Information, Barbs, Cyprinids, Freshwater fish, Species

Snakeskin barb: Complete Species & Care Overview

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by Jason Matthews



The Snakeskin Barb, scientifically known as Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus, is a unique and striking freshwater fish often sought by aquarium enthusiasts. Its distinctive appearance and peaceful demeanor make it a popular choice for home aquariums.

Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate fish keeper, the Snakeskin Barb will captivate you with its vibrant personality and eye-catching appearance. In this article, we will dive into the fascinating world of the Snakeskin Barb, exploring its origin, behaviors, and requirements in the aquarium environment.


Scientific Name: Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus
Common Names: Snakeskin barb
Life Expectancy: 4-5 years
Adult Size: Up to 2.5 inches (6 cm)


HabitatStreams and rivers
OriginSoutheast Asia
Care LevelBeginner
Tank LevelAll levels
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Water pH6.0-7.5
Water Temperature72-79°F (22-26°C)
Water Hardness5-15 dGH
Tank MatesPeaceful community fish

Fun Fact Corner

Snakeskin Barbs are known for their distinctive markings, resembling a snake’s scales. These markings are not only unique but also serve a practical purpose – they provide camouflage and help the fish blend in with its surroundings. This makes it difficult for predators to spot the fish and helps it to avoid danger.

So, the next time you admire your Snakeskin Barb swimming gracefully in its tank, take a moment to appreciate the intricate design of its scales, which serve as a decoration and a survival mechanism.


The Snakeskin Barb is native to the streams and rivers of Southeast Asia, specifically in the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. Its scientific name, Desmopuntius rhomboocellatus, is derived from its distinctive rhomboid-shaped scales that are reminiscent of a snakeskin pattern.

This species was first described in 1844 and has since become a popular choice for aquarists worldwide. The Snakeskin Barb’s natural habitat ranges from clear, fast-flowing streams to sluggish, muddy rivers and can tolerate various water conditions.

These adaptable fish are hardy and relatively easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner and intermediate aquarium owners. With its unique appearance and peaceful behavior, the Snakeskin Barb is a charming and captivating addition to any home aquarium.


The Snakeskin Barb is a visually striking species with a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other freshwater fish. Adults typically reach a length of 1.5 – 2 inches and are characterized by their elongated, slender bodies and vibrant coloration.

The base color of the Snakeskin Barb is usually a pale yellow or silver hue, with a striking black or dark brown snakeskin pattern covering its scales. This pattern is particularly prominent along the sides and back of the fish, making for a beautiful contrast against the lighter base color.

The fins of the Snakeskin Barb are also eye-catching, with the dorsal fin being particularly elongated and flowing. In addition to its striking coloration and body shape, the Snakeskin Barb is also known for its unique personality and behavior, making it a highly sought-after species for aquarists.


The Snakeskin Barb is a relatively small species of freshwater fish, typically growing to a length of 1.5 – 2 inches in the home aquarium. However, in their natural habitat, they can reach up to 2.5 inches in length.

Despite their small size, the Snakeskin Barb is a hardy species that can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and is relatively easy to care for. As a result, they are a great choice for both beginner and intermediate aquarium owners. T

he size of the Snakeskin Barb makes them ideal for smaller aquarium setups or for those who want to add a unique and captivating species to their existing community of fish.

It is important to note that, like many freshwater fish species, the Snakeskin Barb may grow to its full size over the course of several years, and therefore it is important to plan accordingly when choosing a tank size and selecting suitable tankmates.


The gender of the Snakeskin Barb can be determined by visual inspection, although the differences between males and females can be subtle.

Male Snakeskin Barbs are more brightly colored and have longer, more pointed dorsal and anal fins. In addition, the male’s pelvic fins are also often longer and more pronounced.

On the other hand, female Snakeskin Barbs are typically larger and rounder in shape, with shorter fins. They also tend to have a more drab coloration and lack the vibrant hues and distinctive patterns seen in the males.

It is important to note that the gender differences can vary depending on the individual fish and can sometimes be difficult to discern, especially in young or juvenile Snakeskin Barbs.


The Snakeskin Barb is known for its peaceful and social behavior, making it an ideal species for community aquariums.

In the wild, they live in large schools and are generally non-aggressive toward other fish species. This peaceful demeanor also makes them suitable for tanks with more delicate or slow-moving species.

