Glofish Barb Care Guide | Diet, Habitat, Breeding, Accessories

Jan 23, 2022

Glofish Barb Care Guide

Glofish barbs were first introduced somewhere around 2015. And in my opinion, they are the most stellar-looking fish from the glofish family.

Something about the fluorescent colors set against black stripes gives these fish an extraordinary look. It sets them apart from the rest of the glofish species. 

It’s been more than 5 years since their inception, and I was surprised to find out that there’s little to no information available on caring for glofish barbs. 

Therefore, I took it upon myself to provide you with detailed, accurate, and easy-to-follow information so you can look after them and raise them in the best way possible. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in! 

Glofish Barb Quick Introduction 

NameGlofish Barb
Original Species Tiger Barb
Family Cyprinidae
OriginCaptive-bred
Care LevelEasy
Temperament Semi-aggressive 
BreedingEgg-layer
DietOmnivore
Maximum Size3 inches 
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Temperature74-79 degrees F (23-26 degrees C)
pH6.0-7.0

Glofish barb’s original species, tiger barbs, originally came from Asia’s Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Thailand, and Cambodia. 

And since they’re not endangered, they’re not yet listed on the IUCN Red List. 

Glofish barbs were created in labs by genetically modifying tiger barbs. So except for the bright disposition, they are pretty much identical to the original species in terms of size, behaviors, and environmental needs. 

As for pricing, you can expect to pay about $69.99 for a deluxe collection that includes an assortment of 8 glofish barbs.

I didn’t find any pricing information on buying a single tiger barb anywhere, but if you were to buy just one, it’d probably cost you around $8-10. 

Glofish Barb Lifespan 

Much like the original species, glofish barbs enjoy a pretty decent lifespan under proper care. They can easily live up to 7 years under the right conditions. 

Don’t be surprised if they live even longer than that! If you provide the proper care, it’s not a very far-fetched scenario. 

Glofish Barb Appearance 

Unlike most glofish variants to date, which have been built upon fish with reduced melanin to allow maximum expression of fluorescence, striped glofish barbs are fully capable of producing melanin. 

This gives them a beautiful ‘high-contrast’ look not seen in the rest of the glofish species. 

Despite the color morph, glofish barbs still have four tiger-like black vertical stripes in their bodies. These black bands are chunky and cover several prominent areas. 

For instance, one goes through the eye, whereas the other extends from the dorsal fin. And the final band marks the base of the caudal fin. 

Glofish Barb Body Shape

Glofish barbs have a round, deep body with a pointed head and an arched back. 

A glofish barb’s body is tallest at the middle point and tapers down to a triangular snout. 

Essentially, they’re shaped like spear points.

Females are usually larger and have a more rounded appearance than males.

Glofish Barb Colors 

When first launched, glofish barbs came in just 2 colors: starfire red and electric green. Today, they’re available in other equally stunning colors like sunburst orange and galactic purple. 

The first generations of glofish barbs were created by inserting fluorescent protein genes from jellyfish and other marine organisms into tiger barb embryos. 

The beautiful colors and the iconic glow that adorn glofish barbs today are passed down from generation to generation.

So, all the rumors about glofish being dyed, painted, or injected are not valid. The unique coloration and glow are hereditary traits. 

Oh, science! 

Glofish Barb Size 

These rowdy fish don’t grow too big. In most cases, they reach around 3 inches long. However, some prodigies have grown a tad bit longer than 3 inches. 

Frankly, there’s no one definitive answer to how long do glofish barbs grow. Instead, it’s subjective to various factors like the fish’s environment, genetics, and diet. 

That being said, 3 inches is the most common answer for glofish barbs. 

As for their growth rate, you can expect to see growth in the quarter to half-inch range every 6 weeks or so. 

They take anywhere between 4 to 6 months to reach their full-size potential in the right conditions.

Glofish Barb Male Vs. Female 

Glofish barb males are usually smaller than females. Also, the female’s body shape is more rounded – especially towards the belly region.

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Glofish Barb Temperament 

Glofish barbs are best described as semi-aggressive fish. While they won’t downright terrorize your other fish like red devils or firemouth cichlids would do, tiger barbs are known to chase around and nip fins of timid and slow-moving fish. 

In fact, their tendency to chase, bite, and push is more annoying than harmful. 

Glofish barbs are not apprehensive fish who lurk around caves and plants all day. On the contrary, they’re outgoing, sporty, and curious. 

Provided there’s enough space, your barbs will spend a considerable amount of time swimming and exploring. 

And as you already know, glofish barbs are schooling fish. So they need to live and move in schools. 

So, if you keep them singly or in a group of just 2 or 3, their mean side will make an appearance. They will get frustrated – and as a result, they will lash out at other tankmates unfortunate enough to reside in the same tank. 

They will chase, push around, and nip at the fins of other slow-moving tankmates.

