Updated May 14, 2020
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
The Tiger Barb has black bands that run vertically on an orange/gold body. There are also a few different varieties such as the Albino and the Green.
Stocking this species in a community tank can be risky. This barb is a very active tropical fish that has a reputation for nipping the fins of its tank mates. This fin nipping behavior is most often attributed to not having enough tigers in the tank. With all of that being stated, they do best when kept in schools of 6 or more.
Given their somewhat aggressive nature, it might be a good idea to think twice before adding this barb (or school of them) to a community tank. I would even think about putting them in with angelfish or bettas, which unfortunately some new hobbyists make the mistake of doing.
There are a few different color varieties out there. See the different types of tiger barbs pictured below. An interesting thing to note is the amount of variation in the length of the second bar on their bodies. It is often different in length from barb to barb.
Tiger Barb Types
Tiger Barb Fish Care Details
Scientific Name : Puntigrus tetrazona
Common Names : Sumatra Barb, Green and Albino, Part belt Barb
Care Level : Easy
Size : 3 inches (8 cm)
pH : 6 - 7.5
Temperature : 70°F - 78°F (21°C - 26°C)
Water Hardness : 5° to 15° dH
Origin / Habitat : Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo
Lifespan : 5 years
Temperament / Behavior : They can be semi-aggressive and they do best when kept in a school of 6 or more. Getting only of couple of them will surely bring out their fin nipping behavior.
Breeding : Breeding them can be somewhat difficult. Barbs are egg layers and they will eat the eggs. Provide plenty of broad leaf plants for them to scatter their eggs on. Separate the adults from the eggs.
Tank Size : 20 gallon or larger.
Tank Mates : Avoid keeping them with tropical fish that are long-finned and slow moving. They will most likely not do well with this fish.
Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment
Food : Omnivore, will accept flake, freeze-dried and especially live foods such as brine shrimp.
Tank Region : Middle
Gender : The female is usually bigger and the male may develop a red coloration on its nose.
Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk
Fish Lore Forum : Tiger Barb Forum
Tiger Barb Comments and Tips
I originally only bought two and they were constantly pestering the other fish in the tank. Went back to the store and got 4 more after reading about the schooling behavior. They do seem to be settling down. So far so good.
I let my son pick our first fish for our very first aquarium. He selected three, one for each child. The barbs started nipping and pestering right off the bat. After a lot of searching and reading I rushed out and got three more. They are basically calm now. Later I introduced a pleco and all is still well. Next I'm going to get a couple of corys and a red tail shark. Cross your fingers. Thanks FishLore
I have 3 tigers and they are fine. I also have in the tank 4 Ballon Belly Mollies, 4 Platys, 5 Red Eye Tetras, 1 Red Tail Shark, and 1 Cory. No fin nipping so far! Thanks FishLore for all of your help!
Last week I bought eight tiger barbs, four standard and four green. They are now my favorite fish. They get along fine with my glow-light tetras and pleco. The trick is, however, to get a sizable shoal. They did fight within the group on the first few days, but the largest green barb took the leadership position and now the school darts happily around my tank. There is not a single nipped fin in the tank!
I am just getting back into the freshwater aquarium scene, I have found the entire site to be quite helpful- but I found this bio particularly enlightening. I had stopped using them in my tanks because they always seemed to behave in such an aggressive manner. 6 or more huh? Wow... I didn't think that these little guys had insecurity issues lol. But I will try it - I love the way they look, but 2 barbs in a tank are a real pain in the butt.
When I first got mine, I thought I had made a mistake. For the first couple of days all they did was chase each other around and fin-nip each other. But now they have settled down I am so glad I got them. They are very friendly, and when it's feeding time and they see me coming they are quick to the top of the tank waiting for food. They are also great fun to watch as they are very energetic, and after seeing them, I'm going to get a bigger tank for them. Also they are very hardy, and the first fish I've had so far that has been able to survive the aquarium cycling process.
Can I put 2 with a molly and and a fighter fish?
I wouldn't mix these barbs with a betta or mollies. The betta's fins would be an easy target for fin nipping and the molly likes slightly brackish conditions but will do ok in regular freshwater. Look into keeping them with similar sized barbs or tetras.
There's also an Albino variety that are more peaceful. Their bodies are colored yellow, replacing their black stripes with white and has orange tints on their fins. My albino did well in my community tank.
They do fine in larger groups where they will display their aggression toward each other and form a pecking order. My males tend to chase the females around a lot and confine them to certain quarters in the tank. Lively addition to an aquarium but even with a small group individual fish can be nippy with other fish, especially when young.
I have 4 in my community tank and find them to be quite content with other fish. I have them with two gouramis (dwarf gourami), a few tetras (cardinal tetras) and a red-tailed shark (is that its name?). They will eat absolutely anything... now they've grouped into 2 sets of two, living on either side of the tank.
