Tiger Barb

The colors really come alive in this fish gallery picture of a Tiger Barb, Puntius tetrazona, by K.Zadorozhny. I kept a school of 6 Tiger Barbs in my first freshwater fish tank. They are a fun fish to watch. I think Tiger Barbs have gotten a bad name of being aggressive fish. Keeping them in a group, does help them avoid getting into trouble.


Originally, I had two regular Tiger Barbs, as you see above. I schooled those with two Green Tiger Barbs, and two Albino Tiger Barbs. Unlike Tetra fish, who generally only school in their own group, ie. Neon Tetras will only school with Neon Tetras, and Black Neon Tetras wil only school with Black Neons; it doesn't matter with Tiger Barbs. Feel free to mix and match these fish. Some considerations to think about if you're looking to add the Tiger Barb to your aquarium:

  • Tiger Barbs are best kept in groups of 5 or more
  • Belongs to the Cyprinidae family
  • Tank conditions most suitable include 73 - 79°F, pH 6.0 - 7.0, KH 4 - 10
  • Maximum size is 3 inches

I kept my Tiger Barbs in a semi-aggressive tank. Other fish included Loaches, Gourami, a couple Plecos, a Redtail Black Shark, and Swordtails. I never saw the Tiger Barbs attack other fish. One thing they would do, which was quite hilarious, is chase each other around the tank. I'm not sure if it was just a game they played, or something else. They wouldn't do it often, but the Tiger barb in the lead would weave in and out of plants, twisting and turning everywhere. The others followed exactly behind. They would also periodically do face to face duels. Again, I'm not sure if this was to determine a leader, or just a game.

For breeding Tiger Barbs; let them pair off. The male Tiger Barb fertilizes the eggs once the female lays them. You'll want to feed the fry brine shrimp after they beome free-swimming. That takes about a week.
I fed my Tiger Barbs flake food and bloodworms. I also spoiled them with Brine shrimp. This will bring out the lovely red color you see in the photo. I highly recommend the Tiger Barb, if you want a fish that's fun to watch. I miss mine.

118 thoughts on “Tiger Barb”

  1. hi.

    i have five tiger barbs (bearing in mind i do not knoe too much about tropical fish) in my tank. one of them is more separated from the others who stick together. this fish has red at the sides near its mouth. it is bullying the others a bit, is bossy and is eating more than the others. my friend thinks it is a different species or gender but on the internet they look almost identical. can you help me out here?

  2. Hey Lucas,

    My bet is that you’ve just got a tiger barb that dominates the others. You may have heard the term “leader of the pack”. That tiger barb is the leader. Have you ever seen them go head to head in a playful fight? When they do that, they’re jockeying for position.

  3. Dear Fish tank, I have five tiger barbs. But one of them, named Whisper, always seperates himself from the others and hides at the back of the tank. Is this normal behavior, or do you think that he is weaker than the others and fears for his life? I do have a dominant male who is much more vibrantly colored, and always makes a point of bullying the other tigers around. (Named Chief, appropriately.) Do you think that Whisper is afraid of Chief?

  4. i have tiger barbs in my 100 gal tank. if in case they are mating…what will i do. my tank is plain. i don’t like plastic plants. i only have few rocks. small ones. please tell me what to do in case one of them will be laying eggs. thank you so much in advance


  5. Hi Amira,

    I think that Whisper (I like that name) may be a little afraid of Chief, but it’s nothing to worry about. Whisper is smart enough to have found a hiding place to relax. When Whisper swims in an area you can see the fish, take a look to make sure there are no little white spots, or ick. That would be the only other possibility for your fish to swim alone.

  6. Thanks for asking Leslie,

    Breeding tiger barbs is going to be pretty tough if you’re not set up for it. You’d need plenty of broad leafed plants, so they could spread their eggs. Then you’d have to remove the adults from your 100 gallon tank, because tiger barbs have a healthy appetite for those eggs.

    If your goal is to enjoy your barbs, then you’ll just have to let mother nature take it’s course. If you plan on breeding them, you’ll need to set up a separate tank.

