How do I keep Pentazona barbs?

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Dr Heok Hee Ng explains how to keep the Pentazona barb and tells how to spot the difference between this species and its imposter, P. hexazona.

‘Pentazona’ barbs (Puntius hexazona) look like a redder and more slender version of the common Tiger barb (Puntius tetrazona), but the similarity just about ends there. They are not as robust as Tiger barbs and require soft, acidic water (GH below 8 and pH below 6.0) to thrive.

I would recommend using peat in your filter as, apart from softening the water and bringing down the pH to the desired level, the tannin-stained water also tends to bring out a more intense reddish colour to the fish.

As with other small barbs, give them a combination of ample swimming space in the foreground and enough submerged vegetation in the background. They tend to be less boisterous than Tiger barbs and welcome the opportunity to hide among vegetation.

Although not as nippy as Tiger barbs, ‘Pentazona’ barbs should still be kept in groups of five or more, as recommended for most small barbs, to even out the aggression.

The true Pentazona barb (P. pentazona) is quite rare in the aquarium trade. What you are more likely to encounter is the more common Six-banded barb (P. hexazona) hence my use of quotation marks in this answer. There is some evidence that the two species are the same though and, even if they are not, their husbandry is identical.

This item was first published in the September 2009 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.