Cherry barb are seeing a slight increase in their popularity right now and due to cherry barbs being considered one of the easier fish species to breed yourself at home, there are a number of people starting their own at home breeding operations.
Due to cheery barbs being so easy to breed, people who are very new to fish keepering have also taken to breeding the species too so we have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking questions specifically about caring for their cherry barb fry.
We have decided to publish this article to try and help as many of our readers as possible better care for any cherry barb fry that they do breed in their own tanks as well as share some tips and tricks on how you are able to improve the survival rates of your cherry barb fry too.
Before we go any further with the article, we just want to quickly clarify two points.
The first is that is is very difficult to make a profit from breeding fish these days so if this is your goal, then make sure you have someone to purchase your baby cherry barbs before you breed them!
The second is that even if you do everything perfect, it is very hard to have a 100% survival rate with your cherry barb fry but yields of over 75% can often be achieved with ease when done correctly.
Use A Breeding Tank If Possible!
The best way to breed your cherry barbs is to use a separate breeding tank, even a cheap 10 gallon tank will be enough for the majority of people.
Try to cycle the tank correctly and ideally, you want to be adding some of the water from your main community tank to the breeding tank too.
Using a breeding tank to breed your cherry barbs has a number of benefits.
The first is that it ensures the female cherry barbs are not being harassed by the male cherry barbs or any other fish in your community tank as this can often lead to the female cherry barb being too stressed to lay her eggs successfully.
Not only this but using a breeding tank also allows you to more easily remove the male cherry barbs from the tank once the female has laid her eggs as this is often necessary to stop the males from eating them.
It can be hard to remove all of the fry from your community tank too without a breeding trap and this could lead to some getting lost and ending up as food for other fish in your aquarium!
If You Can’t Use A Breeding Tank, Use A Breeding Box!
If you can’t get yourself a breeding tank then we would highly recommend that you try to get a breeding box that you are able to use for protection for your cherry barb fry until they are large enough to live in your community tank.
A breeding box usually only costs around $10 and they are invaluable when it comes to breeding fish at home.
As we mentioned above, similar to a breeding tank, the main benefit of using a breeding box is that it protects your fry from being eaten by other fish in your community tank but another great benefit is that it also allows you to more easily monitor the health of your fry as well as their growth too.
Due to being kept in the same water as your main, community tank, a breeding box also allows you to release the fry into your community tank quicker too.
Due to the small size of a breeding box, it really is only a temporary solution and most people will still have to release the fry into their community tanks at a length when they are still easy to eat where as a breeding tank allows your cherry barb fry to grow to their juvenile stage before being added to your community tank.
Offer Plenty Of Places To Hide In A Community Tank!
If you do have to breed your cherry barbs in a community tank with other fish then you really do have to offer your cherry barb fry plenty of places to hide to avoid being eaten. This can be achieved by using plenty of plants as well as some other decorations too.
In our opinion, some of the best things you can add to your community tank when breeding cherry barb fry are live plants, cholla wood, fish fry hides, and breeding grass with all three offering great places for your cherry barb fry to hide to avoid being eaten.
We would also recommend that you try to keep your community tank on the planted side anyway as this usually results in less aggression from the fish in your aquarium.
This is because the more plants there are, to act as sight breaks for your fish as well as to offer more territorial boundaries there are and so the fish have.
Offer Your Cherry Barb Fry A Suitable Food Source!
So many people make mistakes with what they actually feed their cherry barb fry for the first week resulting in most of the fry starving. You have to remember that these fry are tiny and their jaws are often way too big for the food that many people offer them.
Things like microworms and vinegar eels are an easy win but you can get some fish fry starter food that can work well too. Some people will take regular fish food flakes and grind them up in their hands to make them small and although this can work, it is far from perfect.
Learn How To Culture Suitable Fry Food!
With vinegar eels and microworms usually needed to live in a dedicated culture, learning how to manage and maintain a suitable culture for these cherry barb fry food sources is a good idea. It is often easier than most people actually think.
Once your cherry barb fry are a couple of weeks old, you can move them over to brine shrimp and a brineshrimp hatchery can be an excellent investment.
Select Bright Males And Fat Females For Breeding!
Selecting the right parents for your cherry barb fry is vital and this is an area where so many people make easy to avoid mistakes. Our advice would always be to try and choose bright male cherry barbs and fat female cherry barbs for your breeding operation if possible.
The brighter the color on the males make it more likely that they will trigger the females to spawn their eggs to help the process along.
The fatter the female the more eggs she could be carrying giving the male cherry barbs more eggs to fertilize resulting in more cherry barb fry in your tank.
Any male and female cherry barb can produce fry, but it is best to select a bright male and a fat female to increase the chances of successful breeding. The more eggs the female carries, the more likely the male is to fertilize them all, leading to a higher chance of fry being born.
Remove The Females After Spawning!
