The Red Panda Barb (Haludaria fasciata), also known as the Melon Barb, is a generally peaceful species that is an excellent fish for the community planted aquarium. It is known for its active nature as well as the striking red-pink coloration that males display, particularly while competing for the attention of females. This fish is also somewhat versatile regarding water parameters and is native to many shallow rivers, streams, and lakes in southern India.
The Red Panda Barb typically occupies the top and middle level of the water column, although it can often be seen swimming and feeding in the middle and bottom levels as well. It is safe with other peaceful, small fish as long as they are not intimidated by the Red Panda Barb's constand activity. It may prey on smaller dwarf shrimp and their fry. Larger, peaceful invertebrates can make good tankmates. The Red Panda Barb must be kept in groups of 6 or more, although larger groups are more ideal so that subdominant specimens are not bullied by dominant individuals during breeding behavior. Its natural habitat is tropical and sometimes slightly subtropical bodies of water that are typically calm with dense vegetation.
While not a picky eater, the Red Panda Barb will thrive and remain very colorful on a varied diet of omnivorous foods. High-quality flake food, pellets, and live, frozen, or freeze-dried Artemia, microworms, Tubifex, and finely chopped bloodworms will all be readily accepted. Some vegetable matter, especially dry food high in vegetable content, is essential for optimal health and coloration.