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Maximum size : 5 cm

Checker Barb - Oliotius oligolepis : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Checkered Barb (Oliotius oligolepis) is a striking fish that adds a burst of color to any community aquarium. With their active and lively personalities, they are a joy to watch as they swim around the tank. In the aquarium, these fish are peaceful and social, making them an ideal choice for a community aquarium with other non-aggressive fish species. They should be kept in schools of six or more, with more females than males to avoid any male aggression. To ensure the optimal health and wellbeing of Checkered Barbs, it is recommended to maintain them in water that is slightly acidic and soft. These fish can adapt to a variety of water conditions, but they thrive in a more subdued tropical environment. It is essential to ensure that other tankmates have similar needs to avoid any potential conflicts. A planted aquarium with ample hiding spots is ideal for Checkered Barbs. Once they have settled in, their unique, subtle colours will intensify, creating a stunning display for any aquarium enthusiast. It is recommended to provide a gentle water flow and regular water changes to maintain optimal water quality for these fish. These fish have a unique checkerboard pattern that runs along their body, which makes them stand out in any aquarium. The males are particularly colorful, with reddish-brown dorsal and anal fins edged in black, while the females have yellowish-brown dorsal and anal fins without the distinct black edges seen in males. With their striking appearance and lively personalities, Checkered Barbs are a delightful addition to any aquarium.

Checker Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

A discernible difference in appearance between male and female Checkered Barbs makes it relatively easy to identify their sex. The males exhibit a more vibrant colouration with reddish-brown dorsal and anal fins outlined in black, while the females are typically rounder with yellowish-brown dorsal and anal fins that lack the definitive black edges visible in males.
Featured Male
Featured Female
Male Female

Quick Facts

Scientific NameOliotius oligolepis
Year Described1853
Other NamesCheckered Barb, Chequer Barb, Checkerboard Barb, Island Barb
OriginsColombia Indonesia
Max Size5 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespanup to 8 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 6.5
GH1 - 10
TDS36 - 215
68 - 75
20 - 23.9

Natural Habitat

The Checkered Barb can be found throughout western central Sumatra, Columbia, and Indonesia in Southeast Asia, inhabiting clear, well-oxygenated water in small pools, streams, lakes, rivers, and drainage ditches that are heavily vegetated. The Checkered Barb is known for its remarkable beauty and distinctive appearance, with its striking checkerboard pattern and vibrant colouration capturing the hearts and imaginations of fish enthusiasts around the world. Their unique habitat preferences, with a preference for heavily vegetated water sources, also make them a fascinating species to observe in the wild. From the lush and vibrant lands of Sumatra to the exotic waters of Southeast Asia, the Checker Barb has become a true icon of the natural world, captivating audiences with its stunning appearance and unique behaviour. Join us as we explore their world and discover the secrets of their remarkable adaptability and resilience in the face of changing environments. Whether kept as a prized aquarium species or observed in the wild, the Checker Barb is sure to leave a lasting impression and inspire awe and wonder in all who encounter it.


To breed Checkered Barbs, it is best to keep them in pairs rather than groups to avoid males fighting instead of breeding. It is also essential to simulate winter by keeping the fish at a lower temperature to induce spawning. The breeding aquarium should have somewhat acidic water and a low water level, with a mesh covering the bottom to protect the eggs from the parents. Fine-leaved plants or spawning mops should also be added to the tank. To condition the fish for spawning, separate the males and females for about three weeks and feed them with a varied diet containing lots of frozen and live food. Select the most colourful male and the fattest female for breeding and move them to the breeding tank. Spawning typically occurs in a plant chosen by the male the next morning, and the parents should be removed as soon as spawning is complete. A spawning can result in up to 300 eggs, which typically hatch in 24-48 hours. Feed the fry on infusoria or powdered food until they become free-swimming, then switch to newly hatched brine shrimp once they are big enough to consume them. The fry will grow rapidly and can reach adulthood within 4-6 months.

Diet & feeding

In their natural habitat, Checkered Barbs feed on a varied diet that includes diatoms, small insects, crustaceans, worms, algae, and decaying plant matter. Fortunately, these fish can quickly adjust to commercial aquarium foods such as high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried bloodworm and tubifex worms, artemia, algae wafers, and frozen foods. In addition to commercial foods, Checkered Barbs will also consume decaying plant matter and naturally occurring algae within the aquarium. It is recommended to feed these fish a couple of times a day, providing an appropriate amount of food that they can consume within a few minutes.

Frequently asked questions

When it comes to setting up an aquarium for Checker Barbs, the choice of decor is not particularly critical. Checker Barbs seem to exhibit better colouration in a well-decorated setup. These Barbs also seem to appreciate the addition of floating or overhanging vegetation, as well as driftwood roots or branches. Although these Barbs can be acclimatised to a broad range of conditions, these fish will fare better in softer, slightly acidic water. The ideal water parameters for Checker Barbs is a temperature between 64 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, a pH level between 5.5 and 7.5, and a water hardness between 36 and 215 ppm.

Checker Barbs are a schooling species by nature; therefore, you should purchase at least 6 to 10 individuals. Maintaining these Barbs in more significant numbers will not only make your fish less nervous but will also result in a more powerful, natural-looking display. Also, males will develop better colours if they are in the presence of rival males.

Adult males are noticeably smaller, slimmer, and more colourful than females and have black edges to their dorsal and anal fins. Females are usually slightly duller and much plumper than males.

In captivity, Checker Barbs are unfussy and easily fed. However, for the best colours and health of your fish, it would be best to offer them frequent meals of small live and frozen fares such as chironomid larvae, artemia and daphnia alongside good quality dried food such as flakes and granules.

The answer is no; Checker Barbs are generally very peaceful, making them excellent residents of the community aquarium. However, you may notice males occasionally sparring amongst themselves, but there is no need to worry as no actual damage occurs.

Checker Barbs are endemic to western central Sumatra in Indonesia in Southeast Asia. They inhabit relatively shallow, clear, well-oxygenated water in streams, small pools, rivers and drainage ditches that are heavily vegetated.

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