Freshwater fish, Barbs, Cyprinids, Information, Species

Tiger Barb: Complete Species Overview

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by Jason Matthews



One of the most popular aquarium fish species is the tiger barb. Renowned for its colorful range of colors, it can be fun to watch as it swims at high speed. They love to play and are highly active. However, they have a reputation as fin-nippers and are mildly aggressive; therefore, you need to be careful about the tankmates you choose for this species.

What else should you know about the tiger barb? Here’s all you need to know.


Scientific Name: Barbus tetrazona

Common Names: Tiger barb, partbelt barb, Sumatra barb

Life Expectancy: Six years

Adult Size: 3 inches


Beginner friendlyEasy to moderate experience
TemperamentPlayful but can be aggressive, fin nipper
Tank preferenceMid dweller
Tank size20 gallon
Water temperatures68 – 79F
Water pHpH of 6.5
Water hardnessup to 10 dGH

Fun Fact

The last part of the scientific name, tetrazona, refers to the four vertical stripes that cover the tiger barb body. Other barb varieties have five or six stripes, while Barbus tetrazona has four.


Tiger barbs are imported in large numbers from their natural habitat to be bred in captivity. Originally, they are from Indonesia, Sumatra, Malaysia, and Borneo. They can also be found in other areas like Cambodia and Thailand. Additionally, there are non-native tiger barbs from countries like Colombia, the United States, Singapore, and Australia.

These fish species inhabit tree-lined rivers and tributaries with thick vegetation, rocks, and sand. You’ll find them in these places due to the presence of algae, insects, and plants.


tiger barb fish species
Image credit: Alex_us, Depositphotos

Tiger barbs are easy to recognize, thanks to their colorful markings. Their bodies are quite wide and become taller at the middle point. They have a triangular-shaped snout. These fish species earned their name from their striking pattern. They have four tiger-like black vertical bands and orange-yellow body markings.

Another signature detail is the vibrant orange or red fins. Additionally, their anal, dorsal, and caudal fins have red colors on the edges, while the pectoral and pelvic fins are entirely red. Thanks to selective breeding, tiger barbs are now available in different colors. Their morphs include albino, black, red, green, and red.


The male and female tiger barbs have some distinct differences. While the females have a broader and more rounded belly, the males are a bit slender. Because of this, females are heavier and larger. You can also spot males during spawning due to their bright colors and red nose that develop during this period.

Average Size

As adults, tiger barbs grow to around three inches in length. However, some of the fish species in this category are smaller and grow to about two and a half inches. Tiger barbs grow to a healthy size if you feed them food from reputable sellers and have good breeding practices.


The tiger barb is known for being semi-aggressive and dominant. They will push around the smaller and vulnerable fish and nip at fins if you keep them together with slow-moving tankmates.

This fish species are active and competitive and will form small hierarchies to compete for dominance. The best way to minimize aggressive behavior is by keeping tiger barbs in a larger tank. Furthermore, you can also put them in larger groups which can help tone down the aggressive behavior.


Selecting tankmates for tiger barbs can be challenging due to their temperament. You must keep them in a group of six, but you can add them to 12 if you have a larger tank. Tiger barbs don’t perform well when kept alone from their fellow species.

It would be best if you chose fast swimmers of a similar size. Some of the best tankmates include rosy barbs, clown loaches, cory catfish, neon tetra, and pictus catfish.

Tank Size and Conditions

The minimum tank size for a group of tiger barb is 20 gallons. However, if you are keeping many of them together, you can opt for a 30-gallon tank. Tiger barbs are active swimmers, meaning they need a lot of room to move around.

Regarding water conditions, it’s recommended that you mimic their natural habitat. In the wild, tiger barbs inhabit streams, lakes, and swamps lined with trees. The water conditions tend to be acidic due to the decaying plant matter in the water bodies.

To provide the best water parameters, ensure that the temperature is between 68-79F, pH levels from 6.0, and water hardness of less than 10 dGH. You should ass a layer of fine gravel substrate at the bottom of the tank. Additionally, you should add submerged plants that provide shelter for the tiger barbs as well as food.


Since tiger barbs are omnivores, they won’t be problematic to feed. Ensure that you give them a wide variety of food so that they can get the nutrients they need. A good diet will enhance their body coloration and improve their health.

When feeding tiger barbs, include nutrient-rich pellets and flakes as a foundation of their diet. You can also throw in some high-protein snacks. Tiger barbs love feeding on bloodworms, water fleas, beef hearts, and brine shrimp; therefore, you should add this to their diet.

You should feed them twice a day and avoid serving a lot of food. After the feeding session, you can remove the leftovers.


[Image credit: Christina Gillette, Unsplash]

Tiger barbs don’t exhibit any parental instincts; therefore, they are more likely to eat their eggs. To avoid this, it’s better to set up a separate breeding tank to raise the fry and increase their survival chances.

The female usually lays about 200 eggs which get fertilized immediately by the male tiger barb. You should remove the breeding pair once the eggs get fertilized. On average, the eggs will hatch in about 36 hours.


Tiger barbs are an ideal freshwater species to add to your aquarium. Their colorful marking makes them stand out. However, as you care for them, you need to know that they are aggressive; therefore, you need to choose tankmates carefully.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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