Barbs are members of the carp or minnow family of bony fish,
the Cyprinidea. The barbs include some quite big fish used for food. The
biggest of the Barbs is the critically endangered Giant Barb, Catlocarpio
siamensis. This fish can grow to about 3 metres (10 feet) long and weigh
perhaps as much as 300 kilograms (660 pounds). It used to be a significant food
fish but is likely to become extinct soon.
The carp family including the barbs typically have no teeth in the mouth, but have rows of ‘teeth’ in their throat to break up their food. The name barb is derived from a word meaning beard and refers to the one or two pairs of small barbels that most members of the group have at the corners of the mouths.
The barbs have no adipose fin. The body is covered with scales, but the head may be scaleless. Typically the swim bladder is divided into two of three chambers.
Generally barbs come from Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. They are not native to South America, the West Indies, Madagascar, Antarctica or the places round the Arctic.
Wallace’s Line separates the animals of Asia from the ones native to the Australian region. North of this line there are a lot of types of barb, but barbs and others in their family are not native to Australia.
Barbs come from several different genera including Barbus, Puntius, Barbodes and Barbonymus.
Are Barbs Aggressive Fish?
The Barbs have the reputation for being aggressive fish. In reality, this is a fairly large group of fish, so each species needs to be looked at separately.Breeding Barbs
The barb group of fish is quite large and the different species vary in their breeding requirements. However, there are some things in common, so I will attempt to put these together and give a generalised description of Barb breeding.
Barbs are egg scatterers; they prefer to scatter their eggs over plants. Most of them come from soft acidic water. The most suitable temperature for breeding varies with the species. Barbs tend to be ravenous eaters of fish eggs and fry.
A suitable breeding tank set up will need to take these things into account. Generally, the breeding tank should have soft, slightly acidic water. There will need to be some fine leaved plants like Java Moss for the fish to lay their eggs over. And of course, the parents need to be removed after spawning. This is an overview of the most common set up for breeding barbs, but there are other ways.
If you have enough space, it is possible to get some babies by simply having the parents in a large, very well planted aquarium with no other fish.
Some barbs are spawning regularly in aquariums without their owners being aware of it. There have been occasions when I have moved barbs out of a tank and have baby fish appear a week or so later!
Some commercial barbs are bred in ponds. Naturally you would need the right climate for this, but my observation is that in ponds, fish can sometimes take lower temperatures than you would expect from experience with these fish in aquariums. Also, remember that it is possible to breed the barbs just over summer and take out the babies before the cold weather comes.
Before you consider actually attempting to breed barbs, you will need to research the requirements for the actual species of barb you are going to try to breed.