15 Best Tiger Barb Tank Mates – List of Compatible Species

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So, you’re planning on keeping Tiger Barbs, but you’re also planning on adding a few tank mates from other species? In this guide to choosing the best tank mates for your Tiger Barbs, I will introduce you to 15 fish species that make great tank buddies for Tiger Barbs.

Beware, Tiger Barbs don’t get along with every species, so knowing which fish species make the best tiger barb tank mates is crucial to ensure a safe and happy environment for your fish.

Tiger Barbs are lively fish who don’t shy away from mischief, which means that certain combinations aren’t advisable.

Below, I’ll also discuss some fish that you should avoid housing with them. Before I jump into details about the fish that are compatible with tiger barb, let’s see some facts about tiger barbs.

What is Tiger Barb Fish?


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The Tiger Barb is an instantly recognizable fish thanks to the black stripes that encircle its entire body and beautifully contrasted by its otherwise gold/silvery colors.

This bright and active fish is an eye-catcher and due to its small size (it doesn’t grow bigger than 3 inches), it’s a great addition to a community tank.

They’re not difficult to keep and they can live up to 10 years, but be advised that they’re schooling fish, which means they won’t be able to thrive if kept in groups smaller than 5 or 6.

They enjoy planted tanks with plenty of space to swim around, which they will do frantically at times.

They prefer a varied diet that includes flakes, veggie-based fish food, frozen foods and live food.

That said, you should know that they’re semi-aggressive fish that like to nip at the fins of other fish, a behavior that you can curb by keeping them in groups of 6 or more.

When kept in larger numbers, they’re more likely to live out their aggression on each other rather than picking on other fish.

Another way to curb their aggression is to have other species introduced in the tank first and add Tiger Barbs after.

Let’s see which fish species are best to keep with Tiger Barbs.

Best Tiger Barb Tank Mates

Here are my top picks for Tiger Barb aquarium buddies:

1. Cherry Barb


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One of the most popular Barb species, the Cherry Barb is a peaceful and often timid schooling fish that’s easily recognizable because of its beautiful cherry-red color.

They’re a small fish species that does well with other peaceful fish. They aren’t demanding and but do need stable tank parameters and clean water.

Unlike their tiger-striped cousins, Cherry Barbs will not touch the fins of other fish because they’re rather shy. To make them less timid, it’s best to keep them in a school of 6-10.

They enjoy planted tanks with plenty of places to hide, but also enough swimming space. They enjoy swimming in the mid to bottom layers of the tank.

As for their diet, Cherry Barbs enjoy all types of food, but make sure you size the food accordingly as normal-sized granules are larger than what they can swallow.

Overall, Cherry Barbs are a tolerant, well-behaved fish that can be kept with various other freshwater fish, including Tiger Barbs.

  • Compatibility Level: 10/10
  • Care Level: Easy

2. Red-Tailed Shark


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While they’re easy to take care of and they’re not demanding when it comes to diet, the Red-Tailed Shark is a rather aggressive fish that shouldn’t be kept together with smaller fish.

Even so, there’s a high compatibility between Red-Tailed Sharks and Tiger Barbs, which means you can easily keep them in the same tank.

Just like Tiger Barbs, Red-Tailed Sharks enjoy heavily planted tanks, caves and rocks, which they use to hide and explore.

The Red-Tailed Shark is instantly recognizable for its velvet black color that is in perfect contrast with its bright red tail.

This fish should not be kept in small tanks (they enjoy tanks of 50+ gallons) and you better invest in a tight-fitting lid for your aquarium as they enjoy jumping out of the tank from time to time.

They enjoy scavenging in the substrate of the aquarium, feeding on leftovers, algae, yet it prefers a diversified diet with live food, frozen foods, pellets, and some vegetable food.

  • Compatibility Level: 10/10
  • Care Level: Easy

3. Rosy Barb


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Brightly colored, active and peaceful, the Rosy Barb is a larger member of the barb species that should be kept in schools of 6 or more.

Their forked tail, torpedo-shaped body and black markings on the fins and sides contrasted with their bright red bodies is how you can recognize them.

