Tiger Barb

Why the Tiger Barb Has Been a Must Have Aquarium Fish for Over 100 Years

Tiger Barb - Barbus tetrazona
Tiger Barb. Kai Schreiber

The very popular Tiger Barb is an easy fish to care for and can be fun to watch as it swims at high speed in schools of six or more. It is not, however, an ideal fish for a community tank as it does nip any fish with flowing fins and can be mildly aggressive.

Characteristics

Scientific Name Barbus tetrazona
Common NameTiger Barb, Sumatra Barb, Partbelt Barb, and Tirger
SynonymsBarbus tetrazona, Barbus tetrazona tetrazona, Capoeta tetrazona, Puntius tetrazona
FamilyCyprinidae
OriginBorneo, Indonesia, Sumatra
Adult Size3 inches (7 cm)
SocialActive schooling fish, nips fins
Lifespan 6 years
Tank Level Mid dweller
Minimum Tank Size20 gallon
DietOmnivore, eats most foods
BreedingEgglayer
CareEasy to Intermediate
pH6.5
Hardnessup to 10 dGH
Temperature68–79 degrees Fahrenheit (20–26 degrees Celsius)

Origin and Distribution

 The Tiger Barb is native to Borneo and Malaysia, including Sarawak and Kalimantan. They can also be found on Sumatra, in Thailand, and in Cambodia. Non-native Tiger Barbs have been introduced in Singapore, Australia, the United States, and Colombia. In their native habitat, these fish inhabit quiet, tree-lined trees and tributaries lined with sand, rocks, and thick vegetation where they can find insects, algae, invertebrates, and detritus from plants. They prefer clear, highly-oxygenated water. 

Colors and Markings

Four tiger-like black vertical stripes on an orange-yellow body make it obvious where this member of the barb family got its common name. Red edged fins and nose add even more color to the popular Tiger Bar. In recent years, selective breeding has created several color variations that include green, black, red, and albino. Reaching an adult size of 21/2 to 3 inches, they are large enough to avoid being eaten by large fish, yet small enough to keep a school of them in a modest-sized tank.

Tankmates

This colorful barb is frequently chosen for a community tank, but they are not an ideal choice for all aquariums. When kept singly or in groups of two-three, Tiger Barbs will terrorize almost any fish that is unfortunate enough to reside in the same tank (especially any with long, flowing fins).

Yet if they are kept in groups of a half dozen or more, they will usually keep their quarreling to themselves.

Regardless of the numbers kept, it is never advisable to keep Tigers in the same tank with docile, slow-moving, or long finned fish such as Angelfish or Bettas. For a striking display, set up a species-specific tank with a half dozen of each color variation, complemented by live plants. Alternatively, pair the Tiger Barb with fast-moving tankmates such as Danios, Platys, Loaches, or Catfish. When well cared for, Tiger Barbs have a lifespan of five to seven years.

Tiger Barb Habitat and Care

Tigers Barbs tolerate a wide range of water conditions but do best in soft, slightly acidic water. The ideal tank should have a large open area for swimming, with an abundance of live or artificial plants around the periphery of the tank. Temperature is not critical, and this fish can even be kept in an unheated tank. Provide good lighting, and a fine substrate to complete the setup.

Tiger Barb Diet

Accepting of virtually any food, Tiger Barbs should be given a variety of foods to maintain a healthy immune system. Include quality flake food as well as live and frozen foods such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and beef heart.

They will quickly gobble up small aquatic invertebrates and even cooked vegetables.

Sexual Differences

Female Tiger Barbs are bigger and heavier than the males, which are more brightly colored. males also develop a red nose during the spawning process. 

Breeding the Tiger Barb

Egg-scatterers that provide no parental care, Tiger Barbs will eat their own eggs if they have the opportunity. Therefore, set up a separate breeding tank, which can double as a grow-out tank for the fry. Females have a broader more rounded belly and are larger than the more highly colored males. To acquire a breeding pair, keep at least a half dozen and allow them to pair off. Condition the breeders with live foods, and once a pair has been established, move them to a separate breeding tank.

The breeding tank should have soft acidic water, fine-leaved plants, and a bare bottom.

Some breeders use marbles for the bottom, which allow the eggs to drop safely out of the parents grasp. Keep in mind that if the bottom is bare, it is particularly critical to observe them and move the parents immediately after spawning, as they will consume the eggs.

Spawning will take usually place in the morning. If the breeding pair does not spawn within a day or two, a partial water change with water that is a degree or two warmer than the tank will usually trigger spawning.

The female will lay about 200 eggs transparent yellowish colored eggs, which the male will immediately fertilize. As soon as the eggs have been fertilized, the breeding pair should be removed from the tank. The eggs will hatch in approximately 36 hours, and the fry will be free swimming after five days. Feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp until large enough to accept finely crushed flake food.

The breeding tank should have soft acidic water, fine-leaved plants, and a bare bottom. Some breeders use marbles for the bottom, which allow the eggs to drop safely out of the parents grasp. Keep in mind that if the bottom is bare, it is particularly critical to observe them and move the parents immediately after spawning, as they will consume the eggs.

Spawning will take usually place in the morning. If the breeding pair does not spawn within a day or two, a partial water change with water that is a degree or two warmer than the tank will usually trigger spawning.

The female will lay about 200 eggs transparent yellowish colored eggs, which the male will immediately fertilize. As soon as the eggs have been fertilized, the breeding pair should be removed from the tank. The eggs will hatch in approximately 36 hours, and the fry will be free swimming after five days. Feed the fry newly hatched brine shrimp until large enough to accept finely crushed flake food.

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