Fire barb, Barbus fasciolatus

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Although it's widespread, the African banded barb, Barbus fasciolatus, is sadly not all that common in the shops, says Matt Clarke.

Common name: African banded barb, Fire barb
Scientific name: Barbus fasciolatus Gunther, 1868
Size: Around 6cm/2.25".
Origin: This species occurs in a number of major African river systems, and is found across central, east and southern Africa. It has been recorded from: Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Congo, the border of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Diet: Probably a general insectivore and zooplankton feeder. Feeding the fish a diet of bloodworms is said to enhance their red colouration.
Water: Slightly soft acidic water is probably best. Try adding oak leaves or blackwater extract to introduce tannins, as this might further enhance their natural colouration.
Aquarium: This cracking little barb is well worth looking out for. It's normally quite peaceful – apart from a little bit of infighting – and usually leaves other tankmates alone. It is best kept as a mixed sex group in a spacious aquarium. Like other barbs, males develop heightened colouration during the breeding season and display to females. Their colours can become brick red, and the vertical black bars become iridescent blue-black.

Make sure the fish you buy are well quarantined and acclimatised before you buy them. These have a tendency to be a little sensitive shortly after import.

Notes: This fish used to be known in the hobby as Barbus barioloides, but this is now regarded as a junior synonym, so B. fasciolatus in the correct name.

Availability: Not that common in the shops. These ones were on sale at Wholesale Tropicals in London in February 2007.
Price: Expect to pay up to a few quid each.

This is an item from the Practical Fishkeeping website's archives. It may not be reproduced without written permission.