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Max Size: 9 - 12cm

Mascara Barb (Dawkinsia Assimilis)

Mascara Barbs are a relatively peaceful species that make excellent members of a community aquarium. However, although these species do not nip fins of other fish, they are reasonably boisterous, especially the males, when engaging in chases; therefore, smaller, more timid species are not ideal for keeping with these Barbs.

Mascara Barbs are fast-moving, aggressive feeders and do better with equally large and active tankmates in the aquarium. Ideal tankmates for these Barbs would be other Cyprinids such as Denison Barbs (which are found with Mascara Barbs in the wild), other medium to large-sized Barbs, larger Rainbowfish, Gouramis and Loaches.

Mascara Barbs are a schooling species in nature and should be kept in groups of 8 or more individuals. Keeping these Barbs in suitable numbers will make your fish less nervous and result in a more natural and effective looking display. In addition, keeping this species in larger groups will usually restrict any aggression between them because the males will be focusing on maintaining their hierarchical position within the group.

The ideal aquarium setup for Mascara Barbs would mimic a flowing stream or river with differently sized rocks, small pebbles, sand or fine gravel, and perhaps some small boulders as a substrate. Adding driftwood and hardy aquatic plants such as Anubias or Microsorum would also benefit your fish.

Mascara Barbs have a pink blush colouration around their nose and a blue-black line under their eyes, where they got their name. These fish have silvery bodies and display a pear-shaped black spot on their caudal peduncle. You will also notice a curved reddish-pink line that resembles a thin pearl necklace-type pattern throughout the body. Most of their fins are translucent except for their tail fin with red and black tips and their dorsal fin with a bright red colour.

Tank Mates for the Mascara Barb

10 ideal tank mate ideas for the Mascara Barb include:

Blue Spotted Hill Trout(Barilius bakeri)
Bristlenose Pleco(Ancistrus Cirrhosus)
Colombian Redfin Tetra(Hyphessobrycon columbianus)
Denison Barb(Sahyadria denisonii)
Flame Tetra(Hyphessobrycon flammeus)
Flash Plecostomus(Panaqolus albivermis)
Janthochir Barb(Cyclocheilichthys janthochir)
Red Tailed Black Shark(Epalzeorhynchos bicolor)
Rohani Barb(Dawkinsia Rohani)
Silver Flying Fox(Crossocheilus reticulatus)
Quick Facts
Scientific NameDawkinsia Assimilis
Year Described1849
Other NamesRed Necklace Barb, Assimilis Barb
ClassificationActinopterygii
OrderCypriniformes
FamilyCyprinidae
GenusPuntius
OriginsIndia
TemperamentPeaceful
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
ShoalingYes
Best kept asGroups 8+
DietOmnivore
ReproductionEgg-Scatterer
Lifespan8 - 10 years
Water Parameters
Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 8.0
GH5 - 15
KH1 - 10
TDS40 - 70
Temperature
65 - 80℉
18 - 27℃

Photos of the Mascara Barb

Mascara Barbs
Dawkinsia assimilis
Mascara barbs
Mascara Barb
Mascara Barb

Videos

Mascara Barbs - Dawkinsia Assimilis

Natural Habitat

Mascara Barbs are endemic to Kerala and Karnataka in the Southwest India, occurring in the Chalakudy, Kallada and Netravati River Basins. Mascara Barbs have various habitat types depending on location and the time of year. For example, in the Netravati, they have been seen in limited zones with sluggish flowing waters and muddy substrate.

On the other hand, in Chalakudy, people collected these Barbs from rocky, clear, fast-flowing, highly oxygenated stretches between waterfalls formed from the river descending from the Western Ghats mountains.

Chalakudy River
Kallada River

What to feed the Mascara Barb

Mascara Barbs feed on insects, crustaceans, worms, plant material, and other organic debris in the wild. However, Mascara Barbs are not fussy and are easily fed in captivity.

It would be more beneficial if you provided your Barbs with a balanced diet comprising of regular meals of small frozen and live foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworm alongside high quality dried flakes and granules. This mix will promote the good health and colour of your fish.

