Denison Barbs: A Comprehensive Guide

Denison Barbs (Sahyadria denisonii), also known as Red Line Torpedo Barbs or Roseline Sharks, are striking freshwater fish that have become increasingly popular among aquarists. This guide covers everything you need to know about Denison Barbs, from their natural distribution and habitat to their dietary needs and spawning practices, tanks mates and other useful information.

Distribution and Habitat

Denison Barbs are endemic to the fast-flowing rivers and streams of the Western Ghats in India, particularly in the states of Kerala and Karnataka. They inhabit clear, oxygen-rich waters with rocky substrates, often surrounded by dense vegetation.

Size and Appearance

Denison Barbs are medium-sized fish, typically growing to about 4.7 inches (12 cm) in length. They are easily recognizable by their torpedo-shaped bodies and the striking red line that runs from their snout through their eyes and along their flanks. A black line runs parallel below the red line, and their caudal fin features a bright yellow stripe.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water conditions is crucial for the health of Denison Barbs:

  • Temperature: 72-77°F (22-25°C)
  • pH: 6.8-7.8
  • Hardness: 5-15 dGH

These fish thrive in well-oxygenated, clean water with moderate to strong flow, mimicking their natural habitat.

Tank Mates

Denison Barbs are generally peaceful but can be a bit boisterous, making them suitable for community tanks with other active species. Compatible tank mates include:

  • Other barbs
  • Larger tetras
  • Rainbowfish
  • Danios
  • Gouramis
  • Loaches

Avoid housing them with slow-moving or long-finned fish, as they may become stressed by the barbs' activity.


In the wild, Denison Barbs are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of invertebrates, algae, and plant matter. In captivity, they thrive on a varied diet:

  • High-quality flake or pellet food
  • Live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia
  • Blanched vegetables like spinach and zucchini

A balanced diet ensures their vibrant coloration and overall health.


Denison Barbs are active and social fish that should be kept in groups of at least six to encourage natural behaviors and reduce stress. They are excellent swimmers and require ample space to exhibit their active swimming patterns. A well-planted tank with plenty of open swimming areas and strong water flow is ideal.


Breeding Denison Barbs in captivity is challenging and not commonly achieved. However, some key points include:

  1. Conditioning: Feed the breeding group a high-protein diet, including live foods, for several weeks.
  2. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with slightly acidic water and a temperature around 75°F (24°C). Provide plenty of hiding spots and fine-leaved plants.
  3. Spawning Process: Little is known about their exact spawning behavior, but they likely scatter eggs among vegetation. Removing adults post-spawning is recommended to prevent egg predation.
  4. Hatching: Eggs typically hatch within 24-48 hours. Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food until they are large enough to consume baby brine shrimp.

Fun Facts

  • Denison Barbs are also known as "Roseline Sharks" due to their distinctive red line and streamlined shape.
  • They are listed as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and over-collection for the aquarium trade.
  • These fish are highly active and can leap out of the water, so a tightly fitting tank lid is essential.


Denison Barbs, with their vibrant colors and active behavior, make a captivating addition to any freshwater aquarium. By understanding their natural habitat, dietary needs, and care requirements, aquarists can ensure these striking fish thrive in captivity. Whether you're a novice or an experienced fish keeper, the Denison Barb offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of dynamic freshwater fish.

Looking to add Denison Barbs to your aquarium? We recommend purchasing from trusted suppliers like The Wet Spot Tropical Fish and Dan's Fish for high-quality, healthy fish. These reputable retailers offer a great selection and expert advice to ensure you find the perfect fish for your tank.