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Rosy Barbs vs. Cherry Barbs (Key Similarities and Differences)

Rosy Barbs vs. Cherry Barbs (Key Similarities and Differences)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Barbs are very popular types of fish that many people love buying for their home aquariums. There are many different types of barbs out there that you can choose from.

Two popular types of barbs are rosy barbs and cherry barbs. Many people wind up trying to decide between these two fish.

When it comes down to it, which of these fish is best? Are the two fish similar or are they very different?

Below, you’ll get various pieces of information about both rosy barbs and cherry barbs. It’ll help you to decide which fish is right for your aquarium.

How Big Do Rosy Barbs Get?

Rosy barbs grow to be around six inches long at maturity. You’ll love that these fish are hardy and fairly active in the tank.

Since these fish grow to be six inches long, they’ll need tanks that offer enough space. This is especially true because rosy barbs are schooling fish.

As schooling fish, they must be kept in small groups. You’re supposed to buy at least five of them for the fish tank.

Most experts agree that you want to keep these fish in a tank that has at least 30 gallons of space. A 30-gallon aquarium or something larger will be appropriate.

How Big Do Cherry Barbs Get?

Cherry barbs are quite a bit smaller than rosy barbs. These fish only grow to be two inches long at maturity.

You’re supposed to keep these fish in a fish tank that has 25 gallons of space or more. Even though these fish are small, you’re supposed to keep them in a group.

Most experts recommend going with a 29-gallon fish tank. You might want to get a larger tank if you’re planning to keep cherry barbs as part of a community aquarium.

These barbs are schooling fish that should be kept in groups of six. If you don’t keep them in groups of at least that size, they won’t feel safe in the tank.

Both Fish Are Hardy

Both of these barbs are hardy. You can expect these fish to be easy to care for even if you’re a beginner.

There are some differences to note, but both are great options for most fish tank owners. These fish can easily be kept healthy and happy by taking care of the basics.

Cherry barbs are more likely to deal with getting stressed in the tank than rosy barbs, though. Rosy barbs are better at putting up with active fish in the tank.

Sometimes cherry barbs can get stressed by their tank mates and will hide in the corner. Many people say that rosy barbs are a lot more active in the tank, too.

If you’re interested in fish that are more active, you might find rosy barbs to be more appealing. Cherry barbs will certainly swim around and can be fun to watch, but they have a bit of a reputation for being “wallflowers” in the tank.

Rosy Barb Care Requirements

The water parameters for rosy barbs might be a little surprising to you. They like the water a bit cooler than you would think.

These fish should be kept in fish tanks with water temperatures ranging from 64 degrees Fahrenheit to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH balance of the tank should stay between 6.0 and 8.0.

Keep the water hardness between 5 and 19 dGH. Since these fish come from lakes with fast-flowing water, they do enjoy a bit of current.

Cherry Barb Care Requirements

Cherry barbs have different water preferences than rosy barbs. These fish live in different types of water, and they need to live in warmer water to thrive.

Keep cherry barbs in fish tanks with water temperatures that range from 73 degrees Fahrenheit to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH balance should stay between 6.0 and 8.0.

They like the same water hardness as the rosy barbs, so you can keep it between 5 and 19 dGH. Note that these fish live in calm waters in the wild so they don’t like a fast current in the tank.

Which Barb Looks Nicer?

Which of these fish looks nicer will come down to personal preference. Both of these barbs are rather pretty and will look nice in your fish tank.

Rosy barbs have pinkish-red bodies and their scales are silvery. They have a bit of black on their anal and dorsal fins plus a black spot on the tail.

Cherry barbs have iridescent light pink bodies and the males are a bit darker than the females. They also have black and gold bands that go along their bodies.

When looking at the tail and anal fins of cherry barbs, you’ll see that they are red like cherries. So either of these barb fish will make a pretty addition to your fish tank.

Which Should You Choose?

Both cherry barbs and rosy barbs are great fish to own. You might want to go with one fish over the other depending on what you’re looking for.

Rosy barbs are larger fish since they grow to be around six inches long at maturity. Cherry barbs are smaller and only grow to be two inches long.

Both of these barbs are schooling fish. You must keep at least five rosy barbs together in the tank while you’ll need to keep six cherry barbs together.

Each of these barb fish will be easy to care for. They’re both hardy fish, but cherry barbs are known to become stressed a bit easier than rosy barbs.

Depending on the size of your tank, you might prefer to keep the smaller cherry barbs in your aquarium. Others might like that the rosy barbs are slightly more active and interesting to observe.


On average, cherry barbs will live for four years in a fish tank. They can live for as long as seven years, though.

Rosy barbs can live for up to five years when cared for optimally. So both types of fish will be likely to stick around in your aquarium for quite some time if you do things right.

Final Thoughts

Take the time to examine both rosy barbs and cherry barbs so you can decide which fish you’d like to purchase. These fish are similar in some ways, but they’re also substantially different.

Rosy barbs live in much cooler water, and they enjoy fast-flowing water. Cherry barbs like warmer water, and they live in slower water than rosy barbs.

Cherry barbs are smaller fish, but both of these fish are rather hardy. You should have a good experience with either of them as a beginner.

The choice is yours, and you can’t go wrong either way. Just remember to research compatible tank mates if you wish to keep these fish in a community tank.

Cherry barbs can get stressed in community tanks if you don’t pick tank mates wisely. The same is true for most fish, though.

Enjoy your time with these fish and do your best to take care of the basics.

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