How to sex the Mascara Barb

It can be relatively challenging to distinguish between the male and female Mascara Barbs as both sexes will display impressive red colouration as mature adults. However, males will typically have a more striking colour pattern and develop detailed dorsal filaments and vivid red dorsal fins. When in breeding conditions, they will possess tubercules on their heads. In contrast, adult females usually grow slightly larger, are heavier-bodied, and are generally duller than males.

How to breed the Mascara Barb

Mascara Barbs are egg-scatterers and should often spawn with the proper water conditions. Therefore, in an established aquarium, you may see small numbers of fry starting to appear without intervention.

If you would like to increase the yield of fry, it would be better if you had a separate dimly lit breeding tank with the bottom covered in a mesh that has large enough holes for the eggs to fall through but small enough that the parents cannot reach them. Alternatively, you can fill a majority of the tank with fine-leaved plants, or spawning mops can also return decent results.

The water's pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, and the temperature needs to be towards the upper range. It would be beneficial if you Included either an air-powered sponge filter or an air stone as this will provide water movement and oxygenation.

Once the adults have been well-conditioned and the females appear gravid, you should introduce one or two pairs into the breeding tank, and spawning should occur the following morning.

Another method that is also successful is to spawn the fish in a group, with half a dozen individuals of each sex, although a larger aquarium may be necessary. Whichever option you choose, the adults will more than likely eat the eggs if given a chance; therefore, you should remove them as soon as you notice any.

The eggs will usually hatch within 24 to 48 hours, and around 24 hours after that, the fry will become free-swimming. The babies will require microscopic food for the first few days until they are large enough to accept things like baby brine shrimp, microworm or suchlike.

Frquently asked questions about the Mascara Barb

Are Mascara Barbs a schooling or shoaling species?

Mascara Barbs are a schooling species in nature; therefore, you should ideally keep these fish in groups of 8 or more individuals. Maintaining these Barbs in suitable numbers will not only make your fish less nervous but will also result in a more natural and effective looking display. In addition, keeping this species in larger groups will usually restrict any aggression because the males will be concentrating on maintaining their hierarchical position within the group.

How big do Mascara Barbs grow?

Mascara Barbs are one of the larger barb species kept by aquarists, growing up to 9-12cm in length.

How do you sex Mascara Barbs?

It can be relatively challenging to distinguish male from female Mascara barbs as both sexes will show impressive red colouration as mature adults. However, males will typically have a more intense colour pattern and develop detailed dorsal filaments and vivid red dorsal fins and, when in breeding condition, will display noticeable tubercules on their heads. In contrast, adult females usually grow a little larger, are heavier-bodied, and less colourful than males.

What are the ideal tankmates for Mascara Barbs?

Seeing as Mascara Barbs are fast-moving, aggressive feeders, it would be better to keep them with equally large and active tankmates in the aquarium. Ideal tankmates for these Barbs would be other schooling or shoaling Cyprinids such as medium to large-sized Barbs, larger Rainbowfish, Gouramis, Botiids, Cobitids, Nemacheilids, and Balitorid Loaches.

What do Mascara Barbs look like?

Mascara Barbs have a pinky-red colouration around their snout and a blue-black line under their eyes hence their name. These fish have silvery colour bodies and display a tear-shaped black spot on the caudal peduncle. You will also notice a curved line throughout the body that almost looks like a small pearl necklace-type pattern. Most of their fins are transparent except for their tailfin with red and black tips, and their dorsal fin is a bright red colour.

What is the origin of the Mascara Barbs?

Mascara Barbs are endemic to Kerala and Karnataka in the Southwest Indian states, where they occur in the Chalakudy, Kallada and Netravati river basins. Mascara Barbs have various habitat types depending on location and the time of year. For example, in the Netravati, they were reported in limited zones with a sluggish, almost still flow and muddy substrate. In contrast, people collected the Chalakudy fish from rocky, clear, flowing stretches between waterfalls formed from the river descending from the Western Ghats mountains.

What should I feed my Mascara Barbs?

In captivity, Mascara Barbs are not picky and are easily fed. However, you should provide your Barbs with a balanced diet comprising of regular meals of small frozen and live foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms, and such alongside high quality dried flakes and granules. This mix will promote the most favourable condition and colours.

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: 14/05/2020 - Updated: 24/02/2022 15:30:34