  7. i have a tank with 7 tiger barbs 2 albino and 5 normal. the water is a little low right now so the filter supplies enough oxygen but if i add more water should i put an airator in with them???

    this is my first tiger barb fish tank

  8. Hey fish freak!

    As long as you have a good filter, an air pump isn’t really necessary. What an aerator will do is increase surface area, and improve circulation. If the filter is providing good circulation, you should be ok.

    If you do get something. I prefer the effects of airstones personally. Don’t waste your time with the bubble bar type aerator. They get clogged easy. Of course there’s also fun decor that produces bubbles too.

    Have fun!

  9. ok i have another question!!! lol

    how often would you guys do a water change on a 15 gallon tank with 7 medium sized tiger barbs?

  10. PLEASE HELP!!!

    my two albino tiger barbs arn’t doing very well. one of them is getting beaten up and his fins and tail are shredded. the other has somthing wrong with his mouth ??? i have no idea what it is but he can’t close it and it looks like his bottem jaw is too long. both of them arn’t eating very well and they arn’t swimming around with like the others , they stay in the same spot all day.

  11. Well that’s no good! Have you done a water test to check your ammonia and nitrite levels? How long have the fish been in the tank? Did you check for ich? Were the barbs all added at once initially? Was the tank cycled?

  12. one of the albino ones died 🙁

    ive done water tests and everything is fine and the fish have been in the tank for about… two months. i was looking at them about two days ago and saw a few wihite spots on one so now im treating them for ich. o ya and i took the other albino fish (the one with the mouth problem) and put him in his own tank. so far so good. (knock on wood). any other suggestions are welcome!!!

  13. I was afraid of that. Ich is tough. The damage has been done by the time you see the little white spots. Sounds like you’re doing all you can. Quarantine the sick fish, and treat them all for ich.

  14. hi i have two tiger barbs on my 30 gal. tank, at first they would chase each other around the tank but now one just sits in the corner of the tank! it still eats regularly and plays with the other barb but not as much as it used to. Whats wrong with him/her?

  15. Hello Sahara,

    As long as your water is testing normal, and your tiger barbs are free of disease and ich, it just may be that the one tiger barbs prefers to spend more time alone. Just like humans, fish will change their relationships; who they hang out with, and for how long.

    If you have the room (1 inch per gallon), I would suggest adding a few more tiger barbs. They tend to be more playful in groups.


  16. i lost the two albino fish to ich. but the treatment was successful for the other 5. thanks for all your help!!!

  17. Unfortunately, it happens. All you can do is treat them with Rid-Ich, and isolate if possible. I have the worst luck with ich when I buy fish from stores that have their water system connected to all the tanks. If a batch of fish come in sick, the chances of others getting sick is higher. I try to buy from fish stores with separate aquariums when I can.

    Best of luck and enjoy your aquarium!

  18. Hey i was thinking of having a 30 liter tank with tiger barbs red tail shark and maybe a BN or a pleco..but if that doesn’t work im sure i can make an african set scene…what do you think i should do?

  19. Hey Posh,

    I like that setup. The Tiger Barbs would definitely hold their own with a red-tail in the tank. The pleco would mind his own business, and help with algae cleaning. Like it.

    In the end it comes down to what you like. Sounds as if you’ve got a plan.


  20. I bought 6 tiger barbs and they swam around nice and cool. But later on, the smallest one started jumping out of the water…what do i do? Oh, and some fish hide under the gravel and come out for food and goes back in…is something wrong with the water? is it too cold?

  21. Hey Danny,

    Hmmm. Hopefully you have a cover over your aquarium. I’ve never had Tiger Barbs jump out of the water. As long as it can’t jump completely out of the tank, it will be fine.

    Do you have a heater? If your water is colder than 70 degress, you need one. Also, it depends what kind of fish are hiding in the gravel.

    Plecostomus and loaches will hide all day. It’s just their nature.

  22. will tiger barbs nip the fins of a siamese fighting fish? i have 1 fighter and some leopard dannio’s will tiger barbs get on with these fish? thanks lucy.

  23. hey guys,

    this is the first time im visiting this website and believe it is REALLY helpful.

