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If you’re looking to get a thrilling aquarium experience with small freshwater fish species, Gold barb or Chinese barb should be your top choice.
The Gold Barb or Chinese Barb, Puntius semifasciolatus is a beautiful popular freshwater fish reaching about 3 inches in length. They are native to Asia with a lifespan of around five years in captivity. There’s so much to know about the Gold barbs and I’ll explain everything in detail in this article.
- The female Gold barb is larger, rounder, and a bit duller than the male Gold barbs.
- During mating, males show beautiful bright colors that may appear a bit different from their original colors. The belly of males becomes pinkish or reddish brown.
- They are omnivores and eat a varied diet, both in captivity and natural habitat
- The eggs of Gold barbs are photosensitive. Thus, keep the breeding tank away from direct light until the fish fry is one to two weeks old.
|Scientific Name||Barbodes semifasciolatus|
|Common Names||Golden Barb, Schubert’s Barb, Green Barb, Half Stripped Barb, China Barb, Chinese Half Stripped Barb, and Six Banded Barb|
|Origin||Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam|
|Lifespan||5 to 7 years|
|Tank Level||Bottom and middle Dweller|
|Minimum Tank Size||20 Gallons|
|Temperature Range||65 to 75 F°|
|Water Hardness||5 to 25 dH|
|pH Range||6 to 8|
|Filtration/Water Flow||Slow to moderate|
|Difficulty to Breed||Very easy|
|OK, for Planted Tanks?||Yes|
What are they?
Gold barbs come with many names, which can be confusing at times. They go by Golden Barb, Schubert’s Barb, Green Barb, Half Stripped Barb, China Barb, Chinese Half Stripped Barb, and Six Banded Barb in the aquarium trade.
But before moving further, let me clarify—Gold Barbs and Golden Barb or Gold-finned Barbs are NOT the same. The Gold barb is also commonly known as Shubertii barb, referring to Tom Shubert of Camden, New Jersey, USA. Tom Shubert develop the Gold barb through selective breeding in the 1960s.
The gold barb or Chinese half-striped barb is a golden yellow colored freshwater fish in captivity. However, in their natural habitat, they have a greenish tint which is rarely available in the aquarium trade.
Origin and Habitat
The Gold barbs come from Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Hence, called the Chinese barb. The native habitat of Gold Barbs is the Red River Basin, the Mekong Basin. They are also intentionally introduced in some places like Hong Kong, Uruguay, and Hawaii.
As mentioned earlier, in the wild, they have a greenish tint which is almost obsolete in the aquarium trade because the golden color is mostly preferred which is a result of years of selective breeding.
Gold barbs are yellowish golden in color. They are the fish species you’ll easily find in pet stores with their beautiful little existence that graces your aquariums. However, in the wild, they are naturally green.
The Gold barbs are mostly entirely golden in color with small distributions of black dots or patches along the lateral line or upper half of their bodies. The rest of the body is usually solid gold in color with the fins; transparent and see-through. Through selective breeding, some distinct species are bred with red fins.
Their head has a mouth with short barbels at the corner. The eyes are jet black, large on each side.
The most interesting thing about Gold barb is their wild and captive species were thought to be of different species because of the differences in appearance. However, as time progressed, it is now confirmed that they are both the same species.
The female gold barb has a round belly and a large body. They are duller in color than the male gold barb. The males, on the other hand, are brightly colored and may develop red bellies when they are ready to mate.
The lifespan of Gold barb is around 5 to 6 years in captivity if they receive proper care and nutritious food.
China barb is small freshwater fish that easily fit in a standard small to moderate capacity aquarium. They grow around 3 inches in length.
Gold barbs are schooling fish that need ample space in their aquariums for free swimming. These fish species dwell in the mid-level of the tank. Also, they appreciate a lot of hiding places in the tank. Thus, I recommend adding hiding spaces such as caves, rocks, and driftwood.
