Tiger barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona) are vibrant and energetic freshwater fish that bring both beauty and liveliness to any aquarium. They originate from the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, particularly the island of Borneo, Sumatra, and parts of the Malay Peninsula. With their striking colours and playful behaviour, tiger barbs are a popular choice among aquarists of all levels. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping tiger barbs in your home aquarium.


Tiger barbs are small, colorful fish known for their bold coloration and distinctive markings. They typically reach about 7 centimeters in length. Their bodies are predominantly a golden-yellow or orange shade, adorned with four very distinct black vertical bars, which is the origin of their common name. Their fins can be tinged with red or orange, adding to their striking appearance.


Tiger barbs are schooling fish and are known for their active and sometimes boisterous behavior. They thrive in groups of six or more as this helps to diffuse any nippiness or aggression, which can be directed towards slower-moving fish with long fins. In a well-structured school, tiger barbs display intricate social behaviors and are less likely to bother other fish in the aquarium.

Tank Requirements

Tiger barbs are relatively easy to care for but they do require some specific conditions to thrive:

  • Tank size: A minimum of 75 liters is recommended, as these are active swimmers and enjoy space to roam.
  • Water conditions: The ideal temperature for tiger barbs ranges between 22 to 26 degrees Celsius, with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
  • Decoration: They appreciate a tank with plenty of plants and some open areas for swimming. Subdued lighting and a dark substrate can help enhance their colors.


Tiger barbs are omnivorous and not particularly fussy eaters. A varied diet that includes high-quality flake food, pellets, and occasional treats of live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp or bloodworms will ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients and keep them in good health.

Tank Mates

Choosing the right tank mates for tiger barbs is crucial due to their nippy nature. They should not be housed with fish that have long, flowing fins like angelfish or bettas as they might harass them. Good companions for tiger barbs include other fast-moving and similarly sized fish. Some examples are danios, smaller catfish, and other barb species.


Breeding tiger barbs can be a rewarding experience. They are egg scatterers and do not care for their fry. A separate breeding tank with marbles or a mesh at the bottom to protect the eggs from being eaten is ideal. Condition the breeding pair with high-quality foods and raise the water temperature slightly to encourage spawning.

Special Considerations

It’s important to monitor the behavior within the school. If you notice persistent aggression or bullying, increasing the school size can often mitigate this problem. Also, ensure regular water changes and tank maintenance to keep these vibrant fish healthy and stress-free.

Tiger barbs are an excellent choice for anyone looking to add some color and activity to their aquarium. With proper care and attention, they can be a joyful and fascinating addition to your fish community.

Photo credit: https://flickr.com/photos/james_mk_green/

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