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. Ooh thanks. Actually I have a rainbow shark and just realized that I typed red tail.

    I think it should be okay though. He was aggressive at first but has since mellowed out and spends most of his time in my pirate ship hull or vetical between the sail and mast.

  2. I have 5 tiger bard fish, 2 of them died. I dont know whats wrong with them, they started swimming upside down then stayed still upside down, then eventually they died.

  3. My other 3 tiger barbs just stay in a corner by the water heater, i have two other rainbow sharks in the aquarium. one of them is very aggresive and chases the tiger bard around i think thats why they stay in that corner.

  4. Ihsan,

    Your tiger barbs are either already sick or stressed. Do they have enough swimming room? Did you check the water quality? Are they new fish?

    Read the previous posts here where I’ve offered some suggestions on tiger barb care.


  5. its a 39 gallon tank and they just stay in one place all the time, i have got the water checked and its good, and i had the fish for about a month now, they just started doing this when the sharks came in.

  6. Another one of my tiger barb just died today, yesterday i checked the water and my nitrates was high and i had high alkalinity. i put some stress zyme in the water. now today one of my rainbow is not really moving, he seems very weak. can you help me whith my fish.

  7. Ihsan,

    Is the water temp ok?

    Have you done a water change?

    If your nitrite and ammonia levels are both at 0, then the water should be ok. Those levels are most important. Are there any white spots on the fish?… it looks like salt stuck on their skin. Treat w/ rid-ich if there is.

    I’m not sure what stress zyme does, but an anti-bacterial medicine may be needed. If you do treat them, it should be for usually 10 days. You want to stick w/ 1 antibiotic when treating.

    Personally, I’ve only ever used rid-ich.

    Do they have plenty of hiding spots? Tiger barbs are semi-aggressive. A 39 gallon fish tank should be enough room for all of them, but they probably would like more cover if they’re being chased.

  8. Hey all! I’m setting up a new 46 gallon tank and I’ve stocked it with 5 tiger barbs. I filled up the tank about 3 days before I added the fish and tested the water. I’ve got a relatively high kh and gh, but from what I’ve read, it should be ok, just at their upper end of tolerance. This is well water by the way, no chlorine or municipal water additives. Water is at 78 degrees.

    Anyway, I added the tiger barbs to the tank yesterday and I think they were stressed. They were pretty much just conglomerating behind some artifical vegitation by the heater and not coming out. They didn’t even go after some freeze dried bloodworms. Anyway, I turned down the flow of the filter this morning and they seem to have started coming out and swimming around.

    Having never had an aquarium before, I’m trying my best to ensure survival. I’ve seen some of y’all mention treating for ich (a disease I assume– I’ll research it) on new fish, regardless of if they show signs or not. Is this a generally recommended practive?

    Additionally, I’d like to add some different barbs so these guys can have some other friends. Do different barbs get along with each other and will they all school together?

    Let me know if you have any tips for a fish noob!


  9. Happy New Year Nicodareus,

    The main item you’ll want to watch are your nitrite and ammonia levels. They’ll start going up from the fish waste being produced. Don’t add any more fish for a while until your tank cycles. You’ve got a nice size tank so should be ok.

    It will have to grow bacteria that eats first the ammonia… and then the nitrites. I would wait a month before adding any fish.

    I prefer fishless cycling, but you’ve started your cycling process with fish. Just be patient.

    I’ve had albino tiger barbs as well as green tiger barbs stocked with my regular barbs.

    This freshwater compatibility chart should give you more ideas for compatible companions.

    I wouldn’t recommend rid-ich as a proactive measure. Just make sure they’re eating ok.

    Stay patient, and you’ll have success… and have fun!


  10. I have figured out why my fish are dying , but about two days i looked at my rainbow shark and it looks almost white like a real light gray, is that because hes growiiing or what and he now just stays in the cave all day but usually he comes out in the morning.

  11. Thanks for the reply Mike. Happy New Year to you as well! I’m checking the water daily and monitoring pretty much everything including ammonia. The ammonia is slowly creeping up. The fish are currently pretty small (1 inch) so I’m hoping I haven’t blown the tank cycle 😛 They seem to be hanging out and chasing each other significantly more now. I was planning on doing a partial water change soon (probably this weekend) as I’ve seen recommended (10-20%). My hope is to help alleviate the potential water problems described below. Do you agree with this or should I just let everything build up for a while?