Snakeskin Barbs are active swimmers and will spend much of their time swimming about the tank, foraging for food, and exploring their environment.

They are not shy or timid fish and will readily come out to feed and interact with their owners. It is important to provide plenty of hiding spots and structures in the tank to help the Snakeskin Barb feel secure and to promote natural behaviors.

Additionally, providing a well-planted aquarium with a varied and balanced diet can also help to reduce aggression and improve the overall health and behavior of the Snakeskin Barb.


The Snakeskin Barb is a peaceful species that can be kept with a variety of other fish in a community aquarium. When choosing tankmates, it is important to consider compatibility, overall temperament, and the size and water conditions preferred by each species.

The following are some good tankmate options for the Snakeskin Barb:

It is also important to note that while the Snakeskin Barb is a non-aggressive species, it may chase and nip at the fins of slower-moving or long-finned tankmates, such as bettas or angelfish. To help minimize this behavior, it is recommended to provide plenty of hiding spots and plants in the tank and a well-balanced diet.

With a little care and consideration when choosing tankmates, the Snakeskin Barb can be a welcome addition to any community aquarium.

Tank conditions

The Snakeskin Barb is a hardy species adaptable to a wide range of water conditions, making them a great choice for beginner aquarium owners.

They prefer water temperatures between 72°F and 82°F, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Maintaining good water quality by performing regular water changes and using a high-quality filter is important. Additionally, the Snakeskin Barb will also benefit from a moderate level of water movement and aeration to help simulate the conditions of their natural habitat.

Regarding tank size, a minimum of 20 gallons is recommended for a single Snakeskin Barb, although larger tanks will provide more swimming space and allow for a greater variety of tankmates.

As for decor, the Snakeskin Barb will appreciate plenty of hiding spots, such as caves or overturned pots, as well as a well-planted aquarium that provides areas of shade and shelter.

The Snakeskin Barb will thrive and display their best coloration and behaviors in the home aquarium by providing a suitable tank environment and maintaining good water quality.


The Snakeskin Barb is omnivorous and will accept a variety of foods in its diet.

It feeds on small insects, plant matter, and algae in the wild.

To provide a well-rounded diet in the aquarium, it is important to offer a mix of both plants- and protein-based foods. This can include a quality flake or pellet as a staple, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia.

It is also beneficial to offer vegetable-based foods such as blanched spinach or peas and dried spirulina or algae wafers. This will help provide a balanced diet and maintain the natural colors and health of the fish.

Feeding should be done in small, frequent meals rather than one large daily feeding. This will help prevent over-feeding and maintain water quality in the tank.

The Snakeskin Barb is a hardy species and is not prone to any specific dietary issues, but providing a varied and balanced diet will help ensure its continued health and longevity in the aquarium.


Breeding Snakeskin Barbs is relatively easy, though it may take some effort to raise the fry to adulthood successfully. In the wild, these fish form schools and breed in the rainy season. In the aquarium, it is best to keep a group of at least six individuals, including a mix of males and females, as they are a schooling species and will be more likely to breed in a larger group.

To encourage breeding, maintaining optimal water conditions and providing a varied diet, including live or frozen foods, is important. Once breeding has taken place, the female will lay her eggs in a suitable location, such as among plants or on a flat surface. The male fertilizes the eggs, and both parents guard the eggs and fry.

It is recommended to separate the breeding pair and their fry into a separate tank to ensure the survival and growth of the young. The fry must be fed small, frequent meals of appropriately sized live or frozen foods, such as newly hatched brine shrimp.

Overall, breeding Snakeskin Barbs can be a rewarding experience for experienced aquarium hobbyists. However, it does require a dedicated effort to ensure the successful raising of the fry.


Like all fish species, Snakeskin Barbs are susceptible to various diseases. The most common diseases affecting these fish include parasitic, bacterial, and fungal infections. To minimize the risk of disease, it is important to maintain optimal water conditions and provide a healthy diet.

Signs of disease in Snakeskin Barbs include a loss of appetite, lethargy, clamped fins, and unusual swimming behavior. If you suspect your fish may be sick, it is important to take immediate action and seek the advice of a veterinarian or experienced aquarium hobbyist.

Preventive measures, such as regular water changes, careful quarantine of new fish, and prompt treatment of sick fish, can help reduce the risk of disease in your aquarium. In a disease outbreak, it is crucial to act quickly to prevent the spread of the illness to other fish in your tank.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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