Pethia gelius: A Comprehensive Guide - Golden Dwarf Barb

Pethia gelius, commonly known as the Golden Barb or Dwarf Barb, is a captivating species for freshwater aquarium enthusiasts. This guide delves into the essential aspects of keeping Pethia gelius, from their natural distribution and habitat to their dietary needs and spawning behavior.

Distribution and Habitat

Pethia gelius is native to the slow-moving rivers and streams of South Asia, particularly in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and India. They thrive in densely vegetated waters with a sandy or muddy substrate, where they can find ample hiding spots and foraging opportunities.

Size and Appearance

These barbs are relatively small, typically reaching about 2 inches (5 cm) in length. They have a distinctive golden-yellow body with a dark lateral line and fins that can exhibit a reddish hue, especially in males during the breeding season.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the health of Pethia gelius:

  • Temperature: 68-77°F (20-25°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Hardness: 4-10 dGH

These fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water and benefit from a well-planted aquarium that mimics their natural habitat.

Tank Mates

Pethia gelius are peaceful and social fish, making them excellent additions to community tanks. Suitable tank mates include:

  • Other small, peaceful barbs
  • Tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Corydoras catfish
  • Dwarf gouramis

Avoid housing them with larger, aggressive species that might bully or prey on them.


In the wild, Pethia gelius feed on small invertebrates, algae, and plant matter. In captivity, they are omnivorous and thrive on a varied diet:

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

A balanced diet ensures vibrant coloration and overall health.


Golden Barbs are active and schooling fish, best kept in groups of at least six. This grouping helps reduce stress and encourages natural behaviors. They are generally peaceful but can exhibit minor fin nipping if not kept in a sufficiently large group.


Breeding Pethia gelius in captivity can be challenging but rewarding. To spawn them successfully:

  1. Conditioning: Feed the breeding pair a high-protein diet, including live foods, for a few weeks.
  2. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop. Maintain slightly acidic water with a temperature around 75°F (24°C).
  3. Spawning Process: The female will scatter eggs among the plants or mop. Remove the adults after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs.
  4. Hatching: Eggs typically hatch within 24-36 hours. Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food until they are large enough to consume baby brine shrimp.

Fun Facts

  • Pethia gelius was formerly known as Barbus gelius before taxonomic revisions placed them in the Pethia genus.
  • They are sometimes referred to as "Golden Dwarf Barbs" due to their small size and striking coloration.
  • Golden Barbs are excellent for beginners due to their hardy nature and adaptability to various water conditions.


Pethia gelius, with their vibrant colors and peaceful disposition, make a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. By understanding their natural habitat, dietary needs, and breeding behavior, aquarists can ensure these charming fish thrive in captivity. Whether you're a novice or an experienced fish keeper, the Golden Barb offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of small freshwater fish.