Tiger Barbs – Profile, Care & Facts

Tiger Barbs are interesting fish to observe. They are vibrant, active, and faster swimmers. Besides their popularity, these fish are easy to look after. They are also known as Partbelt Barbs or Sumatra Barbs. Their scientific name is Barbus tetrazona.

Unlike most other fish, this one is not suitable for a community tank. It nips any tank mate with flowing fins. Besides, it is mildly aggressive and dominant.

Under good care, Tiger Barbs can live a little bit longer. These beautiful fish have a lifespan ranging from 5 to 7 years.

This schooling fish is strikingly beautiful with an arrow-shaped body. The entire body is encircled by four conspicuous black vertical stripes, hence the name Tiger Barb. Actually, this name comes about as a result of this fish resembling the famous Sumatran tiger.

With its cycloid type of scales, the Tiger Barb does not possess a distinguishable lateral line found on most fish. The fish is characterized by a brilliant orange coloration that covers the nostrils, mouth, and part of the dorsal fin.

Its caudal or tail fin is covered in vivid orange markings both at the bottom and top. This feature makes the colorless midsection of the fish almost invisible. Other fins like the pectoral, pelvic and anal are adorned with bright orange coloration.

Male Tiger Barbs are smaller and a little bit colorful compared to the females. But females are usually identified from their fuller outline with slightly softer color around the nostril and mouth region.

Tiger Barbs Natural Habitat

Tiger Barb occupies quite a number of habitats. The fish is native to SouthEast Asia in places such as Malaysia, Borneo, Kalimantan, and Sarawak. Some of them are found in Thailand, Cambodia, and on Sumatra Island. A few have been introduced to Australia, Colombia, Singapore, and the United States.

In the wild, Tiger Barbs inhabit quiet, sand-lined tributaries and rivers lined with trees. They also prefer places with rocks and thick vegetation. These are ideal places for them to find their staple food.

Such locations provide them with different kinds of insects, invertebrates, algae, and detritus from certain plants. Tiger Barbs thrive well in crystal clear and highly-oxygenated water in rivers and streams.

Tiger Barbs Fish Tank Requirements

What is the best aquarium size for keeping tiger barbs? How to setup an aquarium for tiger barbs? Let’s answer these questions:

– Tank Size

Tiger Barbs need an aquarium with abundant space for swimming. They also need a tank that they can hide or breed when necessary.

Their ideal tank size should be at least 20 gallons long to provide them with enough space for horizontal swimming. On top of that, the tank needs to be long enough to accommodate several fish.

Some people prefer a 55-gallon standard tank in order to provide their fish with extended space for swimming. This space will help their fish to coexist peacefully given that each one of them will have enough room to move around.

Whichever size of the tank you find appropriate for your Tiger Barbs, make sure to observe a low bioload. These fish species are known for their tendency to pester other tank mates if kept in overcrowded tanks.

– Plants and Decoration

A planted tank is just right for your Tiger Barbs. Plants provide places for hiding from other aggressive tank mates. They also limit the amount of lighting reaching the bottom of the tank besides providing a perfect ground for breeding.

Most importantly, they help maintain water parameters within the tank. Some plants can serve as sources of nutrients that the fish needs to grow healthy. So algae and submerged freshwater plants will make the tank mimic the Tiger Barbs’ natural habitat.

The most recommended live plants for this type of aquarium is the corkscrew val (Vallisneria spiralis), Water sprite (Ceratopteris thalictroides) and Sagittaria subulata.

When it comes to the decor, you should consider creating a few cave-like structures to provide your fish with some cover when necessary.

Add some rocks not only to act as part of the substrate but also to make the tank look similar to your Tiger Barbs’ natural habitat. At the same time, you may include driftwood to complete the entire tank set up in readiness for your pet fish.

– Substrate

Apart from providing good lighting for your fish, you should also think of a perfect substrate for them. A fine substrate will make the tank look beautiful while providing your fish with the right environment in captivity.

The best substrate for your Tiger Barbs must consist of fine gravel or sand. Cobbles and large rocks can also be a good choice for the substrate although they are meant to provide adequate shelter for your fish.