However, they will most likely keep to themselves when kept in groups of half a dozen or more. They even have a complex hierarchy and pecking order in place. 

And it’s not uncommon for them to get involved in duels often to fight for dominance within the group. 

The takeaway points here should be that you should keep them in groups of at least 6 and provide plenty of space, so there are no quarrels over territory. 

Glofish Barb Tankmates 

The best tankmates for glofish barbs would be other glofish barbs. These fish thrive in groups and will be the happiest when kept with their own kind. 

I’d recommend setting up a species-specific tank with a half dozen of each color variation of glofish barbs for a striking tank display. 

That being said, there are some fish that can make excellent tankmates for your glofish barbs. 

Some of them are:

  • Clown loaches 
  • Platies 
  • Danios 
  • Rosy Barbs 
  • Tinfoil Barbs 
  • Cherry Barbs 
  • Pictus Catfish
  • Neon Tetras 
  • Plecos 
  • Corydoras 
  • Pictus Catfish

Among the fish listed above, my favorite pick would be clown loaches. These bottom-dwellers aren’t just peaceful and sociable but will even school with your glofish barbs and act as they do. 

Regardless of the numbers kept or how big the tank is, don’t ever keep glofish barbs with slow-moving, docile, and long-finned species like goldfish, bettas, and angelfish.

Also, avoid adding small crustaceans and invertebrates into glofish barbs’ tanks as these pushy fish will bully the poor fellows relentlessly.

Some other aggressive tank mates to avoid are:

  • Oscar cichlids 
  • Red-tailed sharks 
  • Flowerhorns 
  • Green terror cichlids 
  • Firemouth cichlids 
  • Jack dempseys 

How Many Glofish Barbs Should Be Kept Together? 

Glofish barbs are schooling fish. Therefore, you should aim to keep at least 6 of them together in a tank. The higher the number, the better. 

Schooling is an innate instinct for these fish. They’ve evolved to swim together in unison to protect themselves better, swim more efficiently, and forage food. 

Thus, it’s not a good practice to deprive them of their natural instinct to swim. If you do so, you will only be fueling their stress and aggression. 

All in all, in small numbers, your glofish barbs will lead impoverished lives marred by anxiety, loneliness, and a bad mood. 

Glofish Barb Diet 

Glofish barbs’ predecessors mainly snacked on algae, plants, zooplankton, worms, and small crustaceans in the wild. 

Therefore, glofish barbs are omnivores. They will practically accept any food you give them. However, as a responsible hobbyist, you have to provide them with a variety of foods to maintain their health and appetite. 

You should include quality pellets or flake foods made with high-quality ingredients as their staple diet. You can then supplement their diet with frozen foods like blood worms, brine shrimp, and beef heart. 

They can also occasionally snack on small invertebrates and blanched veggies. 

All in all, glofish barbs require a varied diet to maintain their immunity and show their vibrant colors even more vividly. 

Glofish barbs are also known to nibble on algae that grow in the tank. But the algae will be nowhere enough to supplement their dietary needs. 

Here’s a definitive list of food you can give your glofish barbs:

  • High-quality pellets 
  • Flake food 
  • Daphnia 
  • Brine shrimp 
  • Freeze-dried bloodworms 
  • Beef heart 
  • Blanched cucumber 
  • Blanched zucchini 
  • Cucumber 

If you’re looking for good-quality commercial food, the official company behind these fish has introduced its own food product line. 

Here’s a link to Glofish Special Flake Food made with a proprietary formula. It’s made with nutritious ingredients like shrimp meal, ground brown rice, fish meal, and fish oil. 

And here’s the link to my all-time favorite Hikari Bio-Pure Freeze-Dried Bloodworms that’s bio-encapsulated with multi-vitamins. My fish love it. 

How Often And How Much To Feed Glofish Barbs? 

Glofish barbs should be given 2-3 mid-sized meals every day. 

Provide them an amount they can finish within 3 minutes or less.

Water Parameters For Glofish Barbs 

A quick glance at what water parameters should look like for glofish barbs:

  • Temperature: 74-79 degrees F (23-26 degrees C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • General Hardness: 5-19 dGH
  • Ammonia: 0 PPM
  • Nitrite: 0 PPm
  • Nitrate: Below 20 PPM
  • Water Movement: Moderate 
  • Swimming Area: Middle

Tiger barbs are tiny fish. Therefore, they don’t produce huge bioloads. However, since they need to be kept in sizable groups, the waste they produce collectively will be quite significant. 

Therefore, you must stay on top of the water parameters. We recommend changing 25-30% water every week or so for these fish. 

But remember, no rule is etched in stone. For example, the frequency and extent of water change depending on your tank’s size and stocking numbers. 

Tiger barbs inhabit lakes, swamps, and streams lined with trees in the wild. And due to the decaying plant matter that falls into the water, the water they reside in is slightly acidic. 

