Tiger Barb: Everything You Need to Know

Updated on:

** This post contains affiliate links and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

I love Tiger Barbs!

In fact, I have a tank dedicated just to this awesome fish.

These small, tropical fish, with their distinctive black stripes and feisty attitudes, are a sight to behold as they dart around in their schools, adding a splash of color and activity to your aquarium.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the fascinating world of the Tiger Barb, providing you with all the information you need to keep these beautiful fish.

Let’s begin!

Quick Facts

Scientific NamePuntigrus tetrazona
Common NameTiger Barb, Sumatra Barb, and Partbelt Barb
SizeTypically 2-3 inches in captivity
Lifespan5-7 years in captivity with proper care
DietOmnivorous; consumes a variety of food including small insects, algae, and plant matter
Aquarium ConditionsRequires a minimum 20-gallon tank, water temperature of 77-82°F (25-28°C), and a pH level of 6.0-7.0
Tank MatesBest suited with similarly sized, active fish like Corydoras Catfish, larger Tetras, and other Barbs


Tiger Barbs, scientifically known as Puntigrus tetrazona, are a species of tropical freshwater fish belonging to the family Cyprinidae.

They are widely recognized for their vibrant coloration and distinctive black stripes, which have earned them their common name.

These fish are native to Southeast Asia, specifically the warm freshwater rivers and streams of Borneo, Malaysia, and Sumatra.

Their natural habitat is characterized by moderate water flow and abundant vegetation, which provides them with ample hiding spots and breeding grounds.

Tiger Barb Care

Characteristics and Appearance

Tiger Barbs are small, robust fish with a streamlined body shape that allows for agile movement and swift swimming.

They are a great choice for beginner aquarists because they are relatively easy to care for.

With proper care, these fish can live up to 5-7 years in captivity. In the wild, their lifespan is longer, averaging around 6-7 years.

They typically grow to a size of 2-3 inches in captivity.

Their bodies are compact and slightly compressed on the sides, with a pointed snout and large, expressive eyes.

Here are some key physical characteristics of Tiger Barbs:

  • Size: They typically grow to a size of 2-3 inches in captivity.
  • Body Shape: Tiger Barbs have a streamlined, slightly compressed body shape with a pointed snout.
  • Fins: They have a pair of pectoral fins, a dorsal fin, and a forked caudal fin (tail fin).
  • Eyes: Their eyes are large and expressive, adding to their overall appeal.

Color Variations

Over the years, selective breeding has led to the development of several color variants of Tiger Barbs.

Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Green Tiger Barb: This variant has a vibrant green sheen over the usual coloration.
  • Albino Tiger Barb: This variant lacks the black pigment, resulting in a white body with fainter stripes.
  • Golden Tiger Barb: This variant has a bright golden body with black stripes.
  • Glo Tiger Barb: This genetically modified variant is available in several fluorescent colors, including red, green, and orange.

You can also get a long-finned variety. This is a newer option that is not yet readily available.

Albino Tiger Barb
Albino Tiger Barb

Male vs Female

Sexual dimorphism is relatively subtle in Tiger Barbs.

Males are generally more vibrant and slimmer, with a more pronounced red nose and dorsal fin.

Females, on the other hand, have a rounder belly and are slightly larger, with a more subdued coloration.

Behavior and Temperament

Tiger Barbs are known for their lively behavior and fascinating social dynamics.

Understanding these aspects can greatly enhance your experience of keeping these vibrant fish and ensure their well-being.

Let’s delve into the behavior and social dynamics of Tiger Barbs.

Schooling Nature

These are schooling fish that thrive in groups of at least six individuals.

They are social creatures and enjoy the company of their own kind.

Keeping them in smaller groups can lead to stress and aggression, so it’s important to provide them with ample space and companionship.

When kept in a school, Tiger Barbs will display a fascinating hierarchical behavior, with dominant individuals establishing themselves at the top of the social ladder.

This behavior is not harmful, but rather a natural part of their social structure.


Tiger Barbs are known for their nipping behavior, which can be a cause for concern for some aquarium owners.

