They are also one of the over 70 species of barbs and among the most loved ornamental fish by aquarists.
To enhance their colors for aquarium keeping, tiger barbs have been selectively bred with types like the highly melanistic green tiger that reflects green over black hues, gold tiger barbs and albino tiger barbs quite popular.
Tiger barbs are native to Indonesia and Borneo and love tropical aquariums akin to their natural habitat. In the fish tank, they’ll thrive in freshwater with a temperature range of 75°F to 82°F, ph 6.0-8.0 and water hardness of 5 to 19 dGH.
That being said, in this article, we’ll learn everything there is to know about tiger barbs from lifespan, tank size and tank mates to care, feeding, breeding and more.
Tiger Barbs Overview
Tiger barbs are found in clear shallow waters of moderately flowing streams in the Malayan peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo region in Indonesia.
They are a species in the tropical cyprinid fish family. Generally, tiger barbs grow 1.2 to 1.6 inches wide and 2.8 to 3.9 inches in length though they often are smaller when raised in aquariums.
Natural occurring fish are silver breeds are silver to brownish yellow with four verticle black stripes across the body with red fins and snouts.
Selectively bred green tiger barbs have green bodies while albino barbs are a light yellow with four barely visible stripes. However, these hybrid barbs are still the same size as normal tiger barbs with similar behavior and temperament.
Tiger barbs are active shoaling and are best kept in groups of six or more especially since they are quite aggressive when less than five.
They mostly like to hang out in the middle of an aquarium and consequently are mid-level feeders. Tiger barbs are naturally omnivorous and are not fussy eaters hence will eat pretty much anything.
Their diet could consist of anything from vegetable flakes and freeze-dried food to small live foods such as bloodworms, glass worms or brine shrimp.
The fish usually attain sexual maturity at about an inch long or at approximately seven weeks of age. Females are generally larger with rounder bodies around the belly and mainly black dorsal fins.
As most fish, females lay the eggs and males barbs fertilize them. Tiger barbs are known to lay quite a significant number of eggs, sometimes as many as 500 at roughly two weeks intervals.
They, however, are notorious and will eat most of their eggs if you leave them unchecked.
Selectivey breeding is common in tiger barbs to achieve different colors and patterns with gold and albino tiger being two common breeds that are commercially available.
Also, together with tetras, danios and rainbow sharks, genetically modified types make up what is commonly called glofish.
Is a Tiger Barb Aggressive— Behavior and Temperament
Tiger barbs are a semi-aggressive species with a reputation for fin nipping and as a result not suited for community tanks. This especially when you have other nippers, smaller fish that can’t defend themselves or fish with long flowy fins and tails like bettas, angelfish and guppies.
Nonetheless, the aggressive behavior in tiger barbs are only escalated when they are kept in small groups of less five or less. So, consider keeping a school of at least six or more barbs, although you’ll have to get a bigger fish tank.
This way individual barbs tend to obey the hierarchy in a group and give out a more subtle and friendly demeanor.
Apart from the nipping, tiger barbs are active fish that swim in high speed which is great to watch, but risk stressing slow fish when kept together in a community tank.
Plus this means they will require a long tank for them to move comfortably within your tank.
Tiger Barbs Lifespan
Tiger barbs live for an average of 6 years but can live for up to 7.5 years. Unfortunately, in aquariums, some types may live for as little as 3 or 4 years. Of course, how long your barbs live will depend entirely on how you take care of them.
Most importantly, keep your tiger barbs in a tropical freshwater aquarium with a good filter to help keep the water clean and the parameters stable. Plus keep an eye on the water ph and feed your fish the appropriate diet.
Tiger Barb Tank Size and Tank Mates (Compatibility)
Tiger barbs are native to tropical South East Asia and love clear slow flowing water. Hence try to best replicate this environment in your aquarium.
Keep your tank water stable at a temperature anywhere between 75°F and 82°F. Tiger barbs prefer neutral to alkaline water that is slightly to moderately hard with a ph of 6.5 to 8.0.
Despite that, these fish are quite hardy and will tolerate water conditions that are not exactly within their preferred threshold, although this may gradually stress them.
Their discovery in swamp lakes, subject to great variations, suggest tiger barbs are also quite tolerant to water quality fluctuations and can be kept even in new recently cycled fish tanks.
What Tank Size do Tiger Barbs Need?
A 20-gallon aquarium is the minimum size for six tiger barbs. The tank is best when it long to give your fish ample swimming space. That said, a tank between 30 and 50 gallons is the best.
