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Maximum size : 15 cm

Denison Barb - Sahyadria denisonii : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Denison Barb, or Sahyadria denisonii, is a species of exceptional allure and beguiling behavioural traits. Adorned with a natural vibrancy, these agile swimmers are an ideal choice for the underwater sanctuary of the novice as well as the seasoned aquarium hobbyist. They embody the essence of their shoaling origins, seeking comfort in the companionship of a group; a flock of six or more often creates a compelling tableau of underwater life.

Aquatic species such as the similarly proportioned Barbs, larger Tetras, Danios, Rainbowfish, and a host of Cichlids are ideal cohorts in the aquatic realm. However, the bustling, spirited nature of the Denison Barb may overwhelm those of a more delicate constitution. The shy, the fragile, the unhurried swimmers may find it challenging to coexist with these lively barbs.

The abode of the Denison Barb is one of significant proportions, furnished generously with room for ceaseless movement, mirroring the vast expanses of their natural habitat. Nestled amidst this watery landscape are the intricate forms of rock caves or driftwood, punctuated with resilient flora such as the Anubias. The root system must be firm, anchoring the greenery in place, ensuring it does not interfere with the Barbs' free rein of their aquatic terrain.

The Barb's ecosystem must mimic the oxygen-rich, immaculate environments they are accustomed to, devoid of high organic matter. Regular upkeep, a healthy discipline of water changes, and diligent maintenance of their aquatic abode is of paramount importance for their well-being. The need for a robust current in their dwelling is imperative, as a reminiscence of the swift waters that were once their home.

The Denison Barb, with its elongated, torpedo-like form, exhibits a breathtaking play of colours. Its silvery body, dappled with a golden hue, is further embellished with a jet-black streak extending from snout to tail, flanked by an arresting red line from the nose, coursing through the eye and tapering towards the midsection. The dorsal fin is adorned with a brilliant red border while the caudal fin hosts a striking design of black and yellow stripes, the forked ends presenting an intricate striping detail. A unique variation of this species, a rare gold morph, has been bred selectively for the hobbyists' delight.

With an enchanting allure and a character that is both dynamic and engaging, the Denison Barb graces any aquarium with its presence. Despite their captivating charm, they remain amiable occupants of their aquatic realm, requiring care that is relatively straightforward, a joy for any aquarium hobbyist.

Denison Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Discerning between male and female Denison Barbs can indeed be a complex task, especially during their juvenile stage, due to the shared physical attributes and color patterns. However, as these Barbs mature and reach sexual maturity, certain subtle differences begin to emerge.

Females typically manifest a marginally larger and more rounded abdomen compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, the vibrancy of their coloration might not match the intensity exhibited by the males - the females tend to appear somewhat duller.

These nuanced distinctions, though they may require a keen eye to detect, can be incredibly useful when attempting to identify the gender of Denison Barbs within your aquarium.

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
Max Size15 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
Best kept asGroups 6+
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.0
GH5 - 25
KH4 - 10
TDS50 - 140
65 - 80
18 - 27

Natural habitat

The Denison Barb traces its roots to the rivers of the Western Ghats in India - specifically, the Chalakudy, Achankovil, Pamba, Chaliar, and Kallada. In these clear, swiftly flowing, oxygen-rich streams and rivers, they are often found in expansive shoals, swimming side by side with their Mascara Barb counterparts. The surrounding verdant vegetation and rocky substrate paint an ideal backdrop for their habitat.

Regrettably, the growing allure of the Denison Barb has had its unintended consequences. Due to rampant overfishing triggered by their escalating popularity, these stunning fish now bear the somber designation of an endangered species. However, amidst this grim reality, a silver lining has emerged.

In recent times, a substantial majority of Denison Barbs are bred in captivity, a development that has brought much-needed relief to the beleaguered wild populations. Now, they have an opportunity to recover and flourish in their natural environment. In a fortuitous twist, commercial breeding has also led to a significant drop in their cost, a change that once seemed unattainable given their high demand.

This turn of events has opened the door to greater accessibility, enabling both fish enthusiasts and conservationists to partake in the joy of owning these beautiful creatures. Introducing the Denison Barb into your aquarium not only adds a splash of vibrancy to your underwater world but also supports their ongoing survival. It's an opportunity to experience the wonder they bring while participating in their conservation.

 Chalakudy River - India
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 Chaliyar River - India
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 Kallada River - India
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How to breed the Denison Barb

Sadly, there is a lack of reliable information and recommendations about breeding the Denison Barb in a home aquarium setting. While there have been sporadic accounts of accidental breeding by hobbyists in various forums, there is no well-documented procedure for reproducing this process without the use of hormone treatments.

On commercial fish farms, Denison Barb breeding currently involves inducing the fish to spawn with an ovaprim hormone treatment. The eggs produced via this method are then used to cultivate the species for the aquarium trade. This technique, however, is not suitable for hobbyists looking to breed these fish in their home aquariums.

The widespread popularity of the Denison Barb in the aquarium hobby over the past few decades has unfortunately led to overexploitation of their wild populations. This has resulted in the species being listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. In their natural habitat, spawning season for Denison Barb is believed to take place between November and March.

Diet & feeding

In the wild, Denison Barbs rely on a diet composed primarily of insects and crustaceans. Their palate extends to the plant kingdom as well, often grazing on algae and other plant material. However, when it comes to a home aquarium setting, these Barbs demonstrate a remarkably diverse and undiscriminating appetite.

They willingly accept a wide array of foods, from dried options like flakes and granules, to live and frozen varieties like bloodworms and daphnia. Vegetation, such as blanched broccoli and spinach, is also gladly consumed, providing some connection to their natural dietary habits.

Worth noting is the feeding frenzy that typically ensues with Denison Barbs. Their feeding behavior can be categorized as fervently aggressive, with the Barbs swiftly consuming all the available food. This rapid eating habit might pose a challenge for slower or bottom-dwelling species, potentially denying them access to their fair portion of food.

To rectify this, it is advised to incorporate an additional feeding session later in the evening, just before the aquarium lights are turned off. This would give bottom-dwelling species, such as Corydoras catfish or various Plecos species, ample opportunity to find and consume their share of food.

In essence, offering Denison Barbs a balanced and diverse diet is key to ensuring their overall health and well-being within a home aquarium. The aim is to mimic their natural dietary habits as closely as possible, providing a variety of nutrients to promote their vibrant coloration and active behavior.

Frequently asked questions

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.\r\nIdeally, 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.


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9 tank mate ideas for the Denison Barb

Looking for some awesome tank mate ideas for your Denison Barb? Look no further! Here are 9 of the most captivating and fascinating options that will liven up your aquarium!

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