This behavior is not necessarily a sign of aggression, but rather a way for them to establish dominance within their group.

They can be aggressive towards other fish species, especially those with long fins.

So, it’s best to keep them with other semi-aggressive species that can hold their own in the tank.

To minimize aggression, it’s recommended to provide plenty of hiding spots and plants in the tank.

This will give the less dominant individuals a chance to escape from the more aggressive ones.

In summary, Tiger Barbs are friendly and social fish that can make a great addition to any community tank.

With the right care and attention, they can thrive and display their fascinating behavior for all to see.

Long finned green tiger barb
Long-finned green Tiger Barb

Diet and Feeding

Tiger Barbs are omnivorous fish, which means they eat both plant and animal-based foods.

In the wild, they feed on a variety of small aquatic insects, crustaceans, and plant matter.

In captivity, they can be fed a diet that closely mimics their natural diet.

Omnivorous Diet

To provide a balanced diet for these fish, you should feed them a mix of high-quality fish food and live or frozen foods.

Here are some options:

  • Flake Food: High-quality flake food is a staple in the diet of all aquarium fish and is an easy way to meet their nutritional needs. Look for flake foods that are specifically formulated for tropical fish.
  • Pellets: Pellets are another convenient and nutritious food option. They come in a variety of sizes and formulations, so choose one that is appropriate for the size of your fish.
  • Live Foods: Live foods like brine shrimp and bloodworms are a great source of protein. You can also feed them small insects like fruit flies or crickets.
  • Frozen Foods: Frozen foods like brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are a convenient alternative to live foods. They are available in most pet stores and can be stored in your freezer for easy access.
  • Freeze-Dried Foods: Freeze-dried foods like krill, shrimp, and bloodworms are another option. They are shelf-stable and can be rehydrated in water before feeding.

Aquarium Requirements

In this section, we’ll cover the tank size and setup, water conditions, lighting, and decoration to ensure your Tiger Barb has a healthy and happy home.

Tank Size and Setup

Tiger Barbs are active swimmers and need plenty of space to move around.

I recommend a minimum tank size of 20 gallons for a school of 6 individuals.

However, if you have the space and resources, I suggest going for a 30-gallon tank to provide more swimming space and to accommodate additional fish or decorations.

When setting up your tank make sure that you have a suitable substrate that won’t harm your fish.

Gravel or sand are ideal choices, and you can add live plants, rocks, and driftwood to create hiding places and territories.

Water Conditions

Tiger Barbs can handle a wide range of water parameters, but it’s recommended to maintain a stable environment to keep your fish healthy.

The ideal temperature range for Tiger Barbs is between 72-78°F (22-26°C), and they prefer a pH range of 6.0-7.5.

You can use a heater and a thermometer to regulate the temperature, and a test kit to monitor the pH level.

A filter is essential to remove waste and debris from the water, and you should perform regular water changes to keep the water fresh and healthy.

Tiger Barb Tank Mates

Lighting and Decoration

Tiger Barbs don’t require any special lighting.

You can use a basic aquarium light to light up the tank and create a natural day/night cycle for your fish.

When it comes to decoration, you can add plants, rocks, and driftwood to create a natural and stimulating environment for your Tiger Barbs.

Be careful not to overcrowd the tank or create any sharp or jagged edges that could harm your fish.

Aquarium RequirementsTiger Barb
Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons for 6 Tiger Barbs
Tank SetupSuitable substrate, live plants, rocks, and driftwood
Water Temperature72-78°F (22-26°C)
pH Range6.0-7.5
DecorationPlants, rocks, and driftwood to create a natural and stimulating environment

Tank Mates

If you’re looking for tank mates for your Tiger Barb, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Tiger Barbs are known to be aggressive towards other fish, so it’s important to choose the right species to avoid any conflicts.

Here are some compatible and incompatible species to consider:

Compatible Species

  • Cherry Barbs: These are peaceful fish that do well with other peaceful species. They are also small in size and have a beautiful cherry-red color, making them a great addition to your aquarium.
  • Tetras: Tetras are another peaceful species that can coexist with Tiger Barbs. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, so you can choose the ones that best fit your tank.
  • Cory Catfish: These bottom-dwelling fish are highly sociable and peaceful, making them great tank mates for Tiger Barbs. They also add another layer of activity to your aquarium.
  • Platy: Platys are peaceful fish that come in a variety of colors and patterns. They are also easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginners.

