What's Your Experience With Tiger Barb Aggression?

  • #1
Almost every source will say tiger barbs are the meanest "small" freshwater fish you can get but that's not always true. 5 years back I rescued 3 green tiger barbs (2m, 1f) from a filthy 15 gallon column filled 1/3 of the way that probably hadn't had a water change in months. I didn't have time or space at the moment to get more so I left it. Over the years I kept marbled hatchetfish, kuhli loaches, corydoras, skirt tetras, rainbowfish, a platy, neon tetras and even a 6 year old blind, long-finned betta with no fin nipping or aggression, even with them. I was surprised especially since it was a trio and not a massive school. They lived on for another 5 years without issue. Since then I've planned to adopt 8 in a 29 gal instead (59% stocked from aquadvisor). I have many tankmate options.

Many have had bad experiences with tiger barbs and some have had similar cases as me. What I want to know is your experience with tiger barbs. Were you able to keep "non compatible" species with them and if so, which species and what did you do to keep them together? Did you have big numbers in a small tank or vise versa? Feel free to nerd out, share anything and everything about your experiences and reply to others. Keep it kind :)
Frank the Fish guy
  • #2
It's been a long time since I kept Tiger Barbs. But I recall that they were inherently aggressive and that I thought one day, I would make them a home for themselves.
  • #3
I have a 36gl. Bowfront that is home to a small swarm of tigers (20) and they are not at all aggressive with each other but I can have no other fish in this tank. I have tried Otto's, for algea control, which I had to rescue within 20 minutes and rehome in my 55gl. And they even attacked and literally ate a bristle nose pleco. It was doing ok in the tank for a couple days and then mysteriously turned up dead with fins, tail, tummy missing! Suggest you stick with just tigers. They really are super fun and entertaining!


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  • #4
Suggest you stick with just tigers. They really are super fun and entertaining!
Thanks. As I said, I had a stunning green tiger barb trio - they were one of my favorite fish I've had next to a red spotted severum, blood parrot cichlid, pea puffer & female bettas. They're smart, personable and can recognize their caregivers (unlike neons). I'll definitely keep them again somewhat soon.

I had tiger barbs with skirts, neons, a variatus platy, even a betta. Skirt tetras were great; held their own and semi-aggressive but never bullying the tigers. I never saw nipped fins on either side.

Another option I thought of are colombian tetras & ruby barbs; similarly shaped, sized and capable of standing up to tigers. Cherry barbs also (maybe). I'd like to try this sometime :)
  • #5
It was doing ok in the tank for a couple days and then mysteriously turned up dead with fins, tail, tummy missing!
No offense, I doubt they killed that fish, but I very much know the barbs go for carrion, so I think they just ate it after the fact.
  • #6
I'v kept many different amounts of tiger barbs with many different types of fish, including delicate ones, and have never seen any serious aggression or bullying problems. However I have never taken the risk of keeping them with long finned fishes, so I'm not sure if the rumor that they will nip and bully long finned fishes is true or not.

Also, I agree with MacZ that those tiger barbs likely weren't the reason the pleco died, and probably just ate at it's decaying carcass afterward. Killing a pleco would be a challenge for a large cichlid, let alone a few tiger barbs.
  • #7
Never kept tigers at home.. but do care for a large group of juveniles at work. I had a few near adult tigers I put in with then from left over stock and the juvenile school instantly started nipping them. They couldn't stay in that tank.

Group mentality is perhaps different in individual circumstances.

I would choose Ruby barbs overt tigers for community. Would like to try five bar and snakeskin barbs as tiger alternatives too.

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