Denison Barb: A Comprehensive Guide to Care, Diet, and Breeding

Denison Barbs, also known as Roseline Sharks or Sahyadria denisonii, are a captivating and active freshwater fish native to India. With their vibrant red and black stripes and silver base color, they’re sure to be a stunning addition to your aquarium.

These tropical fish are part of the Cyprinidae family, which includes well-known species like carps, minnows, and other barbs. As a Denison Barb owner, you’ll enjoy their lively behavior and watching them grow up to 6 inches in length.

In this article, we’ll explore the species profile and care guide for these beautiful and unique fish, setting you up for success as you welcome them into your aquatic family.

Species Profile

The Denison Barb is a beautiful and active tropical freshwater fish native to India, known for its striking appearance and energetic behavior. It is a popular choice among aquarists due to its unique and attractive coloration. Here, you’ll find a brief snapshot of the essential information you need to know about this fascinating species.

Property Value
Scientific name Sahyadria denisonii
Common names Denison’s Barb, Red-line Torpedo Barb, Roseline Shark, Bleeding Eye Barb, Miss Kerala
Distribution India
Size Up to 6 inches (15 cm)
Lifespan 5-8 years
Diet Omnivorous
Temperament Peaceful, schooling fish
Minimum tank size 55 gallons
Temperature 60-80°F (20-25°C)
pH 6.5-7.5
Water hardness 5-20 dGH
Care level Moderate
Filtration/Water Flow High, clean water flow required
Water type Freshwater
Breeding Egg layer
Breeding difficulty Very difficult in home aquarium
Compatibility Peaceful community, similar-sized species

Denison Barb Basics

Origins and Natural Habitat

Denison Barbs, also known as Roseline Sharks or Sahyadria denisonii, are native to India where they can be found in rivers, streams, and tributaries. These freshwater fish thrive in well-oxygenated water with a moderate flow, replicating the natural conditions of their habitat is essential for their well-being in your aquarium.

Size and Shape

Denison Barbs can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) in length and have a streamlined body shape that allows them to swim gracefully through the water. To ensure their comfort and happiness, provide an aquarium size that gives them enough space to move around – at least a 55-gallon tank is recommended for these active swimmers.

Color and Markings

Your Denison Barb will dazzle you with their vibrant and distinctive colors. Their base color is typically silver, while a black line runs the entire length of their body. Adding a dash of bold hue, a red stripe stretches across their eyes. These remarkable markings make them a standout addition to any freshwater aquarium.


Denison Barbs can have a lifespan of up to 8 years if given proper care and living conditions. To help your fish thrive, maintain a stable water temperature between 60-77°F (15-25°C) with a pH level between 6.8-7.8. Provide a well-filtered environment and a diverse diet of high-quality flakes, pellets, and occasional live or frozen foods to ensure their longevity and health.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding your Denison Barb a balanced diet is essential for maintaining their health and vibrant colors. Start by providing them with high-quality flakes or pellets, which will serve as a solid base for their diet.

In addition to the flakes or pellets, offer your fish a variety of live or frozen foods. This can include shrimp meat, daphnia, and bloodworms. Incorporating these protein-rich options will keep your Denison Barbs happy and well-nourished.

Don’t forget to include some plant-based foods in their diet, too. Denison Barbs can benefit from blanched vegetables and algae, as well as spirulina. These nutrient-dense items will contribute to the overall well-being of your fish.

Remember to feed your Denison Barbs in moderate amounts and avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to obesity and other health issues. With proper care and attention to their dietary needs, your Denison Barbs will thrive in their environment.

Behavior and Temperament

The Denison Barb (Sahyadria denisonii) is a colorful and active freshwater fish, well-suited to peaceful community aquariums. Being a friendly species, your Denison Barbs will easily get along with various other peaceful tankmates.

One of their interesting behaviors is their strong inclination to shoaling. By providing them with a proper habitat and a group of at least 6 individuals, you’ll witness them darting around the tank together, adding a lively atmosphere to your aquarium. Remember, they are quite active and tend to occupy the middle level of the tank, so ample swimming space is essential.

In general, Denison Barbs are playful, exhibiting a social behavior that makes them a delightful addition to your home aquarium. Just ensure their needs are met, and you’ll enjoy their vibrant colors and captivating antics.

Care and Tank Requirements

In this section, we will discuss the proper care and tank requirements for Denison Barbs. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a happy and healthy environment for your fish.

Tank Size

Denison Barbs are active swimmers that require enough space to move comfortably. For this reason, it’s essential to provide them with a tank that is at least 55 gallons in size. Ideally, the tank should be longer rather than taller, because these fish prefer to swim horizontally.

Water Parameters

Maintaining stable and suitable water parameters is crucial for the health of your Denison Barbs. Keep these factors in mind for your tank:

  • Temperature: 72–79°F (22–26°C)
  • pH: 6.8–7.8
  • Water hardness: 5–15 dGH
  • Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels: As close to zero as possible

Perform regular water tests to ensure these parameters remain consistent. It’s also a good idea to do a 25% water change weekly or biweekly, depending on the size of the tank and its inhabitants.

Tank Setup and Decorations

Denison Barbs are native to fast-flowing rivers, which means that they thrive in a tank that has a moderate to strong water current. Incorporating river-like elements will make your fish feel more at home. Here are some suggestions for setting up their tank:

  • Substrate: A mix of smooth gravel and sand is ideal for Denison Barbs. This will allow them to dig and forage naturally.
  • Plants: These fish appreciate well-planted tanks with a variety of plant species. Floating plants can also provide some shading and cover.
  • Hiding spots: Add driftwood and rock formations to create hiding places and mimic the natural river habitat.
  • Open swimming space: Remember to leave enough open swimming area for Denison Barbs to swim freely.

