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Tiger Barb Care and Requirements

Updated on April 19, 2011
Pair of Tiger Barbs
Pair of Tiger Barbs | Source

Tiger barbs (Puntius tetrazona) are beautiful aquarium residents that are commonly offered for sale in most pet stores and aquarium shops. The natural range of tiger barbs covers areas of Southeast Asia and they are not only frequently imported but also commercially bred. Tiger barbs are considered to be hardy and long lived aquarium residents as long as their undemanding needs are met. An ideal Ph range is in the neighborhood of 6.5 to 7.5 although lower and higher values can be tolerated. Temperature range should fall between 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and ammonia and nitrate levels should be kept as close to zero as possible.Tiger barbs are not fussy eaters and can be offered various foods including high quality tropical flakes, veggie flakes, brine shrimp, spirulina enhanced brine shrimp, sinking granules, algae wafers, bloodworms, beefheart, and small pelleted foods.

Adult size for tiger barbs is right under 3 inches and a minimum tank size is 20 gallons. Tiger barbs are a very active shoaling species that benefit from the company of their own kind. With this in mind at least 6 tiger barbs should be kept together at a time with a larger number always being better. This number is not only in place due to their shoaling behavior but also to disperse aggression. If you keep too small a number of tiger barbs together they are likely to quarrel to the point of which the smaller and weaker tiger barbs will suffer. By creating a shoal of tiger barbs a pecking order will become established which disperses the aggression amongst the large number of fishes.

Tank-mates for tiger barbs should be chosen carefully as their fin-nipping and aggressive behavior can become quite bothersome towards certain species. Fish with long flowing fins such as angelfish, bettas, and gouramies should be avoided as their fins are too much of a temptation for eager tiger barbs. Fish with a very small adult size such as neon tetras and dwarf rasboras should also be avoided as the tiger barbs will most likely outright kill them over time. With this in mind it would be safe to categorize the tiger barb as a "robust community species" that can be housed with other robust medium sized fishes. This is in contrast to the occasional erroneous categorization of tiger barbs simply as "community fish" as many fish that fall under this broad category will face inevitable peril if housed with tiger barbs.

If you are interested in maintaining tiger barbs and are unsure if they will get along with a certain species that you are maintaining, do some internet research or in person research at a reliable aquarium shop. There are many possibilities of species that can be combined with tiger barbs and we used the following combination in a wonderful 75 gallon planted display tank when I worked at a local fish store: 20 tiger barbs, 12 giant danios (Danio aequipinnatus), 6 yo yo loaches (Botia lohachata), and 6 horse-face loaches (Acantopsis choirorhynchus).

At the same token be sure not to pick overly large and aggressive fish as they will make short work of your tiger barbs. For instance a 4 inch oscar could live with a large shoal of 2 inch tiger barbs but once the oscar reaches 6 inches it will start eating all of your tiger barbs. As is the case in any aspect of responsible aquarium husbandry do your research and do not be afraid to ask questions. In addition to the standard tiger barb which is most commonly offered for sale there are also other color varieties which are the result of man made breeding efforts. These color strains include an albino tiger barb, green tiger barb, and gold tiger barb, all of which share the same temperament and requirements. The other color varieties can be found by cycling through the various video thumbnails at the bottom of the video I posted below. Any questions, comments, or first hand experiences are welcomed on the topic!

Tiger barbs feeding


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      barb tiger 2 years ago

      You a minimal of five for thrm to school

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      kira 3 years ago

      omg i just turned around as i do many times a day to find my tiger barb eating my green barb. i am heartbroken! the place where i bought them told me to buy in two's. i got a shark, 2 tiger barbs, and 2 green barbs. i was not aware that i needed more than 2. and that i needed to get them close in size. this is fish number 2 that i have lost due to this one tiger barb. i don't believe in animal cruelty. so i can not bring myself to remove it to stop killing the others. what would be the best thing to do?

    • SomethingFishy84 profile image

      SomethingFishy84 6 years ago from Indiana

      Thank you for the kind words jalopy! I hope this hub helps readers to avoid making the same mistake that I did with my first aquarium 20 some years ago. Tiger barbs and neon tetras in a small tank = recipe for disaster!

    • jalopy profile image

      Christine Seitz 6 years ago from San Antonio, Texas

      Good blog! Thanks for sharing!