Maximum size : 6 cm

Melon Barb - Haludaria fasciata : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Melon or Red Panda Barb (Haludaria fasciata) are a sight to behold with their vibrant colours and spirited personality. They make for a delightful addition to any aquarium due to their active and sociable nature. However, their boisterous disposition makes them unsuitable companions for smaller, timid fish species.

Melon Barbs are fast-swimming and voracious eaters. They thrive best in the company of similarly active and large tankmates. Ideal companions include Denison Barbs, Rainbowfish, Gouramis, and Loaches. Encouraging their natural schooling behaviour, it's advisable to keep these fish in groups of eight or more. Maintaining a group of Melon Barbs not only adds visual appeal to your aquarium but also allows observation of their intriguing behaviour. Larger groups induce competition among males for prime positions, thereby curbing aggression and establishing a natural hierarchy within the group.

For creating a suitable environment for Melon Barbs, consider a variety of rock sizes, pebbles, sand or fine gravel, and even small boulders. Melon Barbs are indigenous to habitats characterized by moderately brisk currents, implying that the aquarium arrangement should encompass a commensurate flow rate and optimal oxygen saturation.

To emulate their natural environment, it is imperative to allocate an unobstructed expanse within the central region of the aquarium to facilitate free movement. Furthermore, a judicious inclusion of vegetation, like Anubias and Microsorum, along the sides and rear of the aquarium serves to augment the overall habitat by providing suitable cover that will enhance their living conditions.

Melon Barbs exhibit a variety of colours and patterns, which vary based on their habitat and locality. Some bear orangey-gold hues, while others sport purple or reddish shades. The number of dark bars on their bodies also varies, ranging from one to five, depending on the specific species. This diversity in appearance makes the Melon Barbs an attractive and interesting addition to any aquarium.

Melon Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Identifying the gender of Melon Barbs is quite straightforward. Female Melon Barbs typically have larger bodies compared to males and exhibit a brown colouration. They notably lack the red pigmentation found in their male counterparts. Male Melon Barbs, on the other hand, have slender bodies. A distinctive characteristic of males is their dorsal fin, which usually displays a vibrant red or a combination of red and black. 

Quick Facts

Scientific NameHaludaria fasciata
Year Described1849
Other NamesRed Panda Barb
Max Size6 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 6 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 5.5 - 7.5
GH 2 - 8
TDS 36 - 179
Ideal Temperature
72 - 79
22 - 26

Natural Habitat

Melon Barbs are endemic to the Western Ghats of South India. Their natural habitats are rich and diverse, encompassing canals, lakes, ditches, and ponds. Additionally, they can be found in hill streams and major rivers throughout Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

The environment in which Melon Barbs thrive is specific. They prefer soft, acidic, and moderately fast-flowing waters. These waters are typically rich with a variety of aquatic life, including plants, insects, and other small organisms. Observing them in their natural habitat, one can see these stunning fish playfully interacting with the rocks and vegetation, relishing the abundant food and shelter that the water environment provides. 



Breeding Melon Barbs necessitates the setup of a separate breeding tank. This tank should contain soft water and a suitable substrate, like marbles or mesh, lining the bottom. You will also need an abundance of fine-leaved plants or spawning mops, providing a place for the female to deposit her eggs. To increase the likelihood of successful spawning, consider adjusting the tank's environment.

It's recommended to raise the water temperature slightly above the usual range and to use dim lighting. Installation of a gentle-flow sponge filter is also beneficial. Once the tank is ready, introduce one or two healthy and well-conditioned pairs of Melon Barbs. Ensure the lid of the tank is securely closed, as the fish can become quite active during the spawning process. Spawning typically takes place at the break of the day, with the female scattering her eggs across the plants or substrate in the tank.

It's crucial to remember to remove the parent fish as soon as spawning is complete. If left in the tank, they may consume the eggs, jeopardizing the breeding process. Incubation is anticipated to culminate within a window of 24 to 48 hours, subsequently leading to the emergence of fry displaying free-swimming behaviour approximately 24 hours thereafter.

During the initial developmental phase, provisioning a nourishing regimen comprising infusoria-grade sustenance is recommended. This sustenance is instrumental in supporting the fry's nutritional requirements during the early days until they attain a size suitable for the assimilation of larger sustenance forms like microworms and baby brine shrimp.

Diet & feeding

Maintaining the optimal health and vibrant colouration of Melon Barbs requires a well-balanced diet. These fish are not particularly fussy eaters, but it is crucial to include a variety of food types in their diet.

Incorporating small frozen or live foods, such as Daphnia, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and artemia, ensures they receive essential nutrients that may not be present in dried flakes and granules. It's also beneficial to include supplements in their diet that contain algae or plant content, contributing to their overall health.

It's important, however, to avoid overfeeding. This could lead to health problems for the fish and affect the water quality negatively. A recommended feeding regimen would be small servings of food 2-3 times daily, accompanied by one fasting day per week to facilitate proper digestion. By adhering to these dietary recommendations, you'll help maintain your Melon Barbs in their best possible condition.

Frequently asked questions

There are some Melon barbs in the hobby, and they subtly differ in intensity and markings. If your fish originated from high altitudes, you could expect them to be distinctly peach. However, If your Barbs are from lower altitudes, you can expect them to display purple, violet and red hues. The number of black bars they show also varies depending on their location. For example, fish from the south of Kerala have three bars on their flanks, whilst those from the north possess four; on the other hand, those from Goa have an impressive five.

In the wild, Melon Barbs are scavenging omnivores that feed on algae, organic detritus, diatoms, worms, crustaceans, small insects and other zooplankton. In captivity, these Barbs are not fussy and will eat pretty much anything. However, it would be better for the best colours and condition to offer them frequent meals of frozen and live foods such as daphnia, bloodworms and brine shrimp, as well as good-quality dried flakes and granules, some of which should include additional algal or plant content.

Melon Barbs are generally very peaceful fish, making them an ideal resident of the well-researched community aquarium. However, these Barbs may outcompete timid, slower-moving fish as they are somewhat of a vigorous feeder. These Barbs have no particular demands regarding water chemistry; therefore, you can combine them with several popular fish in the hobby. These can include Tetras, other small Cyprinids, Livebearers and Rainbowfish, as well as Catfish, certain Anabantoids, and loaches.

Melon Barbs are a shoaling fish that you should keep in groups of at least six individuals, although 8 to 10 would be much better as this provides security, and you'll be rewarded with a more natural-looking display. The interaction between rival males is captivating to watch, plus they display their best colours when they are competing for female attention or hierarchical dominance.

Melon Barbs are endemic to the Western Ghats mountains in the south Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu. They inhabit a variety of biotopes from significant rivers to hill streams as well as lakes, ponds, irrigation canals and ditches. These Barbs show a preference for shallow, quiet zones with submerged cover in the form of leaf litter or aquatic vegetation. \r\n\r\nAll the rivers in the Western Ghats are rain-fed and annual, so a majority of habitats experience changes in temperature, depth, turbidity, water chemistry and flow rate depending on the time of year. For example, undammed rivers can almost dry up entirely during the summer but can have flow like a torrent after the monsoons.

It is relatively straightforward to distinguish males from female Melon Barbs. The males are by far the more vibrantly coloured sex and usually have red, black or both colours in their dorsal fin. In contrast, females tend to be fuller-bodied, especially when in breeding condition and larger than males.


How to Breed Red Panda Barbs/Melon Barbs - Haludaria Fasciata Aquarium Fish Breeding Thumbnail

Other Barbs of interest