more aggressive aquarium fish, since aggressive species may harass the docile barbs. A few Barb species, including the popular Tiger barb, are known to be fin nippers and should not be kept together with fish equipped with long and flowing fins.

When you set up an aquarium where you plan to keep barbs it is always a good idea to mimic their natural habitat. Include plenty of plants in the set up. Floating plants are recommended, since strong light can make the barbs shy. Strong light can also affect their coloration. Plants are not the only type of aquarium decoration appreciated by barbs, they love al sorts of hiding spots, including roots and cleverly arranged stone formations. Do not crowd the aquarium since barbs needs at least one open area for swimming.

Most barb fish prefer a neutral or slightly acidic pH-value. Barbs are known to be hardy and able to adjust themselves to other circumstances, but there is a difference between surviving and doing well. Unsuitable water conditions can cause dull colours and prevent spawning.

If your barbs have been kept in unsuitable water conditions, they must be allowed to gradually acclimatize themselves to better conditions. Rapid changes are not recommended.

Barbs accept most types of food in captivity. Ideally research you particular species to find out more about its diet in the wild and the right proportions between meaty food and vegetable based food. If you are unable to find any information, high-quality flake food for omnivores will most likely be a good base. Make the diet more varied by giving your barbs occasional surprises in the form of Artemia or similar food.