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

Tiger Barb Facts

  • Selective breeding has brought more colorations to the Tiger Barb species, such as red, black, green, and albino.
  • Tiger Barbs are 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 a few millimeters.
  • Tiger Barb tanks require a top as they have been known to jump out.


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 with four tiger-like black stripes 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 yellowish-orange, and they also have reddish-orange fins and faces.

Tiger Barb fish reach maturity 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 Care

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

Tiger Barbs are mid-level habituating 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 them great places to hide and ultimately make them feel more comfortable in their tank setup. They live in varying degrees of lighting in the wild, 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 coverage. Tiger Barbs prefer clear, highly oxygenated water, so a low flow under the gravel filter will help mimic the gentle currents they would experience in the wild. Keeping your aquarium set up as close to its native environment as possible will keep your Tiger Barbs happy and active.

Food and Diet

Tiger Barbs are not picky eaters, and being omnivorous, they will accept various foods. For their health, they should be fed a wide variety of foods. Tiger Barbs eat insects, algae, invertebrates, and detritus from plants in the wild. In captivity, high-quality flake foods and frozen and live foods should be given. Captive Tiger Barbs will also readily eat cooked vegetables and small invertebrates if given. The key to a healthy Tiger Barb immune system is its 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 of 5 to 7 years.

Tank Mates & Schooling Behavior

Tiger Barbs are 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 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.


If you plan on breeding your Tiger Barbs, it is a good idea to set up a dedicated breeding tank, as they are fish that offer no parental care to their offspring. This means they do not watch over their eggs once they are done spawning, and they will eat their eggs and fry if given a chance. To find a breeding pair, keep a small Tiger Barb school, 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 be moved to the breeding tank for spawning.

The breeding tank needs soft, acidic water, and the bottom needs to be bare except for a substrate so the eggs can remain safely away from the parent Tiger Barbs. Tiger Barbs are 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 36 hours, 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 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 due to 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 ensure 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 on the fish’s bodies. 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 fish’s body. It is a parasitic disease that will attack the fish’s body and develop cysts. This disease is fatal if not caught quickly.

Gill Flukes – Gill flukes are parasitic infections on the fish’s gills. An improperly cleaned tank also causes this. This parasite is also visible on the fish’s skin, 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.

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