    I bought my first 14 gallon aquarium in december and had 2 tiger barbs, 2 silver sharks, 2 glassfifh, and two rainbow sharks (atleast the dealer said this was the name).

    it went on fine for about two months but then suddenly the sharks started losing fins. i didnt know what it was at the time and so changed the water(the dealer said this was the most effective method to remove most illnesses). it died and the same thing happened to all my other fishes one by one till only 1 tiger barb and 1 rainbow shark was left.

    Then i went on a holiday in july and left the tank to the care of my gate keeper. he overfed them and both of them died.

    Anyway now i have planted Java Fern and fanwort in my tank(previously i had no plants). and have added 6 tiger barbs. The day after putting them in the tank, i noticed 1 had a fin shredded. I again changed the water (lolz) and it helped.

    but the problem is that all of them are sort of jumping on the java fern and using it like a trampoline. its really fun 2 watch but i wanted to ask that can this be cause of some illness???

    Thnaks again!!!

  24. Hi Mazhar,

    Your fish probably died in the first attempt because of overstocking. You should only have 1 inch of fish per gallon of water. So 14 inches for a 14 gallon aquarium. Also, rainbow sharks should be kept alone. They’re aggressive toward companions. Here’s the profile…


    In the new tank, have you checked the ammonia and nitrite levels? They should be at 0. A water test kit will work.

    If the tiger barbs form little white crystals on their skin that look almost like salt… that’s ich, and deadly. Check them.

    If both those procedures check out, you’re 95% ok.

  25. What an interesting website to come across. It’s fun reading some of the stories about your fish. Currently I have 2 tiger barbs, with 4 more ordered and on the way, since I know they do better in groups. We also have a pleco, catfish and a platy. They all seem to do fine together. The platy roams the top of the tank, most of the time. The catfish and pleco stick to the bottom and the tiger barbs are usually in the middle playing in the bubbles from the air stone. I just finally found out today how to tell the males from the females and ordered supplies so that we can breed them. It should be interesting, since I usually can’t keep anything alive more than a few weeks. It’s been a couple months now and all is going good. Thanks for all the tips I have been reading here. They have been very helpful.

  26. Hi!

    I have 3 tiger barbs. They were fighting a lot at first. But now, their new “game” is to swim head down in the bubbles! They line up and stay like that for several minutes.

    Then they all stay togeter and slowly travel together at the bottom of the tank.

    I am concerned because their mouth opens and closes rapidly at times.
    Their gills look a bit purplish and then they don’t look purple anymore a few seconds after. Still, they are very active and eat normally

    Is this gill’s disease?


  27. Hi Marjorie…

    My tiger barbs will do the same thing. It’s normal for them.

    As long as they’re eating like normal, they should be fine. If the fish start laying on the bottom, or acting lethargic, then you should become concerned!


  28. Hi!
    It’s Marjorie (again).

    My barbs are not getting better. Their gills are purplish so I put some medication in the tank for parasites (a product called parasite clear). Only now, their scales are turning black!

    What is going on???

    I did many amonia tests, and I had 0 ammonia. I did many water changes because the nitrite levels were up and unhealty.

    Nitrate levels are always at 5. Ph at 7.4…I have a 10g aquarium.

    Are they dying?

  29. Hi, i have two tiger barbs and two tetras so far. And my little tiger barb randomely started floating around. Is he sick? He floats upside down and he got sucked onto the filter. I hope he makes it through the night. Is that an illness, disease or any type of sickness i should watch out for in the future?

  30. My little tiger barb died!!!!! and my other one looks lonely. My two tetras are always laying on the gravel. Are they sick??

  31. Carolyn,

    Sorry to hear that! Check your ammonia and nitrite levels. If they’re ok, it’s probably a disease.

    Your tetras sound sick, and should be medicated. It may be too late though.

    Are you doing water changes?

    If the fish are new within a month, they may have already had a disease when you got them. I’ll treat new fish with rid-ich when I get them sometimes, even though they don’t act sick.

    Some chain pet stores have water running through all the tanks, so disease spreads. Buying from a store with individual tanks is best when available.

