Tiger Barb: Ultimate Care, Tank Mates, & Breeding Guide

Are you looking forward to purchasing a tiger barb? Do you have one but not sure about his tank mates? Well, then this article is for you. We will cover everything you need to know about a tiger barb.

So, does a tiger barb have tank mates? Yes! There are numerous tank mates for him. And in this article, we will cover them all. Additionally, we will look at other crucial aspects such as care, feeding, feeds, behavior, lifespan, etc.

By the end of the article, you will have much-needed information that will ensure ideal tiger barb keeping.

Are you ready to get these nuggets about the fish? Read on and you are bound to go from a beginner to an expert in tiger barb keeping. Ready? Let’s go!

What is a tiger barb?

They are part of the tropical cyprinid fish family. Tiger barbs are easily recognizable fish with black stripes that encircle their body with beautiful silver colors between stripes. They are active, small and thrive in community aquariums.

They typically grow to a maximum length of 3 inches and prefer densely planted tanks with numerous hiding places such as caves.


When kept in optimum water conditions and cared for as instructed, the tiger barb can live for at least 5 years in the aquarium.

Scientific name Puntigrus tetrazona
Habitat Tropical fish found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Sumatra, and Malay Peninsula
Temperature 21-26 C
pH level 6.0-7.0
Behavior Semi-aggressive
Diet Omnivorous
Tank mates Cherry barb, red-tailed shark, pictus catfish, plecos, rosy barb
size 3 inches
tank size 15+ gallon
Lifespan 5 years

Tiger Barb Varieties

There are various tiger barb varieties out there. In fact, most of these varieties are kept due to their bright colors. The varieties include:

Albino Tiger Barb: They are basically light orange/yellow in color. They have white stripes that encircle their bodies.

Green Tiger Barb: This species is predominantly green in color. However, the green color may vary from fish to fish. They are also referred to as moss-green.

Albino tiger barb

Tiger barb habitat

The tropical fish is predominantly found in Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and some parts of Cambodia. They thrive in small clean water rivers with thick plantations.  You can also find some tiger barbs in the USA and Columbia small rivers.

Size and shape

Tiger barbs are generally small fish with short and flattened sides. They grow to a maximum size of 3 inches hence ideal for small-medium aquarium tanks.

Body color

They are naturally silver or brownish yellow with black vertical stripes encircling their bodies. Their fins and snout are red in color. The green tiger barb is entirely green in color.

Tank size

They thrive in 15+ gallon aquarium tanks. They also require dense plantation in the tank with numerous tunnels and hiding spots. Also, ensure that there is ample swimming space between plants as they as are active swimmers.

The tank should have a heater to keep the temperatures constant and a filter to ensure excess nitrates and phosphates are drained.


Tiger barbs are referred to as semi-aggressive. They are active and prone to fin nipping chasing tank mates with long fins. They are schooling fish and prefer staying in groups for companion. Keep them in groups of six or more.

They are basically mid-level swimmers. As such, it is prudent to leave spacious swimming areas between plants and decorations.

Tiger barb diet

They are entirely omnivorous in nature feeding on anything they can devour. Ideally, you can feed them with live insects, worms and veggies; flakes, tablets, pellets, and waffles. Feeding them with different food ensures that their immune system is at its optimum.

Furthermore, supplementing their diet once in a while facilitates the visibility of their colors.

Feeding schedule

You can feed the fish twice or once a day. To choose the ideal amount of food, have a look at how much it is eating in 3-5 minutes. Always supplement the food with brine shrimps, bloodworms or boiled spinach on a daily basis.

Water conditions

For a tiger barb to thrive, water conditions ought to be optimum. Below we will look at temperature, PH levels and how often you should change your water.

Temperature: they require a water temperature between 21-26 C. this is because they are tropical fish. Install a water heater in your aquarium to keep a constant water temperature.

pH levels: well, tiger barbs thrive in pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0. If the pH levels are low you can raise them by removing all the fish and adding at least 1 tablespoon of baking powder per 5 gallons of water. On the other hand, add peat moss to the filter to lower the pH levels.

After how long should you change the water? You should replace 25-50% of the water once a month. This removes excess waste, nitrates, and phosphates in the water. Additionally, oxygen levels are bolstered.

Tiger Barb Care

Which are most ideal tank mates for tiger barb?

Tiger barbs are notorious fish known for fin nipping. As such, not all varieties of fish are compatible with them. Basically, they are compatible with docile tank mates.

They are social fish that thrive in groups of six or more. Doing so will mitigate stress and other uncharacterized behavior. To ensure optimum coexistence with tank mates, introduce new ones one at a time.

They typically spend much of the time chasing each other leaving tank mates alone. Therefore, it is prudent to have a spacious tank when keeping tiger barbs.

