Filament Barb Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

To begin caring for Filament Barb, you need a suitable tank setup with proper water conditions. Ensure their diet includes a mix of high-quality flakes, pellets, and live foods. Finally, maintain a regular care schedule, monitor their health, and choose compatible tank mates.

filament barb

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Filament Barb Species Profile and Identification

The Filament Barb (Dawkinsia filamentosa) is a captivating freshwater fish that mesmerizes aquarists with its unique appearance and active swimming behavior. Native to the tranquil rivers and streams of India and Sri Lanka, this elegant fish can add a touch of grace to your aquarium.


  • Size: Adult Filament Barbs grow up to 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) in length.
  • Color: Flaunting an attractive silver or golden body, Filament Barbs display a stunning bright red or orange streak along the lateral line from gill to the base of the tail.
  • Fins: The Filament Barb’s distinct attributes include their extended dorsal and anal fins with long filament-like rays that enchantingly trail behind while they swim.

Sexual Dimorphism

Filament Barbs exhibit clear sexual dimorphism, making it easy to identify males and females:

  • Males: They flaunt brilliant red or orange bodies, more vivid colors, and longer fin filaments.
  • Females: Comparatively duller in color, they display shorter fin filaments and possess a rounder body shape.

Both males and females have a big dark patch, around their anal fin.


Providing them with optimum conditions and a well-maintained environment can result in a lifespan of 5 to 7 years for the Filament Barb.


An energetic and social fish, Filament Barbs thrive in groups and are relatively peaceful towards other tank inhabitants. However, they may occasionally display mild fin-nipping behavior, which should be taken into consideration when choosing tank mates.

Filament Barb’s fascinating appearance and active nature make it an excellent choice for appropriately-sized community aquariums. By learning to accurately identify these alluring fish, you can comfortably establish a harmonious tank environment.

Filament Barb Supplies

In order to maintain a healthy environment for your Filament Barb, you’ll need the right supplies. These items are essential for keeping your fish happy and safe in their aquatic home.

Tank and Equipment

  • Aquarium: Choose a minimum 55-gallon tank to provide ample swimming space for your fish. Filament Barbs prefer longer tanks that offer plenty of horizontal space.
  • Filtration System: Invest in a high-quality filter to maintain proper water quality. Canister filters or a hang-on-back (HOB) filter will suit their needs.
  • Heater: Filament Barb is a tropical fish, so you will need a reliable heater to keep the water temperature between 74°F to 79°F.
  • Thermometer: A thermometer is necessary to regularly monitor the water temperature and ensure it remains within the appropriate range.


  • Substrate: Use either a fine-grained gravel or sand as the substrate for your tank. This will not only add a natural feel to the environment but also provide comfort for the fish.
  • Plants: Filament Barbs appreciate live plants, such as Java Fern, Anubias, and Amazon Swords, as they offer hiding spaces and mimic their natural habitat.
  • Rocks and Driftwood: Adding rocks and driftwood to your aquarium not only enhances the aesthetics but also provides hiding spots for your fish.

It is important to regularly maintain and clean these supplies to provide the best environment for your Filament Barb. By choosing suitable equipment and decorations for your tank, you will enhance the overall quality of your fish’s habitat and ensure their long-term health.

Filament Barb Tank Setup

When setting up a tank for your Filament Barb, it’s important to provide a spacious and comfortable environment for these active and beautiful fish. In general, a minimum tank size of 55 gallons (210 liters) is recommended for housing a small group of Filament Barb.

This is because they are social fish that need to live in groups and can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length.

  • Minimum tank size: 55 gallons (210 liters)
  • Tank shape: Long or shallow tanks are preferred
  • Decoration: Plenty of hiding places, driftwood, and plants

In general, you’ll want to focus on the following aspects when setting up your Filament Barb tank:

  • Substrate: A soft, sandy substrate is best for Filament Barbs, as it will not scratch or irritate their delicate barbels. Gravel can also work if it’s smooth and rounded.
  • Plants and decor: Filament Barbs appreciate a well-decorated, natural-looking aquarium. Incorporate live plants like Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocorynes, along with driftwood and rocks to create adequate hiding spots. Additionally, consider using floating plants to provide some shading and reduce direct light.
  • Filtration: Ensure you have a high-quality filtration system in your tank to maintain excellent water quality. Hang-on-back filters or canister filters are suitable options.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting levels are suitable for Filament Barbs. Avoid overly bright lighting as it can cause them stress.
  • Heating: Filament Barbs thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 79°F (22°C to 26°C). A heater with an adjustable thermostat is essential to maintain appropriate temperatures consistently.

