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.


Checker barb
Checkered Barb
Checker Barb
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℃


In the home aquarium, the Checker Barb will readily accept most good quality dried foods such as granules, flakes and sinking pellets. These modern food products have been developed to provide all adequate nutrition to maintain your fish's health and dietary requirements.

Providing additional foodstuffs such as live, frozen, and freeze-dried meals such as bloodworm, daphnia, and tubifex once or twice a week will provide additional benefits to your fish's health and well-being but is not a must for this fish.

It should be noted that bloodworms should only be given as an occasional treat and should not be used as the staple diet as they are difficult for fish to digest and can potentially cause blockages.

This fish is an omnivore in the wild, meaning it will consume some vegetable matter. Although most modern fish foods take this into account and include them in their products, you can still supplement your fish's diet with blanched vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and zucchini. Ensure you do not overfeed your fish and remove any leftovers the following day.

Tank Mates

2 interesting tank mate ideas for the Checker Barb could include:

Banded Gourami(Trichogaster fasciata)
Chocolate Gourami(Sphaerichthys osphromenoides)

Sexual Dimorphism

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.

Frequently asked questions

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)
Borneo Red Fin Silver Shark(Cyclocheilichthys janthochir)
Butterfly Barb(Barbus hulstaerti)
View all Barbs
Date Added: 29/09/2020 - Updated: 05/01/2022 16:12:58