    An update on the water — I mis-typed my readings. My gh is about 30 and the kh is still pretty high at 240ppm and my ph is about 8-8.5. I’m concerned about those values, however I’ve read many places that is kind of on the upper end of the barb tolerance range. Nitrates are still at zero and ammonia is slowly increasing, now up to about 0.20 – 0.25 ppm. From what I’ve read this is what I should be expecting.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time and supplying the info! I’m slowly making my through your site and have found it quite informative.

  12. Nicodareus,

    You’ll soon notice your ammonia drop and the nitrite level rise. I’d wait on the water change, unless you see the ammonia go extremely high. I do a 20% change every month in my 37 gallon Eclipse III. The biowheel filter system keeps it real clean. So it also depends on your filter.

    As long as you’re in range with ph, gh, etc levels… tiger barbs are fairly hardy, and should do ok.

    I’m glad you’ve found some useful info here at funfishtank 🙂


  13. Ihsan,

    I missed your comment. The color of your rainbow shark could indicate fungus. Try searching for “fish disease”, and those symptoms, to track down a possible problem.

  14. Thanks, you have been very helpful. But i have one more question, i had one tiger bard that just stayed by the filter all day, he usually dont eat at all and is little and it looks like his color has change too. So i had put 4 more tiger bards in there and it was suppose to make him play with the others but it didnt it stills just stay by that filter. is he scared or just doesnt like to be with the others?

  15. Ihsan,

    Is that Tiger Barb eating? If not, it could be sick. It won’t want to play if it’s sick.

  16. is it okay if i put angel fish and silver dollar fish ing with my sharks and tiger bards, will they damage there fins?

  17. my fish has Ick right now and i dont know what to do!!! please help! One of my tiger Barb’s died this morning but when i found him he didn’t have and white spots on him, and the one that is about to die if i dont do anything has white spots on him! we seperated him from the other fishies and now he is in a pineapple container!

  18. Lindsay,

    Sorry to hear that. You need to treat them with a treatment like “rid-ich”. Unfortunately, the white spots appearing is the last stage. Treating for 10-14 days is important.

  19. Hi Ihsan,

    Ahhh, I see your question now.

    I’d be hesitant adding angelfish with barbs and sharks. You can, but once the sharks are mature, they could become very territorial. Angelfish fins are a lot more vulnerable than the silver dollars would be. I’d go with just the silver dollars if it were me. They should go very well with barbs and sharks. Silver dollars are peaceful, but able to defend themselves.

    Also remember to give enough growing room in your aquarium.

  20. Bummer… Lost a Tiger Barb this afternoon. I can’t tell what he died of nothing blatant at least, however after a closer inspection of the other fish, there is one in the tank with a couple white spots and his tail fin looks broken/ chewed. The dead one didn’t have any white spots. He was the smallest of the tiger barbs and the one looking a bit bedraggled is the second smallest one.

    We added a few danios about 5-6 days ago and now the barbs actually don’t seem to eat as much as they used to. I’m starting an ich treatment at the moment as I think the danios may have infected the tank, however only 1 barb is showing signs of problems.

    I knew I shouldn’t have added the danios as our tank seems to be in the middle of the nitrogen cycle. Brown algae has just started coming out in full force and from what I’ve read there are a number of reasons, but the most prominent is on a new tank. The ammonia has gone up to about 2 or so, hopefully it will drop soon — that may be why the smallest barb died..?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!


  21. Awww… the other sickly one died about 20 mins ago 🙁 All the barbs seems to be a bit anti-social lately. Bummer.

  22. Hi!

    I noticed that it seems a lot of people are having problems with Ich. One pretty sure way to cure it without the use of chemicals and medications is to gradually raise the tank temperature ot 83-85 degreesF. Make sure to not shock your fish with the increse in temperature, and many fish don’t like it quite that warm for any extended period of time. you can also try the heat and medicine together.

    Hope this helps.

  23. Nicodareus,

    One reason why I use the fishless cycling method is because you avoid worrying about ammonia and nitrites. Both levels are at zero before you add fish.

    Unfortunately, one problem with getting new fish is that they can be sick or stressed before you add them. It can take a month to find this out. Some commercial pet stores run their water system through all the tanks. Ways to help cut the problem is by using an isolation tank, fishless cycling, and find fish stores that have individual tanks. These are usually smaller non-chain shops.