Remember, a well-planned and maintained tank setup provides these sensitive and active fish with the ideal living conditions, allowing them to thrive and show their full potential.

Filament Barb Water Requirements

Maintaining the ideal water conditions for your Filament Barbs is crucial to their overall health and well-being. As a beginner, it’s important to closely monitor and maintain water parameters to ensure your Filament Barbs thrive in their new environment.


Filament Barbs come from tropical environments and require a stable water temperature of 72-79°F (22-26°C). Make use of a good quality aquarium heater and thermometer to regulate and monitor the temperature.

pH and Hardness

Filament Barbs thrive in soft to moderately hard water with a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. To keep the pH consistent, use a pH test kit and consider adding pH-adjusting products, if required.

Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate Levels

Maintain the following levels in your tank:

  • Ammonia: 0 ppm
  • Nitrite: 0 ppm
  • Nitrate: <20 ppm

Perform regular water tests with a water testing kit to ensure these levels are maintained. Promptly address any imbalances to avoid stress or harm to your fish.

Water Changes

  • Conduct 25-30% water changes every two weeks to maintain water quality.
  • Use a gravel vacuum to remove detritus and any leftover food that may have settled at the bottom of the tank.
  • Replace the removed water with properly treated and temperature-matched new water.

By closely monitoring water parameters and performing regular water changes, you will create an ideal environment for your Filament Barbs to flourish. With the right water conditions, your Filament Barbs will stay healthy and display their vibrant colors beautifully.

Filament Barb Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Filament Barb a balanced diet is essential to ensure your fish’s health and well-being. These fish thrive on a variety of high-quality foods, and providing this will keep them active and their colors vibrant.

Filament Barbs are omnivores, which means they enjoy eating both plant-based and protein-rich foods. It’s important to include both in their diet to meet their nutritional needs. Below is a list of suitable food options to consider:

  • High-quality flake food: Aim to provide flakes that contain a blend of plant and animal ingredients, ensuring a balanced diet for your fish.
  • Freeze-dried or frozen foods: These include daphnia, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and other protein-rich options. Make sure to thoroughly defrost frozen food before feeding it to your fish.
  • Vegetables: Blanched spinach, lettuce, and zucchini can be chopped into bite-sized pieces and added to their diet.
  • Live foods: Live foods such as tubifex worms can be an occasional treat to keep their diet diverse and stimulate their natural hunting instincts.

When feeding your Filament Barb, ensure not to overfeed them. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues. Instead, offer them small, frequent meals – around 2 to 3 times per day – providing enough food that they can consume in about two minutes.

Keep track of your fish’s eating habits, and don’t hesitate to adjust their diet as needed. A diverse and balanced diet will play a significant role in promoting the overall health and happiness of your Filament Barb.

Filament Barb Care Schedule

To ensure your Filament Barb’s health and happiness, it’s essential to establish and maintain a proper care schedule. This care schedule is divided into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to help you stay organized and keep your fish thriving.

Daily tasks:

  • Feeding: Feed your Filament Barb twice a day, providing small portions that can be consumed in three minutes or less. The size of the portions will vary depending on the size of your fish.
  • Observation: Spend some time each day observing your Filament Barb and its tank mates, carefully looking for any signs of distress or illness.

Weekly tasks:

  • Water testing: Perform water tests once a week to ensure that your tank’s water parameters are optimal for your Filament Barb and its tank mates. Monitor ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and temperature levels.
  • Water change: Perform a partial water change of approximately 25-30% of the tank volume once a week to maintain water quality.

Monthly tasks:

  • Aquarium cleaning: At least once a month, clean the aquarium by cleaning the substrate, removing algae build-up on the glass, and trimming any overgrown plants. Make sure to avoid using any harsh chemicals during these cleanings.
  • Filter maintenance: Check and clean your aquarium filter monthly. Replace any old filter media, following the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific model.

By following this care schedule, you will ensure that your Filament Barb remains healthy, happy, and stress-free, allowing you to enjoy these beautiful fish for years to come. Keep in mind that the consistency of care is critical to the success of keeping Filament Barbs, so staying committed to this schedule is vital for your fish’s well-being.

Filament Barb Health Problems

As with any fish, Filament Barbs are susceptible to various health issues. By maintaining a clean living environment and closely monitoring their behavior, you can prevent the majority of these problems.

Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a common disease that affects fish in both freshwater and marine environments. Symptoms include white spots on the fish’s body, rapid breathing, and rubbing against objects in the tank. A commercial ich treatment should be used if these symptoms appear, which typically involves increasing the water temperature and adding the treatment as per the instructions.

Fin Rot: This bacterial infection causes the fins to deteriorate and may ultimately lead to the death of your fish. Caused by poor water quality or injury, it can be treated with antibiotics or fin rot medication. Routine water testing and prompt treatment are crucial to prevent further spread.

Gill Flukes: Gill flukes are small parasites that latch onto the gills of fish, causing irritation and difficulty breathing. These can be treated with anti-parasitic medication specifically formulated for flukes. To prevent gill flukes, keep the tank clean and maintain proper water parameters.

Swim Bladder Disease: Filament Barbs may experience swim bladder disease, which affects their buoyancy. If your fish is swimming awkwardly or struggling to maintain their position in the water, check for signs of this disease. Increase fiber in their diet and ensure the water quality is optimal to treat the issue.

To keep your Filament Barbs healthy:

  • Regularly test water parameters
  • Maintain a clean, stress-free environment
  • Provide a nutritious, varied diet
  • Quarantine new fish before adding them to the main tank
  • Monitor your fish for any unusual behavior or signs of illness

Filament Barb Tank Mates

When it comes to Filament Barb tank mates, choosing the right companions for your aquarium is crucial. Filament Barbs are known to be peaceful and social fish, which means they can coexist with a variety of other species. However, there are certain types of fish that make better tank mates than others for Filament Barbs.

Ideal tank mates for Filament Barbs include:

  • Tetras: These small, colorful fish are an excellent match for Filament Barbs, as they share similar water requirements and are also peaceful by nature. You can easily keep Neon, Cardinal, or Rummy Nose Tetras with Filament Barbs.
  • Corydoras: Bottom dwellers like Corydoras help to maintain a balanced aquarium environment, and their peaceful temperament makes them ideal tank mates for Filament Barbs.
  • Danios: Zebra or Pearl Danios are known to be active and peaceful fish, making them suitable companions for Filament Barbs in the aquarium.
  • Rasboras: These small schooling fish share similar water requirements with Filament Barbs and typically get along well in a community tank.

Avoid placing Filament Barbs with aggressive fish species or those that might be prone to nipping at the Barb’s long filaments. Some species that you should consider avoiding as tank mates include:

  • Bettas
  • Cichlids
  • Red Tailed Sharks

Filament Barbs are social and harmonious fish that can flourish in a well-maintained community tank. By carefully selecting appropriate tank mates that share similar water parameters and peaceful dispositions, you can create a vibrant and interactive aquatic environment for your Filament Barbs and their companions.

Filament Barb Breeding

Breeding Filament Barbs can be an exciting challenge for any aquarium enthusiast, but it requires some preparation and careful attention to details. Providing the ideal environment and conditions for these fish to spawn can make a huge difference in the success of your breeding efforts.

Tank Setup: First and foremost, set up a separate breeding tank with a size of at least 55 gallons. This will ensure both privacy and space for the mating pair and their fry to grow. The breeding tank should have dim lighting, plenty of plants or spawning mops, and a sponge filter to protect the fry.

Water Parameters: Maintain the water temperature between 76-78°F, pH between 6-7, and water hardness of around 5 dGH. These parameters promote optimal breeding conditions for Filament Barbs.

Conditioning the Mating Pair: Provide a high-quality diet rich in live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp, for the mating pair to bring about their best breeding condition.

Breeding Process:

  • When the female appears plump with eggs and the male starts exhibiting vibrant colors, introduce them into the breeding tank.
  • Keep an eye on the tank, as you may notice the male adopting a courting dance to entice the female.
  • Once the mating pair is engaged in the breeding process, they will deposit their adhesive eggs onto the plants or spawning mops.
  • After the mating is completed, remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to protect the eggs from being eaten.

Caring for the Fry: Once the eggs have hatched, usually within 24-48 hours, start feeding the fry with infusoria or finely crushed fish flakes. Gradually introduce them to larger foods, such as baby brine shrimp, as they grow.

With patience, careful planning, and attention to details, you can effectively breed your Filament Barbs and start a new generation in your aquarium. Remember that providing the right conditions and diet is key to the overall success of the breeding process.


Setting up a suitable environment and properly caring for your Filament Barb will reward you with a beautiful and healthy aquarium inhabitant. Remember to monitor tank conditions, feed a balanced diet and choose compatible tank mates. If you have any additional questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below!

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