Black Ruby Barb Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

To care for Black Ruby Barbs or Purplehead Barbs, begin by setting up a suitable tank with appropriate water conditions. After that, focus on providing a healthy diet and maintaining water quality. Finally, familiarize yourself with common health issues, compatible tank mates, and breeding methods to ensure your fish thrive.

purplehead ruby barb

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Black Ruby Barb Species Profile and Identification

The Black Ruby Barb, also known as the Purplehead Barb, belongs to the Pethia nigrofasciata species and is native to Sri Lanka. This small, stunning fish is a must-have for many aquarium enthusiasts, thanks to its striking coloration and peaceful temperament.


Black Ruby Barbs are characterized by their silver body which transitions to a deep ruby red as they mature. Males, in particular, sport a more vivid hue during breeding season with a distinct black band on the sides and a striking purple head. Females, on the other hand, tend to be slightly duller in color and larger in size.


These beautiful barbs grow up to 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) in length, making them an ideal choice for small to medium-sized aquariums.


Black Ruby Barbs are quite hardy, boasting an impressive lifespan of 4-6 years, provided they are given proper care and a suitable environment.

Social Behavior

These peaceful fish are great for community tanks, as they get along well with similarly-sized, non-aggressive tank mates. Schooling by nature, Black Ruby Barbs are best kept in groups of 6 or more to keep them comfortable and exhibit their natural behavior.

The Black Ruby Barb is a visually spectacular and hardy species that makes a delightful addition to a diverse range of aquascapes. Familiarizing yourself with their profile and identification features will ensure you can provide proper care and support their flourishing in your aquarium.

Black Ruby Barb Supplies

To properly care for your Black Ruby Barbs, it’s essential to gather all necessary supplies beforehand. Having the right equipment will ensure they have a comfortable and thriving environment.

  • Aquarium: A minimum of 20-gallon tank is required for a school of 5-6 Black Ruby Barbs. Remember, they are active swimmers, so a larger tank is always better.
  • Filtration system: Invest in a high-quality external filter system to maintain water quality and remove harmful substances, toxins, and particles.
  • Heater: Black Ruby Barbs prefer a stable water temperature between 74°F and 79°F (23°C and 26°C), so a reliable heater is crucial for their well-being.
  • Substrate: Opt for darker grained, fine-textured substrate, such as sand or small pebbles, as this mimics their natural habitat.
  • Plants and Décor: Provide plenty of aquatic plants (like Java fern and Anubias) and hiding spots with rocks and driftwood to replicate their natural environment and help them feel secure.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting is ideal for Black Ruby Barbs. Choose LED lights to reduce algae growth and maintain consistent lighting levels.
  • Test kits and water treatments: Regular water testing is needed to monitor parameters like pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. Acquire a quality test kit and necessary water treatments.
  • Food: Offer a well-balanced diet of high-quality flake food, freeze-dried, frozen, or live foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia.

With these supplies, you’ll be well-prepared to create a comfortable and suitable environment for your Black Ruby Barbs. Proper care and attention to their needs will ensure they flourish and showcase their stunning beauty.

Black Ruby Barb Tank Setup

Setting up your Black Ruby Barb tank properly is essential for the well-being of these beautiful fish. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended, as Black Ruby Barbs are active swimmers and need plenty of space to move around. Consider adding more gallons for each additional fish, around 5 to 10 gallons per barb should suffice.

To mimic their natural habitat, create a well-planted environment with live plants like Cryptocoryne, Java Moss, and Anubias. Floating plants can also provide shade and hiding spots, which can help reduce the stress levels in your fish. Along with plants, use driftwood and rocks to create an interesting and visually appealing aquascape.

Black Ruby Barbs are known to dig, especially when searching for food. To prevent this behavior from causing any distraction, choose a soft, fine-grained substrate such as sand. This type of substrate will be gentle on their delicate barbels and will not cause any harm.

To ensure good water circulation, invest in a quality filtration system that is capable of handling the tank’s size. This will help maintain clean and clear water conditions, contributing to your fish’s overall health. An adjustable heater is also necessary to regulate the water temperature, which should be maintained between 72°F and 82°F.

Lastly, provide a consistent light source for both the plants and fish. A simple LED light fixture with a timer will work perfectly, allowing you to control the duration and intensity of the light. Set the timer for a consistent day and night cycle to mimic the natural environment.