They do have a tendency to nip at fins of other fish, but you can reduce this tendency if you keep them in the right numbers and don’t keep them with slow-moving fish.

They tend to do well not just in aquariums but also in ponds and they’ll feed on many fish foods like flakes, pellets, frozen food, veggies, and live foods like insects, worms, crustaceans, etc.

Because they’re opportunistic eaters, it’s easy to overfeed them, so make sure you ration their food.

They enjoy larger tanks (30+ gallons) and lots of live plants but avoid soft-leaved plants that will be destroyed by Rosy Barbs as they tend to graze vegetation.

  • Compatibility Level: 10/10
  • Care Level: Easy to Intermediate

4. Black Ruby Barb


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The Black Ruby Barb is a smaller Barb with a docile nature that has a similar pattern to the Tiger Barb.

Because it’s a schooling fish it should always be kept in groups of five or more. They can peacefully co-exist with Tiger Barbs, but also with lots of other species especially that they’re less nippy than their Tiger cousins.

A well planted tank with lots of hiding spaces and enough space for swimming is ideal for Black Ruby Barbs.

Like bottom dwellers, they rummage for bits of leftover food in the bottom of the tank. In the wild, their diet is almost exclusively made up of algae and detritus.

In captivity, it’s important to add lots of vegetable matter to their diet, either through flake foods that contain vegetable matter or through raw veggies like zucchini or spinach.

  • Compatibility Level: 10/10
  • Care Level: Easy

5. Corydora Catfish


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Corydoras are great community fish that enjoy the bottom levels of the tank. They spend their time scavenging for leftovers and have a peaceful nature.

Because they’re bottom-dwellers, make sure your tank has at least 2 inches of substrate Corys can enjoy.

They like to dig around in the substrate looking for food and they’re considered good tank cleaners.

Still, leftover food should not be their primary source of food. They will accept all basic fish food types – flakes, pellets, bottom-feeder tablets.

Corydora fish are best kept in well-established tanks with good water conditions as they are susceptible to diseases in unstable tank conditions or poor water conditions. They enjoy planted tanks.

Although they can be kept on their own, they’re truly happier in a smaller group, so make sure you add a few Corys to the mix.

Corydora fish are a great companion for many community fish, including Tiger Barbs.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Easy

6. Plecos


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Known as great algae-eaters, Plecos come in many varieties and they’re a type of armored catfish.

Although not all, most Plecos tend to grow larger than the other fish species on this list, so a 100+ gallon tank is best of you want them to thrive.

Clown Plecos are smaller, so they can be kept in smaller tanks, but for the most part this fish needs larger tanks.

Despite showing aggression towards other males of the same species, Plecos usually avoid conflict with other species.

Since they’re bottom dwellers, they’ll spend their time scavenging for food in the substrate and cleaning up all the algae.

Still, you’ll need to supplement their diet with algae wafers and raw veggies. They’re vigorous eaters, so be careful not to overfeed them.

You can keep Pleco fish in community tanks and to avoid aggression, you keep a single Pleco in the tank with other fish.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Moderate

7. Clown Loach


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Perhaps the most beautiful fish of the Loach family, the Clown Loach is a brightly colored fish that’s a bit timid, yet it enjoys the company of its own species and other fish with similar temperament.

The three vertical black stripes combined with orange or red coloration are the signature marks of this fish species. They also have 4 pairs of barbels.

They’re scaleless fish, which means they’re sensitive to toxic substances, so keep the water clean and avoid any substances that may be toxic to the fish.

The Clown Loach spends most of its time in the bottom part of the tank and it uses its barbels to scavenge in the substrate.

They eat all types of food accepting both a meaty diet and it will also eat soft plant food if it’s available, but they also enjoy cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and squash.

Because they’re schooling fish, keep them in a group of at least 5. Don’t keep them together with small fish or fish that are stressed out by very active fish.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Moderate

8. Pictus Catfish


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Best kept in groups of 5 or more, the Pictus Catfish are popular and peaceful fish that are easy to care for.

The only thing that might be different in its keeping is that it tends to be more active during the night and tend to hunt small fish at night. Keep lights dim and not bright.

