Panda Barb (Haludaria fasciata): Ultimate Care Guide

Common Name(s)Red Panda Barb, Ember Barb, Melon Barb
Scientific NameHaludaria fasciata
Difficulty LevelEasy
OriginIndian Subcontinent
Temperature72 – 79° F (22° – 26° C)
Size 2.4 – 2.8 inches (6 – 7 cm)
Minimum Tank Size30-40 gallons for a group of 6 – 8
Food & DietGeneralist omnivore. High quality live or frozen foods; flakes with algae
LifespanUp to 5 years
Water pH6.0 – 7.5; neutral and slightly acidic
Tank MatesYes; other barbs, calm, non-territorial
Difficulty to BreedModerate
Panda Barb (Haludaria fasciata)
Panda Barb (Haludaria fasciata). Edited. Haplochromis, CC BY-SA 3.0

Panda Barb Facts

Haludaria fasciata, commonly known as the Panda Barb, Red Panda Barb or Melon Barb, is a tropical freshwater barb fish in the Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae. This species is found throughout tropical, calm waters surrounding the Indian subcontinent. It is a popular community aquarium fish because of its peaceful nature, beautiful array of colors, and general ease of maintenance and care. This species of fish is great for beginners and intermediate aquarists. A particular trait of fascination with these small cyprinids are their distinctive color patterns that are more pronounced in males compared to females and is thought to be used as a mechanism for sexual reproduction. For example, male panda barbs may show orange-gold or red-pink colors with distinctive, 3-5 black bars across their bodies.     

How to Care for Panda Barb

Are Panda Barb easy to care for? Absolutely! Panda barb fish can make great additions to community aquariums because they are generally docile and peaceful, eat a variety of foods, are hardy and pleasant to look at. They are best for beginners but also do great with expert aquarists and are considered easy to care for. The best environment for your panda barb fish is a 30-40 gallon tank with enough filtration to mimic a slow-moving stream. The temperature can range from 72 – 79° F (22° – 26° C). The best pH is neutral to slightly acidic (6.0 – 7.5). Hard water is fine and can generally range from 36 – 179 ppm. Fresh or brackish water is fine too but make sure to avoid acidic conditions.  Finally, aim to add dense vegetation and leaf litter as they do best in planted aquariums that mimic their natural habitat of shallow, quiet bodies of water with submerged cover. To bring out the best features of this species, consider adding dark substrate such as sand or gravel with some natural dark litter such as small logs, rocks, or branches and under dim lighting.  Adding these features can help make the attractive colors of the panda barb fish really stand out. 

The average adult size of a panda barb fish is between 2.4 – 2.8 inches (6 – 7 cm), while the average juvenile panda barb is 1.5 – 2 inches (3.8 – 5 cm). Although they are peaceful, they tend to be fast-moving and especially brisk and forceful during feeding or breeding. They tend to do best with other similar-bodied, fast and active tankmates. The best tankmates for panda barb fish are other barbs, like Denison Barbs, or similar freshwater cyprinids like danios or rasboras. Incompatible tank mates include any territorial or aggressive species such as cichlids.  Panda barbs are schooling fish and should be kept with schools of at least 8 – 10 specimens.

Panda barb fish are omnivorous scavengers in the wild and feed on mostly plant matter and tiny invertebrates. Panda barb fish are no fussy eaters. To bring out the best colors and optimal health for your panda barbs, feed them frequent meals of frozen or live foods such as daphnia or bloodworms. High quality dried flakes and granules can be fed as well but aim for products with high algae or plant content such as Spirulina.

On average, you can expect panda barb fish to live between 3 – 5 years depending on maintenance and care. 

Breeding Panda Barb

As a general rule, male panda barbs are more brightly colored with red or black markings on their dorsal fin. Females tend to be larger or fuller bodied, especially during breeding. Panda barb fish tend to scatter their eggs after breeding and will spawn in dimly lit tanks with dense vegetation or substrates such as rocks which are used for attachment and defense. Best spawning conditions are warm water (high 70’s° F) and neutral to slightly acidic waters. It is best to purchase a large group of panda barbs with equal sex ratios and allow them to find their own mates. Eggs typically hatch within a day or two which is followed by free swimmers 24 hours later. Make sure to offer infusoria grade food for juveniles and as they grow larger, substitute for baby brine shrimp or other small live or frozen invertebrates.

Common Disease in Panda Barb

Some diseases, which affect other barbs as well, include dropsy which is caused by bacteria. Symptoms include lethargy and bloated bellies. Unfortunately, no successful treatments have been documented; The best form of treatment is preventative. Ich disease is a common disease among tropical-fish aquariums and is caused by parasites. Common symptoms include white spots across the body of the fish. Treatments include a process for dealing with the parasites first then allowing the fish to naturally fight off infection. Ich disease may leave open wounds which may lead to secondary infections so secondary treatment is advised. In general, maintaining proper water chemistry and suitable tanks mates, as well as a balanced diet helps prevent most disease that affect tropical fish.  

Where can I find Panda Barb for Sale?

Local aquarium hobby shops or online retailers have panda barbs for sale. The average price is around $5 but can be less if purchasing a juvenile or more depending on species, health, and group purchasing.

Panda Barb vs Tiger Barb

It can be hard to differentiate between a panda barb and tiger barb unlike other barb species. The main difference is morphological. Whereas the tiger barb may come in black, silver, or albino, the panda barb is more boldly colored with a greater variety of colors such as red-pink or orange-gold or sometimes purple. Panda barbs tend to have slimmer upper and lower profiles in terms of body shape whereas tiger barbs tend to be more oblong. 

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