Tiger Barb Diseases, Parasites & Remedies

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A good diet and clean water conditions are one of the best ways to prevent diseases in your aquarium and keep your tiger barbs in top shape.

Unfortunately, sometimes, even with the best diet and regular tank cleaning, diseases can appear.

When caring for tiger barb fish, being aware of the signs of potential diseases that can affect these fish can make the difference between a full recovery or potentially fatal outcomes.

To prepare you for the eventuality of a disease outbreak in your tiger barb aquarium, I will present you the most common diseases that can affect tiger barbs.

I’ll also discuss remedies that you can try to prevent outbreaks or a proliferation of the disease on a tank level.

Tiger Barb Dropsy

Dropsy is a disease that causes fish to retain water as a result of a bacterial infection that ends up compromising the kidney function of your fish.

The disease is unfortunately fatal to fish because as soon as symptoms appear, it may be already too late for your fish.

What causes tiger barb dropsy?

Dropsy is caused by the bacteria Aeromonas that occurs naturally in aquarium and which can become a problem if the immune system of your tiger barbs is compromised.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb dropsy?

Symptoms of dropsy in tiger barbs include:

  • Bloated bellies;
  • Scales that stick out;
  • Lethargy;
  • Rapid breathing.

What are the remedies for dropsy?

Unfortunately, there is no positive outlook for dropsy unless you catch it in its very incipient stages when antibiotics may help with the underlying infection and Epsom salt treatment may help with drawing out excess liquid from your fish.

The problem is that as soon as bloating appears, your fish already have a build-up of fluids that’s very difficult to manage.

Prevention in the form of a healthy, balanced and varied diet coupled with regular tank cleaning is the best medicine against dropsy.

Tiger Barb Ich / Ick

Stress caused by sudden changes in water parameters can cause Ich disease in your tiger barbs. Adding antiparasitic medication to the tank can clear up the disease.

What causes tiger barb Ich disease?

Bad water conditions and adding fish or plants to your tank that already carry Ick can also trigger the disease.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb Ick?

Symptoms of this disease include:

  • White spots that look like grains of sugar appearing on your fish;
  • Tiger barbs rubbing against objects in your tank trying to get rid of the spots;
  • Fins folded against the body;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Disoriented swimming.

What are the remedies for Ich disease?

Ich disease must be treated in order to avoid fatalities among your fish. Once the disease appears in your aquarium, tank level antifungal treatment is necessary.

Raising the water temperature by a few degrees (up to 86 F) as well as adding aquarium salt to the tank are also required.

Tiger Barb Fin Rot


Fin rot is another bacterial infection that can affect tiger barbs. Fins are the first to be attacked and the disease can progress to the base of the fins and even further if left untreated.

What causes fin rot in tiger barbs?

Fin rot is a common freshwater aquarium disease that’s caused by the proliferation of Flavobacterium Columnare, Pseudomonas, or Aeromonas if proper tank cleaning is not observed.

Overstocking the tank is also a potential trigger for this disease.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb fin rot?

Tiger barbs affected by disease will show the following symptoms:

  • Shredded fins;
  • Milky-white areas in other body parts become affected in advanced stages;
  • Swimming difficulties.

What are the remedies for fin rot?

Antibiotics that target gram negative bacteria can help clear up the disease. Be advised, however, that fins affected by fin rot will not regrow.

Besides using antibiotics, I also recommend doing 20-50% water changes and thoroughly cleaning the tank.

Tiger Barb Velvet

Velvet disease or gold dust disease causes a yellow or light brown film on the body of your tiger barb. The disease requires immediate treatment to prevent the death of your affected fish.

What causes tiger barb velvet?

Velvet disease is a parasitic disease that attacks the body of tiger barbs forming cysts. These cysts will then erupt through the skin of the fish.

What are the symptoms of velvet disease in tiger barbs?

Symptoms you should look out for include:

  • Green, gold or yellow cysts or film on the body of your tiger fish;
  • Fins folded against the body;
  • Skin peeling off;
  • Lethargy and loss of appetite;
  • Rubbing against objects.

What are the remedies for velvet disease?

Once you notice the first symptoms of velvet disease you should administer proper treatment without delay. The disease can spread extremely quickly, so it’s crucial to act fast.

Affected fish should be quarantined in a hospital tank. Increasing water temperature, tank black-out and medications such as copper sulfate, methylene blue, formalin and acriflavine can be used to treat the tank.

Tiger Barb Hexamita

Hexamitiasis or hole-in-the-head disease is a disease that affects both freshwater and saltwater fish. Without treatment, the disease can be fatal to your fish.

What causes tiger barb hexamita?

The parasite causing this disease is believed to be present in the intestines of some fish. When conditions are suitable for this parasite, it can multiply very quickly and cause lesions on the head and flank of your fish.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb hole-in-the-head disease?

Tiger barb hexamita causes the following symptoms:

  • Lesions on head or flanks;
  • Trouble swimming;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Fading of colors on fish.

What are the remedies for hexamita?

Improving water conditions and treating the aquarium with MetroPlex as well as raising the temperature in the tank have been shown to help the spread of the disease.

Tiger Barb Gill Flukes

Gill flukes are parasitic infection located on the gills, however, it can affect other areas of the skin as well, where it appears as ulcers.

What causes tiger barb gill flukes?

Overstocked tanks and improperly maintained tanks can result in the proliferation of various parasites that can cause gill and skin flukes disease.

