Max Size: 15cm

Denison Barb (Sahyadria denisonii)

Denison Barbs are active and attractive fish with fascinating behaviours, making them perfect for a large, peaceful community aquarium. In addition, these Barbs are relatively hardy, and their needs are easily met, making them ideal for the beginner aquarist and the more advanced hobbyist.

Denison Barbs are shoaling fish in nature; therefore, it would be better to keep them in groups of at least six individuals. When you maintain these fish in more significant numbers, they will feel more comfortable and result in a more natural-looking display.

Ideal tankmates for Denison Barbs could include other Barbs similar in size, Danios, and more significant sized members of the Tetra family. You can also house them with Rainbowfish and most Cichlids. However, it would be best to avoid keeping them with shy, delicate and slow-moving species as they may struggle around the busy temperament of Denison Barbs.

It would be better to have a sufficiently sized aquarium with plenty of room for these fish to swim around as these are active fish that constantly need to be on the move. You can add rock caves or driftwood in the aquarium with live plants from hardy genera such as Anubias as long as they are well anchored.

Denison Barbs require high oxygen levels and pristine water; therefore, high organic matter levels are not tolerated well. Consequently, you will need to perform regular water changes and keep on top of tank maintenance to keep your Barbs healthy. In addition, these Barbs come from fast-flowing waters; therefore, a decent current will be required.

The Denison Barb has a long torpedo-shaped body and is typically silver in colour with a yellowy-gold tint that appears once mature. It displays a black line that runs from the snout to the caudal fin and is contrasted by an adjacent red line running from the nose through the eye and fades away at their midsection. In addition, the dorsal fin is edged in vibrant red, while the caudal fin exhibits prominent black and yellow stripes. Finally, you can find the striping detail on the tips of both forked ends.

There is also a rare gold morph variation of the Denison Barb, which has been line bred for the fishkeeping hobby.

Tank Mates for the Denison Barb

10 ideal tank mate ideas for the Denison Barb include:

Black Ruby Barb(Pethia nigrofasciata)
Black Widow Tetra(Gymnocorymbus ternetzi)
Bleeding Heart Tetra(Hyphessobrycon erythrostigma)
Boesemans Rainbowfish(Melanotaenia Boesemani)
Janthochir Barb(Cyclocheilichthys janthochir)
Mascara Barb(Dawkinsia Assimilis)
Melon Barb(Haludaria fasciata)
Orange Finned Danio(Danio kyathit)
Red Eye Tetra(Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae)
Red Rainbowfish(Glossolepis Incisus)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameSahyadria denisonii
Year Described1865
Other NamesRedline Barb, Roseline Shark, Torpedo Barb, Denisonii Barb, Denison's Flying fox, Denison's Barb, Miss Kerala, Red-line Torpedo Barb, Bleeding Eye Barb
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan4-8 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.0
GH5 - 25
KH4 - 10
TDS50 - 140
65 - 80℉
18 - 27℃

Photos of the Denison Barb

Adult Denison Barb
Denison Barb Shoal
Denison Barb Juvenile
Group of Denison barbs
Denison Barb
Denison Barbs
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Gold Denison Barb
Gold Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barb
Denison Barbs
Denison Barbs
Denison Barb


Denison Barbs

Natural Habitat

The Denison Barb is endemic to the rivers Chalakudy, Achankovil, Pamba, Chaliar, and Kallada in the Western Ghats in India. These Barbs inhabit clear, fast-flowing, highly oxygenated waters in rivers and streams where the substrate is made up of rocks. Lots of vegetation surround their habitat.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the Denison Barbs has resulted in intense overfishing of the wild stock, pushing them to become endangered. Thankfully, they are now captively bread, which has taken the pressure off of the wild population and reduced the hobby's selling price.

Chalakudy River
Chaliyar River
Kallada River

What to feed the Denison Barb

In the wild, Denison Barbs feed mainly on insects and crustaceans. However, they also consume algae and plant matter. In the home aquarium, these Barbs will eat anything from high-quality dried foods such as flakes, granules and pellet food to live and frozen foods such as bloodworm, daphnia and brine shrimp, as well as vegetable matter such as blanched broccoli and spinach.

How to sex the Denison Barb

The male and female Denison Barb are very similar in appearance and colour, making it challenging to differentiate their gender when they are young. However, sexually mature females tend to be slightly larger, rounder bellied, and somewhat duller than males.

How to breed the Denison Barb

There is currently very little information or recommendations on breeding Denison Barbs in your home aquarium. However, some anecdotal reports of accidental breeding instances from some hobbyists have been reported. Regardless, so far, there is no clear documentation on replicating this without hormone treatments currently used in the fish farm environment.

Frquently asked questions about the Denison Barb

Are Denison Barbs an aggressive species?

Denison Barbs are usually peaceful; however, if you keep them in an aquarium with less space than they need, they may outcompete other smaller and slower species at feeding time. Denison Barbs are not fin-nippers, although you should take care in keeping them with similar or larger-sized species.

How big can Denison Barbs get?

Denison Barbs can reach up to lengths of 15 centimetres; however, most Denison Barbs do not grow much bigger than 11 cm.

How can you tell if your Denison Barb is male or female?

It is somewhat challenging to differentiate males from female Denison Barbs as they look almost identical; however, adult females usually grow slightly larger and are typically a little less colourful than the males.

What should I feed my Denison Barbs?

Denison Barbs are omnivorous, so they require a diet of both vegetable matter and meaty protein. However, these Barbs are not fussy and will accept most foods, including high quality dried food such as flakes, granules and small pellets, as well as live and frozen foods such as cyclops, daphnia, brine shrimp and bloodworms. These foods can help heighten the red colouration on the flanks and in the fins. In addition, feeding them foods rich in carotenoid pigments and astaxanthin can also help make Denison Barbs more colourful.

What size aquarium will I need for my Denison Barbs?

Denison Barbs are robust, active swimmers that can grow relatively large, so they require plenty of space. Therefore, it is recommended that you have an aquarium of at least 200 litres for a small group of these Barbs or more if you would like to keep a community of mixed species.
Ideally, the aquarium should be a rectangular shape to maximize their swimming space, and you'll need a tight-fitting lid, as these fish can and will jump.

What tankmates are suitable for Denison Barbs?

Denison Barbs do poorly when they are kept alone or in pairs as they rely on social interaction to remain healthy and stress-free. Therefore, it is recommended that you keep at least six individuals. In addition to their own kind, there are quite a few other fish species that generally do well with Roseline barbs. The most suitable tank mates for these barbs are active fast-swimming species of fish that do not have delicate trailing fins. Ideal tankmates can include other Barb Species, large Tetra species, celestial pearl Danios, Kribensis Cichlids, Corydoras Catfish and Rainbowfish.

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)
Checker Barb(Oliotius oligolepis)
View all Barbs
Date Added: 09/05/2020 - Updated: 21/02/2022 13:24:51