Incompatible Species

Certain species are not recommended as tank mates for Tiger Barbs due to their peaceful nature, slow movement, or long fins that can attract nipping.

These include:

  • Slow-moving species like Angelfish or Discus
  • Long-finned species like Bettas or Guppies
  • Shy or timid species that can be stressed by the Tiger Barb’s active nature
Tiger Barb Tank Size


Breeding these fish is a relatively easy process, and it can be a fun and rewarding experience for any fish keeper.

In this section, we will cover the basics of breeding, including the spawning process, parental care, and fry care.

Spawning Process

Before breeding Tiger Barbs, you need to condition the male and female fish separately.

This process involves feeding them a high-protein diet and keeping them in separate tanks for a few weeks.

Once you notice that the female is plump and the male is displaying his vibrant colors, it’s time to introduce them into the breeding tank.

The breeding tank should be at least 10 gallons and have a temperature between 75°F to 82°F.

Add a sponge filter to protect the fry from being sucked into the filter.

You can add some plants or a breeding cone to provide a spawning site for the fish.

Once the male and female are in the breeding tank, they will start to chase each other and display courtship behavior.

The female will lay eggs, and the male will fertilize them.

After spawning, you should remove the adult fish from the breeding tank to prevent them from eating the eggs.

The eggs will hatch in about 24 to 36 hours, depending on the temperature.

Parental Care

Tiger Barbs are not known for their parental care, but they will protect their eggs and fry from other fish in the tank.

However, it’s still important to remove the adult fish from the breeding tank just in case they want to eat the eggs.

Once the eggs hatch, the fry will attach themselves to the plants or breeding cone.

The fry will feed on their yolk sacs for the first few days, and then they will start to swim and feed on infusoria.

You can also feed them baby brine shrimp or crushed flakes once they are big enough.

Fry Care

You can feed the fry infusoria, baby brine shrimp, or crushed flakes.

As they grow, you can gradually increase the size of their food.

Keep the water clean and do regular water changes to prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals.

breeding Tiger Barbs

Why You Should Consider This Fish

I think Tiger Barbs have been given a bad reputation which they do not deserve.

Yes, they can be nippy but if you set up their tank correctly and match the right tank mates then a school of these fish is breathtaking.

They are active, playful, and inquisitive. Plus they are hardy and easy to care for.

What more can you ask for?


Can tiger barbs coexist with neon tetras?

Yes, they can coexist with neon tetras, but it is important to keep in mind that tiger barbs can be aggressive toward other fish. It is recommended to keep a group of at least six tiger barbs together to reduce their aggression towards other fish. Additionally, make sure to provide plenty of hiding places and plants in the aquarium to give the neon tetras a chance to escape if needed.

What is the ideal water temperature for tiger barbs?

The ideal water temperature for tiger barbs is between 72-80°F (22-32°C). It is important to maintain a consistent water temperature within this range to ensure the health and well-being of your tiger barbs.

How many tiger barbs should be kept together?

Tiger barbs are social fish and prefer to live in groups of at least six individuals. Keeping less than six tiger barbs together can result in increased aggression towards other fish in the aquarium.

Do tiger barbs need a heavily planted aquarium?

While tiger barbs do appreciate plants in their aquarium, they do not necessarily need a heavily planted aquarium. But, providing plants can help reduce their aggression toward other fish and provide them with a natural environment to thrive.

What is the lifespan of a tiger barb?

The lifespan of a tiger barb is typically around 5-6 years. However, with proper care and maintenance, they can live up to 8 years.

Are tiger barbs prone to any diseases?

Like all fish, tiger barbs are susceptible to diseases such as fin rot and ich. It is important to maintain proper water quality and provide a healthy diet to prevent disease. If you suspect your tiger barb is sick, quarantine them and seek advice from a veterinarian or experienced fish keeper.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

Leave a Comment