Hence, you should also aim to emulate similar water conditions in your glofish barb’s tank. 

To ensure the water parameters are to the T, we recommend testing the water quality every week. And for that, we use and recommend using API’s Freshwater Master Kit. 

I recently found out that liquid-based tests are far more accurate than strip-based tests. 

Here’s a link to API’s much-loved product if you’d like to have a look:

Also, nitrates and phosphate levels might increase over time due to the buildup of decomposing organic matter. This will increase the water’s hardness. Therefore, you need to keep an eye out to monitor water’s pH levels at all times. 

Simple things like removing uneaten food right away, topping off water levels, and performing routine water changes go to great lengths to keep your tank pristine and your glofish healthy. 

Here’s a list of things that you should do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to maintain your glofish tank’s health:

Things to check daily:

  • Count and observe the fish’s behavior
  • Manually check all equipment 
  • Check temperature settings 
  • Remove leftover food 
  • Top off the water level 

Things to check weekly:

  • Wipe down the tank’s outer surfaces 
  • Shake off debris from plants and decors 
  • Scrape the insides of the glass 
  • Siphon substrate 
  • Perform a partial water change
  • Perform water tests 

Things to check monthly:

  • Prune live plants as needed 
  • Thoroughly clean rocks and decors 
  • Perform all tasks mentioned in the weekly checklist 
  • Change the filter media

Minimum Recommended Tank Size For Glofish Barbs 

The minimum recommended tank size for glofish barbs is 20 gallons. However, I, along with several other experienced hobbyists, strongly recommend allocating at least 30 gallons for these active and feisty fish. 

The largest tank size available for glofish on their official website is 10 gallons. Now, this isn’t just misleading but is super capable of killing your fish prematurely. 

Although glofish barbs are small fish that barely grow over 3 inches, let’s not forget that they’re highly active, somewhat aggressive, and quite territorial fish. 

Therefore, a 30-gallon tank would be the bare minimum requirement. 

I have said this a million times, but I’ll say this again – small tanks are hazardous to your fish’s health. 

At face value, small tanks look much easier to maintain. But that’s the farthest from the truth. 

Small tanks are way more volatile than big tanks. Even the slightest change in one corner can be felt throughout the tank. And no fish like sudden or big changes. It can effectively send them into shock. 

Second, toxic buildup happens a lot faster in a small tank. For instance, the same amount of leftover food can lead to a drastic rise in ammonia levels in a small tank, whereas it can dilute without much consequence in a big tank. 

Lack of space also directly translates to territorial disputes. Disputes lead to stress. And stress leads to hindered production of white blood cells. As a result, the fish’s immunity is compromised. 

And lastly, since small tanks don’t offer room for exercise, they can stunt your glofish barbs’ physical growth. 

Substrate And Decorations For Glofish Barbs

Sandy substrate, preferably dark, will bring out your glofish barbs’ best colors. 

You can also use fine gravel coupled with cobbles and large rocks to be used as shelter.

As with all barb species, glofish barbs feel the most at home in well-planted aquariums. However, they also need stretches of open areas for their swimming session. 

While they do not have particular aquarium decor requirements, they will appreciate the presence of some rocks, driftwoods, and plants that will serve as retreats for times they feel shy or threatened. 

Submerged aquatic plants and algae will serve as shelter, food source, and breeding ground for your glofish barbs. 

The plants should be positioned at the sides and corners of the aquarium, so that the center is wide and open for free swimming. 

Ideally, all plants should be able to grow to the mid-levels of the tank. Thus, I’d recommend water wisteria and java fern for that. 

Plus, both these plants are super low-maintenance. 

Adding driftwoods would also somewhat help in maintaining the water’s acidity. But don’t forget to thoroughly treat them first before placing them in the tank.

And don’t go overboard with plants and decorations. Remember, swimming space should always be the number one priority.

And lastly, you will need to add an aquarium hood. These active and mischievous fish are known to jump out of the tank!

Recommended Equipment For Glofish Barbs 

As hardy as glofish barbs are, it’s essential that you still provide the best equipment that won’t fail you out of the blue. Stable temperatures and warm water are crucial to glofish barb’s wellbeing. 

Therefore, we have carefully reviewed dozens of equipment and come up with our top picks for a filter, heater, and air pump.

Here are the links for them. Feel free to check them out! 

AquaClear 30 Power Fish Tank Filter 

What we love about it:

  • Energy-efficient pump lowers operation costs 
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration
  • Large chamber for filter media 
  • Lifetime warranty 

Hiccup: 

  • Can be noisy 

Fluval M50 Submersible Heater 

What we love about it:

  • Built-in reflective technology mirrors surrounding colors 
  • Made with shock-resistant glass 
  • Slim profile tube 
  • 3-Year warranty

Hiccup:

  • Regulating thermostat can be tricky

Tetra Whisper Easy-To-Use Air Pump 

What we love about it:

  • Thousands of positive reviews on Amazon 
  • Quiet operation 
  • Inclusion of sound-dampening chambers 

Hiccup:

  • Pump can be noisy

Breeding Glofish Barbs 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of breeding glofish barbs, let’s see if it’s actually legal or not. 

