The Ultimate Guide To Raising The Tiger Barb

An excellent fish for novice fishkeepers, the Tiger barb is a cute little fish that only grows to about three inches in length. Although it can be somewhat aggressive, this fish is very hardy in an aquarium, and can tolerate a wide variety of conditions – including beginner mistakes!

If you’ve been looking for the perfect freshwater fish species, this popular species is one you must consider raising. Here is everything you need to know to raise this quick-swimming wonder.

Tiger Barb

Tiger Barb Background

Tiger Barb 1
Photo by Lorna Robinson

Also known as the Sumatra Barb, this species of fish is native to the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra in Indonesia. They can also sometimes be found in Cambodia and other parts of Asia.

These fish are generally found in the clear or somewhat turbid shallow waters of streams. These streams general have a moderate current, but recently they have been discovered in swamp environments. This has led scientists to believe that they may be able to tolerate a wide variety of fluctuations in water quality.

On average, these fish can live for about six years. The tiger barb is just one of more than 70 different species of barb. It has great importance in the aquarium trade and is one of the most popular fish that aquarium hobbyists keep in their aquariums.

Tiger Barb Appearance And Behavior

Tiger Barb 2
Photo by Tim Bates

An entertaining freshwater fish species to watch, the Tiger barb is known to be somewhat aggressive. You will want to keep it in a relatively large aquarium to make sure it has plenty of space to swim and for your other fish to escape its somewhat territorial displays.

This fish has vibrant colors and can sometimes nip at other slow-moving fish. Therefore, you should avoid keeping this fish with other slower or long-finned species. This shoaling fish likes to stay in groups, both for companionship and environmental reasons. When you keep a Tiger Barb in your fish tank, you should make sure you always keep it in groups of six or more.

In groups of less than five, for whatever reason, Tiger Barbs have a tendency to be more aggressive. They will be more likely to nip at the fins of other passing species in the tank. This aggressive behavior decreases somewhat as the fish are part of larger groups.

You might notice that your fish exhibit some aggressive behavior toward other Tiger Barbs if you choose to add more Tiger Barbs in your aquarium. This isn’t anything to be worried about in particular. The fish are just attempting to establish the proper pecking order, just as you might with other species of fish or even mammals and birds.

Otherwise, this fish will spend most of their time in the open middle levels of the tank. It will prefer to spend its time in the open areas of the tank, so while it’s a good idea to have some rocks and hiding places, you should also leave plenty of open swimming areas.

This fish is small, only growing to around three inches in length. Keep in mind that this is the average size for wild Tiger Barbs, however, and that in your aquarium this fish won’t grow to quite that size. You will be lucky if it reaches three inches.

There are several types of Tiger Barbs you can raise. The classic Tiger Barb is silver and gold in color with prominent black stripes and fins that are orange. The Green Tiger Barb, on the other hand, will be various shades of green. Sometimes it can appear to be an almost moss color.

The Gold and Albino Tiger Barb is a light orange to yellow shade in color. It has four pale white or yellow stripes as well. There are several species of Tiger Barbs that have been hybridized to achieve various patterns, colors, and designs to help satisfy a growing population of aquarium hobbyists and breeders.

Tiger Barb Tank And Water Requirements

Tiger Barb 4
Photo by Samantha G 82

Tiger Barbs don’t require a lot when it comes to the set-up of the tank. You should make sure the tank is well-planted and that it is at least 15 to 20 gallons in size. Depending on the quantity and type of fish you have in your tank, you may need to add even more size to your tank to make sure all of your fish can be housed with enough room.

The water should be somewhat acidic, between 6.0 and 8.0, and you can also add driftwood and rocks. That being said, you want to be careful about adding too many decorations or other types of ornamentation to your tank, as this can remove the valuable space that your Tiger Barbs need for open swimming.

Your fish tank should be well-lit. You will want to provide plenty of vegetation but leave about two-thirds of the tank open for swimming.

What Do Tiger Barbs Eat?

Tiger Barb 5
Photo by Tropical Fish International

Regardless of the type of Tiger Barb you raise, you will need to provide a similar diet across the board. These fish are omnivores, meaning they will eat just about anything! However, for best results you should feed a diet that is varied and nutritious.

A basic Tiger Barb diet will consist of your basic vegetable flakes as well as frozen or freeze-dried foods. You can even supplement with live foods like glass worms, bloodworms, and brine shrimp. Tiger Barbs absolutely love frozen foods and will enjoy eating things like frozen bloodworms.

