How to Breed Tiger Barbs? Beginner’s Guide to Breeding Tiger Barb Fish
Native to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo), tiger barbs are popular in freshwater aquariums because of their hardiness, bright colors and ease of care.
They can adapt to a variety of temperature conditions. They can survive in temperatures as low as 65 degrees and as high as 90 degrees, although their ideal range is 75°F to 82°F.
In my experience, breeding tiger barbs is relatively easy compared to other freshwater fish species, however, you do need to follow a few important steps to ensure successful breeding.
In this guide, I lay down the basics of how to breed tiger barbs including the water requirements, tank requirements and feeding requirements of tiger barb brood stock.
I will also offer some insight into the peculiarities of caring for tiger barb eggs and fry.
In my years of being an aquarist, I have bred tiger barbs commercially and have tested various methods. In this article, I will discuss the method that has worked best for me.
A Few Notes on Tiger Barb Breeding
Before I delve into the nitty-gritty of tiger barb conditioning for breeding and tiger barb spawning, there are a few things to know about breeding these fish in a community tank and determining their gender.
Breeding in Community Tank Not Recommended
A lot of people will try to breed the tiger barb in a community tank with little to no success, and that’s because a lot of the eggs or fry get eaten by other fish in the tank.
Therefore, if you’re serious about breeding this fish, you should invest in separate breeding tanks, where you can offer your tiger barbs the environment and diet needed for breeding.
For professional tiger barb breeding you’ll need 4-5 separate tanks – two conditioning tanks, a breeding tank, a hatching/rearing tank, and a grow-out tank.
It rarely happens for tiger barbs to breed in a community tank, but if it does happen and you have a marble substrate that prevents adult fish from eating the eggs, you may end up with some fry.
Having plants in the tank that may shield the fry from adult fish and provide them coverage, may help a little.
Tiger barbs require conditioning prior to breeding, which consists in separating them based on their gender and putting them on a spawning-inducing diet.
Determining Gender of Tiger Barbs
Another thing that’s important when it comes to breeding these fish is knowing how to tell the difference between a female and a male tiger barb.
Tiger barbs aren’t sexually dimorphic, yet there are slight differences between genders: the fin rays and snout of male tiger barbs have a bright red coloration, while females are less colorful and are plumper around their bellies.
Sexing tiger barbs is important for conditioning purposes, which leads to a synchronization of spawning that also contributes to the production of a large number of fry.
Tiger barbs are notoriously bad parents, therefore, keeping the eggs with the adults in the hope they may care for them and raise the fry is not recommended.
Unfortunately, tiger barbs will eat the eggs and fry, so unless there’s accidental breeding in a community tank, you really shouldn’t leave the eggs with the parents.
Removing the eggs, hatching them separately and raising tiger barb fry yourself is the way to go with breeding this fish species.
Therefore, as a summary:
- Tiger barbs should not be allowed to breed in community tank;
- They should be conditioned before breeding;
- Eggs should be removed after spawning;
- Eggs and fry should be cared for by you.
Conditioning for Breeding
Tiger barbs reach sexual maturity at around 6 to 7 weeks of age, when these fish usually reach a total body length of 0.8 50 1.2 inches.
Conditioning requires that you place tiger barbs into separate tanks based on sex, separating females from males, and placing them on a high-protein diet that will induce spawning.
The conditioning tank must meet a few requirements with respect to size and water quality.
1. Tank Requirements
For broodfish conditioning, rectangular tanks are preferred over circular or square tanks just because they’re more convenient when it comes to selecting and removing stock.
When stocking conditioning tanks, you should follow the 1 fish per 1-gallon rule, and you should create optimal tank conditions as described below.
2. Water Requirements
The water in the conditioning tank should be at around 80 degrees and water exchange should be carried out daily at a rate of 20-30%.
Because of the feeding regimen the fish are on during conditioning, fouling of the water is a real risk, therefore, you should be religious about the daily water changes.
3. Feeding Requirements
Feeding tiger barbs two to three times a day with high-protein foods like frozen bloodworms, tubifex, Artemia, paste foods (beef heart paste is great if you have the time to prepare it!) or a protein-rich quality flake food is essential for proper conditioning.
If you see that your tiger barbs don’t take to flake foods or rip apart the flakes and leave them uneaten, you should stick to the frozen or freeze-dried food option instead and stay away from flakes.
Conditioning should last for about 3-4 days, after which single pairs of tiger barbs should be moved to the spawning tank.
Tiger Barbs Spawning Eggs
Tiger barbs are temporary-paired spawners, meaning they bond only for the short period that’s required for spawning.
This is a common characteristic of schooling fish, and tiger barbs easily fall into this category.
On average, females can produce 300 eggs per spawn and if properly conditioned, females can spawn as frequently as every two weeks.
The size of the spawning tank should be at least 10 gallons. Aeration should be minimal or non-existent, and the substrate in the spawning tank should prevent tiger barbs from eating their eggs.
You should minimize traffic around the tank so as to not disturb them or expose them to undue stress. I find that water that is just slightly soft is best to induce spawning. Light levels should be subdued.