Black Ruby Barb Water Requirements

In order to maintain a healthy environment for your Black Ruby Barbs, it’s important to keep a close eye on their water requirements. Various aspects play a crucial role, such as water temperature, pH level, hardness, and frequent water changes.

  • Water temperature: Black Ruby Barbs thrive in water with a temperature range of 72-82°F (22-28°C). It’s essential to have a reliable heater and thermometer installed in the tank to ensure a stable temperature.
  • pH level: The ideal pH level for these fish ranges from 6.0 to 7.0. Use a quality pH test kit to keep track of the water’s pH balance. In addition, adding peat moss or driftwood can provide a more suitable environment for these fish.
  • Hardness: Black Ruby Barbs prefer softer water with a hardness ranging from 2 to 10 dGH. Hard water can be an issue for these fish, so utilizing a water softener can be beneficial.
  • Regular water changes: It’s crucial to perform regular water changes to maintain optimal water quality in your tank. Aim to change 20-25% of the water every week. This helps to minimize pollutants, such as ammonia and nitrite, which can be harmful to Black Ruby Barbs.

By closely monitoring your Black Ruby Barbs’ water requirements and maintaining a suitable environment, you’ll provide them with a comfortable home that supports their well-being.

Following these guidelines ensures that your fish remain healthy, vibrant, and active members of your aquarium community.

Black Ruby Barb Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Black Ruby Barb is a crucial aspect of their care. These beautiful little fish are omnivorous, meaning they enjoy a well-balanced diet with various types of food. To keep your Black Ruby Barb healthy and vibrant, follow these guidelines:

  • Frequency: Feed your Black Ruby Barbs twice per day, providing enough food that can be consumed within two to three minutes. This routine keeps their metabolism active and promotes good health.
  • Flake and pellet foods: A regular staple in their diet should comprise high-quality flake and pellet foods. These options provide essential nutrients and are easily accessible at pet stores.
  • Live and frozen foods: To supplement their diet and mimic their natural habitat, offer live or frozen food options like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia. These tasty treats not only encourage their natural hunting instincts but also provide essential vitamins and protein.
  • Vegetables: Black Ruby Barbs appreciate blanched vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, and peas in addition to their regular diet. These veggies offer beneficial fiber and nutrients to support their digestive health.
  • Diet variety: As with any fish, variety is key to a healthy diet. Rotate between these food options to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients, which helps maintain their vibrant colors and overall well-being.

Remember, a well-fed and happy Black Ruby Barb is more likely to display their incredible colors and remain healthy in your tank. By providing a diverse and balanced diet, you’ll ensure your Black Ruby Barbs thrive and provide a stunning spectacle in your aquarium.

Black Ruby Barb Care Schedule

To ensure your Black Ruby Barbs are healthy and happy, you need to follow a consistent care schedule that includes monitoring water parameters, feeding, tank cleaning, and regular health check-ups. By following a proper care schedule, you will be able to prevent possible health issues and ensure a pleasant environment for your fish.

Daily tasks:

  • Water parameters: Check the temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels of your aquarium daily. By doing this, you will ensure that the water parameters are always within the acceptable range for Black Ruby Barbs.
  • Feeding: Feed your fish twice a day, making sure not to overfeed. Providing small, frequent meals is key to their well-being.

Weekly tasks:

  • Partial water change: Perform a 25-30% water change once a week to maintain optimal water quality. This will help prevent the build-up of harmful substances and alleviate stress on your fish.
  • Tank cleaning: Clean the tank walls and decorations weekly to prevent the growth of algae. Additionally, remove any uneaten food from the substrate.
  • Filter maintenance: Inspect and clean the filter to ensure it is running properly and efficiently.

Monthly tasks:

  • Filter media replacement: Replace filter media, such as sponges or activated carbon, at least once a month for optimal filtration.
  • Health check: Look out for signs of illness such as fin rot or ich. Early detection helps ensure timely treatment, and may prevent the spread of disease among your fish.

By following the above care schedule, you will be providing a safe and comfortable environment for your Black Ruby Barbs, enabling them to thrive and live a long life. Remember that a consistent and timely care routine is crucial for the well-being of your Black Ruby Barbs.

Black Ruby Barb Health Problems

Just like any other aquarium fish, Black Ruby Barbs are susceptible to a variety of health problems. By taking some precautions and getting familiar with common issues, you can ensure your fish stay healthy and happy.