Filtration and Aeration

Effective filtration and aeration systems are essential for maintaining pristine water quality and the health of your Denison Barbs. Since they come from fast-flowing streams, a canister filter or hang-on-back filter with a strong flow rate is ideal for mimicking their natural environment. Additionally, a powerhead or air pump can help create the necessary current and promote proper oxygen exchange. Regularly clean and maintain your filtration system to ensure it remains efficient and effective.

By following these essential care and tank requirements, you can create a thriving environment where your Denison Barbs can flourish. Remember to monitor your water, provide ample space and hiding spots, and maintain the appropriate filtration and aeration systems.

Suitable Tank Mates

As an aquarist, choosing suitable tank mates for your Denison Barb is essential for creating a harmonious and healthy living environment. Keep in mind that these fish can become aggressive during feeding if kept in inadequate space, so be sure to provide them with a large tank of at least 55 gallons. It’s also recommended to keep them in schools of at least half a dozen to encourage social interaction, which is vital to their well-being.

You should avoid housing Denison Barbs with slow fish with delicate fins because they are fast swimmers. Instead, stick to similar-sized fish that can swim just as quickly. Suitable tank mates for your Denison Barbs include:

  • Other barbs
  • Danios
  • Larger Tetras
  • Rainbow fish
  • Most Cichlids

Additionally, here are some specific fish species that make excellent companions for your Denison Barbs:

  • Cherry Barb
  • Apistogramma
  • Celestial Pearl Danio
  • Rosy Barb
  • Rainbow Fish
  • Tiger Barb
  • Kribensis Cichlid
  • Odessa Barb

Remember to maintain a friendly environment in your aquarium by ensuring adequate space and compatible tank mates for your Denison Barb.


Breeding Denison Barbs (Sahyadria denisonii) can be quite a challenge, especially in a home aquarium setting. Successful breeding is rare, and most cases occur in commercial environments where breeders use hormones and elaborate setups to trigger spawning.

As an aquarium enthusiast, it’s essential to understand that there are currently no known methods for naturally triggering Denison Barb spawning in home aquariums. Attempting to breed your fish can cause unnecessary stress, and the chances of success are relatively low.

Accidental spawnings have occasionally been reported in home aquariums, but the exact conditions that led to such incidents are still not well-understood.

If you are keen on breeding these fish, it’s vital to research commercial breeding practices and learn from their techniques. For example, expert breeders have had success with hormone-induced spawning in soft, acidic water environments. In this setup, eggs are typically scattered on plants, which mimic the species’ natural spawning methods.

Overall, while breeding Denison Barbs at home might be a fascinating project, it’s essential to understand the risks, challenges, and low likelihood of success before attempting it.

Common Diseases and Treatments

Ich (White Spot Disease): Ich is a parasitic infection that affects freshwater fish, including your Denison Barb. You’ll notice small white spots on your fish’s body, gills, and fins. To treat Ich, raise the aquarium temperature to 27-28°C for 1-3 days. This should help eliminate the parasites.

Columnaris: This bacterial infection can cause discoloration of your fish’s scales and may even lead to tissue damage. To treat Columnaris, use a recommended antibiotic treatment after consulting with a veterinarian or fish specialist.

Fin Rot: Fin rot is a common issue for Denison Barbs that results in frayed or disintegrating fins. To treat fin rot, improve water quality by performing regular water changes and maintaining proper filtration. Additionally, you can use over-the-counter medications specifically for fin rot.

Remember to always keep an eye on your Denison Barb’s health, as early detection and treatment of diseases can significantly improve their chances of recovery. Make sure to maintain a clean and well-maintained aquarium to keep your fish happy and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is their lifespan in captivity?

Denison Barbs can live up to 5-8 years in a well-maintained aquarium. To ensure they live a long and healthy life, it’s essential to provide them with an appropriate tank size, clean water, and a balanced diet. Regular water changes and monitoring water parameters will further contribute to their longevity.

Are Denison barbs aggressive?

Denison Barbs are generally peaceful fish when given enough space in the tank. They can coexist peacefully with other non-aggressive tank mates, especially if they share a preference for an active lifestyle. However, it’s important to note that if they’re kept in tight quarters, they may compete and display aggressive tendencies.

Why are Denison barbs so expensive?

The cost of Denison Barbs can be attributed to a few factors, including high demand and the fact that they are mostly wild-caught. Breeding them in captivity has proven to be more challenging, which can lead to limited supply and a higher price. Furthermore, their striking appearance contributes to their popularity and demand, which in turn affects the price.

What are some suitable tank mates?

When choosing tank mates for your Denison Barbs, it’s best to select peaceful, non-aggressive fish that enjoy an active lifestyle. Some suitable tank mates include Tetras, Rasboras, and smaller Gouramis. Avoid housing them with slow-moving or long-finned fish, as they may nip at their fins and cause stress.

What are the differences between male and female Denison barbs?

There are a few differences between male and female Denison Barbs that can help you differentiate them. Males tend to be slightly slimmer and more streamlined than females. Additionally, male Denison Barbs may display more vibrant colors, particularly during breeding or when establishing territories. In contrast, females are often a little larger and have a more rounded belly when they are full of eggs.