A sandy substrate is best for this fish that likes to scavenge in the substrate. They’ll eat whatever leftover food they can find and algae, but it’s diet should be supplemented with algae wafers and sinking pellets.

Because the Pictus Catfish is a predatory fish, it will swallow anything it can, and that includes any small-sized fish you may keep together with them.

Therefore, don’t keep them together with fish that will fit in their mouths.

They enjoy planted tanks with sandy bottoms and sized above 50 gallons. Include hiding places like rocks and driftwood, but allow space for swimming and exercise, because they’re active fish.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Moderate

9. Gouramis


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Gourami are a species of tropical freshwater fish that display strikingly beautiful colors.

They’re labyrinth fish, which means they have a labyrinth-like breeding system that’s very similar to how land animals use their lungs.

They’re well-suited for most community aquariums and they’re relatively undemanding. Gouramis get on best with non-aggressive species of similar size.

Aggression towards other Gourami males and even against other colorful males of other species can be an issue, so keep an eye on tank dynamics.

Don’t keep Gouramis with much larger fish that may prey on them.

They’re omnivorous fish, you diet is usually not an issue, however, do provide them with a balanced and varied diet for healthy nutrition.

If you’re going to keep them with Tiger Barbs, monitor tank dynamics, especially if there are males in each group.

Other than this, there should be no issues in keeping the two species together.

  • Compatibility Level: 8/10
  • Care Level: Moderate

10. Tinfoil Barbs


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Aptly named because of their silvery and shiny bodies, Tinfoil Barbs are peaceful fish that need at least a 75-gallon tank to thrive. They can grow to 14 inches and they’re strong swimmers.

They don’t show aggression towards other fish, however, due to their large size, they should never be housed with small fish.

Despite being easy to keep and being undemanding when it comes to tank conditions, Tinfoil Barbs may not be a top choice for aquarists due to the fact that they grow quite large.

They best be kept in schools of at least 5, which ups their tank size requirements, so it’s unlikely for you to see Tinfoil Barbs in home aquariums.

Tinfoil Barbs are omnivorous fish, they’ll eagerly eat live, frozen, dried, or plant food.

Do watch out for tank dynamics, though, and don’t add young Tiger Barbs to a tank of adult Tinfoil Barbs.

Don’t keep Tinfoil Barbs with slow-moving fish because their hyper-alertness will stress out slower fish.

  • Compatibility Level: 8/10
  • Care Level: Moderate

11. Zebra Danios


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With attractively striped, zebra-patterned bodies, the Zebra Danio is an instant favorite of beginner fish-keepers.

They’re easy to care for, they’re prolific breeders, but just like Tiger Barbs they’re fin-nippers, so keeping them with flowy finned fish is a big no-no.

Other than this, they’re peaceful tank mates that enjoy the upper levels of the tank, but because of their active nature, they’ll pretty much swim all over the place.

They’re undemanding when it comes to food, but they do have a strong preference for live or frozen invertebrates and vegetable matter.

They’re suitable for a community tank and live up to 5 years. They don’t require a huge tank but offer them enough space for swimming.

Because of their fast-paced lifestyles, I don’t recommend you keep them with fish that are too mellow, because Danios may stress them out.

  • Compatibility: 10/10
  • Care Level: Easy

12. Tetras


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Tetras exhibit a lot of variations and with over 700 species, aquarists have a plethora of choices when it comes to Tetras.

Tetras are schooling fish and even though they’re great community fish, some species tend to display aggressive behavior by nipping at the fins of other fish.

They enjoy planted aquariums and enjoy all types of fish foods like brine shrimp, algae, bloodworms, flakes, pellets, etc.

Tetras are compatible with fish that aren’t too large and won’t mistake them for food. As for their compatibility with Tiger Barbs, you should watch out for fin-nipping.

They may not be a match made in heaven, but if your Tiger Barbs aren’t too temperamental and you can curb their fin-nipping behavior, they will get along just fine.

Otherwise, Tetras are great community fish that can live up to 8 years. They’re schooling fish, so make sure you keep them in groups.