  • Fin Rot: This affliction is characterized by the deterioration of fins and is often caused by poor water quality. To combat this issue, maintain pristine water conditions and consider using aquarium salt.
  • Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a common parasitic infection that causes small, white spots to appear on the fish’s body. Increase the water temperature to 86°F (30°C) for three days, and add an appropriate medication to effectively treat Ich.
  • Velvet Disease: This is another parasitic infection that exhibits gold or rust-colored dust on the fish’s body. Use a copper-based medication and dim the lights in your aquarium to help treat Velvet Disease.
  • Swim Bladder Disorder: This ailment may cause your Black Ruby Barb to struggle with buoyancy and swimming properly. A balanced diet can prevent this condition and fasting the fish for a day may also help.

To minimize the risk of introducing diseases to your aquarium, always quarantine new fish for two weeks before adding them to your existing setup. Additionally, maintain proper water quality and perform regular water changes to keep your Black Ruby Barb healthy.

By closely observing your fish for any signs of illness and taking action quickly, you’ll be well-prepared to handle any health problems that may arise.

Black Ruby Barb Tank Mates

When it comes to choosing suitable tank mates for your Black Ruby Barb, peaceful, and non-aggressive species are the best options. It’s important to ensure that the tank mates you select have similar water requirements and thrive in the same environment as Black Ruby Barbs.

Here are some ideal tank mates for Black Ruby Barbs:

  • Tetras: Smaller species of Tetras like Neon Tetras, and Rummy Nose Tetras are great options, as they are non-aggressive and share similar water parameters.
  • Corydoras Catfish: These bottom-dwellers are peaceful and often work as efficient cleaners in a community tank.
  • Dwarf Gourami: Dwarf Gouramis are another good choice because they are calm fish that prefer similar water conditions.
  • Rasboras: Harlequin Rasboras are compatible tank mates that add a splash of color to your aquarium setup.
  • Snails & Shrimp: Mystery Snails, Nerite Snails, and Amano Shrimp are ideal tank mates, as they help maintain the overall cleanliness of the tank without posing any threat to the Black Ruby Barbs.

Avoid housing Black Ruby Barbs with larger, aggressive, or territorial fish. Some examples of these are Cichlids, Oscars, and Red-Tailed Sharks. These species may bully or try to eat the Black Ruby Barbs, creating a stressful environment for your fish.

Selecting compatible tank mates for Black Ruby Barbs is crucial in maintaining a peaceful and balanced aquarium. Consider the size, temperament, and water requirements of potential tank mates to make the best possible decision for your Black Ruby Barbs.

Black Ruby Barb Breeding

Breeding Black Ruby Barb, also known as Purplehead Barb, can be a rewarding experience for beginners in fishkeeping. With proper care and conducive tank conditions, you can successfully encourage these fish to spawn.

  • Sexual Differences: To begin, it’s necessary to differentiate between male and female Black Ruby Barbs. Males are generally more colorful with deep red or black hues, while females display duller colors and have a rounder body shape. To ensure successful breeding, keep a group of 1-2 males for every 3-4 females.
  • Breeding Tank Setup: Set up a separate breeding tank of at least 10-15 gallons for the process. Fill the bottom with a layer of fine-leaved plants or spawning mops, where the fish can lay their eggs. Keep the water temperature around 77-80°F (25-27°C) and maintain slightly acidic water conditions (pH of 6.5-7.0) to encourage spawning.
  • Acclimatize the fish: Before introducing the Black Ruby Barbs into the breeding tank, condition them with high-quality foods, such as live or frozen brine shrimp and daphnia. This process helps to improve their overall health and prepares them for breeding.
  • Spawning: Once you introduce the conditioned fish into the breeding tank, you’ll likely observe courtship behaviors, such as males chasing females and displaying their vibrant colors. Spawning occurs in the early morning, with females depositing around 150-300 eggs on the plants or mops.
  • Post-spawning care: To protect the eggs from being eaten, remove the adult fish immediately after spawning. Within 24-48 hours, you can expect the eggs to hatch into small fry, which will first feed on their yolk sacs.

Finally, once the fry starts swimming freely (about 3-5 days after hatching), transition them to a diet of microfoods like infusoria. As they grow, begin introducing finely crushed fish flakes. Soon enough, you’ll have a new generation of Black Ruby Barbs to enjoy.


The Black Ruby Barb or Purplehead Barb makes an excellent addition to any aquarium due to their vibrant colors and lively personalities. By following this beginner’s guide to proper care, you can ensure they thrive and bring beauty to your aquatic environment.

If you have any further questions or experiences with Black Ruby Barbs, feel free to leave a comment below.

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