The cherry barb is a small elongated fish with a relatively compressed body. It reaches 5 cm (2 in) in length. The female is fawn-colored on top with a slight greenish sheen. Its sides and belly have gleaming silver highlights. It may have a rosy tone on its back and upper sides. A horizontal stripe extends from the tip of the snout through the eye to the base of the caudal fin. The male has a reddish color, becoming very deep red when breeding, and a more slender body shape. The females have two pinkish color stripes down their sides, also becoming darker when ready to breed.
The cherry barb's natural habitat is a heavily shaded, shallow, and calm water body. Its native substrate is silty with leaf cover. It comes from a tropical climate and prefers water with a pH of 6 to 8, a water hardness (dH) of 5 to 19, and a temperature range of 73 °F to 81 °F (23 °C to 27 °C)