Also, the small size of these fish species allows you to keep them in a large community tank for a safer, healthy environment. Above all, the tank water should be maintained and cleaned throughout for their happy and healthy survival. The water parameters should be optimal as these fish species do great in soft, slightly acidic water.
Since they are schooling, peaceful fish, I recommend setting up a tank for at least a group of 6 or more. That too, plenty of open space for free swimming.
You should also mimic the tank environment as their natural habitat to make their tank feel like home.
Even though the Gold barb is not finicky about its water requirements, it’s best to keep the temperature range within 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The tank of Gold barb doesn’t have a heater because they are tropical fish that thrive in cooler water temperatures.
It is also recommended to provide them with the current in the tank to attain the feeling of free-flowing rivers and streams in their natural habitat.
Since Gold barbs are active fish that prefer to live in a group of 6 or more, the bare minimum tank size is 20 gallons.
The Gold barb loves cooler waters as compared to most tropical freshwater fish. Their tanks should be unheated except for a breeding tank. Also, they prefer fairly soft and acidic water with a neutral water pH (7)
pH: 6 – 8
Water Temperature:65°F – 75°F
Water Hardness: 5° to 25° DH
Filtration and Aeration
Like most fish, the Gold barb loves a clean, hygienic tank. And it’s only possible with an efficient, working filter.
For gold barbs, the excellent choice is a hang on the back filter for two main reasons:
- They are very economical and efficient
- They provide current to the fish tank
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Gold barbs come from places where there is ample daylight. Hence, standard aquarium lighting will be excellent for their survival. I suggest getting adjustable, dimmable LED aquarium lights.
Aquatic Plants and Decoration
Gold barb dwells in the middle of the tank. Thus, consider the number of aquatic plants and decorations because they also appreciate free swimming space. I recommend adding grasses for the lower part of the tank and long-stemmed or floating plants that go upwards. Such plants will provide shelter to your fish and since Gold barb are shoaling species, they will encourage the shoaling behavior as well.
Also, for tank decor, you can add driftwood, rocks, or caves to provide them with sufficient hiding places.
The tank maintenance for Gold barb is easy. Therefore, they are ideal for beginner aquarists. These are hardy fish that need simple water and tank requirements to be happy, healthy, and thriving.
You need to consider maintaining the preferred water conditions for Gold barb and they will survive for around 5 to 7 years easily. Also, clean the tank regularly and do partial water changes weekly. Wipe away the access algae and other debris that’s accumulated in your tank.
I highly recommend investing in a water testing kit and using it weekly to help prevent diseases and other problems beforehand.
Make sure to keep the tank clean in all circumstances because an unclean tank leads to many fatal diseases.
The beautiful bright yellowish golden color will accentuate better on dark substrates and decors. Thus, many seasoned aquarists prefer a dark substrate in the Gold barb tank.
You can use a fine-grained soft substrate for the bottom where the Barbs occasionally come and scratch the gravel.
Community Tank Mates
Since Gold barbs are active fish, keep them with similarly sized peaceful fish and activity levels for competence in a community tank. Also, gold barbs are fin nippers, thus, avoid keeping them with slow-moving, long-finned fish including angelfish, guppies, betta fish, and Endlers Guppies.
The gold barbs are schooling fish and love being in a group of 6 or more. However, I don’t recommend keeping them larger, more aggressive, or predatory fish.
The best community tank mates for Gold barbs are:
- Paraguay Tetras
- Buenos Aires Tetras
- Colombian Tetras
- Pristella Tetras
- Rummy nose tetras
- Neon Tetras
- Cardinal Tetras
- Cherry barbs
- Smaller danios
- Green Chinese Barb
- Rosy barbs
However, if you’re too skeptical about keeping Gold barbs in a community aquarium due to their semi-aggressive nature, always consult an expert.
Here’s some great news!
Breeding Gold barb is super easy at home!
