Maximum size : 5.5 cm

Snakeskin Barb - Desmopuntius Rhomboocellatus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Snakeskin Barb (Desmopuntius Rhomboocellatus) is a captivating species that will undoubtedly bring life to any aquarium. Their vibrant colours and active personalities make them a popular choice among hobbyists, and it's easy to see why. To keep these Barbs happy and healthy, you must provide them with a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat.

As schooling fish, they should be kept in groups of at least 6 to 8 individuals. This will not only make them feel more comfortable and secure but will also bring out their playful and active nature. When it comes to tankmates, it's essential to choose species that are similarly sized and have a peaceful temperament. The Snakeskin Barb is compatible with other short-finned species such as Danios, Garras, and Rasboras. Peaceful Gouramis and larger Tetras can also make ideal companions, provided they don't outcompete the Barbs for food.

To replicate their natural habitat, Snakeskin Barbs should be kept in dimly lit aquariums with plenty of plants, driftwood, and floating plants. A dark, fine substrate such as gravel or sand will suit them best. The filtration should be gentle, and the water should remain soft and acidic.

These Barbs have a distinctive appearance, with snake-like markings on both sides of their elongated, compressed body. Their primary colour is orangey-red with green iridescence. Their dorsal fin is sail-like with a black and yellow edge, and their anal, pectoral, and caudal fins are transparent. Lastly, their ocelli markings are a standout feature that serves as a deterrent to predators. In conclusion, if you're looking for a school of small, active, and peaceful fish to add to your aquarium, the Snakeskin Barb is an excellent choice. Their striking appearance and playful personalities make them a captivating species to watch and enjoy.

Snakeskin Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Male and female Snakeskin Barbs can be distinguished through noticeable characteristics. Typically, males have a slimmer and smaller body size and exhibit more vibrant and intense colours compared to females. In contrast, females tend to have fuller and broader bodies, especially when they are carrying eggs.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDesmopuntius Rhomboocellatus
Year Described1940
Other NamesRhombo Barb, Orange Buffalo Barb, Red Ocellated Barb
Max Size5.5 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 4.0 - 7.0
GH 3 - 12
KH 3-10
TDS 18 - 90
Ideal Temperature
68 - 82
20 - 27

Natural Habitat

The Snakeskin Barb is a native species of Western and Central Kalimantan in Borneo, Indonesia. Found in the stunning backwaters that are stained with tannin from fallen leaves, submerged roots, tree branches, and decaying organic matter, these remarkable fish are a true testament to the incredible biodiversity of Southeast Asia. These elusive creatures thrive in still waters, especially in peat swamps with dense riparian vegetation and submersed aquatic plants or grass.

Here, they hunt for their food, which consists of small insects, worms, crustaceans, and other zooplankton. It's a delicate ecosystem that requires careful attention and preservation to ensure the Snakeskin Barb's continued survival. If you're a passionate aquarist looking to add a touch of the exotic to your collection, the Snakeskin Barb is a perfect choice. With its unique habitat requirements and fascinating feeding habits, this species is sure to captivate your attention and leave a lasting impression on anyone who observes it.


The Snakeskin Barb is a fascinating fish that is seldom bred in the home aquarium environment, largely due to the need for strict commitment to water acidity and softness. This free-spawning fish presents no parental care for the eggs or the fry, but well-conditioned adults in a densely planted, mature, dimly lit aquarium can produce small numbers of fry appearing from the plants.

However, for optimum supply, conditioning a small group of adults with live or frozen foods and placing them in a breeding tank filled with aged water and a plastic grass matting or substrate of large pebbles covering the bottom would be ideal. 

To achieve this, it is essential to maintain the water at a slightly acidic pH, with a slightly elevated temperature, and provide an air-powered filter for water movement and oxygenation. The addition of an aged bag of peat will help sustain the water chemistry at the optimum levels. The spawning process occurs naturally when the females are gravid, and the best-conditioned and coloured pairs are placed in the breeding tank, where they should spawn the following morning.

After laying the eggs, the parents need to be removed immediately. If the eggs are not consumed by the parents, they will hatch around 24 to 36 hours later, and the fry will become free-swimming 3-4 days later. The fry will need to be fed with infusoria or similar until they are big enough to accept more extensive food.

Diet & feeding

To ensure optimal health and coloration of your Snakeskin Barbs, a varied diet that includes a mixture of high-quality dried, live, freeze-dried and frozen foods is recommended. While the fish will readily accept most small-sized dried foods, it is important not to rely solely on them as a primary food source. Supplementing their diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp and daphnia, will not only enhance their coloration but also stimulate breeding behavior.

Other Barbs of interest