Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius): Ultimate Care Guide

Rosy Barbs (Pethia conchonius), are good fish for beginner aquarists. They are considered one of the hardiest small cyprinids available to purchase.

They can live in several habitats. They will live in flowing hill streams or in calmer lakes, ponds, or swamps. Rosy Barbs are native to Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Wild populations are found in several other countries too, including Singapore, Australia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Colombia.

These fish have a wide, torpedo-shaped body. They are pinkish-orange in color. The tail has a deep fork. The dorsal and anal fins are short. The fins are transparent and are a similar color to the color of their body. Many of the fish will have some black around the edges of the fins and body.

Rosy Barbs are an important fish in the aquarium trade. They are bred with other species of barbs to create hybrids called Tiger Barbs.

Rosy Barb Care

Rosy Barbs are a popular fish in the freshwater aquarium world. They are considered one of the hardiest barbs and are easy to care for. They can adapt to a wide range of conditions, but there are a few parameters that will help them thrive.


These fish live in subtropical climates in lakes and fast-flowing water. Rosy Barbs are not cold water fish. While they can live in waters that are in the lower 60s or maybe even colder, they prefer to live in warmer waters with a temperature range of 64 to 72°F.

Water pH

Rosy Barbs need a pH of 6 to 8. Water hardness should range from 5 to 19 dGH.

Rosy Barb Size

This species can grow up to 6 inches long and weigh up to 12 ounces. Rosy Barbs are considered mature when they hit 2.5 inches.

Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius)
Rosy Barb (Pethia conchonius)

Food & Diet

Rosy Barbs do not have stomachs. They have toothless jaws, so they have specialized gill rakers to chew their food. They are omnivorous fish that eat worms, insects, crustaceans, and plants in the wild.

Feeding them the proper foods in the aquarium will give Rosy Barbs the best coloration. They thrive with regular meals of small foods. They prefer a mix of live and frozen foods with some flakes or plant matter. Bloodworm, Daphnia, and Artemia are great. Good quality dried flakes and granules should be added too. They should have plant or algae matter in them.

Rosy Barbs will overeat if given the chance. They should be fed twice a day and the feeding should only last a couple of minutes to avoid weight gain in these fish.

Rosy Barb Lifespan

Rosy Barbs can live up to 5 years. They are hardy fish, but they are not invincible. Poor water conditions and lack of quality care can leave them susceptible to disease and stress. This can shorten their lifespan significantly.

Rosy Barb Tank Size

Tank size is an important part of keeping the fish healthy. For a group of five fish, they need at least a 20-gallon tank. They are shoaling fish, so the entire group needs to be considered when choosing a tank. If possible, a 30-gallon tank is better. This gives the fish more room to swim and explore.

Rosy Barb Tank Setup

Rosy Barbs adapt well to freshwater tanks. They can tolerate some level fluctuations, and as long as there are no extreme changes, they should be pretty happy. Rosy Barbs can also handle a higher level of nitrates, so there is no need to wait for a full nitrogen cycle to add them to the tank.

These fish are active. They like to swim and explore, so a well-decorated tank is preferred. Floating plants, driftwood, or branches will add a more natural feel to the tank. Caves, rocks, and other ornaments are also good.

Rosy Barbs are known for shredding plant leaves, so it might take some time to find out what mix of plants works. Plants with firm leaves are recommended like java ferns.

A base layer of sandy substrate should be added to the bottom of the aquarium. While the fish do not spend a lot of time at the bottom of the tank, the sand will help with plants. Darker sand will help the color of the fish pop. 

Good filtration is a must. These fish prefer highly oxygenated waters and a bit of water movement. Some aquarists find that a hang-on-back filter with a waterfall outlet works best.

Rosy Barbs are powerful jumpers that can easily hop out of a tank, so a lid is necessary.

Rosy Barb Breeding

Rosy Barbs will spawn often when they are kept in ideal conditions. In some cases, small numbers of fry will appear without any human intervention. There are a few steps to take to maximize these chances.

They are egg-scattering free spawners. This species does not exhibit any parental behavior and will eat the eggs if given the chance.

A separate breeding tank is recommended. It should be a 20 to 30-gallon tank that is set up similarly to the community tank. It should be dimly lit with a mesh barrier for the eggs to fall through where the adults can not get to them.

The female will appear swollen with eggs when she is ready to spawn. The males will chase the female nudging her head and belly. Rosy Barbs will lay several hundred eggs. This usually happens in the early morning and will last several hours. The eggs will most likely be dropped in plants.

When eggs are seen, it is best to remove the adults so they do not eat them. They will hatch in 1 or 2 days and will be free-swimming in about 6 days. They will eat the egg until they can swim, then they should be fed liquid food until they are big enough to eat small food like newly hatched brine shrimp. Once they grow a bit, they should be added to a bigger tank.

Male Rosy Barbs have been cross-bred with female tiger barbs, but when the hybrids reached maturity they were all sterile males.

How to tell the difference between Male and Female Rosy Barb?

During the mating period, the fish’s colors become bolder. The male will be a brighter pink and the female will be rounder. Males will have black edging on their fins, but females do not. Males are smaller, slimmer, and brighter colored than females. Tubercules will develop on the male’s head and snout, especially during the spawning season.

Rosy Barb Disease

These fish are hardy, but no fish is immune to diseases. The good news is most aquarists never have problems with these fish getting sick.

The most common disease seen in Rosy Barbs is Ich. It is one of the most prevalent freshwater diseases. It is caused by a parasite and is highly contagious. More good news, though! Ich can be treated easily with over-the-counter medicines if it is caught early enough. The best way to prevent this disease is to perform weekly water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrate levels from getting out of hand.

Rosy Barb Tank Mates

Rosy Barbs are a peaceful species that do well in community aquariums. They are active, hardy fish that are not too demanding. They should not be kept alone and will thrive in a shoal of 10. This will make them less nervous and allow the fish to display their best colors when they compete for female attention.

They can be kept with other small fish, but they can be aggressive toward other fish and will nip at fins. They can also get along with some types of snails and shrimp but will view some species of these animals as food. If that happens, they should be separated immediately.

Ghost Shrimp are said to be compatible with Rosy Barbs.

These fish can be combined with several other fish. It is part of what makes them so popular. Angelfish are a safe bet for tank mates. Other species of barbs such as Tiger Barbs and Cherry Barbs are good too.

Rosy Barbs and Goldfish can work together, but it takes a bit of work. The Rosy Barbs are fast swimmers who will eat everything, so it is important to make sure the Goldfish get enough to eat too. Fin nipping may be an issue with this combo too.

Dwarf Gourami, Mollies, Swordtails, Pearl Danios, and Neon Tetras are also good choices for tank mates. Always check to make sure all of the fish are compatible with each other before adding them to a community tank.

Rosy Barbs will not do well with aggressive or territorial tank mates. Oscars are a definite no-no. Guppies can not be kept with any species of Barbs because of their flowy fins. They will be nipped at and hurt by the Barbs.

Where can I find Rosy Barb for sale?

Rosy Barbs are not a hard fish to find. They are available to order online from a variety of places as well as fish stores and stores like Petco. They usually cost $2 to $5 each.

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