Hot Water Fish


  • Scientific name:  Barbus
  • Common name:  Barbel
  • Aquarium size:  Minimum 80 liters
  • Temperament: Calm and sociable
  • Temperature:  Between 20º and 28ºC
  • pH: Between 6.4 and 7
  • Diet: Omnivores
  • Length:  From a few centimeters, up to 1 meter or more


The genus of Barbos (Barbus), belongs to the family of the Cyprinids .

The name Barbo or Barbus is the most common, but there are certain controversies among scientists, who use
the term Puntius or Capoeta to name this genus, as you may have read in the scientific name of some of these specimens.
The most popular species of Barbel in aquariums come from Asia , although some are found in Africa. They are the least because their colors are more muted.

In Europe there are also Barbels, although they are larger and less showy species, which are only of interest to fishermen.


The common barbel has quite visible barbels or chins on the upper jaw. In other aquarium species they are much smaller, and sometimes they go almost unnoticed.

As we are talking about a very broad genus, we can find
barbels with very broad morphological varieties.

Some of the most important morphological characteristics of Barbels are:

  • They have almost cylindrical bodies, although it is true that we can find some species flattened laterally, such as the Tiger Barbel.
  • Their dorsal fins are usually tall and short
  • The anal fin is rather small, although in females it is somewhat longer. This morphological fact may be related to the way in which the fish spawns.
  • The fish’s snout is conical in shape, with a protractile and lowered mouth.
  • Its size varies greatly depending on the age of the specimen, being able to measure up to 1 meter in the Common Barbel, but we have very popular aquarium specimens that do not exceed 5 or 7 centimeters.


Within the genus Barbus, we have species of all colors, some with multiple colorations, vertical bands, etc.

What is common to all barbels is that they
are fish with very shiny scales, no matter what their color is, they all have a unique shine.

The coloration can vary according to their habitat in which they are developing and their maturity.

Sexual Dimorphism

There are really no appreciable differences between the male and the female , although female specimens can mature or grow faster, their physical characteristics are not so marked to identify the sex from afar.

Only an expert can tell a difference, especially by looking at their anal fin, which is usually slightly larger in females than in males.

Barbels for Aquarius

The size of the Common Barbel does not make it an ideal specimen for the aquarium, unless it is large or in any case for breeding in a pond.

the Barbel family is very large, these are some Barbel specimens that are easy to find to care for in the aquarium:

  • Clown barbel
  • Striped barbel
  • Caterpillar barbel
  • Gypsy barbel
  • Barbo Odessa
  • Barbel comizo
  • Pentazona barbel

Any of these types of barbel will be ideal to have in your home, since they have the special conditions for it: they
are the right size, they are easy to feed and can adapt very well to the habitat and the other fish that you place in the aquarium.

Distribution and habitat

In nature, Barbels inhabit the middle areas of rivers, where the current is not very strong, although during the spawning season they can go to areas with much stronger currents.

They prefer areas with bottoms with gravel or coarse sand.

It is not very common to find them in lakes or in waters without current.

Aquarium Conditions

Barbels require a good-sized aquarium, with dark colored substrates and gravel or coarse sand , which may be mixed with peat, as they like to dig at the bottom.
The water must be very well filtered , occasionally with a lot of vegetation that will favor the presence of oxygen and will favor the breeding of the Barbel in the aquarium, since the plants are the ideal place for their spawn.

The quality of the water must move between the following parameters:

  • Temperature: 20 ° C to 28 ° C.
  • pH: 6.4 to 7.
  • dH: 15º

Another important detail is the
length that the aquarium must have , and it must be from about 40 cm to 50 cm as a minimum, since they tend to need a lot of space and more if it is several individuals, with a minimum of 80 liters onwards.

Some varieties, such as
the Striped Barbel (Barbus fasciatus) need at least 200 liters and if we talk about the Common Barbel, the ideal is that it is in a pond and not in an aquarium.


A fish like this has a very varied diet, but how most Cyprinids like to feed on small animals, live prey such as brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex, enchytraeids , which must be supplemented with plant foods.

In the aquarium they will admit
good quality dry food , two or three times a day

Behavior and Compatibility

The Barbel is a sociable and gregarious fish , which needs the company of more individuals of its species, so it is convenient to have a small school of between 6 and 10 individuals.
It coexists perfectly with plecos, gouramis, tetras, corydoras …


This is an animal that reproduces fast and in large numbers , it is estimated that in one position the female lays up to 600 eggs.

This means that if you want to reproduce them yourself you
must have an aquarium with a capacity of at least 100 liters , in which we will introduce between 8 and 12 young specimens, which we will have to raise for eight to ten months, until they reach sexual maturity.

We will know that the female is pregnant because she swells, showing a rounded belly.

The males, on the other hand, intensify their colors and are aggressive towards the rest of the fish in the aquarium.

To be successful, the ideal is to
separate the couple to an independent aquarium, about 50 cm wide, with soft water and low mineralization.

The aquarium
should have some fine-leaved plants and a light substrate with gravel or a mixture of peat and fine sand.

Once we have detected the pregnant female,
spawning usually occurs in about 36 hours later.

The female will deposit the eggs attached to the plants, being fertilized immediately by the male.

Once the laying is finished,
the adult specimens must be removed, which usually eat the eggs.

The eggs hatch 24 to 36 hours after incubation.

During the first days they feed on the yolk sac, then they must be given infusoria or Artemia nauplius.

Barbel Fishing

Currently, fishing for Common Barbel is very common in Spain and the rest of Europe.

This practice has significantly decreased their numbers in recent years, especially due to fly fishing for barbel, a very popular method that despite being very difficult, draws the attention of all those who want to demonstrate their skill.

But fishing for Barbel is not the only threat from Barbel in our rivers,
hydraulic infrastructures, dams, pipelines, pollution, urban discharges … there are a number of causes for the population of these wonderful specimens to have decreased.

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