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10 Best Cherry Barb Tank Mates (Compatibility Guide)

Cherry Barbs are peaceful, schooling South Asian delights. They are much better mannered than some of the larger Barbs but tend to be a little shy so you need to choose their neighbors with care. Here are the 10 best Cherry Barb tank mates that are not only beautiful but peaceful as well!

10 Compatible Cherry Barb Tank Mates

Here are 10 compatible Cherry Barb tank mates that we recommend:

Chocolate Gourami

Giant Chocolate Gourami (Sphaerichthys acrostoma)

Since Cherry Barbs are rather skittish for barbs it’s good to have tank mates with a similar disposition. While many of the smaller Gourami species would work nicely the Chocolate Gourami is a fish more aquarists should consider.

Rarely growing beyond 2 inches, this fish is a little more demanding in terms of water quality. They come from blackwater streams where decaying organic matter and a near-lack of dissolved minerals can drop the pH as low as 3.0-4.0.

While they do fine in pH as high as 6.0 the more alkaline conditions get the more susceptible they become to fungus, bacteria, and other opportunistic diseases.

Chocolate Gouramis have a delicate pattern of latticed shades of brown and cream. They really should be kept in heavily planted tanks where they can dart in and out of cover alongside Cherry Barbs!

  • Scientific Name: Sphaerichthys osphromenoides
  • Origin: Malaysia & Indonesia
  • Size: 1-2 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Shy

Black Neon Tetra

Black Neon Tetra (Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi)

Regular Neon and Cardinal Tetras make fine tank mates for Cherry Barbs. However if you’re looking to break up all the red you might consider the Black Neon instead.

This species is noticeably chunkier than the other Neons with a red eye to accent its silver and black tones. Black Neons are very common in the trade and having been tank bred for decades, are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions.

However they do prefer typical Amazonian conditions: a pH of 5.5-7.0 and temperatures of 78-84F. Like Cherry Barbs, Black Neons are schooling fish and need to be kept in groups of at least 6 in order to feel secure.

  • Scientific Name: Hyphessobrycon herbertaxelrodi
  • Origin: Southern Brazil
  • Size: 1½ inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Schooling

Diamond Tetra

Moenkhausia pittieri

Diamond Tetras are native to a single remote lake in Venezuela. Fortunately they are all captive bred these days, ensuring wild populations will survive free from over collecting.

These are some of my favorite Tetras; their subtle iridescence contains purple and green hues along with the silver tones. Diamond Tetras are similar to the closely related Black Skirt Tetra except they lack the fin-nipping habit of their cousins.

As micro predators Diamond Tetras should be given a variety of fresh foods like daphnia and brine shrimp alongside protein-rich pellets and flakes.

Diamond Tetras are also very easy to breed; as egg scatterers they leave their spawn among bushy plants like Guppy Grass and Java Fern.

I recommend doing so because wild populations are close to extinction thanks to over development around Lake Valencia. Fortunately, a healthy captive population may allow us to one day repopulate their home!

  • Scientific Name: Moenkhausia pittieri
  • Origin: Lake Valencia, Venezuela
  • Size: 2 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Schooling


guppy fish

Guppies hold a special place in the hearts of most aquarists. Beautiful, easy to find, and incredibly easy to breed, they are hearty omnivores that can thrive in nearly any water chemistry or pH level.

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However they do prefer neutral to slightly alkaline chemistries (pH 7.0-8.0) and a touch of aquarium salt in their water. Aquarium salt boosts gill function, stimulates healthy slime coat production, and weakens many parasitic organisms.

Unlike Cherry Barbs and most of the other fish on this list, Guppies are Livebearers. Rather than scattering eggs female Guppies release large, well developed young that quickly become free-swimming.

Guppy fry are large enough to take powdered flake and even brine shrimp nauplii. While the majority will be eaten by the other fish in the tank Guppies are so prolific a few always survive to adulthood!

  • Scientific Name: Poecilia reticulata
  • Origin: Venezuela
  • Size: 1-1½ inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Blue Ram Cichlid

german blue ram

Dwarf Cichlids are excellent tank mates for Cherry Barbs because they tend to stay near the bottom while Cherry Barbs are mid to upper water column fish. And while the majority of Dwarf Cichlids are mild-mannered they can become aggressive when spawning.

The Blue Ram is no exception; while they rarely grow beyond 2 inches they can be slightly scrappy. However they save their aggression mostly for each other and other Cichlids.

Like their larger cousins in the genus Geophagus, Blue Rams love to sift through sand for micro invertebrates and other food items. While they won’t tear up plants they will still leave little pits in the sand.

Their digging intensifies when they decide to breed, though they typically choose a hard surface to stick their adhesive eggs to. Hearty meals of tubifex worms and other fatty fare go a long way towards conditioning them!

  • Scientific Name:
  • Origin:
  • Size:
  • Temperament:

Bristlenose Pleco

bristlenose pleco

Common Plecos are generally too large, too territorial, and too hungry for all but the largest of aquariums and the most dedicated of aquarists. Instead, I recommend the Bristlenose Pleco for fish keepers with tanks 20 gallons or larger.

“Bristlenose Pleco” is a catch-all term for the many species in the genus Ancistrus. However almost all stay 6 inches or under and have bushy bristles covering their snouts that enhance their sense of smell in dimly lit conditions.

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They do eat algae but remember that algae rarely grows in thick enough to keep a Pleco constantly fed. Nor should you force them to rely on scraps that other fish miss. Instead you should provide them with sinking wafers rich in vegetable matter alongside blanched zucchini and other delights!

Bristlenose Plecos also need well-aged driftwood to chew on. Without it they tend to develop digestive issues and rarely do well for long.

If Bristlenose Plecos aren’t your favorite species you should also consider Dwarf Otocinclus, Rubber Plecos, and other smaller Loricariids as algae eaters for your Cherry Barbs. Considering how shy Cherry Barbs can be, these small catfish create less of a stir in aquariums 10 gallon or less in size.

  • Scientific Name: Ancistrus sp.
  • Origin: South America
  • Size: Up to 6 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Chili Rasbora

Strawberry Rasbora (Boraras naevus)

Nano fish are a great choice if your aquarium space is limited. At 1 inch as an adult Cherry Barbs definitely qualify. However the Chili or Mosquito Rasbora is even smaller; adults reach a maximum of ¾ inch in size!

These Indonesian natives are found in black water environments much like the Chocolate Gourami. Their red tones shine like tiny rubies in the tea colored waters of their home region. Since Cherry Barbs also thrive in acidic conditions the two shy, schooling species are natural tank mates.

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Tap water in many countries tends to be hard and alkaline. If your aquarium isn’t too large, you can use RO or distilled water to keep hardness levels down. And adding driftwood and Indian Almond leaves infuses the water with tannins and other agents that promote acidity.

  • Scientific Name: Boraras brigittae
  • Origin: Borneo, Indonesia
  • Size: ¾ inch
  • Temperament: Shy; Schooling

Celestial Pearl Danio

Danio margaritatus - celestial pearl danio

Celestial Pearl Danios are also commonly sold as Galaxy Rasboras due to their starry night pattern. Recently discovered in Myanmar in 2006, a lot is still unknown about these striking fish. However they are becoming some of the most popular fish for planted aquascapes in recent years!

Their temperament rating may seem a little unusual but I assure you, it’s accurate. Unlike most Danios they aren’t true schooling fish. Males set up little territories and joust for influence over wandering females.

Their fights rarely cause lasting harm but they can be exhausting for a losing male trapped in a small tank with a dominant male. Make sure you provide thick plants and other breaks in line of sight if keeping multiple males together.

  • Scientific Name: Danio margaritatus
  • Origin: Myanmar
  • Size: 1½ inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful; Territorial

Nerite Snail

Snails are often a problem in freshwater aquariums because they can easily breed out of control. This is especially common in Ramshorn and Mystery Snails.

Nerite Snails are probably the best aquatic freshwater snail for algae control & detritus removal because they actually can’t breed in freshwater. They require brackish or salt water for their eggs to develop so you’ll never see a population explosion in your tank!

Nerites are also efficient algae eaters and boldly patterned as well. N. natalensis is gold and black striped however red banded and even horned freshwater Nerite Snail species can be found.

Like many invertebrates, Nerite Snails prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (7.0-7.5) as acidic conditions can cause their shells to deteriorate. Fortunately, Cherry Barbs are adaptable and will even breed in mildly alkaline chemistries.

  • Scientific Name: Neritina natalensis
  • Origin: East & South Africa
  • Size: 1 inch
  • Temperament: Peaceful

Bamboo Shrimp

Atyopsis moluccensis

Most shrimp are safe with Cherry Barbs except for the tiny Bee Shrimp. However I’d recommend choosing something a little larger, just in case your Barb tries to nip at shrimp when molting.

Bamboo Shrimp grow significantly larger than Cherry Barbs yet these clawless shrimp are no threat. They use fan-like projections to collect floating particles of food. Plankton, powdered flake, and daphnia are just a few items you offer these shrimp.

When hungry Bamboo Shrimp get as close as they can to a source of current (such as the filter outflow) and stretch out their limbs hoping for crumbs! They are also entirely plant safe and peaceful towards other invertebrates regardless of size.

  • Scientific Name: Atyopsis moluccensis
  • Origin: Southeast Asia
  • Size: 3 inches
  • Temperament: Peaceful
Jason Roberts
About Jason Roberts
Jason is an aquarium fanatic that has been a fish hobbyist for almost three decades.

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