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Pethia nigrofasciata - Black Ruby Barb


  • Pethia nigrofasciata - Black Ruby Barb

    Photo thanks to

    Scientific name: Pethia nigrofasciata
    Common name: Black Ruby barb
    AKA: Purple-headed barb/ Purplehead barb/ Ruby barb
    Mistakenly or previously labelled: Barbus nigrofasciatus/ Puntius nigrofasciatus

    Country of origin: South Asia – Sri Lanka
    pH: 5.5 – 7.5 (wild – 5.5 – 7.0)
    Temperature: 20 - 27c
    Hardness: 36 – 268 ppm
    Water flow: standard - high
    Oxygenation: standard

    Maximum size: 5.5 cm

    Diet: Live, frozen, flake & pellet foods – it is an omnivore. It does best with regular live food and some vegetable matter, such as spirulina and algae wafers.

    Males: smaller, slimmer, brighter colours (especially when spawning)
    Females: larger, rounder, duller colours

    They are an egg scatterer, and if provided with a mop or sufficient moss or plants, they can lay eggs, however they need to be kept from them by a division in the tank, or removal of the eggs or fish. They will not provide any care, so removal of the parents is still the best plan, as they will eat their eggs and fry. Breed in a separate tank in a pair or a group.

    Lifespan: years

    Tank companions:

    They are NOT good tank companions with shrimps.

    They are a schooling species. They should be kept in groups of 8+ to spread the aggression in the group.

    Like tiger barb species (there are many similar looking fish with this common name), they have a nasty reputation for nipping (particularly other species), but this is often curbed by keeping them in a group. They should not be kept with species with long, trailing fins (such as bettas or paradise fish) for this reason.

    These fish are closely related to the Systomus (tiger barb) species, and are used to cross-breed with them.

    They are peaceful and shy. Other tankmates of a similarly peaceful nature & size are ideal, such as loaches, tetras that are large enough not to fit in their mouths, etc.

    As with any fish they will eat any fish small enough to fit in their mouths, and equally can be eaten by any fish large enough to eat them. This should be taken into account when choosing tankmates.

    Stocking plans can be checked with

    Minimum tank size is 2.5 ft for a small group. More room is needed for a larger group and/or tankmates.

    They could be kept in a heavily planted tank with open areas for swimming, floating plants for cover, dark substrate and driftwood, or a biotype with sand (or 2Tone’s DIY substrate), rounded rocks, driftwood, plants and floating plants.

    It is hardier than many other barbs, and a good fish for beginners.

    Confused with:
    There are other recognised species in the genus, which are allowable imports to Australia:
    Puntius conchonius - Rosy Barb - Pethia conchonius
    Puntius cumingii - Cummings Barb, Two Spot Barb – Pethia cumingii
    Puntius nigrofasciatus - Ruby Barb/ Black ruby barb/ Purplehead barb - Pethia nigrofasciata
    Pethia padamya - Odessa barb Puntius padamya/ Ruby barb/ Scarlett barb
    Puntius ticto - Ticto Barb/ Cuming’s barb/ Twospot barb - Pethia ticto

    Until recently these and many other genus were known as Puntius – this is still the genus name given on the allowable import list.

    Very few are now wild caught, with the majority commercially bred. Sri Lanka have made it illegal to export this fish, so in theory, if not in practice, all fish in the trade should be commercially bred.

    Be careful if buying from a store or calling the fish by its common name, as Pethia padamya, the Odessa barb is also known as the Ruby barb.

    Puntius nigrofasciatus (previous synonym) are legal imports to Australia as of 27/01/2014 (list last updated 16/10/13).

    The IUCN Red List reports Puntius nigrofasciatus (previous synonym) as a species which is Lower Risk/conservation dependent, at 01/02/2014. The report is listed as overdue for updating. Seriously fish lists the species as at risk of extinction:
    It is very important not to release any aquarium specimens into our waterways. Any that are not sold or re-homed/ given away, can often be re-sold to aquarium stores. If they are homed in ponds, care should be taken that they cannot escape in run-off into our waterways. Even if fish are native & local they should not be moved from one waterway to another, as this can transfer disease. If they are not local fish, they can both spread disease and either out-compete or eat local fish, shrimp & plants, causing their demise.

    They are good fish for beginners.

    Relevant threads:

    Look impressive:

    Wiped out a shrimp colony:

    Feeder fish rescued:

    Rosy barbs may eat hair algae:

    Rosy barbs eat duckweed:

    Systomus pentazona, Five banded barb:

    Filamentosa barb recommendation:



    Seriously Fish:


    Pics & threads with pics:

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