Finding the right fish – Why I Chose Gold Barbs


Gold barbs (Puntius semifasciolatus) are one of my favorite new additions to my 150 gallon tank. I had been looking for options of yellow freshwater fish. The first mention is always a yellow lab (Labidochromis caeruleus), also known as the yellow or electric yellow cichlid. While considered one of the most docile of the cichlids, they still would not mesh well with the peaceful species already in my 150 in terms of temperament and ideal water parameters.

It was actually a tank posted by a redditor /u/Geekphysique that first inspired me to give gold barbs a chance. Here’s a shot posted on reddit via imgur:

GreekPhysique 70 Gallon Update

I love this 70 gallon tank, but that’s a story for another post. There’s also been a ton of work done  on this tank’s lighting system, and /u/GreekPhysique has posted many discussions of the changes this tank has gone through. Here and here are two different videos posted showing off how the barbs move (and how beautiful the tank is!).

The related tiger barb is a semi-aggressive fish often noted as being a fin-nipper. Since I had only ever really seen tiger barbs in my area fish stores, I had assumed that other barbs were just variations of color for the most part. Luckily, I looked into gold barbs further to find that that they are great community fish! Furthermore, they shoal, so a group of them can often be seen swimming together somewhere in the tank. And gold barbs usually stay in the mid levels of my tank, which have been rather empty looking. (Near the surface I have pearl gourami and angelfish. Near the bottom I have 11 kubotai loaches and some bristle-nose plecos. I have a group of giant danios, but they are so quick and not bright or flashy enough to really be a focal point. Suddenly it seemed like gold barbs would be a perfect fit for my tank.

My 150 Gallon Freshwater planted community tank – from beginning to present day

There were two main reasons why I insisted on living in a house this year. (1) Get a dog and have a nice yard and (2) get a ridiculously large fish tank. Given that I’m in grad school, many of my fellow students rent apartments or live in multi-level buildings where dogs and fish tanks that weigh as much as a full water bed would not be allowed.

I bought that 150 gallon with stand and hood (with T8’s… upgraded those immediately) for $5oo on craigslist. It wasn’t in phenomenal shape, but it was and is mine. My biggest regret was not paying enough attention to realize we’d put it down with the majority of the scratches on the front pane of glass. Given that it took five people to move, and that this mistake wasn’t noticed until after hardscape and water were in place, it’s something I guess I’ll have to live with.

Anyhow, here is my original hardscape:

150 Hardscape 3 - Cropped

Here is the tank after a few rounds of adding plants, adjusting some of the hardscape…



And here is my tank today, about six months after the initial setup:


There’s more work yet to be done, and plenty more growing before I’m really happy with the tank. The hardest part of it all is the waiting. Stopping myself from trimming and rearranging constantly was one of my hardest tasks….at least until I got so many other tanks that I don’t have time for much else.

Review of Truaqua’s Aquatop High Clarity, Low Iron Rimless Cube Tanks

I  recently bought four rimless cube tanks from TruAqua under the label of Aquatop. I couldn’t really find any reviews or comments on the quality of these tanks other than on their own website. Yet after a few days of searching high and low amid holiday sales, I couldn’t find rimless nano tanks that came anywhere near close to these Aquatop ones in price or quality. So I cut the cord and ordered FOUR of the following sizes: 2.11, 4.12, 7.13, and 11.33 gallons.

These tanks came with free shipping and were just generally dirt cheap compared to other similar tanks I’d been considering. Here are some shots of the initial unwrapping:

I’ve got to say, I love these tanks. Granted, I’ve never bothered to spend as much as would be needed to get an ADA or other such gold standard tank, but these Aquatop tanks are wonderful. Maybe one day I’ll be picky enough to really appreciate having some of the more expensive low-iron, high clarity rimless tanks, but, for now, these are phenomenal. 🙂

Update! 4/4/2014

This post gets almost daily traffic these days from people wanting to know more about the Aquatop rimless cube tanks. As this was one of my earlier posts, some of the pictures weren’t great. If you want to see more shots of how these tanks look in action or to get an idea of their size compared to certain fish, scaping materials, filters, etc, then check out some of my posts on the development of these tanks.

The tanks themselves have held up really well! All four are going strong. No leaks. No defects. Not easily scratched. Still super clear. Easy to use, easy to setup, sturdy, easy to clean. I’d probably buy more of them if I wasn’t running low on space and money at the moment. I’d like to hear if anyone has had any issues with them that I haven’t, and I’m also really curious about what the more expensive/prestigious versions of rimless, low-iron glass tanks could be doing better! So I guess this is my blog-style request that someone who has had both one of these and a pricey rimless cube let me know which they would get if they were to buy another/recommend one.