The bad news is, that they eat their eggs and fry themselves, so you will have to hatch the eggs and raise the fry yourself.
They scatter their eggs all over the aquarium. Therefore, I recommend fine-leaved plants in the breeding tank (video source).
To start the breeding process, first, prepare a separate breeding tank. But before introducing them to the breeding tank, I suggest sexing the fish and putting them on a high protein diet such as brine shrimp. After a few days of a high-protein diet, they are ready to be introduced into the breeding tank.
Setting up a separate breeding tank
- Add fine-leaved plants to the breeding tank to collect their eggs. For example Java moss.
- If you want to add substrate, choose a fine substrate, otherwise leave the bottom bare.
- Set up a gentle flow and install a sponge filter to keep the tank clean.
- Place a spawning mop or mesh cover to collect the eggs before they are eaten by their parents
- Once the female lays the eggs, remove both of the parents from the breeding tank.
- Maintain the water temperatures around 78 to 80 degrees and adjust the lighting water ph should be around 6 to 7 and water hardness around 8 dGH.
- The female Gold barb releases around 300 eggs at a time that are later fertilized by a male.
- The spawning takes place early morning when the tank receives ample light.
- After the spawning and the removal of parents, you need to hatch the eggs artificially. However, the tank should be treated with an antifungal agent with optimal parameters such as the breeding tank.
- Hatching takes place after 3 to 5 days of spawning.
- The young fry feed on the yolk sac. Then after a few days, they are fed infusoria and other appropriate foods.
- The larvae and fry are photosensitive. Thus, keep the tank dark.
- In the first few weeks, feed the fry with freshly hatched brine shrimp and fine fry food.
Food and Diet
Being omnivores, the Gold barbs are easy to feed. They will accept anything readily available to them. However, we recommend a healthy and varied diet for their better nourishment.
You should feed your Gold barbs with protein-rich food for vibrant colors. Also, since gold barbs are active fish, they need proper nourishment for adequate energy.
You can also feed them any flake food, frozen foods, or non-vegetarian food such as brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, grindal worms, daphnia, micro worms, blood worms, and frozen worms.
How often should you feed them?
Feed them once or twice daily, but keep an eye on the uneaten food. You should only feed what they can consume in under 1 minute.
Common Health Problems & Diseases
The best thing about Gold barbs is they are hardy fish that are not prone to diseases. However, if they are provided with unclean tank conditions, they may develop infections and diseases detrimental to them. Thus, always strive for a hygienic and clean aquarium.
Are they peaceful?
Gold barbs are considered semi-aggressive fish as they might nip on their long-finned friends. Therefore, we don’t recommend keeping them with most long-finned fish such as the Siamese fighting fish (Betta fish).
Are they cold water fish?
Yes, gold barbs are popular cold-water fish that prefers moderate current with some flow from the powerhead.
Do they jump?
Yes, Gold barbs are active fish that often play in the filter outflow. You will usually find them trying to jump into the filter. Thus, I recommend investing in a tank lid.
What fish can go with them?
The best community tank mates for Gold barbs are:
Buenos Aires Tetras
Rummy nose tetras
Green Chinese Barb
Are they aggressive?
No, they are not aggressive. But because they are fin nippers, Gold barbs are considered semi-aggressive.
How many can be kept together?
Gold barbs are popular schooling fish that should be kept in a group of 6 or more.
What do they fish eat?
They are omnivores and eat almost everything. However, their diet should be rich in protein and other plant matter for better nourishment and elevated activity levels.
Are they friendly?
Yes, despite their fin-nipping nature, the Gold barbs are peaceful, friendly schooling fish for their suitable gold barb tank mates.
Gold barbs are excellent small, freshwater fish that brings life to your boring aquariums. Their super hardy nature and ease of care make them ideal for beginner aquarists. However, always keep an eye on their tank environment as an unclean tank may result in their deteriorating health.
Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping – both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.