According to their official website, you can’t ‘intentionally’ breed glofish. 

But if you have fish of both sexes present in the tank, they will eventually produce some fry down the lane. I doubt they’ll come after you with legal papers if your fish yield some fry. 

Just make sure you don’t sell or barter glofish offspring. 

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. 

Preparing The Breeding/Fry Tank

In glofish barbs, the parents don’t care for their little ones. Instead, they’ll devour them at every chance they get. 

Therefore, it’s vital to set up a separate breeding tank. 

The tank shouldn’t be any bigger than 10 gallons. Otherwise, the newly hatched fry will have a hard time finding food. 

Also, be sure to use a sponge filter, so it doesn’t suck in your tiny fry. 

The tank’s water parameters should closely match that of the original tank as much as possible. You can then add a spawning grid to separate the parents and the eggs. 

Encouraging To Breed 

Tiger barbs don’t mate for life. Instead, they are temporarily-paired spawners, which means they’ll mate with a different partner during each spawning session. 

Once you find a bonded pair, transfer the female into the breeding tank first. Then, only add the male once you’re sure the female is full of eggs, aka gravid. 

Male tiger barbs develop a red snout and richer coloration when ready to pair. But I’m not sure if these traits will be visible in glofish barbs. 

You will also need to condition the pair with a variety of live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms. Performing a water change or using a sprinkling system also encourages your glofish to breed as these techniques mimic the rainy seasons their forebears experience in the wild.

The Mating Ritual 

The courting ritual usually starts late in the afternoon. First, both male and female will swim around each other. 

The male will even perform a headstand and spread his fins to lure the female. This goes on for quite a while. 

The spawn will then take place in the morning. The female will lay hundreds of eggs over a few hours. The male will chase and nip the female all the while. 

Females usually release 1 to 3 eggs at a time.

And since glofish barbs are egg scatterers, they won’t lay eggs at one particular place. The tiny, adhesive eggs will be spread on substrate, decors, plants, and every nook and cranny.

After the parents are done spawning, swiftly transfer them to the main tank. 

Caring For The Fry 

The eggs will hatch into tiny wigglers within 26-48 hours. Initially, they will feed on the yolk sac that comes attached to their body. 

Once they become free-swimming, which takes about 5 days, you can give them infusoria, liquid fry food, baby brine shrimp, and pulverized flake food. 

You have to be super watchful about your fry’s diet. If you believe they’re deterring the food you’re offering, you’ll quickly need to give them something else. 

That’s because glofish fry are incredibly fragile at this formative stage and are prone to starvation. 

Once they are big enough to not be eaten by adults, you can transfer the fry into the main tank. 

And by the way, if you’re interested in checking out what glofish eggs and babies look like, you might want to check out these articles. 

What Do Baby Glofish Look Like? Photos And Videos!

What Do Glofish Eggs Look Like? Photos And Videos!

Glofish Barb Diseases 

Glofish barbs are a very hardy species, to begin with. Therefore, as long as you maintain the correct water parameters and feed the right diet, there’s not much you need to worry about. 

That being said, glofish barbs are susceptible to some common ailments that all freshwater fish experience. 

One such disease is ich – caused by parasitic protozoans. The ich outbreak often occurs due to polluted water and poor tank maintenance.

It manifests as tiny white dots across the body and is super contagious. If the right intervention isn’t taken in time, the entire glofish population can be brought down. 

Here’s a link to Ich-X solution by Hikari that we swear by:

A spike in the tank’s ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels can also wreak havoc on your fish’s health. Some signs of toxicity in fish are reddened gill, panting, darkened body color, and increased mucus production.

Lastly, sudden and extreme changes in temperature, pH, hardness, and undue stress can weaken a glofish’s immunity and make it prone to diseases. So, make sure you’re always vigilant of their environment.

Final Words: Glofish Barb Care Guide 

Glofish barbs are definitely the most stunning-looking fish in the glofish family. The fact that they have retained their iconic stripes despite the genetic modification makes them even more special. 

Also, these fish are beginner-friendly and will spare you several beginner’s mistakes. 

We hope this care guide comes in handy if you have brought home glofish barbs. Let us know in the comments! 

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rohit gurung author at urbanfishkeeping

About Rohit Gurung

My never-ending love and fascination with Aquascaping started when I received a red-eared turtle for my 10th birthday.

Apart from researching and writing, I spend hours gazing at my 3 turtles. And yeah, I bask alongside them too.