Tinfoil Barb: Care Guide

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The Tinfoil Barb is a stunning fish that can bring beauty and vibrancy to any aquarium.

With its shimmering silver body and striking red tail, it is sure to be a captivating addition to your underwater world.

Not only is this fish visually striking, but it is also hardy and relatively easy to care for, making it an ideal choice for both beginner and experienced fishkeepers alike.

Whether you’re a seasoned hobbyist or just starting out, the Tinfoil Barb is a fish that you won’t want to miss.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBarbonymus schwanenfeldii
Common NamesGoldfoil Barb, Schwanefeld’s Barb, River Barb
OriginTropical regions in Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, and the Malayan peninsula
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan8 to 10 years
Tank LevelAll levels
Minimum Tank Size75 gallon minimum (125+ – 200+ recommended for a school)
Temperature Range72.0 to 77.0° F (22.2 to 25.0° C)
Water Hardness2 – 10 dGH
pH Range6.5 – 7.5
Filtration/Water FlowMedium Strong
BreedingEgg Scatterers, Difficult to Breed
CompatibilityCompatible with like-minded and like-sized fish species
Tank DecorationsLarge pieces of driftwood, sandy substrate

Tinfoil Barb Summary

The Tinfoil Barb, scientifically known as Barbonymus schwanenfeldii, originates from Southeast Asia.

It can be found in various rivers and lakes across the region.

This species is known for its hardiness, making it a suitable choice for fishkeepers of all levels.

While they are generally resilient, they do require specific care to thrive in captivity.


The Tinfoil Barb is a visually stunning fish with a sleek and elongated body.

These fish can grow up to 14 inches long, making them an impressive addition to any aquarium.

They have a distinct silvery coloration with a reflective, metallic sheen, resembling the appearance of tin foil.

Sexual dimorphism is evident, with males typically displaying more vibrant colors and longer fins compared to females.

Males may also develop small tubercles on their heads during breeding periods.

These differences may not be readily apparent until the fish reach maturity.


Tinfoil Barbs have a relatively long lifespan, with the potential to live up to 15 years when provided with proper care.

Tips for a Long Life:

  1. Maintain excellent water quality through regular water parameter testing and appropriate filtration.
  2. Provide a balanced and nutritious diet consisting of both high-quality commercial fish food and occasional live or frozen treats.
  3. Avoid overcrowding the tank and ensure ample swimming space for the Tinfoil Barb to reduce stress levels.
  4. Monitor for any signs of illness or aggression and address any issues promptly.
  5. Regularly clean the tank and perform routine water changes to maintain optimal conditions.

Behavior & Temperament

Tinfoils are generally peaceful fish and can be a suitable addition to a community tank.

However, these fish can be quite active and will require ample space to swim and explore.

They are known for their lively and energetic behavior, often darting around the tank and displaying shoaling behavior.

Tinfoil Barbs are typically peaceful towards other fish species, but you will still need to choose their tank mates wisely.

Avoid pairing them with small or slow-moving fish that may become targets for their playful antics.

They can be kept with other semi-aggressive to large, peaceful fish, such as larger cichlids or other barb species.

While these fish can be kept alone, they thrive in the company of their own species.

For a more natural and socially fulfilling environment, it is recommended to keep them in groups of at least five individuals.

This will help reduce stress levels and encourage more natural behavior.

Tinfoil Barbs are known to be active swimmers, often occupying the mid to upper levels of the aquarium.

Providing them with ample swimming space and open areas without dense vegetation will allow them to showcase their natural behavior and movement patterns.

School of tinfoil Barbs

Tinfoil Barb Care

Caring for Tinfoil Barbs involves providing them with suitable tank conditions and meeting their specific needs.

By understanding their requirements, you can create an optimal environment for these beautiful fish to thrive.

Caring for Tinfoil Barbs is an exciting and rewarding experience.

These fish require proper tank conditions, a well-balanced diet, and regular monitoring to ensure their well-being.

With the right care, you can enjoy the beauty and active nature of Tinfoil Barbs as they thrive in your aquarium.

Due to their active nature and potential for significant growth, Tinfoil Barbs require a spacious aquarium to ensure their well-being.

A minimum tank size of 75 gallons is recommended for a small group of Tinfoil Barbs.

Providing ample swimming space and territories is essential to prevent stress and aggression.

Water Parameters

Tinfoil Barbs originate from rivers and lakes in Southeast Asia, and it is important to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.

Required Water Conditions:

  • Water Temperature: 72°F to 77°F (24°C to 28°C)
  • pH Level: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water Hardness: 2 to 10 dGH

Monitor and maintain stable water parameters to ensure the Tinfoil Barbs remain healthy.

Water quality should be tested weekly using reliable water testing kits.

If necessary, use appropriate water conditioners or additives to adjust any imbalances.

Tinfoil Barb tank mates

What To Put Inside Their Tank

To create an environment that mimics their natural habitat, you will need to consider the elements that make up their tank setup.

Tinfoil Barbs are found in rivers and lakes with moderate water flow.