If you have a filtration system in your tank, that’s all better! Tiger Barbs will enjoy chasing their prey as the current moves the food around. This is a great way to stimulate some of the Tiger Barb’s most basic animal behaviors. You could even make your own fish food if you so choose!

Tiger Barb Tank Mates

Tiger Barb 3
Photo by Patrick


Tiger Barbs should not be kept with other fish who have long, flowing fins, nor should they be kept with slow-moving species. You should not keep Tiger Barbs with species like bettas, for instance, because their fins are so long that they will pose too much of a temptation for your nibbling Tiger Barbs.

These fish are very active shoalers, so you should keep them in large groups of at least six. This will allow them to be housed with tank mates that are more easygoing in nature. However, even when you have Tiger Barbs in a group, you should still avoid keeping them with long-finned species.

You might want to consider keeping your Tiger Barb with species like Platys, Danios, and Catfish. They will occupy most of their days by chasing each other around the tank and will, for the most part, not pay attention to any of the other species in your tank. A good option to consider is the fish that is known as the clown loach. This fish will engage in schooling behaviors with your Tiger Barbs and behave in a similar manner, allowing for a unique display of activity in your tank.

You don’t have to stop there, though! You could even keep your Tiger Barb with other unique species such as Corydoras Catfish, Gouramis, Loaches, Tetras, Plecos, Mollies, Sharks, Rainbowfish, Piranhas, and more. Tiger Barbs can also safely be housed with most freshwater plants without you having to worry about the plants becoming damaged.

Common Tiger Barb Diseases

Tiger Barb 6
Photo by Ivan Cheung

Tiger Barbs aren’t prone to too many unique diseases, but they can succumb to the typical illnesses that affect freshwater fish species if you aren’t careful. Some common Tiger Barb diseases include ich and cottonmouth. Ich causes white spots to appear all over your fish’s body. It may appear as though it is having trouble breathing and it will scratch itself frequently on items in the tank.

You can prevent ich, cottonmouth, and other common freshwater diseases by conducting regular water changes. You should clean your tank regularly – remember that it needs to be cleaned more often if you have a lot of fish or you have a very small tank – and provide your fish with a proper, varied diet. Remember to remove any food that your Tiger Barbs do not eat within five minutes, as this can contaminate the tank.

Breeding And Life Spans Of Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs can sometimes be bred in captivity. In order to do this, you will need at least a 20 gallon tank specifically for breeding purposes. You will also need a sponge filter, which will prevent the fry from being sucked into a larger canister filter and killed. You will also need an air pump and a heater that will keep the water at about 80 degrees – this is the temperature necessary for breeding.

When your fish are breeding, you will need to feed them a very high protein diet. Young Tiger Barbs can be fed bloodworms twice a day. You will want to complete a water change of around thirty percent every day, and make sure you have a thick marble substrate so that the fray don’t become lost in the bottom of the tank.

When you are breeding your Tiger Barbs, you may need to separate the males from the females from a few days to ensure the best results. Within four days, you might notice that your Tiger Barb who is ready to lay eggs has a large, rounded belly and a black dorsal fin. The male will have distinct red nose with a red line above the black on its dorsal fins.

After about four days, if you happen to detect any females that may be pregnant, you can allow them to be reintroduced to the males. When she is in the breeding tank, the pregnant Tiger Barb will lay her eggs. The male will take up the task of fertilizing the eggs shortly after. Females generally lay their eggs in the early hours of morning, laying hundreds of eggs at once. Eggs sink to the bottom of the tank and adhere to the substrate or to any plants you might have.

It should be noted that Tiger barbs often eat their own eggs. If you want to be able to keep fry after spawning, make sure you use marbles in the substrate or as the substrate for your breeding tank. The eggs will fall out of reach and will not be available for your Tiger Barb parents to eat.

Once your Tiger Barb eggs hatch, they will take about five days to develop. Then you should see them swimming about in the water! You can feed the fry fresh and small hatched brine shrimp or even a liquid diet before they are old enough to eat crushed flake food.

Is A Tiger Barb For You?

If you’re looking for a unique species of fish to raise in your freshwater aquarium, it might be time to consider the Tiger Barb. Although these fish don’t grow to be very large, they offer a variety of benefits to aquarium hobbyists.

These fish have a lot of energy and are absolutely dazzling to watch in a shoal. If you’re looking for a fish that will get along well with others, for the most part, this fish will do. You need to be careful about housing it with long-finned species, but otherwise the Tiger Barb should make the perfect addition to your community tank.

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