Any tank less than 20 gallons, even if keeping one or two tiger barbs, is very limiting because these fish are swift swimmers that move frantically around the tank.Besides, these are shoaling species hence should be kept in groups, otherwise, your barbs will get lonely, and aggressive.
Since tiger barbs are tropical fish, there is a need to add a heater in your aquarium, also buy an aquarium thermometer to monitor worrisome fluctuations that manifest when your heater fails.
Barbs particularly love planted aquariums with rocks and other decoration to swim around. Plant vegetation along the sides to provide hiding spaces but leave plenty of room for swimming at the center.
Lastly, a 10 to 20 percent weekly water change is recommended to keep the closed aquarium system clean.
What Fish are Compatible with Tiger Barbs? (Tankmates)
As I mentioned before, tiger barbs have a reputation of fin nipping, which means any fish that will fall prey to this aggression is not compatible with them.
This includes slow-moving fish like bettas, gouramis, and angelfish or long-finned species that include the said slow-movers plus some fast swimmers like guppies.
Moreover, although tiger barbs work well with fast moving fish like danios and platys, they are also fairly fast hence not all quick movers will out swim them, especially when the other fish is wounded or injured.
In which case, you’ll need a highly planted tank for the other fish to quickly escape aggressive barbs.
Another helpful chop is to keep tiger barbs in large schools. This way they’ll spend most of their time chasing each other around and leave other fish alone. Also, a shoal of barbs will establish a pecking order which should reduce aggressive tendencies.
By and large, tiger barbs are only partially aggressive and will definitely get along with some species. One of these species, provided there is considerable space is the clown loach, which will even school with the tiger barbs.
Other good candidates for your tiger barbs tank are bottom dweller like cory catfish which will rarely interact with the mid-level dwelling barbs.
Here is a list of good tiger barb tankmates.
- Clown Loach
- Zebra Danios
- Cory catfish
- Cherry Barbs
- Rosy Barbs
- Tinfoil Barbs
Tiger Barb Diet, Food and Feeding
Tiger barbs are omnivores meaning they feed on both small animals or insects and plants in the wild.
In fish tanks, they are not fussy either and will eat tropical flakes, freeze-dried and frozen food. Plus a diet that includes live food like daphnia, bloodworms and glass worms is a good option as well.
Feed your barbs with a well-mixed diet with enough portions of both protein-rich meaty foods and vitamin-rich vegetables. Be sure to use quality commercial feeds that are properly and richly constituted.
Ideally, treat them with bloodworms, brine shrimp, boiled lettuce or zucchini once a day.
To determine how much foods is enough for your tiger barbs, add the food in the aquarium in small amounts at a time, keeping track of their feeding habits. Continue shaking small amounts until they stop feeding.
This way you can estimate with precision how much food to put in the tank the next time your feed your tiger barbs.
That being said, a rule of thumb is to feed them food they can finish in 3 to 5 minutes.
Remember tiger barbs are mid-level feeders, so use feeds that will sink gradually. However, place the food gently on the water surface to keep it from sinking too quickly. Because most mid tank dwellers will rarely go to feed at the bottom, neither do they reach for food floating on the water surface.
Tiger Barb Breeding
Tiger barbs are pretty easy to breed hence a good choice for fish keepers who want to start fish breeding.
When you have several tiger barbs, they will pair up naturally, and there is a chance a male and female pair will spawn while in the aquarium, however, it only happens occasionally.
Therefore, the first step is to separate a breeding pair from other fish.Normally, female tiger barbs will have smaller plumper bodies around the abdomen area. Be careful though since bulging around the belly will also occur in constipated fish.
Keep the temperature in the breeding tank at around 80°F and start feeding the pair spawn- inducing diet. Food rich in proteins is especially useful to breeding tiger barb, more so from live feeds.
Soft breeding fish tank water that is slightly acidic is also a good idea. Plus add suitable spawning sites like live plants or spawning mops.
When the tiger barb pair is ready to reproduce, they will engage in a spawning chase then the female will lay her eggs on the spawning mops then the male barb will fertilize them.
On average, 300 eggs can be expected from each spawn from young females, but the number released will increase with maturity and the size of the fish.
Once the reproduction is over, remove the adult fish from the rearing aquarium because tiger barbs are infamous for eating their eggs and offsprings.
If you maintain a stable breeding tank temperature you should get free swimming fry in 3 to 5 days. Though you may also need to darken the tank as eggs are sensitive to light.
Start your newborn tiger barbs with infusoria for a week then switch to baby fish brine shrimp and microworms. Plus change 10 percent of the breeding tank water every other day.
In a months time, your tiger barb fry should be about 0.5 inches long and growing.
Enjoy taking care of your Tiger Barb Fish