  32. Well now two of my four fish died. And before they did they were near the top of the tank and near the heater. Now one of my other fish ( there are only 2 left) is right up at the top and next to the heater. Good god i guess i got some sick fish

  33. Hi,
    i got 5 guppies yesterday and my tiger barb is really agressive towards them is he just trying to show hes # 1 or is this just natural behavior? I dont want to have to give away any of my fish =[

  34. I just recently purchased five tiger barbs, and none of them seem to be eating real aggressively? if anyone has any ideas please let me know, thanks

  35. Hi. I have a 14 gallon tank with 2 zebra danios, 2 bloodfin tetras, 2 tiger barbs, and 1 rainbow shark. I started the tank a month ago with all of the fish except for the tiger barbs, which I added two weeks ago. At first they were shy and didn’t swim around much, but they eventually became quite active. However, today my tiger barbs aren’t looking so well. One of them has lost all of its color in its fins, almost flips over, and keeps going to the surface. The other is staying at the surface. I added AmQuel+ today to lower my nitrates and nitrates (which were very high). Do you think they will survive? Any other tips? Oh and they have several white spots on their tails. I have heard about this thing called “ich,” do you think that is what it is?

  36. Hi Shane,

    I bought 6 small tiger barbs two weeks ago myself. I’m feeding them once to twice a day. They’re heading to the top of the tank when they see me getting ready to feed.

    If your fish aren’t acting like this, check your ammonia and nitrite levels. If the water tests ok, you may consider treating for ich or other diseases.


  37. Hey I have 2 tiger barb fish….and one of them keeps changing color like its sick…if it fades away then it will come back a couple days later. It sits in the bottom corner of the tank behind a plant…all day. The orange that is suppose to be on it is like there is a grey coat over it, and the black stripes are a dark grey and light green color. I have put medicine in the tank for ich. I put stress coat in the tank cause I cleaned the tank. And this stuff called MelaFix…None of it seems to be working 🙁 what is wrong with him and what should I do before it dies????

  38. i have a 10 gal fish tank with 3 tiger barbs and 2 tinfoil barbs. i have tried to get more of the to species but can’t find any. would you know any good websites to buy fish, if not what fish could go together with mine

  39. hi,
    recently i brought 4 tiger barbs and 2 swordfish.
    4-5 days later 2 sword fish started rubbing their gills on gravel. i tried 7-8 blue medicine and changed 1/4th water as well. added few grams of slat also.
    but i think barbs alos got infected. they have started rubbing their gills on walls/gravels.

    and today i lost one swordfish.:(

  40. Feleicia, Not knowing the size of your tank or other inhabitants.. your tiger barb may be under stress. I use ich when I see white crystal spots, and I never use other chemicals. How are your ammonia and nitrite levels?

    barb-y, Your 10 gallon tank would be overstocked if you add more fish. Remember 1 inch of fish per gallon. I have bought fish online from liveaquaria.com with good luck. The shipping can be quite expensive though.

    Vivek, Sounds like you brought home fish that were sick. The difficulty with ich, is that it lives in the fish and does the damage before you know it’s there. By adding rid-ich, you’re killing the eggs in the water, so they can’t hatch, and infest your fish again.

    I try to buy my fish from places that have single tanks.. such as smaller fish shops. Commercial pet stores run their water system through all the tanks usually. This makes it more likly disease will spread.

  41. Thanks for the help. Although my two tiger barbs seemed to get better after being treated with Rid-Ich, one of them ended up dying. However, the other one is doing great. After the initial treatment, the ich has come back once but I was able to rid it again. Now I use it every three or so days.

    Anyway, do you think I should buy another buddy for my lonely tiger barb? I still have 1 red tail shark, 2 bloodfin tetras, 2 zerbra danios, and 1 tiger barb.

    It’s weird how none of the fish were affected by ich except the tiger barbs…

  42. Hi Chris,

    Your redtail shark will eventually get territorial. I wouldn’t add any more fish.

    You shouldn’t have to keep treating for ich after that first or second round of treatment. Water changes should keep your tank ok.

    I’ve had the same experience with ich. Only a few fish seemed affected by it. In my case, it was green tiger barbs that were probably infected at the pet store.


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