Tiger Barb Fish – Care, Breeding, Feeding & Tank Mates

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The Tiger Barb Fish, is it a good choice for a beginner? This guide will run through just that, as well as teach you how to care for them, breed them, feed them and what are the best and worst tank mates.  The Tiger Barb Fish is a great fish for beginners, you don’t need a really big tank and they are very playful and are a great color.

These fish tend to be easy to look after as they only grow to around 3 inches, you will, however, want to get at least 5 as they are used to being in a school.

Their temperament is semi-aggressive, so there are some good tank mates you just have to watch them nipping slower fish.

If you are looking for more detailed advice on the care of Tiger Barb, what they should eat, how to breed them and what fish will go well with you. I have done a complete guide on this below;

Tiger Barb – Quick Stats

Experience Level: Beginner

Minimum Tank Size: 20 Gallon

Family: Cyprinidae

Diet: Omnivore

Size: 3 Inches

Temperament: Semi-Aggressive

Water Temperature: 68–79° F (20–26° C)

PH Level: 6.0-7.0

Lifespan: 6+ Years

Introducing The Tiger Barb

Image of the tiger barb fish swimming in a school

If you are looking for a playful fish, that swims quickly around the tank then the Tiger Barb is perfect. They originate in Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand, and Cambodia.

It is also possible to find them in Singapore, Australia, and the United States, however, they are not native to these countries.

One of the things that set this fish apart from others and where its name comes from is the black vertical stripes. This combined with the yellow body, really makes it look like an underwater tiger!

Now you are however no longer restricted to orange bodies, there have been a lot of different color variations due to breeding. These include green, black, red, albino, and even pink. The black stripes look just as good in these colors.

Basic Care

As already mentioned the care for the Tiger Barb Fish is pretty easy. Since they only grow to around 3 inches, you can normally house them in a wide range of tank sizes (perfect if you don’t have a really big tank)

On average the lifespan if the Tiger Barb is 6 years, however, this can vary from 5-10 years. The key is to make sure the aquarium is set up right, they are getting a varied diet and have plenty of compatible tank mates.

Since they are schooling fish, it is important to make sure you have at least 5 tiger barb fish in your tank. This is important if you plan to have other fish as having large schooling will prevent them from attacking other fish. Which does happen from time to time as they are semi-aggressive and will often attack slower fish.

Getting Your Aquarium Right For Tiger Barbs

One of the reasons why I love Tiger Barb fish is that you don’t need a massive tank, even if you have a school of them. It’s important to get their environment right since they are very active you are going to want plenty of things for them to swim around.

The Tank

I have seen schools of the Tiger Fish in Aquariums of 15 gallons, I would, however, recommend at least 20 gallons. They can be jumpers so I would recommend getting a fish tank that does have a cover.

You also want to make sure that you keep the temperature between 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit (23 – 27 Celcius) and aim for a PH of between 6-8.


You want to try and emulate their natural habitat, I would, therefore, use a sandy substrate along with some bog wood for them to swim under and hide.


The Tiger Barb will feel at home with some aquarium plants, you will no doubt see them whizzing in and out of the plants. They will also make an excellent place for your barbs to breed.

NOTE: Even though they do like the plants, it’s important to also have plenty of open space for them to swim around.

I would also invest in some decor for your Tiger Barbs to be able to swim in and out of.

Filter and Wavemaker

A good quality aquarium filter is important, as this will help to keep the water fresh. I would also recommend doing regular water changes as well. Filters don’t tend to provide much movement in the water, I would, therefore, think about getting a wavemaker. Good water movement can really help the coloration in the males develop.

What Does The Tiger Barb Eat?

Tiger Barbs are really easy to feed, as they will generally eat anything. This is positive for beginners but also negative. You need to keep an eye on what they eat to make sure they don’t overeat and become obese, as this can impact their ability to lay and fertilize their eggs.

The barb is an omnivore, which means you can feed it on live, plant or dry food such as fish flakes. Vegetarian food is recommended as this can help to increase their coloration, although you will want to combine their diet with some meat such as brine shrimp and bloodworm.

I would also add in some plant-based food as this can help to reduce the chance of obesity in your Tiger Barb Fish, as well as also helping to prevent them from nipping slower fish in your tank.

Whatever you do decide to feed them, one thing that is essential is that you provide them with good quality food.

Tiger Barb Food Summary

  • Omnivore
  • Primarily Vegetarian Diet Recommended
  • Supplement diet with live foods such as shrimp or bloodworm
  • Overfeeding can lead to obesity
  • Add some plant food to the diet

How To Determine Your Fish’s Gender?

You will generally not be able to tell whether your Tiger Barb is male or female until they are 6-8 months. This is when they start to be able to reproduce and gender differences begin more obvious.

The female is larger than the male, whereas the male tends to have a brighter coloring and the red on the fins becomes even more obvious. During the spawning process, the male Tiger Barb also develops a red nose.

The Tiger Barb Breeding Guide

Many beginners are put off breeding their fish as they feel it is complicated, as long as you take the right steps it doesn’t actually have to be as complicated as you might think. It took me ages to actually try and breed my Tiger Barb Fish but when I did, I am glad I did!

There are a few things you really need to think about first though….

When breeding Tiger Barbs you need to watch out as they will eat their eggs, so you either need to make sure you have plenty of plants for the eggs to get lost or move them to a breeding tank. You could then use this same tank for the fry to grow in before putting them into your main fish tank.

When you want to start breeding, separate the male and females for up to 5 days. In the breeding tank, you can either have an empty glass bottom or marbles. I would recommend marbles as this will help to prevent the eggs from being spotted and eaten by the parents.

Try and keep the water temperature at 80 degrees, feed the females on a high-protein diet and also keep the water fresh. (Daily water changes) When you see the females have a larger, rounder belly and a darker dorsal fin you will know they are pregnant. It is now that you want to reintroduce them with the males.

Typically Tiger Barbs will produce 200-400 eggs on average, they could produce more but that is not the norm. When the female produces the eggs, the male will follow in order to fertilize them. Again they will eat them so either try and have plenty of plants for them to get lost in or quickly transfer the eggs to another tank until they hatch.

Once the eggs have hatched the fry will develop in roughly a week, with the swimming on their own within 3-5 days.

Here is an excellent video on breeding them;

Compatibility Guide – The Ideal Tiger Barb Tank Mates

It’s important to make sure the tiger barb tank mates you pick are not too slow at swimming as they could end up with their fins nipped. This also includes those that have long or flowing fins, as this would be an easy target for your barb.

It is possible to house them with more docile tank mates if you really want a specific type of fish. To do this you will need to make sure you have a minimum of 5 tiger barbs, as having a group will tend to reduce the risk of nipping.

A great tank mate for your Tiger Barb would be the clown loach, as they tend to act very similar and will often chase each other around the tank. It’s actually great fun watching them going in and out of the environment in a large group.

One key thing to remember when looking for the perfect tiger barb tank mates is finding ones that are fast and enjoy chasing each other around. I would recommend;

  • Other Barbs
  • Catfish
  • Loaches
  • Danios
  • Gouramis
  • Rainbowfish
  • Sharks
  • Mollies
  • Some Tetra
  • Plecos

Potential Diseases

As long as you keep the water in the best condition as possible, you shouldn’t see them suffer from any diseases. The most common they are at risk with is cottonmouth or ich. To help ensure the water is clean, you want to do weekly water changes but also have a good quality filter.

I really hope you have found this care guide on the Tiger Barb Fish useful, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to post them below.

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