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

Updated: November 12, 2022

The Spanner Barb is an active and peaceful freshwater fish that is perfect for the beginner aquarist. They are very easy to care for and are very tolerant of different water conditions.

The Spanner Barb is a member of the Barb family and is native to Sri Lanka. They get their name from the large spine that is located on their gill cover. The Spanner Barb is a very peaceful fish and does well in a community tank. They are an active fish and will do best in an aquarium that has plenty of hiding places and some open swimming space.

Species overview

Spanner barbs (scientific name: Barbodes lateristriga) are a type of freshwater fish that’s native to the island of Borneo.

They are most commonly found in streams and rivers with moderate to fast-moving water. The spanner barb prefers areas with plenty of rocks, driftwood, and plant life.

This fish is a peaceful community fish that does well with other fish that are of a similar size. They are not known to be aggressive toward other fish unless they are fighting for territory.

The spanner barb is a silver color with black stripes running vertically down its body. The barbels on this fish are black, which is where it gets its name.


Spanner barb

The Spanner Barb is a very colorful freshwater fish that is popular in the aquarium trade. They are brightly colored with a base color of orange-red.

The body of this fish is quite elongated and slender. They have a long dorsal fin that is positioned towards the back of the body and a forked tail. Both the dorsal fin and tail are orange-red in color.

The Spanner Barb also has a very long and slender snout. This is one of the most distinguishing features of this fish.

The eyes of the Spanner Barb are quite large and are positioned towards the top of the head. They have orange-red irises with black pupils.

The Spanner Barb is a very peaceful fish and is often kept in community tanks. They are not aggressive towards other fish and will get along with most tank mates.


5 to 8 years

The lifespan of a spanner barb depends on a few factors. These include the quality of water they’re kept in, their diet, and whether or not they’re stressed.

Generally speaking, spanner barbs that are well cared for can live for up to 8 years. However, it’s not uncommon for them to only live for 5 years or so.


The Spanner Barb grows to a length of around 3.5 inches (9 cm), although most specimens do not exceed 3 inches (7.6 cm).


Tank Size

The recommended tank size for a spanner barb is at least 55 gallons. This is assuming you will keep them in a school of 5 or more fish.

Water Parameters

A peaceful freshwater fish, the spanner barb is a great addition to any community aquarium. They’re relatively small, only reaching a maximum size of about four inches.

This makes them a perfect choice for smaller tanks. They’re also easy to care for, as long as you maintain the proper water parameters.

The spanner barb is a tropical fish and needs warm water to thrive. They also prefer slightly acidic water, with a pH level between 6.5 and 7.5.

As for water hardness, they prefer soft to medium-hard water. Anything above 12 dGH is too hard for this species.

  • Water Temperature: 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH Levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water Hardness: 2 to 12 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4-8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Spanner barbs are a schooling fish, which means they do best when kept in groups. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 5-6 fish in a group. This will help reduce stress levels and make them feel more comfortable in their environment.

As for the interior of their tank, you have a few options.

The first is to go with a heavily planted tank. This will provide them with plenty of places to hide and feel safe. Just be sure to use plants that can handle a fair amount of abuse (these fish are known to nibble on vegetation).

The second option is to go with a more natural setup. This can be done by using driftwood, rocks, and caves to create hiding spots and visual barriers.

The substrate you use is really up to you. Just avoid anything too sharp or abrasive since these fish are known to dig around a bit.

Common Diseases

The spanner barb is a hearty freshwater fish that isn’t easily affected by disease. 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 parasitic infection that is quite common in freshwater fish. It’s characterized by the presence of white spots on the body, fins, and gills of your fish.

If left untreated, ich can be quite serious (even fatal). However, it is fairly easy to treat if you catch it early.

Another disease to look out for is hole-in-the-head disease. This is another fairly common illness that is caused by poor water quality. It’s characterized by pits or holes in the head of your fish.

This disease is also fairly easy to treat if you catch it early. However, it often leaves permanent scarring on your fish.

As always, the best way to prevent these (and other) diseases is to maintain the quality of the water in your tank. A tank with clean and stable water conditions is always less likely to experience disease.

Behavior & Temperament

The Spanner Barb is a schooling fish, so it does best when kept in groups. They are peaceful fish that get along well with other similar-sized fish.

Spanner Barb

The Spanner Barb is an active swimmer and does best in a tank with plenty of open swimming space. They are not fin nippers, but they may chase other fish around if they are not given enough space.

This fish is not recommended for a community tank because they can be aggressive towards other fish. They are also known to eat smaller fish.

Tank Mates

The spanner barb is a schooling fish, which means it does best when kept in groups. In the wild, these fish live in large schools that can number in the hundreds.

While you might not have a tank that can accommodate that many fish, you should still aim for a group of at least six.

These fish are also peaceful and get along well with most other species. They’re not territorial and won’t fight with tank mates. In fact, they tend to school with other peaceful fish like themselves.

Some good spanner barb tank mates include:

  • Tetras
  • Danios
  • Rasboras
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies


The Spanner Barb is a species of egg-laying fish, which means that they will lay their eggs and then leave them. The fry will hatch a few days later and then fend for themselves.

This species is not easy to breed in captivity, but it is possible. The first step is to identify the males and females. Males are larger and have longer fins.

Once you have your pair, you need to set up a breeding tank. The tank should be at least 30 gallons and have a sandy bottom. The water should be fairly shallow (no more than 12 inches) and have a lot of vegetation.

The temperature should be between 77 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0.

Once the tank is set up, you need to add the pair of fish. The female will lay her eggs in the vegetation. The male will then fertilize them.

After a few days, the eggs will hatch and the fry will be on their own. You can remove the adults at this point.

The fry will feed on microscopic organisms in the water. You can supplement their diet with baby brine shrimp.

As they grow, you can gradually start feeding them larger foods.


The Spanner Barb is a great fish for the beginner aquarist. They’re easy to care for and don’t require a lot of specialized equipment or knowledge.

They’re also a very peaceful fish, so they’re perfect for community tanks.

If you’re looking for a fish that’s low-maintenance and beautiful, the Spanner Barb is a great choice!