    Also.. be as patient as possible 🙂

    Hope the ich treatment helps..and you may want to turn the heat up as April suggested

  24. I think my silver dollar fish have ich, and i know one of my tiger bard have it too. But is that just how they look because i see little white pieces on my silver dollars, but i only see about about 2 or 3 peices on them.

  25. dear fish tank,
    I just bought 2 tiger barb fish today and it seems like they arent having to much fun, they just sit at the bottom of the tank, and now the bigger one’s stripes are kinda grey and the orange isnt to orange anymore…. the smaller one looks fine, i dont know alot about fish… is he going to be ok? or whats going on??

  26. Ihsan, If the silver dollar has ich, treating it at the same time as the barb should help. Try not adding fish until you’re positive the fish you already have are healthy.

    Tay, Here’s some good info on tiger barb breeding

    When you have separated the sexes you should start feeding them a spawning-inducing diet. Tiger Barbs are happy eaters and will usually consume anything you give them, but breeding Tiger Barbs require a diet rich in protein to do well. Freeze dried Tubifex is known to induce spawning in Tiger Barbs, but other protein rich food types can also work well. Live food is always a good idea.

    The temperature in the aquariums where you keep your Tiger Barbs should stay around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. After 3-4 days of separation you should let the Tiger Barbs see each other again. The aquarium where you want them to breed must have slightly soft water, and the pH should be a bit acidic. Just like when they were separated, the water temperature should be kept close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A mature sponge filter will help you keep the water conditions optimal. You must also provide your Tiger Barbs with suitable spawning sites, such as two bunches of Cabomba plants or a pair of spawning mops.”

    Jenna, They may be getting used to the tank. Were they active in the fish store?

  27. I put some ich clear tablets in the water, and it cleared up a little but my small tiger bard died and one looks like its about to die today.

  28. Hey Ihsan,

    Make sure and complete the full treatment, which is usually 10-14 days. The medicine kills the parasite in the free-swimming stage, which lasts three days. You don’t know when that occurs though, so they recommend medicating for a full cycle of the parasite.

    Hope you have better luck.


  29. Hey Fish Tank,
    I have really enjoyed exploring your website. There have been some great comments and ideas out there. I recently started my first tank(30gal) about 3 weeks ago. I put 3 dwarf coral platys in there, and a week later added a gold mystery snail. Two of the platy’s are doing well, eating well, playing and have started to recognize when the lid opens up for feedings. #3(the smallest one) never really acclimated to the tank and I came home yesterday to find him in the gravel with the snail feeding off of him. I pulled him out, checked him, didn’t see any white spots… so I’m thinking it was just one of those things…(from the get-go #3 never ate much/wasn’t active). Anyways, my goal with the tank is to get some angelfish(3 maybe?). I noticed on the compatibility chart that angelfish and tiger barbs can coexist. The question now is, which should I get first? I know I need to stagger bringing in the fish, ( I wanted 4 tiger barbs/3 angelfish/and the 2 platys) I read some comments about the t.barbs being nibblers – should I bring the angels in first and let them grow a bit? I was also told that I shouldn’t put the angels in until at least the 8th week of the aquarium as they are sensitive fish and need the water to have gone through the full cycle or two. And what are your thoughts about getting an african dwarf frog in there(kind of have a U.Nations of species)
    Any help you can give will be appreciated – sorry for the length of my ‘life-story’

  30. i have 5 tiger bards and one cichlids teh cichlid stairs at the tank all day going up and down really fast nesde the glass is that normal is he lonely and one of my tiger bards have spots only on his tail and his color id fading a bit but they all look healthy they stay in a group but lately the whole group is in this long cylinder thing and stay there alot but they eat alot are they sick breeding or what my tank is like 40 50 gallons its big any suggestions for all this

  31. Hi Fish Tank, I have recently set up a 55 gallon fish tank with 3 blue gouramis, 2 kissing fish, 5 serpae tetras, a silver shark, a red tail shark, 2 guppys, 2 dwarf balloon cichlids and 5 tiger barbs. All the fish are doing great I checked the ph, ammonia and temperature all is good temp is 79 f, ph is 6.8, and ammonia is 0. I also have a sword tal plant and a yellow cambora plant in their. My concern is that one of my tiger barbs all of a sudden is floating upside down swimming like crazy and he tries to swim down but cant and stops and floats right back up. I noticed them eating pieces off my cambora plant and was wondering if this is whats causing it if not what is? Please help im not sure hes gonna live much longer. 🙁

  32. I have just noticed something else, the other 4 tigers nip at him if they get close I know tigers are known for their aggression and they have certain ranks but is it possible they try to isolate the weak ones possibly kill them?.. also he seems really bloated like he just ate to much only he hasnt eaten anything I was thinking maybe it has something to do with their air bubble they have inside of them?