Below are the most ideal tank mates for your fish


  • Odessa Barbs
  • Black ruby barbs
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Cherry Barbs


  • Mollies
  • Platies

Others include:

  • Red-tailed shark
  • Corydora catfish
  • Plecos
  • Pictus catfish
  • Gouramis

Let’s have a closer look at these tank buddies.

1. Odessa Barbs

  • Temperature: 21-26 C
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 5years
  • Tank size: 10+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Odessa barbs are well-behaved fish, unlike tiger barbs that are semi-aggressive. As such they are easily compatible. In an aquarium, they are peaceful and thrive in medium-sized aquarium tanks.

They grow to a maximum of 2.5 inches hence a perfect mate for your tiger barb. As they grow older their attractive colors become more visible. However, for this to happen, feed them with the right food.

2. Black ruby barbs

  1. Temperature: 23-26 C
  2. Adult size: 2.5 inches
  3. Lifespan: 5 years
  4. Tank size: 20+ gallon
  5. Care level: easy

Black ruby barbs are almost similar to their cousins, tiger barbs. They are typically docile which make them ideal mates. They tend to be smaller than tiger barbs. They are also schooling fish hence should be kept in groups of six or more.

In fact, they can co-exist with numerous fish species since they are not fin nippers. They are bottom feeders hence you should consider sinking feeds such as flakes.

Additionally, they thrive in tanks with numerous hiding spots and spacious for swimming. Make sure to supplement their diet with veggies.

Well, they can live with tiger barbs for long without incidents of fin nipping and other undesired behavior.

3. Rosy Barbs

  • Temperature: 23-26 C
  • Adult size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Tank size: 30+ gallons
  • Care level: easy

Looking for a peaceful mate? Rosy barbs are the perfect fit. They are brightly colored, active but peaceful. However, they tend to nip at fins of various fish. Nonetheless, you can mitigate this by keeping them in groups.

Their food can include flakes, raw vegetables, pellets, insects, etc. you should, however, practice caution when feeding them since they are opportunistic feeders prone to overfeeding.

Rosy barbs prefer large tanks with numerous hiding places and hardy-live plats.

4. Cherry Barbs

  • Temperature: 23-26 C
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches
  • Life span: 6 years
  • Tank size: 25+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Cherry barbs are peaceful and shy barb species. They tend to be timid compared to their cousins, tiger barbs. They shy away from other fish species hence not prone to fin nipping.

Cheery barbs are schooling fish that thrive in groups of 7-10. As such, they become less timid. Also, ensure that the tank is spacious enough, has numerous hiding places and live plants.

They are mid and bottom feeders, therefore, flakes, pellets and other slow sinking food are ideal for them. They are well-behaved fish which make them perfect buddies for tiger barbs and other fish species.

5. Mollies

molly fish

  • Temperature: 22-26 C
  • Adult size: 4 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Tank size: 10+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

From the livebearers species, they are peaceful and tend to co-exist with semi-aggressive species such as tiger barbs.

Mollies are common tank mates for numerous fish species. This is because they are cheap and get along with numerous species. They are schooling fish that tend to stay on their own hence providing a peaceful environment.

They grow to a maximum length of 6.5 inches, therefore, they should be kept in large aquarium tanks. Overall, they are easy to care for and compatible with tiger barbs.

6. Platies

  • Temperature: 22-26 C
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches
  • Lifespan: about 3 years
  • Tank size: 15+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Platies are well-behaved than their brother mollies. This makes them an ideal pick for tiger barbs mates. They are small, brightly colored and tend to stay in groups giving room to other bigger species. They are very peaceful fish species which co-exist with semi-aggressive fish.

You can feed them with flakes, small live insects, pellets and other floating and slowly sinking feeds.

7. Red-tailed shark

Redtail Shark

  • Temperature: 22- 26 C
  • Adult size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Tank size: 50+ gallon
  • Care level: moderate

The red-tailed shark is a recognizable fish thanks to its velvet black color and its red tail. It is an aggressive fish, therefore, should not be kept with smaller fish.

On the contrary, they tend to co-exist with tiger barbs. As such, you should not shy away from introducing them to a tiger barb aquarium.

They prefer densely planted tanks with numerous hiding spots and spacious enough to swim. A 50+ gallon tank is ideal for this buddy. Since they tend to jump out of the tank, it is prudent to have a tight-fitting lid.

Floating food such as flakes, insects, and pellets are ideal feeds for them. Additionally, they tend to feed on leftovers at the bottom of the aquarium and also algae.

8. Corydora catfish


  • Temperature: 20-26 C
  • Adult size: 2.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 5-7 years
  • Tank size: 20+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Corydora catfish are peaceful fish that seamlessly co-exist with the tiger barbs. They are bottom-dwellers and tend to search for food by digging through the substrate. Still, they like feeding on leftovers.