Most people who breed cherry barbs will try to remove the females within a day or two of her spawing her eggs. This is due to female cherry barbs happily eating their own eggs as well as the eggs of the other cherry barbs in the tank that you are trying to get breeding.
It can be really tricky to remove the female cherry barbs from your breeding tank as they will often be very skittish and hide away.
We have always found that using a small net is usually the best way to go as this way you can corner her in one area of the tank and then gently scoop her up into the net.
Some people will only add the hiding spots to a breeding tank once the parents have been removed to make it easier to catch the parents when needed.
This can work well too, but we have always found that the parents are less likely to breed when they do not have any hiding spots in the tank.
Remove The Males After Fertilizing!
Just like the females, male cherry barbs will also eat the eggs in their tank, even if they have just fertilized them. It can be difficult to check if all of your cherry barb eggs have been fertilized but once you are confident that the little black dog is in there and its growing, we would recommend that you remove the male cherry barbs from the tank too.
The process for removing the male cherry barbs is usually the same as removing the females with most people using a small net to catch them with. You can leave the fry in with their parents but we would not recommend it as they will quite happily eat their own fry given half the chance.
Feed Your Cherry Barb Fry Three To Five Times per Day!
Once your cherry barb fry have hatched, they will need to be fed three to five times per day. At first, they will only be able to eat very small amounts of food but as they grow, they will be able to eat more and more.
The best way to feed your cherry barb fry is with live foods such as microworms, brine shrimp or daphnia. You can buy all of these live foods online or from your local fish store. If you cannot get hold of live foods, then you can use frozen foods such as bloodworms or brine shrimp depending on the age of your cherry barb fry.
Cherry Barb Fry Are Difficult To See For The First Week!
Cherry barb fry are tiny and very difficult to see for the first week or so after they have hatched.
This is why it is so important to make sure that you remove the parents from the tank as soon as possible as they will quite happily eat their own fry given half the chance without you knowing the fry have even hatched.
After a week or so, the fry will start to become more visible and will start to swim around the tank more. At this point, you can start to count the cherry barb fry you have available but like we mentioned back at the start of the article, plan for between 50% to 75% to reach adulthood.
Maintain Stable And Consistent Water Parameters!
One of the most important things you can do when raising cherry barb fry is to make sure that your water parameters are stable and consistent. This means that you need to test your water daily and make sure that the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all within safe limits.
You should also make sure that you are doing regular water changes to keep the water quality high. We would recommend doing a 20% water change every day or every other day until your cherry barb fry are around 4 weeks old and then you can start to do weekly water changes of around 30%.
Daily Water Changes Maybe Essential!
Don’t underestimate the importance of daily water changes when raising cherry barb fry as they are very sensitive to changes in the water quality. If you do not keep on top of the water changes, then you will find that your fry will start to die off very quickly.
Another thing to remember is that you need to use a good quality water conditioner such as Seachem Prime when you are doing the water changes as this will remove the chlorine and chloramine from the tap water which can be harmful to your fry.
The majority of tap water conditioners on the market will not remove the chloramine so it is important that you use one that does such as Prime.
A Heater Is Probably Going To Be Needed!
One final thing to bear in mind is that most fry do best in water that is around 78 degrees Fahrenheit so you may need to use a heater to raise the temperature of the water if it is not already at this level.
The acceptable range for cherry fry is 71-82 degrees fahrenheit but 78 degrees is usually a great middle ground to encourage optimal growth in your cherry barb fry.
Keep Vibrations To A Minimum!
Cherry barb fry are very sensitive to vibrations and noise so it is important that you keep these to a minimum while they are still young. This means that you should avoid walking past the tank too often or moving things around near the tank as this can scare the fry and cause them stress.
So many people keep their breeding tank or community tank in a highly trafficked area of their home, near their tv, or near a music speaker that cause constant vibrations. If you can, try and find a more stable area for your fry tank to live during their first few weeks of life.
Not All Of Your Cherry Barb Fry Are Going To Make It!
One final thing to remember is that not all of your fry are going to make it to adulthood no matter how well you take care of them. This is just the way it is with most fish and it is something that you need to be prepared for.
While it can be heartbreaking to see your fry die, don’t get too disheartened as there will always be some that do make it and go on to live long and happy lives in your aquarium.
When Large Enough, Add The Cherry Barb Fry To Your Main Aquarium!
Once your fry have reached around 4 weeks old, they should be large enough to add to your main aquarium. At this point, you can start to do fewer water changes and they will also be able to start eating larger foods.
If you do have a separate breeding tank, you can keep your cherry barb fry in it for even longer with this being recommended.
If you are using a breeding box, we usually wouldn’t recommend that keep many cherry barb fry in it for longer than four weeks due to the boxes being so small and stress and anxiety in the fry increasing when they get large enough due to overcrowding.
Don’t Think You Can Sell Your Cherry Barb Fry For A Profit!
One final thing to remember is that you are not going to be able to sell your cherry barb fry for a profit as they are very easy to breed and there are already so many on the market.