I have 5 tiger barbs, which are very agressive at times with each other. They live with 6 other cichlids, so their dominance over the tank is limited. But yet they are really fun to watch.
I bought 5 of these barbs and the next day when I woke up, I discovered them all to be aggressively fighting each other. One was floating around with missing tail fin and two seem to be adrift with missing side fins. It freaked me out and I returned them all to the store for a refund. I bought several black skirt tetras and they seem to be a peaceful family.
I have four, such fun to watch. We have named them Kellogs, Snap, Crackle and Pop! Ideal name for such enthusiastic fish. They are in with a Siamese Fighting Fish called Kato, no tail nipping there.
Alyson - yikes, watch those them closely. Mixing in a Betta with these notorious fin nippers is inviting trouble and you will need to separate them from the betta at the first sign of nipping or aggression.
I have 12 regular and 6 albino tiger barbs and they all school together very well and never seem to bother anyone. I love the action they give the tank and the fact that they roam the various regions of the tank instead of keeping to a certain depth as some other fish naturally do. I fully agree with the sites recommendation of not keeping these with slow moving fish, other than that these are a prefect addition to the tank.
I think they want to feel that they control the tank. I bought 2 and they were a pair and I added 2 more. They are nice to each other and I am thinking to add 2 more... I have 1 male 3 females so far and the guy in the store told me to get more females if i don't want troubles. So, I guess males are always trouble makers! LOL
I purchased 4 of these about a week ago. When they first entered the tank they picked on my cory for a while, but they now leave him alone. I also have 6 Zebra Danios and the tigers seem to leave them alone as well. All of my fish are about the same size, and I think that's the main goal (if you have semi agressive fish). The only problem I have had is recently one of the smaller barbs ate the whole fin off of my other barb? I can see the fin of the other barb in his stomach, hopefully it will digest and the other fin grows back. -Barb TAMER!
Make sure you don't get neon tetras, guppies or bettas. You could put them with gouramis, other barbs and sharks, cat fish, large active tetras, and silver dollars. They love bushy plants. I have 1 and it seems just fine. I'm trying to get him to be a really happy fish. He really loves to sleep and he is really doing well but keep an eye on these great fish.
I have just one barb. It seems very healthy after 3 months, but it is dominating my tank (all the others are very docile)! I just added an Angel and it's getting very nasty. I hope getting more will calm it down. I'm glad to read of other's success.
I have 4 barbs. I started out with 3 but one became more dominant and chased the others into the corners. And he was the smallest of the 3! So I bought 2 more. They seemed to mellow out immediately. I had the five for a year but recently one died of an unknown cause. Its best to keep them in a school of perhaps 4 or more. They don't pester other fish and aren't pigs. They are very nice fish as a group.
Hi guys great site, I have 7 green and 8 standard in my tank and have had some nipping on a few of my newer silver dollars but I wouldn't swap these little gems as they love to swim past the front of the tank. These are great fish and I highly recommend them.
Hey, I originally started off with 4 barbs in my tank an unknowingly introduced some guppies, and let's just say it didn't work out, but I've had my tank for a while now and sadly only have 2 of the barbs left. Luckily 1 male and 1 female, and they don't seem to bother any of my other fish now at all as they are too busy chasing each other. I now love these fish and highly recommend them as they are the most active in my tank and great to watch darting about.
After a visit to my lfs they said that about ten barbs would go well with my neon tetras. How wrong they were. Next morning after addition there was carnage, not a tetra left standing. After this they now fly around the tank like lunatics all day but don't bother the dwarf gouramis or mollies.
I got three tigers to cycle the tank with. One wasn't doing so well to begin with and he didn't make it. As for the rest, one chased the other CONSTANTLY until the poor bugger up and died. So now it's just the one fish darting around the tank. He definitely knows when it's feeding time because he comes right up to me. Once the tank is cycled I'll probably get more slowly (as not to upset the ecosystem) up to about 6.
Please don't use fish to cycle an aquarium. There are many more humane and faster ways to cycle your tank. Please read the aquarium nitrogen cycle article for ideas.
Hey, I just got a new tank, and the directions told me to start with one-third of the total number of fish I'm going to have in the tank. Since I have a 10 gallon tank, I started with 3 tigers, but I keep reading that you should keep them in shoals of 6 or more. So should I go out and buy the other 3 or should I just wait it out.
I would say that you're already fully stocked with 3 barbs in a 10 gallon tank. If you want to increase the maintenance chores (partial water changes) then you could add a couple more, but I'd just stick with the fish you already have and not overstock your tank or get a bigger tank to round out the school of tigers. It'll be so much more enjoyable. Consider getting some live aquarium plants that will work with your aquarium light setup.
More Barb & Cyprinid Fish Profiles
Another barb that is an excellent choice for newbies to the freshwater hobby.
The most popular fish of all time? Our old friend the goldfish.
Looks fantastic in a heavily planted and kept in schools.