However, you can supplement their diet with pellets, tablets, flakes, etc. they are generally referred to as tank cleaners due to their behavior of eating leftovers.

They enjoy densely planted tanks with optimum water conditions as they are susceptible to infections. They thrive in small schools. However, they co-exist with other community fish species. They are easy to care for hence ideal for beginners.

9. Plecos


  • Temperature: 22-26 C
  • Adult size: 24 inches
  • Lifespan: 10-15 years
  • Tank size: 30+ gallon
  • Care level: moderate

Plecos are basically algae eaters. They have an unusual appearance which makes them easy to recognize. They come in various species and grow to different lengths. However, they thrive in large tanks – 50+ gallon – regardless of their length.

They are peaceful towards other fish species but the females tend to be aggressive towards their male counterparts. They are bottom feeders spending much of their time looking for food in between substrates and eating algae.

In addition, feed them with raw veggies and other feeds such as pellets. They are aggressive feeders prone to overfeeding, therefore, watch your feeding schedule. They are easy to care for and ideal for beginners.

10. Pictus catfish

  • Temperature: 22-26 C
  • Adult size: 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 8+ years
  • Tank size: 50+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Pictus catfish are peaceful species that are easy to care for and do not have a complicated feeding habit. They are basically bottom-dwellers that scavenge in the substrate.

Interestingly, they are active and hunt for small fish at night. To mitigate this, dim the lights at night. Although feeding on algae and leftovers, it is prudent to supplement their diet with pellets, wafers, flakes, etc.

They also enjoy planted tanks with numerous hiding spots and sandy bottoms. A 50+ gallon tank is ideal for this fish.

11. Gouramis


  • Temperature: 27 C
  • Adult size: 3.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3- 5 years
  • Tank size: 50+ gallon
  • Care level: easy

Gouramis are beautiful tropical fish that thrive in community aquariums. They are relatively undemanding making them a perfect start for beginners. They get along with non-aggressive to semi-aggressive species.

They tend to attack other colorful species, therefore, you should always keep an eye on the tank. And they should not be kept together with large species that might prey on them

Overall, they can easily co-exist with tiger barbs and tend to feed on anything they can find edible. Therefore, feeding them should not be a daunting task. They are easy to care for.


Tiger barbs do not care about their eggs and can eat them at any moment. As such it is advisable to have a separate breeding tank. Females have a round belly and are brighter than males. Keep them together until a breeding pair is achieved.

Once established, move them to a separate tank which should have soft acidic water, soft-leaved plants, and a bare bottom. Spawning takes place in the morning and once this takes place, immediately move the pair to the initial tank.

The female lays at least 200 eggs that are yellowish. Shortly after, the male will fertilize the eggs. The eggs will hatch after 36 hours and the fry will swim freely after five days. Feed the hatchling with brine shrimp until they are able to feed on flakes.

Related Questions

How big do tiger barbs get? Tiger barbs can grow to a maximum size of 3 inches. As such, do not keep them with large tank mates since they can easily get preyed.

Is a tiger barb aggressive? Tiger barbs are not entirely aggressive. They ate semi-aggressive. However, if not kept in groups of 6 and more, they become aggressive and attack tank mates. To mitigate this, keep them in large groups.

What size tank do tiger barbs need? Ideally, a 15+ gallon tank fits the bill. This is due to their small size which allows them to thrive in small tanks. Ensure that there is enough swimming space.

Can a tiger barb live alone? No! They are predominantly social fish that thrive in a community aquarium. Keeping it alone can result in stress and ultimately death.

What pH levels do tiger barbs like? Tiger barbs prefer water pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0.

Can tiger barbs live in cold water? No! They are sensitive to cold water. In such conditions, they can easily get infections. Make sure to install a water heater in your aquarium to keep temperatures constant.

Are tiger barbs schooling fish? Yes. They thrive in groups of six and more.

Can tiger barbs eat meat diet? Yes! They are omnivorous in nature and will feed on anything they find edible. You can feed them with frozen bloodworms and brine shrimps. However, ensure you supplement with veggies.

Can tiger barbs survive in outdoor ponds? Yes. So long as the temperatures are within 20-26 C. Furthermore, they are found in small clean water rivers in Indonesia and other parts of Asia.


Tiger barbs are ideal fish for your home aquarium. They are colorful and co-exist with numerous species. Feed them appropriately and you are bound to see them blossom. Avoid keeping them with slow swimmers or long finned fish since they enjoy nipping mates’ fins.

Saurabh Kumar

I am a passionate fish keeper, with years of experience. You will find some really useful tips and information on this blog about Freshwater Aquariums.

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