Checker Barb (Oliotius oligolepis) Fish Species Profile

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The Checker Barb is a small, enthusiastic, active, but peaceful fish and an ideal choice for the community aquarium with other non-aggressive community fish species. This fish is suitable for both the beginner aquarist as well as the more experienced as they are relatively hardy and a joy to keep.

These fish should be maintained in schools of 6 or more, preferably with more females than males as the males may occasionally scrap amongst themselves, but no real damage will occur.

The Checker Barb gets its title from the black marks along the side of its body, thought to resemble a checkerboard.

The Checker Barb usually have two colour varieties. One has a red colouration and the other a more greenish colouration. Both colour morphs are attractive, and both display the checkered scale pattern.

Scientific NameOliotius oligolepis
Other NamesCheckered Barb, Chequer Barb, Checkerboard Barb, Island Barb
OriginsSoutheast Asia
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespanup to 8 years
Maximum Sizeup to 5 cm
Water Conditions
Water TypeFreshwater
Temperature68 - 75 ℉ (20 - 23.9 ℃)
PH5.5 - 6.5
GH1 - 10
TDS36 - 215

Origins of the Checker Barb

The Checker Barb comes from western central Sumatra, Columbia and Indonesia in Southeast Asia. They inhabit clear, well-oxygenated water in small pools, streams, lakes, rivers and drainage ditches that are heavily vegetated.


In the wild Checker Barbs primarily forage for diatoms, small insects, crustaceans, worms, algae and decaying plant matter. However, they will soon adapt to commercial aquarium foods such as high-quality flake foods, freeze-dried blood worms and tubifex worms, artemia, algae wafers and frozen foods.

Checkered Barbs will also consume decaying plant matter and naturally occurring algae within the aquarium.

It would be best if you fed these fish a couple of times a day, with a certain amount of food that they will quickly consume within a few minutes.

Sexing the Checker Barb

It is straightforward to determine the sex of these Barbs. The males have a more intense colour and display reddish-brown dorsal and anal fins edged in black. The females are less dynamic, often rounder, and have yellowish-brown dorsal and anal fins without the distinct black edges seen in males.

Breeding the Checker Barb

The Checkered barb is relatively easy to breed and is best produced in pairs. Group spawnings often fail since the male's fight rather than make love.

It is essential to keep this fish at a colder temperature to simulate winter if you want them to breed. They might produce without this colder season but is not very common.

Fill a suitably sized breeding aquarium with somewhat acidic water with the temperature in the aquarium relatively low. A low water level is ideal as this helps to trigger spawning.

It would be best if you covered the bottom of the tank with a mesh, this will help to protect the eggs from the parents as they will consume their own eggs and fry. The aquarium should also contain fine-leaved plants or spawning mops.

It is recommended to separate male and female barbs first to condition them for spawning. After about three weeks of being separated the fish should be ready to spawn if they have been given an adequate and varied diet with lots of frozen and live food. Please select the most colourful male and the fattest female for spawning and move them to the breeding tank.

The couple generally spawns the subsequent morning in a plant chosen through the male. Daylight that hits the aquarium can help trigger spawning. Extract the parents as soon as spawning has completed.

A spawning usually results in up to 300 eggs. The fry will typically hatch in 24-48 hours. Feed the fry on infusoria or powdered food until they become free-swimming and then switch to newly hatched brine shrimp once big enough to consume them.

The fry will grow very fast and can reach adulthood within 4-6 months.

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Date Added: 9/29/2020 - Updated: 9/29/2020 9:45:41 PM