Their natural habitat often includes submerged branches, rocks, and dense vegetation along the riverbanks.

Avoid sharp or jagged decorations that could potentially injure the fish.

When recreating their natural habitat, incorporate driftwood or rock formations to provide hiding places and territorial boundaries.

Adding live plants, such as Anubias or Java Fern, can help create a more natural and aesthetically pleasing environment.

Choose hardy aquatic plants that can withstand the active nature of Tinfoil Barbs.

Plants with broad leaves, such as Amazon Swords or Vallisneria, can offer hiding places and provide some coverage.

Use sand or fine-gravel substrate to replicate the riverbed environment where Tinfoil Barbs are found.

This type of substrate will allow them to sift through it in search of food, mimicking their natural foraging behavior.

Tinfoil Barbs are accustomed to moderate water flow, so it is recommended to provide moderate to high water flow within the tank.

This can be achieved through the use of a suitable water pump or powerhead.

Food & Diet

Tinfoil Barbs are omnivorous fish and have a relatively diverse diet.

Offer a combination of high-quality commercial fish food, such as pellets or flakes, and occasional live or frozen foods.

They will readily accept a range of commercially available fish foods, but it is recommended to choose those specifically formulated for omnivorous species.

Feed adult Tinfoil Barbs once or twice a day, offering an amount of food that they can consume within a few minutes.

Avoid overfeeding, as this can lead to water quality issues and obesity.

Supplement their diet with occasional live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia to provide additional variety and nutrients.

Tinfoil Barb Care

Tank Mates For Tinfoil Barbs

Tinfoil Barbs can coexist peacefully with a variety of tank mates that share similar temperaments and are not significantly smaller in size.

Here are some suitable companions to consider:

  • Larger barb species (such as Rosy Barbs)
  • Semi-aggressive cichlids (such as Severums or Angelfish)
  • Medium-sized catfish (such as Plecos or Synodontis species)
  • Peaceful larger tetras (such as Congo Tetras or Buenos Aires Tetras)
  • Rainbowfish (such as Boesemani or Turquoise Rainbows)
  • Silver Dollars

Research potential tank mates’ specific requirements and temperaments to ensure compatibility with Tinfoil Barbs.

Always monitor the interactions between different species and be prepared to make adjustments if any aggression or compatibility issues arise.


Breeding Tinfoil Barbs in captivity can be challenging due to their specific requirements and the need for a separate breeding tank.

However, with patience and attention to detail, successful breeding can be achieved.

Breeding Tinfoil Barbs requires the following:

  • Separate breeding tank: Set up a separate tank with appropriate conditions, including a suitable substrate, plants for egg attachment, and a gentle water flow.
  • High-quality diet: Ensure the male and female Tinfoil Barbs are well-nourished with a balanced diet to support optimum breeding conditions.
  • Triggering breeding behavior: Provide optimal water conditions, including temperature fluctuations and an increase in water flow, to stimulate breeding behavior.
  • Spawning process: During spawning, the female will scatter adhesive eggs among plants or other surfaces in the tank. The eggs will hatch within a few days, and the fry will need to be promptly moved to a separate rearing tank.
  • Fry care: Fry requires frequent feedings of micron-sized foods, such as infusoria or specialized commercial fry foods, to ensure proper growth and development.

Successfully breeding Tinfoil Barbs can be challenging, and it is only recommended for experienced aquarists.

Why You Should Consider This Fish

The Tinfoil Barb offers fishkeepers a captivating and visually striking addition to their aquarium.

With their impressive size, vibrant coloration, and active nature, these fish can create a captivating centerpiece in your tank.

Their peaceful temperament and compatibility with various tank mates make them an excellent choice for community setups.

If you are looking to add a lively and beautiful fish to your aquarium, the Tinfoil Barb is certainly worth considering.


Are Tinfoil Barbs suitable for beginners?

Yes, Tinfoil Barbs are generally suitable for beginners due to their hardiness and ability to adapt to a range of conditions. However, it is essential to research and understand their specific needs to provide optimal care.

Can Tinfoil Barbs be kept in a planted tank?

Yes, Tinfoil Barbs can be kept in a planted tank. However, it is important to choose robust plants that can withstand their active swimming behavior and potential nibbling.

Can Tinfoil Barbs be housed with smaller fish?

Tinfoil Barbs may have a tendency to chase smaller, slower-moving fish, mistaking them for potential prey. It is important to consider the size and activity levels of potential tank mates to ensure compatibility.

How can I reduce aggression between Tinfoil Barbs?

Providing ample swimming space, suitable hiding spots, and feeding a well-balanced diet can help reduce aggression among Tinfoil Barbs. Maintaining appropriate tank conditions and avoiding overcrowding can also contribute to a harmonious environment.

Can Tinfoil Barbs jump out of the tank?

Yes, Tinfoil Barbs are known to be jumper fish. To prevent accidents, ensure that the tank is properly covered and that there are no gaps or openings for them to escape from.

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.

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