Max Size: 5cm

Checker Barb (Oliotius oligolepis)

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.

Tank Mates for the Checker Barb

2 ideal tank mate ideas for the Checker Barb include:

Banded Gourami(Trichogaster fasciata)
Chocolate Gourami(Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameOliotius oligolepis
Other NamesCheckered Barb, Chequer Barb, Checkerboard Barb, Island Barb
OriginsColombia, Indonesia
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℃

Photos of the Checker Barb

Checker barb
Checkered Barb

Natural Habitat

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.

What to feed the Checker Barb

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 bloodworm 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.

How to sex 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.

How to breed 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.

Frquently asked questions about the Checker Barb

Are Checker Barbs aggressive?

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.

How can you tell male and females apart?

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.

What aquarium setup is required for Checker Barbs?

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.

What is the ideal number of Checker Barbs to keep in an aquarium?

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.

What should I feed my Checker Barbs?

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.

Where do Checker Barbs originate?

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.

Other Barbs of interest

African Banded Barb(Barbus fasciolatus)
Arulius Barb(Dawkinsia arulius, Puntius arulius)
Black Ruby Barb(Pethia nigrofasciata)
Blue Spotted Hill Trout(Barilius bakeri)
Butterfly Barb(Barbus hulstaerti)
Cherry Barb(Puntius titteya)
View all Barbs
Date Added: 29/09/2020 - Updated: 05/01/2022 16:12:58