The Arulius barb or puntius arulius is a peaceful, active member of the barb species. While not as flamboyant as other barbs, it is a hardy, attractive species that can provide the base species for a large, colorful community aquarium.

The Arulius barb is a larger fish and needs a bigger aquarium and clean water. The requirement for larger equipment makes the species a better choice for experienced aquarium keepers.

Read on for more details on how to properly care for them and choose their tank mates. We will also cover their breeding requirements.

Arulius Barb Stats

Listed tank sizes are the minimum

Size: Up to 5 inches
Tank: 40 gallons
Strata: All, mostly middle
pH: 68, tolerates a wide range
Hardness: Not critical tolerates a wide range
Temperature: 66°F to 77°F (19°25° C)
Order: Cypriniformes (carps)
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Puntius
Species: arulius

Origin and Appearance

The Arulius barb is widespread throughout the Thamirabarani River basin in Southeast India. The entire river is only 128 km long and has a red tinge from the high amounts of saturated copper in the water. The river is home to many rare and endemic fish species.

These species, including the Arulius barb, have been put at risk by sand mining, pollution, and natural disasters such as droughts. For these reasons, most, if not all Arulius barbs for sale today are raised in commercial farms for the ornamental fish trade.

Both males and females have two large black blotches on their sides with two or three smaller blotches towards their gills and tail.

The anal and tail fins usually have a red to orange feathering on their edges. The dorsal fin is soft and often striped with gray or black. The male Arulius barb will have longer, feathery dorsal fins which can make them targets for fin-nipping tank mates.

Arulius barb has a body shape similar to carp. They are broad in the middle of their back and taper at the head and tail. Their tail is as wide as their body, giving them the ability for both speed and maneuverability.

If well-kept, the Arulius barb will grow up to 5 inches. The Arulius barb lifespan is 4 to 6 years. The fish will readily reproduce in captivity.

Arulius Barb Care

The Arulius barb is a very hardy species that will adapt to most aquarium conditions as long as the water quality is maintained. They are a schooling species and do best in groups of eight or more. Keeping solitary or pairs of Arulius barb will cause the fish to be dull in appearance and not show their best colors.

As a larger species, the minimum aquarium size for the Arulius barb is 40 gallons in a horizontal format. For an active community tank consider going up to 100 gallons.

Their native waters are flowing and rich in oxygen. You can give them this environment by using a strong filtration system with a water return that provides enough current to have the plants waving gently.

Normal lighting to support the plants and the overall health of the aquarium works well with the species. They are not always in motion and appreciate some plants to hide in.

Good choices are rooted plants such as guppy grass or pothos. Root them in standard aquarium sand. If you set the vegetation to the back and sides of the aquarium, this will give your Arulius barb room to swim about and places to hide.

Adding some bottom structures such as mangrove roots and rocks gives them things to explore and will help them feel comfortable. This in turn will bring out their best colors.

Tank Mates

This species is quite peaceful with any fish they cannot eat and is a great choice for community aquariums with mid-size species with similar tolerances to water temperature and quality.

As a schooling fish, when kept in groups of eight or more, the Arulius barb will be at its most peaceful and will coexist happily with other species.

There are many potential tank mates for Arulius barb. The factors that make them good choices are:

  • Tolerance for water temperatures in the range of 66°F to 77°F (19°–25° C)
  • Adult size of 2 inches or greater but no larger than 5 or 6 inches
  • Peaceful as a solitary or schooling species
  • Not a fin nipper

Here are a few suggestions to help you populate your Arulius barb community aquarium:

1. Cherry Barb

One of the most popular barb species, the Cherry Barb is easily identified by its beautiful cherry-red color. It’s best to keep them in a school of 6–10. They grow up to two inches and will live for over five years.

2. Gold Barb

Also known as the Chinese barb, this bright golden fish has orange-tinged fins and is quite striking. It grows to three inches and will live up to six years.

3. Goldfish

There are many varieties of goldfish. Any of the smaller varieties such as the Common, Comet, and Shubunkin will make good tank mates. They can grow up to six inches.

4. Zebra Danio

Zebra Danio is ideal tank mates for the Arulius barb. They are similar in size and temperament and have the same water temperature requirements. You will like their beautiful blue coloring.

5. Mollies

Mollies make good tank mates as they are peaceful omnivores and tolerant of cool water temperatures. Varieties like the Common Black Molly add dark contrast to the aquarium for a very nice presentation.

6. Corydoras

Like Plecos, Corydoras are a variety of bottom-feeding catfish commonly placed in freshwater aquariums. They grow up to four inches in size and are peaceful omnivores.

Breeding

Arulius barb species are quite easy to breed in larger tank sizes where they feel they have room to grow or in average size aquariums where breeding pairs have been isolated.

In their native habitat, Arulius barb will spawn when monsoons have warmed and softened the water. The floodwaters bring fish into flooded forests where the water is darker in tint and light is subdued. If you can mimic the warmer water and dim light conditions, feeding your fish ample frozen or live brine shrimp and bloodworms will get them in the right frame of mind. Elevate the water temperature to between 75–80°F / 24–26 (27)°C.

Adult males in spawning conditions show white spots around the mouth. If you are suspicious about what you see, compare all the males in your tank to see if they are developing similar spawning marks.

Spawning Arulius barb can be kept in groups or isolated into separate aquariums. Group spawning will ensure more viable eggs but will also increase the chance of adult fish eating the eggs or fry. If you do not have other aquariums to house spawning fish, ensure that you have plenty of vegetation such as guppy grass or java moss for the fry to hide in.

Arulius barb will scatter their eggs on the bottom to be fertilized. The substrate should have gravel or similar materials so the eggs can be out of sight of their parents, who will forget and eat them. The eggs can become treats for other bottom-feeding tank mates as well.

Arulius barb eggs hatch after 24 to 48 hours. The fry becomes free swimming about 24 hours after hatching. Arulius barb fry is very small and need to be fed very small foods such as infusoria during their first days. In about a week they should be able to eat small brine shrimp and similar foods.

Proper Diet

Arulius barb is an enthusiastic omnivore. It readily consumes flaked or pelletized tropical fish food and a variety of live or frozen foods.

To keep your Arulius barb from turning off on a particular food, try alternating occasionally with:

  • Live or freeze-dried brine shrimp
  • Live or freeze-dried blood worms
  • Shredded, finely chopped vegetables such as squash or zucchini
  • Chopped earthworms

Because of their peaceful nature, they may not compete for food with mid- or lower-tank mates. Feeding two small meals a day is a good schedule that will also help them stay entertained. Keep their diet varied.

Conclusion

  • Arulius barb is a great species for novice aquarium keepers.
  • The species is widely available through commercial and hobbyist breeding.
  • The species grows to 5 inches and will live for 5 to 7 years.
  • Arulius barb live in cooler water (19°–25°C) and are tolerant of a wide range of water pH and hardness.
  • The minimum aquarium size for a small school is 40 gallons.
  • Adding vegetation to the aquarium is essential to Arulius barb health and reproduction.
  • They do well in sole species and community aquariums.
  • Ideal Arulius barb tank mates are at least two inches in length, cool water-tolerant species that are peaceful.
  • They will readily breed in captivity. No encouragement is needed by the fish keeper.
  • Arulius barb are omnivores. They will readily feed on flaked, pelletized, or live foods.

Arulius barb is an ideal choice for keepers of large, subtropical displays. They are a low-maintenance species and are easy to feed. You should consider adding this beautiful species to your community aquarium.

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