Black ruby barb Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 11, 2022

The Black Ruby Barb is a beautiful, peaceful freshwater fish that is perfect for beginners.

This species is hardy, easy to care for, and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions. They’re also very active and will add a lot of movement to your tank.

If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly fish that is also stunning, the Black Ruby Barb is a great choice.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about Black Ruby Barb care. Tank size, diet, lifespan, and more.

Species overview

Black ruby barbs (Puntius nigrofasciatus) are a schooling fish that is native to Sri Lanka and India.

They prefer slow-moving waters with a lot of vegetation. This is something that is common to many barb species.

In the wild, these fish eat a diet of plants and small invertebrates. They are peaceful and can be compatible with a wide variety of tank mates.

The main draw of the black ruby barb is its striking black and red coloration. This makes it a popular choice for many freshwater aquariums.


Black ruby barb

The Black Ruby Barb is a very beautiful fish that is, as the name suggests, black with a touch of ruby red. The ruby color is usually found around the fins and the face of the fish. The body of the fish is a deep black color that can almost look blue in certain lights.

The fins on the Black Ruby Barb are where you’ll see the most color. The dorsal fin is tall and thin with a slight curve at the top. The ruby color is most prominent on the tips of the dorsal and caudal fins.

The anal fin is similar in shape to the dorsal fin but is a bit shorter. The pectoral fins are also ruby-tipped and very thin.

All of the fins on the Black Ruby Barb are translucent which gives them a very ethereal look.

This is a fairly small fish, only growing to be about 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) at most.


Black ruby barbs typically live for around 5 years. However, there have been cases of these fish living up to 10 years old!

As with any other fish, the lifespan of black ruby barbs can be affected by a number of factors. Poor water quality, for example, can shorten their lifespan significantly.

Stressful tank mates or a lack of food can also be detrimental to their health and lead to an early death.


The maximum size of a Black Ruby Barb is about 2 inches in length when fully grown. It’s not uncommon for these fish to stop growing at 1 inch depending on their level of care and genetic factors.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a black ruby barb is 10 gallons. This fish is a schooling fish so you should keep at least 5-6 fish together. If you want to keep a school of 10-12 fish then you should have a 20 gallon tank.

While you can keep a single black ruby barb in a 10 gallon tank, we recommend against it. These fish are much happier when they’re in a group and a smaller tank will only cause stress. A stressed fish is more likely to get sick and is less likely to breed.

Water Parameters

The black ruby barb is a freshwater fish that is native to Southeast Asia. In the wild, they can be found in slow-moving rivers and streams with a sandy substrate.

Since they come from warm water habitats, they prefer water that is on the warmer side. They can tolerate a wide range of pH levels, but prefer neutral to slightly acidic water.

As for water hardness, they prefer soft to medium hardness. In terms of alkalinity, they prefer slightly alkaline to neutral water.

Here are some ideal water parameters for black ruby barbs:

  • Water temperature: 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.8 to 7.6
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 6-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

When it comes to setting up the inside of an aquarium for black ruby barbs you can be as creative as you want. There aren’t any specific things that this species NEEDS to have, which gives you plenty of options.

We recommend some of the standard decorations that you find in a lot of freshwater tanks. There are a ton of great plants you can include (like hornwort or water wisteria). You can even throw in some floating aquarium plants too!

Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all suitable as well. It’s important to avoid going overboard with this since these fish like some room to swim.

Also, if you’re keeping your black ruby barbs in a smaller tank then it’s going to be difficult to include a lot of this stuff anyway.

A classic gravel substrate is always a good choice, but you can do with something soft and sandy if needed too (use other species you keep as a guide with this).

Common Diseases

Black Ruby barbs are a pretty hardy fish, so they don’t often get sick. However, like all animals, they can still fall ill if the conditions in their tank are not ideal.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a pretty common freshwater fish disease that is caused by a parasite.

The most obvious symptom of ich is the presence of white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish. If you notice this, it’s important to act fast and begin treatment immediately.

If ich is left untreated, it can quickly become fatal for your fish. However, if you act quickly and get your fish to a vet, they will usually make a full recovery.

Another disease that black ruby barbs can experience is swim bladder disease. This is a condition that affects the swim bladder, which is a buoyancy control organ.

This can cause your fish to float to the surface of the water and have difficulty swimming. If you notice this, it’s important to take your fish to the vet as soon as possible.

Swim bladder disease is usually treatable, but it can quickly become fatal if it’s not dealt with.

Behavior & Temperament

Black ruby barbs are one of the more peaceful fish on our list. They do well in community tanks and get along with most other fish. The only fish we wouldn’t recommend keeping them with are very small fish that could fit into their mouths. Other than that, they are relatively non-aggressive.

Since they are schooling fish, they do best when they are kept in groups of at least six. This will allow them to feel more comfortable and secure in their environment. When they’re kept in smaller groups, they can be a little skittish.

Black ruby barbs are active fish that enjoy swimming around the tank. They are known to be good jumpers, so make sure your tank is covered! These fish are also known to be fin nippers, so keep an eye on them if you have fish with long, flowing fins.

Tank Mates

The black ruby barb is a peaceful, social fish. In the wild, they live in schools of hundreds of individuals. As a result, they’re used to being around other fish and do best when kept in groups.

In the aquarium, a group of six black ruby barbs is a good starting point. From there, you can add more fish as long as you have the space.

These fish are also relatively easy to care for. As long as you provide them with clean water and a few hiding spots, they’ll be happy.

Some compatible tank mates for black ruby barbs include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • Cardinal Tetras
  • Guppies
  • Platies
  • Mollies
  • Swordtails


Black ruby barbs are easy to breed in captivity. The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 10 gallons and filled with soft, slightly acidic water. You can use a sponge filter to avoid sucking up the fry.

Next, add some java moss or other plants for the fry to hide in. Don’t forget a few pieces of driftwood too. The tannins will help to lower the pH of the water.

When your tank is set up, add two females for every male. These fish are prolific breeders, so you may end up with more fry than you know what to do with!

To trigger spawning, begin making daily water changes of about 20 percent. That should do the trick.

Once the eggs have been laid, the male will guard them. He’ll also keep the area clean. The eggs will hatch in about four days.

When they do, remove the adults and start feeding the fry baby brine shrimp. You can also give them crushed-up flakes or pellets. Just make sure that the food is small enough for them to eat.

With proper care, your Black Ruby Barb fry should grow quickly and be ready to join the adults in your main tank in no time!


Black Ruby Barb care is very similar to that of other barb species.

They are a hardy fish that can adapt to a wide range of water conditions, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists.

That being said, they are still a wild fish and should be treated as such. They need plenty of space to swim and plenty of hiding places to feel secure.

Overall, we think the Black Ruby Barb is a great fish for both beginner and experienced aquarists alike. If you’re looking for a hardy fish that is sure to add some color to your tank, this is the fish for you!