Barbs are extremely popular aquarium fish for their bright colors, bold temperament and hardiness. The gold barb, also called the Schuberti barb, has striking gold coloring with black or green speckles along its sides. It’s actually a strain of the green Chinese barb, but selectively bred for a much more noticeable color than its dull green counterpart. As a smaller barb, gold barbs are often recommended to beginners for small 10G-30G startup aquariums. In my 20 years of keeping fish, these are some of my favorites because they’re easy keepers, easy to breed, and a lot of fun to watch.
Basic needs of the gold barb
As with most barbs, the gold barb can live in temperatures ranging from about 70 to 77 degrees. They’re not overly picky about the exact temperature, but it is important to avoid sudden changes. Gold barbs are schooling fish that need to be kept in groups; ideally you’ll have five or more in the tank, but not less than three. These barbs reach lengths of about 3″ apiece, and should have no less than three gallons per fish. The fish you see in pet stores are almost always juveniles, so expect them to get bigger. The average life span of a gold barb is 5-6 years.
Gold barbs need a variety of food. Just like any other aquarium fish, they can’t thrive on flake food alone. They are indiscriminate eaters, however, and will readily munch virtually anything that you put in the tank. Feed live grindal worms or micro worms, mosquito larva, baby brine shrimp (BBS), pellets, flakes, freeze-dried shrimp and bloodworms, virtually any kind of flake, and algae wafers. Barbs are also notorious for chewing on live plants, so don’t house them with any delicate plant species.
Gold barb temperament and tank mates
While some barbs, such as the ever-popular tiger barb, can be somewhat aggressive and nippy with its tank mates. The gold barb tends to be a little more laid back, making it a safer tank mate for smaller community fish such as small and medium-sized tetras, smaller danios, cherry barbs, mollies and more. Try to pick fish that are a similar size to the gold barbs. Whenever you’re unsure, closely observe the interactions with new additions to the tank to make sure that no harm comes to any of the fish.
Breeding gold barbs
Before you even think about breeding your gold barbs, do some thorough research on exactly what’s required to take care of the resulting fry. Each breeding results in about 100-150 eggs. Make sure that you’re prepared to take care of all of the offspring, including long-term care in case they don’t find other homes, before encouraging your gold barbs to breed.
Gold barbs scatter their eggs when they spawn, and then they’ll eat any that they can reach. Set up your breeding tank with dense foliage, a breeding mop, or a substrate that allows eggs to fall out of reach. Marbles work very well for an egg-scatterers substrate, as does a plastic canvas platform at the bottom of the tank.
Make sure you have a pair of gold barbs, and place them alone together in the prepared breeding tank. Females have a rounded body, a little duller color than the males, and are usually a little larger than the males. The brighter-colored male will show a pink or reddish belly when he’s ready to mate. Barbs generally spawn at or near dawn. Check the tank first thing every morning, and remove the pair as soon as they lay their eggs.
Overall, the gold barb is a low-maintenance fish that’s excellent for beginners. Note that no fish is “zero maintenance,” but the barb will tolerate a lot of beginner mistakes. With their versatility and eye-catching color, they make a great addition to a wide range of tanks for your home or business.