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Spanner Barb Fact Sheet

The Spanner Barb, Puntius lateristriga is also called the T-Barb.  Other scientific names that have been used for it are Barbus lateristriga, Barbodes lateristriga and Systomus lateristriga.

This fish comes from the Malay Peninsular and Borneo.  It can live for 9 years.  With a maximum size of about 7 inches (18 cm) this is not a tiny fish.

Water Conditions

In the wild, the Spanner Barb comes from very well oxygenated acidic water (pH between 6.0 and 6.5) with not much hardness.  However, they are fairly adaptable and will tolerate pH up to 7.2.

They will do alright in an aquarium with neutral pH, a temperature of between 23 and 29 degrees C (73 and 84 degrees F), and reasonable hardness.  Make sure the aquarium is well oxygenated.

This is not a fish for small aquariums, except when the fish is young.  I suggest a minimum size of 120 litres (30 US Gallons.) The aquarium should have clean water with some open space for swimming, but also well planted areas.


The spanner Barb is an omnivore and will eat all normal commercial fish foods readily. For the best results, use a variety of food.  The flakes and pellets can be supplemented with live or frozen foods.


The Spanner Barb is bigger than most common community fish.  People’s experience with this fish varies.  Although I have found it a fairly peaceful fish, other people have found it to be aggressive.  While it is young, it forms schools, but as it gets bigger, the schooling tendency becomes less.

I suggest putting it with similar sized fish like Silver Sharks.  Some people have kept them with much smaller fish, but I do not recommend this.   Reasonable sized Corydoras Catfish are alright with this fish.


The Males are slightly more colourful.  The females tend to be plumper.  These differences become more pronounced when the fish are in breeding condition.


Before attempting to breed, select a good sized, healthy looking pair.  Separate the male and female, and feed them well with rich foods like Mosquito larva, small worms, frozen blood worms and high quality vegetable foods.

The Spanner Barb is an egg scatterer.  It will eat its own eggs and babies.  I suggest copying the fish’s natural water conditions,with neutral or slightly acidic pH, a temperature of about 28 degrees C (82degrees F) and a hardness of less than 6.

Although this fish will spawn readily, there seems to be one requirement.  Give your fish plenty of room. For breeding the smallest aquarium I would suggest is three feet (90cm) long.


Set up this aquarium so it gets the early morning sun.  Have about 6 inches (15cm) of water in the tank.  Put marbles or a thin layer of very coarse gravel on the bottom.  Put some bunches of fine leaved plants in it.

The fish will usually spawn early on the morning after they are put in the breeding tank. 

Raising the Fry

Adult Spanner Barbs are very fond of eating fish eggs.  They may even start eating their own eggs before they have finished spawning.  A female Spanner Barb can lay as many as 3000 eggs.  The parents should be removed as soon as possible after spawning.

The eggs should hatch in about 2 days.  At first they will cling to surfaces, but when they are free swimming, they will eat things as big as newly hatched Brine Shrimp and the finest screened Daphnia. They also eat infosoria.

Pest Fish

Do not keep your fish in a place it could escape from and disrupt ecosystems it it not native to.

Spanner Barb

By W.A. Djatmiko (Wie146) (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons