Gold barbs actually have a rather interesting history in terms of how they’ve been named and bred within the aquarium hobby. While originally from the Red River Basin area of Southeast Asia (thus sometimes calledChinese or China barbs), most gold barbs sold in stores are the result of Thomas Schubert‘s selective breeding efforts in the 1960’s. Schubert‘s bright yellow/gold Puntius semifasciolatus are beautiful fish now captive bred for sale, while the wild greenish Puntius semifasciolatus populations are considered at risk.
Gold barbs are hardy, adaptable shoaling fish, meaning they need to be kept in groups. Sometimes mine group quite tightly, and other times they can be found spread throughout the tank. Given their bright yellow color, gold barbs can make a beautiful focal point in a tank. Mine are still not full grown, but they typically reach around 3″. These guys are quite active throughout the tank, especially in the middle and bottom regions, so be sure to give them room to swim and search! For a general idea, in an established 20 gallon, 9 gold barbs would max out stocking.
Healthy gold barbs have incredible appetites. They’re not shy at all, and tend to nibble at my arms while working in the tank. When not eating food I’ve recently added, they’re searching around the tank, nomming on anything they find appetizing. Furthermore, they are quite hardy and do well in a wide range of water conditions.
Many of the typical “barbs” sold in stores are more aggressive than gold barbs. Gold barbs are quite peaceful community fish that won’t chase or nip at more other fish. They’re one of my favorite fish in my 150 gallon right now. I love watching their behavior, from foraging to breeding behavior; gold barbs are pretty awesome fish.