– Water Level

The tank’s water level matters a lot. Fill the tank with clean, fresh water up to the water return ramp or filter’s weir. This level allows all filtered water to gently go back to the aquarium or quietly flow across the tank surface.

This way, the surface turbulence is significantly reduced to prevent carbon dioxide loss which tank plants need for growth.

– Lighting

Natural light can still work best for your tank, especially when in the open spaces. But when the tank is indoors, artificial light will play a critical role to ensure that aquatic life in the tank goes on as usual.

In this regard, the artificial lighting should consist of a 40-W, full-spectrum fluorescent light complete with a 150-W incandescent plant light. Both sources of light should be strategically positioned a little farther from the tank to prevent excessive heat transfer.

Tiger Barbs Water Conditions

Tiger Barb is a freshwater fish. This means that all water parameters should match those found in their natural habitat. You may use tap water in their tank. But ensure that it is well-treated for chlorine and other harmful compounds.

That said, the ideal water temperature for your Tiger Barbs should range from 75 to 82 ℉. To maintain this temperature, you will need a reliable source of heat. A 200-W heater will definitely help maintain a steady tank temperature throughout even during winter months.

Other water parameters of great importance include the pH and water hardness. Tiger Barbs can survive in freshwater with the pH levels of 6.0 to 8.0.

They can also thrive best in a tank with a water hardness of up to 10 dGH. However, this fish can tolerate a wide range of conditions, but their ideal tank water condition should always remain soft and slightly acidic.

Tiger Barbs Diet and Feeding

Tiger Barbs eat a variety of foods and that’s why they are categorized as omnivores. You can feed them live or frozen foods if you can. Also, you may supplement their diet with flake fish foods.

For example, you can give them live Daphnia, microworms, mosquito larvae, brine shrimp, Mysis shrimp, and frozen bloodworms.

Even though they are middle dwellers, these fish will eat their food from the bottom as well as from the surface. In most cases, they like middle-level feeding as they swim around.

Tiger Barbs eat all the time and they will not become full however much you provide them with food. Be careful not to give them too much food as they can become ill. Excess food in the tank may also contaminate the water and interfere with the tank parameters.

Tiger Barbs Tank Mates

Tiger Barbs are one of the most active schooling tank fish. They are large enough to resist potential predators or rather large fish. But they are small enough for a modest-sized aquarium.

Provided that the tank has considerable space, you can let them share it with a few other tank mates. The best tank mates for these fish include the Clown Loach which will comfortably school with them without any issues.

You can also pair your Tiger Barbs with other fast swimming tank mates such as Platys, Danios, Catfish, or Loaches.

Tiger Barbs Breeding

Known as the egg-scatters, Tiger Barbs don’t provide parental care to their fry. In fact, they eat their own eggs when the opportunity arises. You should set aside a separate tank primarily for breeding. The same tank should serve as a double for raising the fry.

For you to get a perfect pair of breeders, you must keep not less than 6 Tiger Barbs in one tank. Once you identify a potential breeding pair, move them to another tank. Then provide the right conditions and diet for them to breed.

The tank where they are going to breed should have fine-leaved plants, soft, acidic water, and bare bottom. This allows the eggs to safely settle at the bottom. You may also use a spawning grid or marbles instead of a bare bottom tank.

The female Tiger Barb will lay at least 200 eggs and the male will fertilize them immediately. After fertilization, separate the breeding pair. The eggs will take one and a half days to hatch.

The fry will start free-swimming after 5 days. Ensure that they get the right food such as brine shrimp before introducing them to finely crushed flake foods.


Tiger Barbs are vibrant and active middle region swimmers. They are aggressive and will wreak havoc to any slow-swimming tank mates.

But with the right tank conditions, these fish can live longer than when in the wild.

Barbs Fish   Updated: May 11, 2022
avatar Hey, I'm Fabian, chief editor at Aquarium Nexus. I really enjoy the aquarium hobby and love sharing my experience with others. If you have any questions feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

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