The Amazing Denison Barbs

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on April 7, 2022

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The Red Line Torpedo Barb, or Denison Barb (Sahyadria denisonii) is a fish from the family Cyprinidae better known as the “Carp” or “Minnow” family. One distinguishing feature of this family is the lack of an adipose fin (a boneless fin found between the dorsal fin and the caudal or tail fin). A streamlined fish reaching at least five inches in captivity, the Denison barb is easily recognized with its shiny silver body, red and black stripe running from nose to tail, red on the dorsal fin, and yellow spots on the tail fin. 

Denison barbs are found in the Western Ghats mountains of Southern India. There they inhabit the fast moving, highly oxygenated, clean mountain streams where they live in rocky pools. 

Denison barbs are one of the larger, commonly available schooling fishes for freshwater aquariums. With that in mind and their need for flow and oxygen, a highly filtered 75 gallon aquarium with plenty of flow (at least five times the volume of the aquarium per hour) should be the smallest aquarium considered for a small group of Denison barbs. Being a schooling fish, no fewer than six should be considered when planning an aquarium or purchase. Décor can vary, and they have been kept in a variety of settings including planted aquariums, but a natural habitat would likely consist of some stones and larger rocks for them to rest behind. They are a subtropical fish, which means that they can tolerate water cooler than most tropical aquarium fish. The Denison barb is a peaceful fish which will fare well in a larger community aquarium, provided there are no smaller fish that could be outcompeted with the barb's boisterous nature and fast swimming. 

Denison barbs are not difficult to feed and mostly eat small invertebrates and some plant matter in the wild. A balanced and varied diet between live or frozen small meaty foods (bloodworms, blackworms, brine shrimp etc) along with some quality pellets or flakes will lead to your fish being their healthiest. 

Not too much is known about the reproduction of Denison barbs in captivity. Commercial reproduction is highly controlled in an intense aquaculture setting, but some spawning in public and private aquaria has occurred. Large aquariums report spawning in softer water, with large groups of fish in large aquariums. Some people claim to have spawned small fish and noticed fry in their aquariums. Females would tend to be larger than males, and when ready to spawn fish taking on a bluish hue is reported. 

Denison barbs are large, showy, schooling fish that are a great choice for freshwater community aquariums over 75 gallons. Caution must be taken to source these fish responsibly, as over collection of wild populations has led to their decline along with their pristine and sometimes remote habitat being degraded. Fortunately, Quality Marine offers sustainably aquacultured Denison barbs in a variety of color morphs as well. Ask your local fish store for ethically procured Denison barbs from Quality Marine today!