  33. Dear fish tank,
    You were right they were just getting used to the tank! Haha, they are doing really good now, swimming around etc.!

  34. Hi Eugene!

    I’ve got an African Dwarf Frog. They’re fun. I need to do a profile on him.

    You’re correct. Angelfish are touchy. I’ve never had great luck with them, while a friend of mine has had Angelfish tanks with no problems. I’d go with the tiger barbs next, because they’re a hardier fish. You’ve got enough barbs that they should keep each other entertained, and not mess with the Angelfish. You never know though. It can be done, but caution is required.

  35. Hey Carlo,

    If you suspect that the barbs are sick, I’d treat them. I say this because you said you saw a couple spots on one.

    I doubt it’s the plant.

    Make sure ammonia and nitrites are zero.

  36. Hey Preston…

    Your Tiger barb probably has a swim bladder disorder. Fish can also get constipated. I went down to 1 feeding a day after a problem with this.

    Yes.. not just barbs, but many fish will isolate and nibble/nip/harass/eat weaker fish.

  37. Hello Mike, So my tiger barbs died 🙁 but I have a bigger problem now. My silver shark which is about or was about 6 inches long and now he is about 4 because the tiger barbs ate his tail and part of his back off.. also all my other fish the ones I mentioned above have done it too, minus the red tail and corydorus but the others have been eating him alive. He is still alive and now in his own tank, and I was wondering if he will grow or heal his tail back or if it is too late or what will happen is there any treatment I can give him?… Im going to bring my tiger barbs back as well the ones I have are way to crazy and are rubbing off on the rest of my fish and they are all destroying each others beautiful fins.. its hell in there lol

  38. Preston,

    Wow! OK.. This is supposed to be fun… not a horrible experience of dead fish.

    Going back to your first post.. 84. You didn’t mention checking nitrites. Did you put all those fish in at once with an uncycled tank? Did you add fish slowly, or do the fishless cycling method as I recommend?

    How long have you had the fish? Where’d you get them? The silver shark may have been sick already.

    So all the tiger barbs are dead?

  39. I am a new fish owner, and started with a 5 gallon and 2 tiger barbs (one albino and one regular). I want to add the green tiger barb. Is this tank a good size, and is 3 fish a good start?

  40. I have a tiger barb that apears to be pregnant. It will always stay near the top of the aquarium where the water is sucked up for airation. I do not know if this is normal for pregnant tiger barbs or not. I have only had them for a few days, but I do not think it is because of domination because none of them seem to be in domintation.


  41. ok i have 5 tiger barbs and 3 of them have slowly been loosing color and i notice the largest of them has a somewhat large red area behind its gills. kind of like its bleeding under its gills. the other 2 are swimming around like normal. the tank is well used about a year old so i dont think its not because of a well cycled tank. so any words of advice will help.

    thanks ben

  42. I can tell you that they all have that red b/c mine do, also. All the ones at the shop have that when I went to look at them.

  43. Michelle… Don’t add that third fish. Tiger Barbs really should be in a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. As adults those two fish will reach 6 inches. The rule is 1 inch for every gallon of water. Be diligent with your water changes.

    Brenda… Tiger Barbs lay eggs. You’ll have to have them in a separate tank if you want to try breeding. Other fish and even the Barbs will eat the eggs. Search for “Tiger Barb breeding” to learn more.

    Andy… My Barbs will single off and stay near the top too. Just make sure they’re eating, and getting excited about eating. They should have periods of activity too. My barbs aren’t all that aggressive. They chase each other, but aren’t territorial. The worst fish I’ve had for being aggressive and territorial was a red-tail black shark.

    Ben… Tiger barbs will turn pale and isolate themselves if they are feeling stressed or sick. It can happen from too much bullying or females will do that when they are full of eggs. If you can quarantine the pale fish, it may give them enough rest to recover. They could have a bad bacteria too, and you may consider a general medicine. Are they eating?

  44. i have 2 tigerbarbs that are unusually nice to eachother.. one is a girl and the other is a guy. the guy one changes different colors alot. his stripes can go from green to dark black and his fins have the orange lines that can become vary vibrant. sometimes it even appears as if he is glowing orange(very bright). I was just wondering if anyone knew what these colors meant.

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