These parasites can penetrate the skin of tiger barbs and cause lesions and ulcers.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb gill flukes?

Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Gills have a chewed or shredded appearance;
  • Affected areas covered in excess mucus;
  • Affected areas showing redness, inflammation or ulcers;
  • Rubbing against objects.

What are the remedies for gill flukes?

Treatment with the anti-worm medication Praziquantel is currently the most efficient way to treat this disease.

Tiger Barb Anchor Worms

Anchor worms are in fact small crustaceans that “anchor” themselves onto your fish and cause inflammation and secondary infections.

You’ll usually spot anchor worms on the fins and dorsal areas of your tiger barbs. Treatment is available and offer high success rates.

What causes tiger barb anchor worms?

Anchor worms are introduced into the tank either when adding new fish that are already infected with anchor worms or adding plants that already have anchor worms on them.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb anchor worms?


  • Redness, inflammation and ulcers on body;
  • White-green or red worms attached to the fish;
  • Difficulty breathing.

What are the remedies for anchor worm disease?

Once they get into the tank, here are the remedies you can try:

  • Treating the tank with potassium permanganate;
  • Salt or formalin dip;
  • Physical removal with tweezers.

You can easily prevent this disease in your aquarium by quarantining new fish before adding them to the tank and disinfecting plants that you add to the aquarium.

Tiger Barb Swollen Bellies – Big Stomach

I’ve already pointed out that one of the diseases that can cause swollen bellies in your tiger barbs is dropsy.

Other diseases that could cause tiger barbs to have a big stomach or swollen belly includes constipation, impaired kidney function or internal parasites.

Kidney function can be impaired because of a genetic predisposition, a cyst or a lesion.

However, a swollen belly in tiger barbs is not always a sign of disease. Female tiger barbs may have a swollen belly when preparing for spawning.

If you notice that one of your tiger barbs has a swollen belly, make sure to monitor its health status to see if you notice signs of disease (e.g. dropsy).

Tiger Barb Mouth Fungus Disease

Normally, the bacterium responsible for mouth fungus disease in tiger barbs does not affect tiger barbs. Only when the immune system of your tiger barbs become compromised do they cause issues.

What causes tiger barb mouth fungus disease?

The bacterium Flavobacterium columnare is behind the mouth fungus disease. The bacterium finds its way into the body of your tiger barbs through wounds, which can result if two fish are fighting for example.

Tiger barbs with a weakened immune system are unable to fight off this bacterium.

Which are the symptoms of mouth fungus disease in tiger barbs?

Once these opportunistic bacteria enter the fish and establish themselves there, they cause the following symptoms:

  • Face, gills or mouth covered with cotton-like off-white threads;
  • Ragged fins;
  • Rapid breathing;
  • Excess mucus production;
  • Sores and lesions in advanced stages of the disease.

What are the remedies for mouth fungus disease?

Antibiotic and antibacterial medications are the best at treating the disease. Tank level treatment with kanamycin and phenoxyethanol for 7 days is usually the preferred remedy for this disease.

Tiger Barb Viral Infection (Lymphocystis)

A common disease for both freshwater and saltwater fish, lymphocystis is a serious disease that will disfigure your tiger barbs. Despite this, it doesn’t cause other health issues, nor does it endanger the life or your tiger barbs.

What causes tiger barb lymphocystis?

The disease is caused by an iridovirus. Lymphocystis is self-limiting, chronic disease that’s rarely fatal.

The virus infects and transforms fibroblasts and connective tissues causing hypertrophy of the affected cells.

What are the symptoms of tiger barb viral infection?

Symptoms of the disease:

  • Cauliflower-like, creamy to gray growths on skin and gills that disfigure fish.

What are the remedies for lymphocystis

There is no remedy or treatment for this disease and fish usually heal spontaneously, leaving little evidence of a previous infection.

Although antiviral medication is sometimes prescribed is believed to have no effect on the disease. Therefore, a wait and see approach to this disease is what most professionals recommend.

Tiger Barb Cotton Wool Disease

Cotton wool disease is a fungal infection that appears in tanks where maintenance is lacking. Depending whether the disease is in its incipient or advanced stages treatment options may or may not be available.

What causes tiger barb cotton wool disease?

Overstocking the tank and not performing water changes are the leading causes of this disease. Fish with a compromised immune system as a result of stressful tank conditions are the most susceptible to the disease.

What are the symptoms of cotton wool disease in tiger barbs?

The disease presents itself through the following symptoms:

  • Translucent layer/wooly growths that are overtaking the fish’s body;
  • Appearance of blood oozing through the skin.

What are the remedies for cotton wool disease?

In early stages of the disease, resolving water issues, adding marine salt or magnesium permanganate to the tank can prevent its progression.

Once the disease is in its advanced stages, unfortunately there isn’t anything you can do to clear up the disease.

Final Notes

These are the tiger barb diseases you should pay attention to when caring for tiger barb fish.

As you’ve probably noticed already, some of these diseases are really hard to kick, so I suggest being very careful with what you add to the tank.

Live foods, plants and new fish should be carefully sourced. Disinfect plants and quarantine new fish before adding them to the tank and avoid live foods in favor of freeze-dried options, which are disease-free.

Also, don’t underestimate aquarium stocking recommendations nor should you ignore tank cleaning and water changing recommendations.

Proper diet is another important element in preventing diseases and parasites that affect tiger barb fish.

Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rick_leche/4276549129/

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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