Tiger Barb Fish Care – Complete Guide on How to Keep Tiger Barbs

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Tiger barbs are an interesting species that enjoy being kept in schools and prefer aquariums, where swimming space is abundant as they’re highly active fish that like to bolt around in the tank.

It’s an instantly recognizable species thanks to the “tiger stripes” that wrap around their bodies. They reach only 3 inches in adulthood.

Tiger barbs aren’t difficult to keep and can be kept in species-specific tanks or in community aquariums with the caveat that it’s a semi-aggressive species, therefore tank mates should be carefully selected.

In this guide, I’ll be discussing the basics of how to care for tiger barb fish including their tank and water requirements, compatibility with other fish, feeding requirements and potential diseases to look out for.

How to Care for Tiger Barb Fish?

Tiger barbs live 5 to 7 years on average if optimal tank conditions and dietary requirements are met. They aren’t sensitive fish when it comes to temperature or feeding, but clean water is a must.

Here’s a rundown of tiger barb water requirements, feeding needs, and fish they can be kept together with in a community tank.

Tiger Barb Tank Set-Up

Tiger barbs require a large aquarium, so they can have enough space for swimming. Remember these fish are highly active and should be kept in schools of at least 6-9 tiger barbs.

A 20-gallon tank is the minimum tank size recommended for this fish, but I’d say if you have the space and resources go for the 30-gallon tank just to be on the safe side.

The tank should be heavily planted and decorated with driftwood and rocks to provide hiding spaces to the smaller tiger barbs that might be aggressed by their bigger mates.

Tiger barbs do well with a fine gravel or sandy substrate.

When you set up the tank, make sure they have an open space to swim around, so place plants on the sides of the tank to create an open swimming space.

Water Parameters

Tiger barbs feel best in slightly soft acidic water with a water hardness of up to 10 dGH and pH of 6-7. Water temperature is not critical, but the ideal range for this fish is 75 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure your tank has a filter system that will keep the water clean and clear. Besides a filter, make sure to perform regular partial water changes to remove toxins and refresh the water.

Although the tiger barb can adjust to a variety of water temperatures, consider investing in a water heater too, so that you can offer them their ideal temperature range.

When adding tiger barbs to a newly cycled tank, make sure to acclimate them first, so that they’ll have time to adjust to the temperature and other water parameters in the tank.

What to Feed Your Tiger Barbs?

It’s not difficult to meet the nutritional requirements of tiger barbs, especially that they thrive on an omnivorous diet.

You can feed them tropical fish flakes, freeze-dried or frozen brine shrimp, blood worms, small invertebrates, and even veggies (boiled zucchini or lettuce).

A mixed, varied diet will help your tiger barbs better develop their beautiful colors. You can feed your tiger barbs once or twice a day with an amount they can eat in three minutes (if fed twice per day) or five minutes (if fed only once per day).

Which Fish are Tiger Barbs Compatible With?

Tiger barbs are often marketed as community aquarium friendly fish, and while that can be true under certain conditions, it’s important to remember that tiger barbs aren’t the most docile fish in the pond.

With that said, you must be careful when selecting tank mates for tiger barbs or when adding tiger barbs to an existing community tank.

For starters, tiger barbs are notorious fin nippers, so forget about housing them together with fish that have flowy fins. Tiger barbs won’t miss an opportunity to nip at those fish.

Docile, slow moving fish are also tricky when it comes to compatibility with tiger barbs, because their fast-paced swimming can stress docile fish out.

Fish that will make good companions for tiger barbs include rosy barbs, zebra danios, plecos, corydora catfish, black ruby barbs, clown loaches, etc.

Under no circumstances should you house your tiger barbs with species that are more aggressive than them and you should avoid housing them with goldfish, bettas, or cichlids.

Keeping tiger barbs in bigger schools and having schools of other fish around can temper their aggressive behavior or orient it towards their school mates.

If you notice any wounded fish in your tank after housing them with tiger barbs, remove them and quarantine them as it’s likely that tiger barbs will continue aggressing them in their quest to establish dominance.

How to Breed Tiger Barb Fish?

Tiger barbs require a separate breeding tank not because they won’t breed otherwise, just because if they do, you won’t be left with any eggs since they have quite the appetite for their own eggs.

Therefore, for successful breeding (one that results in fry you can grow), make sure to place tiger barbs in a separate breeding tank.

Conditioning is often used in commercial breeding to induce spawning, which consists in separating the females from males and putting them on a protein rich diet before placing them in a breeding tank.

The breeding tank should have a temperature around 78-80 °F (25-27 °C) with clean water and a bare bottom tank.

After spawning, you can remove the tiger barbs, or you can remove the eggs if you had a spawning site. The eggs will hatch in about three days and tank level antifungal treatment is required.

Feeding of the fry should be started after the first free swimming larvae appear and they should be fed with size appropriate foods like freshly hatched brine shrimp.

Final Notes

If you’ve set your eyes on the tiger barb fish and you’re considering keeping it, my tiger barb fish care guide can serve as a good crash course on these lovable and feisty species.

Knowing how to care for tiger barbs in all stages of their existence (from fry to adults) will ensure that you can enjoy them for many years on end without problems.

If you’re thinking of adding a few tiger barbs to your community tank, make sure to check if they’re compatible with your fish and continue to monitor their behavior for signs of aggression.

Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photomonaute/8445139713/

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.
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