  • Compatibility Level: 8/10
  • Care Level: Easy

13. Swordtails


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Their lively color and sword-shaped tail make Swordfish an attractive choice for a community tank.

Swordtails are active fish that are rather small, so avoid keeping them with much larger fish that can mistake them for food.

They’re live-bearers, breeding quickly and efficiently without the need for aquarist intervention.

It’s best to keep a single male with two or three females, especially if your tank isn’t large, because males have a tendency to pursue female Swordfish to exasperation, plus males are aggressive towards other males.

Swordtails are sociable and enjoy the company of other fish with similar temperament.

Their diet consists of a variety of foods like flake foods, frozen or live foods, and herbivorous foods.

Because of their size, they do well in medium-sized tanks, but they do enjoy the extra space on account of them being active swimmers.

They also have a tendency to jump out of the tank, so make sure you find a cover for your aquarium to prevent any attempts of this nature.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Easy

14. Platies


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Bright fish with a peaceful temperament, Platies can be a perfect addition to any freshwater community tank.

Selectively bred in captivity, they exhibit a variety of colors including orange, yellow, black, red, silver and even green. Platies in the wild are a lot less impressive.

They stay fairly small and thrive in groups, especially if kept together with their own species. They’re live-bearers and breed easily without much intervention from the tank-keeper.

As an omnivorous species, they won’t make a fuss about food and accept flakes, frozen, or live foods.

When keeping them together, make sure you observe female to male ratio recommendations. Too many males will incessantly pursue females and stress them out.

Keep one male to every three females to avoid stressing females out.

Other than this, Platies get along well with a variety of species and can be kept together with Tiger Barbs as well, but just for good measure, keep an eye on tank dynamics to make sure there’s no fin-nipping.

  • Compatibility Level: 9/10
  • Care Level: Easy

15. Mollies


These docile fish are one of the most popular freshwater fish that enjoy community tanks. You can keep them alone or in groups but do keep an eye on male to female ratio.

Mollies are livebearers and males have a tendency to put too much stress on female Mollies.

Keep a single male with two to three females, especially that Molly males are aggressive towards other males and even towards other fish.

To avoid aggressions, it’s best to keep them in a roomy tank. Molly females won’t cause any trouble, but if you do add a male to the mix, expect lots of fry.

They’re an omnivorous species that eat all types of foods, still, make sure their diet contains vegetable fiber content like algae or veggies.

Because their bio-load tends to be rather high, I recommend investing in a good filter system to keep the water clean.

  • Compatibility Level: 8/10
  • Care Level: Easy

These are your best options when it comes to choosing tank mates for your Tiger Barb fish. As for the fish you shouldn’t keep with Tiger Barbs:

Fish You Should Avoid Keeping with Tiger Barbs

For starters, fish with long fins should be off limits when it comes to choosing a tank buddy for Tiger Barbs. Angelfish, Goldfish, Guppies or Bettas are a bad choice for tank mate.

Despite their annoying habit, you should not keep Tiger Barbs with fish that are too dominant or fierce. Cichlids for example fit this description.

If you’re planning on keeping algae-eating shrimp in your tank to help with keeping the tank clean, it’s best if you forget about it, your Tiger Barbs will most likely eat them before they can do any cleaning.

Final Thoughts

Tiger Barbs are mischievous troublemakers, so it’s best to pay attention to which species you’re going to keep with them.

In this way, you can avoid conflicts between the inhabitants of your tank and ensure a safe and healthy environment.

In the hope that my guide can help you select the best tank mates for your Tiger Barbs and you can create a unique community tank. I wish you all the best!


Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127572835@N07/39626077850/

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.
Questions and Answers

    Kissing gourami can get pretty large 8-12 inches (20-30cm). I don’t think it would be a great fit to keep a kissing gourami with tiger barbs, because of the huge size difference and the aggressive behavior of barbs. It could work, but I would never do this combination…

    Chris Brown July 1, 2019 Reply

    It can do if you’re having 150 – 200 gallon tank (modified) 3 ft deep bigger tank for Kissing Gourami will not give you trouble even adding smaller fish like barbs.

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