Red Garra (Garra Rufa) Species Profile & Care Guide
Red Garras will not do great in a standard community aquarium because they require highly oxygenated fast-flowing waters ideally provided by powerful external canister filtration.
Red Garras are peaceful towards other species but can be somewhat territorial to their own kind or with similar-looking species. These fish are best maintained in groups of 5 or more individuals; if kept in numbers less than this, they may squabble amongst themselves. It would be better to provide plenty of visual barriers in the aquarium amongst the decor so if any minor territorial disputes occur, the fish will be able to get away from other's line of sight.
Although Red Garras are relatively calm, they can be pretty boisterous at feeding times and are not recommended for housing alongside slow-moving laterally-compressed fish such as angelfish or discus.
A crucial point to note is that Red Garras are capable of climbing up the aquarium glass with ease. They tend to do this when newly imported or have just been moved; therefore, make sure your tank has a tight-fitting lid and that there are no small gaps they can crawl out of.
Unfortunately, Red Garras are exploited in huge numbers within modern beauty spas for pedicures due to their ability to remove dead skin. Under such conditions, they will never thrive and reach their full potential because they are kept in unsuitable conditions with no natural enrichment. They have to undergo constant stressful movement from holding tanks to treatment tanks and are starved so they will eat the dead skin on peoples feet, never experiencing a nutritionally balanced diet.
Body and fin colouration in Red Garras is highly variable. Still, most populations possess an iridescent or dark blue spot at the upper end of the opercle and another on the caudal peduncle; these tend to be more prominent in young individuals. There usually are a series of dark markings present on the bottom of the central dorsal-fin rays, and in many examples, the tip of the upper caudal-fin lobe is black. In some individuals, you may notice a reddish pigmentation on the head.
|Scientific Name||Garra Rufa|
|Other Names||Doctor Fish, Nibble Fish|
|Difficulty||Beginner - Intermediate|
|Best kept as||Groups 5+|
|Lifespan||5 - 10 years|
|Temperature||60 - 75 ℉ (15.6 - 23.9 ℃)|
|PH||6.0 - 8.0|
|GH||8 - 12|
|TDS||18 - 268|
Natural Habitat of the Red Garra
Red Garras are widespread throughout the Middle East regions and the eastern Mediterranean from Seyhan, the Ceyhan, Asi, and smaller river systems in Turkey. You will also find them throughout coastal watersheds in Syria, the Qweik River in Syria and Turkey, Israel, the Jordan River drainage in Jordan and the Tigris-Euphrates system in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. These fish are also present in the Lake Maharlu Basin and Coastal Drainages as far south as the Mond River in Bushehr Province in southwestern Iran.
Red Garras inhabit fast-flowing parts of tributaries and headwaters and occurs in artificial reservoirs and some larger, lowland river channels. These fish's most favourable habitats contain clear, oxygen-saturated water, which, combined with the sun, promotes the growth of a rich biofilm that carpets submerged surfaces. In some instances, it inhabits ephemeral habitats which become partially desiccated during certain times of the year.
Other Garras of interest
Red Garras will graze on algae if it is available; however, you should offer them frozen or live foods such as bloodworm, Artemia, Tubifex and chopped prawn alongside good quality, sinking dried products that should contain a significant proportion of vegetable matter such as Spirulina flakes or suchlike.
You can also occasionally offer them fresh fruit and vegetables such as melon, blanched spinach, cucumber, or courgettes. Home-made, gelatine-based recipes containing a mixture of pureed shellfish, dried fish food, fresh fruit and vegetables, are also proven to work well.
Sexing the Red Garra
It is relatively easy to distinguish male from female Red Garras. Males are generally slimmer and slightly smaller than females and have longer pectoral fins. During the breeding season, males get bridal buds on the top of their mouths and cheeks.
Breeding the Red Garra
Unfortunately, it is uncertain if Red Garras are bred naturally or through artificial stimulation with hormones. However, wild populations continuously spawn over prolonged periods, usually between April and November, where they scatter between 200 and 500 eggs over gravel or rocks. The adults do not exhibit any parental care and more than likely consume most of their fry if given a chance.