Thanks for stopping by! This complete, comprehensive guide on tiger barb care will teach you about their tank parameters, health, diet, behavior, tank pairings, and more!
Tiger Barbs, also called Sumatra Barbs, are beautiful and exciting fish found in the rivers and streams of Asian islands Indonesia and Malaysia. Due to several classification mistakes in the 1800’s, Tiger Barbs have been known under different scientific titles. Their official scientific name is Puntigrus tetrazona.
They come in a variety of color forms are especially popular with American and British fish keeping. It is not hard to see why. Their bright colors and confident nature make them an ideal aquarium fish.
Since they are such a common freshwater species with aquarium hobbyists, the Tiger Barb is not a particularly expensive purchase. You can expect to pay between $3 and $5 per Tiger Barb, but certain colorations may fetch a higher price.
Tiger Barb Lifespan
Tiger Barbs are a hardy little fish able to withstand a range of water parameters, which makes them a relatively easy species to keep. As long as the pH and alkalinity of your tank water remains stable, healthy Tiger Barbs can live for up to 7 years.
These little guys are great for any kind of aquarium thanks to their small size. They will not exceed 2.5 – 3 inches, so they can live quite happily in a nano tank or larger community tank.
They have a wide body shaped like a barb, or spear head, hence the name and triangular shaped head and mouth.
The most common coloration is yellow or gold body with 4 black strips and striking red-tipped fins. Due to selective breeding and hybridization, there are now several color variations available. Possible body colors include gold, yellow, silver, blue and green. Some individuals can have thin stripes, others thick. Some have no stripes at all.
Albino barbs are yellow-orange in color with white stripes instead of black. They still carry the red tips on their fins.
Tiger Barb Aquarium Care
As Tiger Barbs do not grow any larger than 3 inches, they can be kept in smaller tanks, although a minimum of 20 gallons (75 litres) is recommended for keeping a group of five together. You will need to add another 3 gallons for each Tiger Barb after this, so 7 Tigers would need at least 26 gallons.
Tiger Barbs come from rivers and streams so natural substrate for them would be rocky. A fine substrate scattered with pebbles and rocks would be suitable for them. Large gravel is fine, but waste easily accumulates in the gaps. You will also need to be mindful of other species within the tank who may require a fine substrate.
Plants and Decorations
Tiger Barbs like short to medium height plants, but the centre of your tank should be kept open to allow for swimming. Plant such as java fern are a great choice as they do not require specialist lighting or care. Carpeting plants like Java Moss are also suitable for Tiger Barbs and their tank mates.
Plants should be kept to the back and sides of your tank to allow plenty of room as these are active fish. You can include dense plants around the tank that will provide shelter and also a breeding ground for your Tigers.
Floating driftwood is also a good decoration option, but will grow a fine fur which will alter the water parameters. To combat this you can keep a few algae eaters such as shrimp or snails.
Tiger Barbs are from a tropical climate and are comfortable in water between 75 and 82°F (24-28°C). They are best suited to a pH of 6.0-8.0 but you must keep these parameters stable.
There are no specific lighting requirements as Tigers are found at varying depths in the wild. A simple aquatic lamp will be sufficient. You will need to fit your lighting to suit your Barbs tank mates and any plants you have.
Regular water changes are a necessity with any tank. A 20-30% water change should be done every 2 or 3 weeks. If you do not have any ‘cleaner’ species in your tank, you may want to invest in a magnetic algae brush to clean the glass between water changes.
You should also regularly test your aquarium water. Levels of Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate, pH and water hardness all need to be maintained to keep your fish and plants healthy. You can purchase test kits from your local aquarium store or from online retailers.
Here Is Why You Should Get Tiger Barbs
Tiger Barb Health
You can easily spot if your Tiger Barb is sick if they are not actively swimming. A healthy Tiger Barb is confident and playful.
They are susceptible to common illnesses like Ich, which is easily recognizable by small white dots on the scales. To keep your fish healthy, you need to keep the pH, temperature and alkalinity of the water stable.
If you suspect one of your Tiger Barbs is ill, seek advice from your local aquarist. You will need to tell them all the species you keep in the same tank, as some treatments are not suitable for crustaceans. You may need to quarantine your sick fish for a short time to prevent spreading any disease.
Tiger Barb Food & Diet
Tiger Barbs will eat just about anything. Their natural diet consists of plant matter, algae, small aquatic insects and zooplankton. You will need to feed a variety to keep your Tigers healthy. A quick sinking fish pellet is best, along with brine shrimp and water fleas. You can also feed frozen bloodworms to supplement their diet.
They will graze on algae in the tank, but you can help them along by also feeding finely chopped cooked green veggies. Boiled cucumber and lettuce are good options. Feeding should be done twice daily and only as much as they can eat in 3 minutes.
Behavior & Temperament
These quirky fish have a bit of a reputation as being ‘fin nippers’ but their behavior is more irritating than aggressive. They are a territorial species and will compete with other fish for dominance.
They usually stay around the middle layer of the aquarium but may come up to the top at feeding time. They are a schooling fish, with the ideal size being 8 individuals. Too few fish will cause stress and they will become timid.
Tiger Barb Tank Mates
Your Tiger Barbs can live quite happily with several other Barbs including Cherry, Rosy, 5-banded and 6-banded varieties.
Other species need to be active swimmers and a similar size to Tigers. You should also choose species with small fins to prevent fin nipping.
In groups of less than 5 or 6, your Tiger Barbs may act aggressively to other fish in the tank. They are happiest with a group size of 8-12.
Tiger Barb FAQ
- Are Tiger barbs aggressive?
They have a reputation as ‘fin nippers’ but they only show aggression if they are kept in groups that are too small or with unsuitable tankmates.
- What size tank do tiger barbs need?
A group of 5 needs at least 20 gallons, with 3 gallons more for each additional Tiger Barb.
- What fish are compatible with Tiger barbs?
Other varieties of Barb, Corydoras, Clown Loaches and Tetras. Similar sized active fish are safe options.
- Will Tiger barbs kill other fish?
No but they can show aggression if kept in a small group and they are fin nippers, so species with long fins are not suitable tankmates.
- How long does a tiger barb stay pregnant?
Tiger Barbs do not get pregnant like mammals, instead they lay eggs, a male Tiger Barb will need to fertilize. If you plan on breeding them, you will need a separate spawning tank. This should be
So, are Tiger Barbs right for your aquarium? As long as you are careful selecting tank mates and your aquarium is a good size, then Tiger Barbs can bee a great addition to your tropical setup. They are striking looking fish and very active.
Be mindful that they may breed, so you will need a spawning tank to prevent the eggs and fry being eaten by the adult Tiger Barbs.
Avoid angels and bettas as they have long fins and will be at risk of fin nipping. The ideal Tiger Barb group is 8 individuals, but no more than 12.
Provided your water parameters are within the right ranges and you are feeding a variety of fish food and live food, your Tiger Barbs will live long and healthy lives.