If you are looking for easy to care, small, colored, active, fast swimming and schooling fish, most barbs may be the perfect choice for your aquarium. These tiny, adorable splashes of color are quite hardy pets, and they are all except for boring pets.

But if you plan on keeping them into community tanks, you should choose your barbs wisely. Indeed, some of them are famous for being nasty fin nippers, so they should be kept away from smaller fish or those with long, flowing fins.

I have done the job and have already handpicked the best barb types for modern schooling aquariums to ease the selection out on you.

1. Tiger Barb

To begin, here is one you have certainly heard of already. In fact, tiger barbs are definitely the most popular choice nowadays, and they are super-easy to recognize. They feature an almost white body base color with some bold black stripes which are placed vertically across their bodies.

On top of that, they have greatly vivid splashes of orange on their mouths as well as on the edges of their fins.

When they reach their full adult size, this is usually around 3 inches. They compensate for their small size with being overly active, but they are also well-known for loving to nip fins on larger fish.

Therefore, they may not be the most ideal solution for community tanks. If you can ensure them a space of at least 20 gallons, you should plan on adopting at least 6 tiger barbs to provide them a stable environment.  

2. Golden Barb

As opposed to tiger barbs, golden barb fish are actually extremely docile and peaceful fish, so you are more than welcome to house them with other friendly fish species. However, make sure to first have a functioning school of at least 6 specimens, or you are otherwise risking of them developing aggressive behavior over time.  

These beauties feature an elongated body with a maximum length of 3 inches and, as their name suggests itself, their body coloration is remarkably similar to gold. Plus, they have a nice pattern of smaller black dots all over their body length.

Golden barbs prefer their water a bit on the cooler side, so it is best to keep it from 64- to 75-degrees Fahrenheit and not more than that. If such conditions are met, you can expect these fish to survive for around 5 years.

3. Cherry Barb

Terribly similar to the golden type, cherry barbs also feature slightly elongated bodies, but they are much smaller and of totally different colors. Indeed, these fish rarely exceed 2 inches in body length, and their coloration consists of vibrant reds and a dark horizontal band from tail to head.

They too are extremely peaceful creatures and will rarely decide to nip on fins as long as you keep them in happy schools. Cherry barbs usually require 20- or 30-gallon tanks and densely planted vegetation to shelter them when feeling threatened.

4. Rosy Barb

Moving further, rosy barbs are one of the largest types available. These gorgeous red fish can actually grow up to even 6 inches in body size, which is considerably big for a barb fish. As a consequence, they require somewhat larger tanks and should be kept in at least 30 gallons of water volume.

Rosy barbs are quite similar to their tiger family members when it comes to their behavior, so please count on them nipping on fins in community tanks.

It is best to keep them with their own species but, if you need to house them with other species, try choosing those which are extremely agile and fast and, obviously, with no flowing fins. These amazingly elegant fish prefer their water being somehow cooler, so this should never exceed 72-degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Checker Barb

Checker barbs, as their name implies, feature cool patterns all over their bodies, making them resemble to small check boards as they graciously move through water. Their base coloration is usually either greenish or pale red, so you can actually choose your favorite morph with this type.

Even though they only grow up to 2 inches when fully mature and they are quite the docile choice for most community fish, you should pay extra attention on forming your checker barb school.

Indeed, they seem to get quite territorial among a single group, so placing one male along with several females is perhaps the best option for inexperienced keepers.

6. Rhombo Barb

If you are missing some cute splashes of orange across your not-so-big, planted tank, rhombo barbs will certainly make a greatly vibrant addition. And they are suitable even for small community tanks, as they are quite peaceful and well-adaptable pets.

Indeed, a school of 8 rhombos can happily live into a 10-gallon home, and they may tolerate a wide range of pH levels. Even though they prefer water of more acidic values, they may adapt simply fine to neutral values, too.

They rarely exceed 2 inches during their adulthood, and dark substrate works best to highlight their spectacular coloration.

7. Denison Barb

Denison barbs can easily be described as tiny art masterpieces. And if you have a look at their fantastic palettes and patterns, you will certainly agree. Elongated bodies with a half golden and half whitish base coloration are magnificently enriched with clear, horizontal red, yellow, and black lines.

As if one took a paint brush and went through their bodies. Plus, their tails end with cool black and yellow spots, while their dorsal fin features decent red colors.

These fish are among the largest of the family, with a full size of up to even 6 inches. Consequentially, you should be housing your happy schools in 55 gallons of water space. If you take good care of them, you are looking onto greatly peaceful companions which may stick around for more than 5 years.

8. Khavli Barb

These Indian barbs can be recognized thanks to their yellowish or brownish bodies with irregular black spots all over their bodies. Plus, their fins can develop a nice addition of red colors over time.

Khavli barbs are extremely peaceful fish and rarely exceed 2,5 inches when being fully mature. They need groups of at least 8 specimens to thrive (and to remain peaceful).

9. Spanner Barb

Spanner barbs are among the largest types available nowadays, and they have an odd lifestyle. When young and adolescent, they like being kept in schools and act as any other schooling barb.

However, once they grow to their full mature size (up to even 7 inches!), they seem to actually prefer having their own space and time. Therefore, please have these data in mind before adopting these greatly active fish.

They are considered to be peaceful, but they are known to occasionally develop nipping behavior during their life in captivity. Until now, they seem to function best with other larger and docile species.

10. Drape Fin Barb

And finally, the strangest barb fish type you have probably ever seen. As their name suggests, drape fin barbs are equipped with super-large and almost fully rounded dorsal fins.

On top of that, such fins are actually yellowish or golden with amazing little brown spots all over, making them resemble to a magnificent feather. What a fish!

Drape fin barbs are actually quite new to the aquarium trade, so they are still rare to find at stores, and there is still so much to be researched. They grow around 2 inches only and they are friendly little creatures.

Wrapping Up

After going through our carefully selected list of the 10 best pet barb species, we are sure that you have found at least one to adopt. And, whichever that may be, you will not be sorry.

Remember though, all barbs are schooling fish and will not function well when kept alone. This is the basic imperative for their humans to provide, along with ideal water parameters and a high-quality diet.

Written by Fabian

Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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