Tiger Barb Care: Tank Setup, Tank Mates, Breeding & Disease


Common NameTiger Barb, Sumatra Barb, Partbelt Barb
Scientific NamePuntigrus Tetrazona
OriginBorneo and Malaysia
Water pH6.5 pH
Temperature Range75 – 82°F
Adult Sizeup to 3 inches
DietOmnivorous

Tiger Barb Facts

  • Selective breeding has brought about more colorations to the Tiger Barb species such as red, black, green, and albino.
  • Tiger Barbs are a small, active, schooling fish that prefer to live in groupings of at least 6 or more.
  • Tiger Barb females can lay around 200 eggs when they spawn, and their eggs are very small at only a few millimeters.
  • Tiger Barb tanks require a top as they have been known to jump out.

Tiger Barb Appearance

Tiger Barbs are a wonderful addition to any aquarium, not only because of their striking coloration but also for their lively behavior. Tiger Barbs are small, schooling fish that have four tiger-like stripes of black that run vertically down their bodies. These stripes are how the Tiger Barb gets its name. The main body color of the Tiger Barb is a yellowish-orange, and they also have reddish orange fins and faces.

Tiger Barb fish reach maturity at anywhere from 6 months to a year, but their gender can be identified as early as 3 months old.  Female Tiger Barb fish have more rounded bellies, and are larger and heavier. Males, once they reach maturity, become lighter than the females.

Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)
Tiger Barb (Puntigrus tetrazona)

Tiger Barb Care & Tank Setup

Tiger Barbs are active fish, and they require a minimum of a 20 gallon tank for a small school of 5 fish. If you are wanting more Tiger Barbs in your school, then you will want to add an additional 3 gallons per fish after that. You should maintain tropical water temperatures between 75 and 82°F, with a pH between 6.0-8.0 in your Tiger Barb Tank. The substrate of the tank should be a sandy gravel, and they will need plenty of aquarium plants and decor to finish out their tank to make it closely mimic their natural habitat in the wild.

Tiger Barbs are mid-level habitating fish, and it is a good idea to plant aquarium plants that grow at least to the mid level of the tank for them. Pieces of driftwood and rocks make for great places for them to hide, and will ultimately make them feel more comfortable in their tank setup. In the wild they live in varying degrees of lighting, so a regular aquarium light should be good for their tank.

A cover for your tank is absolutely needed as Tiger Barbs are active fish that will jump out of a tank that does not have the proper covering. Tiger Barbs prefer clear, highly oxygenated water, so a low flow under the gravel filter will help mimic the gentle currents that they would experience in the wild. Keeping your aquarium set up as closely to their native environment as you can will keep your Tiger Barbs happy and active.

Food and Diet

Tiger Barbs are not picky eaters, and being omnivorous, they will accept a wide variety of foods. For their health, they should be fed a wide variety of foods. In the wild, Tiger Barbs eat insects, algae, invertebrates, and detritus from plants. In captivity, high quality flake foods should be given as well as frozen and live foods. Captive Tiger Barbs will also readily eat cooked vegetables, and small invertebrates if given. The key to a healthy Tiger Barb immune system is their diet.

Tiger Barb Size & Life Expectancy

Tiger Barbs can grow up to 2 ½ inches to 3 inches long at full maturity, and if properly cared for they have a life expectancy from 5 to 7 years.

Tiger Barb Tank Mates & School

Tiger Barbs are an active, schooling fish that prefer to live in a minimum grouping of at least 5. If you do not have enough Tiger Barbs in your aquarium, they  will become aggressive and terrorize other fish in your tank. Oppositely however, if you keep them in a grouping of 6 or more, they will keep their fighting amongst themselves and leave the other fish in the tank alone. They should never be kept in a tank with docile, slow moving, or long finned fish as they will bully them no matter how many Tiger Barbs are in their school.

As long as your tank has enough space for other fish, a good tank mate to add would be Clown Loach fish. These fish are active and may even school with the Tiger Barbs acting as they do. When choosing a tank mate for your Tiger Barbs, you will want to choose a fast moving tank mate like Danios.

Tiger Barb Breeding

If you are planning on breeding your Tiger Barbs, it is a good idea to set up a dedicated breeding tank as they are a fish that offers no parental care to their offspring. This means that they do not watch over their eggs once they are done spawning, and they will eat their eggs and fry if given the chance. To find a breeding pair, you will first have to keep a small school of Tiger Barbs, and wait until they pair off. You can condition them to get ready to spawn by feeding them live foods. Once you notice a pair, they can then be moved to the breeding tank for spawning.

The breeding tank needs soft, acidic water, and the bottom of the tank needs to be bare except for a substrate of something that the eggs can remain safely away from the parent Tiger Barbs. Tiger Barbs are an egg scattering fish. This means that when they are ready to spawn the female will scatter her eggs around the bottom of the tank for the male to fertilize. If you are letting them spawn in a tank with nothing at the bottom, you will want to ensure that you remove the pair as soon as they are done so that they do not eat their eggs. Tiger Barbs usually spawn in the morning, and if they are not spawning, you can do a partial water change with warmer water to encourage them.

When the female Tiger Barb is ready, she will lay around 200 eggs for the male to fertilize, and he will do so immediately. The Tiger Barb eggs will hatch at around the 36 hour mark, and the small fry will be free swimming after about 5 days. You will want to feed your Tiger Barb fry brine shrimp until they are large enough to accept other foods.

What do Tiger Barb eggs look like?

Tiger Barb eggs are very small. They measure no more than a few millimeters in diameter. They are rounded, and sometimes can be an oval shape. Tiger Barb eggs are an orangish tan color, and sometimes they can be slightly darker.

Tiger Barb Diseases

Tiger Barbs can be affected by most of the same diseases and ailments as other aquarium dwelling freshwater fish. Some of the most common diseases Tiger Barbs can be affected with are:

Dropsy– a disease that causes fish to retain water as a result of a bacterial infection. Once this disease is noticed in your fish, it is too late to save them as it is fatal. Symptoms of dropsy include a swollen belly, protruding scales, and rapid breathing.

Ich- a sickness that can come from other infected fish or aquarium plants that you add to your tank setup. It is a good idea to quarantine new fish and plants for a few weeks to make sure they are healthy before adding them to your aquarium. This will prevent the entire tank from becoming exposed to ich. Ich can be identified by the white spotting that occurs on the bodies of the fish. You will also notice the fish rubbing themselves on plants and decor trying to rid themselves of it. Ich can be treated if it is caught early enough.

Fin Rot- a bacterial infection that attacks the fins of the fish. Tiger Barbs can get fin rot if their tank is not cleaned enough or properly. Fish affected with fin rot will have tattered fins, and difficulty swimming. It can be treated with antibiotics if it is caught early on.

Velvet- fish affected with this disease develop a yellow or light brown film on the body of the fish. It is a parasitic disease that will attack the body of the fish and develop cysts. This disease is fatal if not caught quickly.

Gill Flukes- Gill flukes are a parasitic infection that is located on the gills of the fish. This is also caused by an improperly cleaned tank. This parasite is also visible on the skin of the fish, particularly around the gills. It can be treated with an anti-worm medication.

With any aquarium setup, it is easier to keep your fish from getting sick than it is to treat an ailment. To keep your Tiger Barb tank clean is to ensure the happiness and health of your fish.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the knowledge that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory Aquatics is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish healthy.

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