Puntius titteya – Cherry barb

Punius titteya or Cherry Barb, is a beautiful species. Their bright red colours make these fish a wonderful addition to the aquarium.

Puntius titteya – Cherry barb

Puntius titteya was for the first time described by Deraniyagala in 1929. However, over the course of time, several synonyms have emerged. These synonyms are: Barbus titteya and Capoeta titteya. Currently, Puntius titteya is still seen as the valid name for this species.

The common name of these fish is Cherry barb. This name is a reference to the red colouration of these fish.


Cherry barbs have a distinctive dark to bright red colour. The brightness of their colouration is dependent on the mood and sex of these barbs. Male specimens of Puntius titteya display brighter colours than females which are darker. This distinction becomes especially clear when the fish are ready to mate. During this period, the males will display their red colour at their best to impress females. Even though their body is entirely red, dorsally the fish are darker coloured than on their bellies. Besides the red colour, a dark, horizontal bar runs across the body from the head of the fish until the caudal fin.

Distribution and habitat

Puntius titteya inhabits waters that flow through the tropical forests of Sri Lanka. In these waters, the fish are mainly found in those parts that are in the shade. Research has shown that the substrate of these rivers consist of sand and silt. In addition, the current is weak to not present at all.

Measurements by researchers showed that Cherry barbs live in their natural habitat at a water temperature ranging from 22°C to 25°C. Meanwhile the pH of the streams varies between 5.2 and 7.1.


Puntius titteya is an omnivore. In their natural habitat, Cherry barbs eat algae, detritus, insects and their larvae. This omnivorous diet makes it important to create enough variation in their menu. Fortunately, they are not picky eaters. Therefore, besides frozen and live food, fabricated foods is easily accepted.

The aquarium

Cherry Barbs prefer an aquarium with dimmed lights. In addition, a dark substrate will enhance the colouration of the fish. Heavily planting the aquarium and placing driftwood, creates a sufficient amount of hiding places for the fish. Furthermore, placing leaves on the substrate will mimic the natural habitat of the fish.

Puntius titteya is a peaceful species and will not attack specimens of their own species nor from other species. However, as these barbs are schooling fish, keep them with enough specimens of their own species. This will not only make these fish less shy, they will also display more colour and more interesting behaviour.


Puntius titteya is easy to breed and they can do so in a community aquarium. However, since these fish do eat their own eggs and fry, setting up a separate breeding tank will increase the yield. The aquarium for breeding will need to be decorated with materials that prevent the fish from eating their eggs. For this purpose breeding mops or mosses can be placed in the aquarium. In addition, placing a substrate of marbles prevent the parents from reaching the eggs that fall between the marbles. Finally, a grid can also be placed above the substrate. The mesh of this grid should be large enough for the eggs to fall through, but small enough for the parents to reach the eggs. In addition to these measures, the lights should be dimmed. Moreover, the water needs to be slightly acidic and the water temperature should be on the high side of the above mentioned range.

When the breeding aquarium is set up, fish which are ready to mate can be introduced. In their natural habitat, Puntius titteya will spawn during the whole year. Therefore, mimicking a shower during the monsoon is not necessary. Spawning will occur in the morning. When all the eggs are laid, the Cherry Barbs should be captured.

After 24 to 48 hours, the eggs will hatch. Another 24 hours later, the fry will start to swim freely. As of this point they can be fed with infusoria. Larger food types such as artemia nauplii and micro worms can be provided after the fry has grown slightly larger.



R. Eltingh


R. Eltingh

Copyright images

John de Lange

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Additional information





Length minimum

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Temperature maximum

pH minimum

pH maximum

GH minimum

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Social Behaviour

Breeding Behaviour





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