In commercial breeding, the spawning substrate is designed in way that it doesn’t allow tiger barbs to eat their own eggs. Therefore, a stiff bottle brush substrate is used for this purpose. A rayon knitted yarn can also be used.
The spawning substrate should be placed into the breeding tank in the afternoon of the day in which tiger barbs are relocated to their breeding tank.
Monitoring for Eggs
The day after placing them into the breeding tank, you should monitor for eggs and spawning behavior.
Like some other egg-laying freshwater fish, the tiger barb female will lay her eggs and the eggs are then fertilized by the male.
Unfortunately, tiger barbs have a voracious appetite for their eggs and fry and removing the eggs soon after spawning is the best way to ensure that you will have tiger barb juveniles to raise.
Continue to feed the pair nutritious foods in the breeding tank as well, offering them an amount that they can eat without competing for food.
Removing the Eggs
If your tiger barb pair has laid their eggs, you can go ahead and remove the eggs, then place them in a separate hatching tank. If you can’t see eggs yet, give the tiger barb couple a few more days.
Hatching Tiger Barb Eggs
Removing the eggs from the breeding tank and placing them into a separate hatching or rearing tank takes some preparation.
Here are the steps involved:
Step 1: Setting Up the Hatching/Rearing Tank
The tank in which the eggs will hatch should be sized according to the expected number of fry. Therefore, a 10 to 30-gallon tank should be prepared.
The temperature in the tank should be the same as the temperature in the breeding tank, that is, around 78 to 80 degrees.
Because the parents won’t be around to aerate the eggs and prevent rotting or fungus growth, you should account for these things and set up the tank so that these problems are prevented.
Aeration should be provided to supply enough oxygen to the eggs. Aeration should be constant and gentle.
Step 2: Inhibit Fungal Growth in the Tank
Besides aeration, I also strongly recommend inhibiting fungal growth within the tank. I use methylene blue as an antifungal agent, but you can use any other aquarium antifungal agent and add it to the tank as per the instructions on the product.
You can use one or two sponge filters to keep the water clean and perform gentle water changes to keep the tank from getting cloudy.
Under these conditions, hatching should occur in about 3 days. At this point, tiger barb larvae are not swimming, and they feed on their yolk sacs.
In about three days after hatching, the yolk sac disappears, the larvae become free-swimming and they’re ready to take their first meal.
Step 3: Feeding Tiger Barb Fry Their First Meal
When you observe the first larvae with the yolk sacs completely absorbed that’s your cue to introduce fry feed for the first time.
Be advised that not all eggs will hatch at the same time and not all larvae are in the same developmental phase, however, feeding should start as soon as you first notice baby tiger barbs with their yolk sacs absorbed.
I prefer to feed my tiger barb fry freshly hatched brine shrimp that comes from my own cultures. You can buy brine shrimp strains (any Artemia strain is good) and hatch them yourself, thus ensuring that they’re small enough and fresh enough for your tiger barb fry.
I feed my fry with baby brine shrimp 3-4 times a day for at least two days. The key to kick-starting their development is to make sure they are well-fed throughout the day, yet without falling into the trap of overfeeding them.
Signs of satiation, which you should be mindful of, include:
- The fry is not taking any more food;
- Bellies are round and orange in color.
Overfeeding should be avoided at all costs because it can easily foul the water and it’s the least thing you want when you’re trying to maintain excellent quality water in the rearing tank. Monitor water quality closely as ammonia spikes can easily kill off your fry.
Step 4: Weaning Tiger Barbs onto Commercial Foods
Slowly, you can introduce commercial fry food into the diet of your fry. First, you should just experiment with very small amounts to see if they take to it.
The way I go about it is to introduce 10% of the new feed and alternate that with baby brine shrimp until I can completely switch them to commercial fry food.
Once this successfully happens and your fry is feeding on the new feed for about two days, you can transfer them to grow-out tanks.
Step 5: Moving Fry to Grow-Out Tanks
Your growth-out tank can be of any shape but large enough to accommodate the fry. The stocking density should be around 4 to 20 fry max per gallon of water.
Continuous water supply and aeration should be provided, and frequent water changes are crucial in keeping the water clean.
Tiger Barb Breeding Video Guide
Here is a great video on how to breed tiger barbs:
If you’re used to fish species that take care of the eggs and fry themselves and which are excellent parents (e.g. angelfish), breeding tiger barbs may seem like a lot of work, especially because you need to set up so many tanks for them.
Therefore, small scale breeding may not be as financially feasible as breeding them on a large scale (e.g. setting up a commercial hatchery, where fifty 10-gallon tanks can produce as many as 10,000 tiger barb larvae per week).
Even so, breeding this fish either for your own enjoyment or commercially can be easy and satisfying if you know what you’re doing.
If you have the equipment for it or you’re willing to invest in the required equipment for breeding these fish, I encourage you to do it and follow the method I described in this article.
Featured Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_barb#/media/File:Tiger_barb_fish.jpg