Max Size: 6cm

African Banded Barb (Barbus fasciolatus)

African Banded Barbs are a peaceful, active and charming fish that make an excellent addition to a community tank. It would be more beneficial for these fish if you kept them in shoals of six or more.

The African Banded Barbs may be shy initially but will soon settle down when housed with the correct tank mates. You should avoid semi-aggressive or boisterous tank mates otherwise; these barbs will remain retiring and nervous.

Once established, you may find them sparing with each other to prove a pecking order. Still, this sparing is carried out amongst themselves and does not involve other species in the aquarium, and they do no harm to each other during these minor conflicts.

Your aquarium needs to be sufficient in size, which will allow the weaker individuals some respite from the dominant species and decorated so that broken lines of sight are provided. If you keep these Barbs alone, in a tiny group or cramped conditions, they can become withdrawn, and the dominant ones may bully subdominant fish regularly.

The African Banded Barb is not as heavy-bodied as other Barb species and has an elongated olive-orangy body and a creamy-yellow stomach. During the breeding season, the male's body turns a bright rusty red. A distinctive characteristic of this barb is the 10-15 blueish-black thin vertical bars of which the second or third tends to be egg-shaped, and the last bar usually forms a spot at the caudal peduncle.

Quick Facts
Scientific NameBarbus fasciolatus
Other NamesFire Barb, Angola Barb, Blue-barred Barb
OriginsAngola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan3 - 5 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.0
GH5 - 12
TDS18 -215
71 - 79℉
21.7 - 26.1℃

Photos of the African Banded Barb

African Banded Barb
African Banded Barb
African Banded Barb

Natural Habitat

The African Banded Barbs are endemic to Zambia, Angola and Botswana as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

These Barbs natural habitats are the middle and upper Kafue, Luapula River and Cunene Rivers the Zambezi River as well as the Okavango and Congo River. Their habitats are also in Lake Kariba and Lake Mweru.

The African Banded Barbs inhabit shallows and bays of lakes and floodplain lagoons as well as rainforest rivers and streams. These waters are identified by a high oxygen content, slow flow and heavy vegetation. The water itself has stained a dark brown colour from chemicals and humic acids released by decaying natural material. The Barbs spend the hottest part of the day under cover of the vegetation usually only appearing in the late afternoon and early morning to feed.

What to feed the African Banded Barb

In captivity African Banded Barbs will accept high-quality pelleted or flake foods and also enjoys small frozen and live foods such as bloodworm, daphnia, artemia and suchlike. These Barbs will also appreciate infrequent meals of vegetable matter such as blanched spinach or dried products with added vegetable content.

How to sex the African Banded Barb

It is relatively easy to differentiate males from female African Banded Barbs. Males are more intensely-coloured, especially when in spawning and are smaller than females. In contrast, females are larger are much less colourful than males and have rounder stomachs.

How to breed the African Banded Barb

In a well-planted aquarium, fry may likely begin to appear without any human intervention. However, if you wish to increase the yield of fry, a more controlled approach is required.

You should set up a spawning tank containing soft acidic water with a slightly higher temperature than usual. The tank should be dimly lit with floating plants as cover and vast amounts of spawning medium such as java moss or fine-leaved plants. You will not need substrate just a small air-powered filter will be adequate.

It would be better if you conditioned the adults in a separate tank by feeding them with plenty of live and frozen foods. Once the females are plump, you should choose the fattest female and the most colourful male and place them into the spawning tank.

If they fail to spawn straight away, leave them in the tank for a few extra days before proceeding with a different pair.

Once the pair have successfully spawned and laid their eggs, it is advisable to remove the parents; otherwise, they will consume the eggs if given a chance.

You can now use the spawning tank as a rearing tank for the babies. They should hatch within 48 hours, and become free-swimming around a week later.

The fry will be tiny and require infusoria as a first food and as they grow will need foods such as nauplii, microworm and artemia.

Frquently asked questions about the African Banded Barb

Are African Banded Barbs a shoaling fish?

African Banded Barbs are sociable by nature; however, they are a shoaling rather than schooling species that develop a distinct pecking order between males. Therefore, you should ideally maintain them in groups of 8 or more individuals. However, the aquarium must be a sufficient size allowing weaker individuals some respite from dominant individuals and decorated so that multiple broken lines of sight are provided. If you keep these Barbs on their own or in very small groups in cramped conditions, they can become withdrawn, and subdominant fish may be bullied regularly.

How big do African Banded Barbs get?

African Banded Barbs can reach up to 6 cm in length, with the females usually being slightly larger than the males.

How do you distinguish between male from female African Banded Barbs?

It is pretty straightforward to determine the sex of African Banded Barbs. Males are typically more intensely coloured, especially when in breeding condition or displaying to their rivals. Females are slightly duller are usually slightly larger, and they possess much rounder stomachs when they are gravid.

How should I set up my aquarium for African Banded Barbs?

African Banded Barbs can be maintained successfully in a densely planted aquarium with soft water. However, if you wish to see your fish at their best, then a biotope style setup with a sandy substrate and several driftwood roots and branches placed in such a way that there is plenty of shady areas is highly recommended. You can also add some dried leaves such as oak, beech or Indian almond as these will further emphasise their natural habitat as well as providing more cover for your fish.

What should you feed African Banded Barbs

African Banded Barbs will readily accept high-quality flake or pelleted products and will also enjoy small frozen or live foods such as bloodworm, artemia and daphnia. In addition, these Barbs will also appreciate the occasional treat of vegetable matter both in the form of a dried product with added vegetable content or blanched vegetables such as courgette or spinach.

What tankmates are suitable for African Banded Barbs

The ideal tankmates for African Banded Barbs include Dwarf Cichlids and Pelvicachromis species, Tetras, smaller Catfish such as Microsyndontis species and other similarly-sized African Barbs. However, it would be best if you didn't house these Barbs with larger, more boisterous species.

Other Barbs of interest

Arulius Barb(Dawkinsia arulius, Puntius arulius)
Black Ruby Barb(Pethia nigrofasciata)
Blue Spotted Hill Trout(Barilius bakeri)
Butterfly Barb(Barbus hulstaerti)
Checker Barb(Oliotius oligolepis)
Cherry Barb(Puntius titteya)
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Date Added: 08/12/2020 - Updated: 05/01/2022 16:08:44