The Tiger Barb or Sumata Barb fish is scientifically known as the Puntigrus tetrazona, is a tropical fish species from the Cyprinidae family. This is one of the most beautiful fish species and is known for its beautiful colors. It is found in many areas of East Asia including the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo in Indonesia. Some variants of this species are seen in other parts of Asia as well, but the most popular species that are seen in most aquariums usually comes from one of these regions.

They are very popular among the fish keepers and are known for being colorful, joyous, and hyperactive. It is one of those fish species that do not require that much care. Meaning that this fish species is also good for the new fish keepers. It is a high-speed schooling fish and would keep your aquarium alive. This is a small and playful species that rarely shows aggression towards other members of the community aquarium.

This fish species has also been introduced in multiple areas of the United States and the number of its wild population is growing. It is a very hardy fish species, meaning that it can survive in slightly harsh conditions. So, it is one of the best choices for new fish keepers who might make a few mistakes along the way.  It would allow them to learn to take care of the fish species and breed them. The article below contains information about taking care of these fish species.

Basic Facts Table:

LifespanUp to 7 years in perfect conditions, in wild conditions between 2 to 4 years.
Size2-3 inches.
ColorsSilver, Gold, Black
Freshwater or SaltwaterFreshwater
Care LevelMinimum, beginner level
CompatibilityPeaceful, Partially aggressive communities of fish.

Tank Companions:

This is one of the partially aggressive and mostly peaceful species of fish. It is also a territorial fish and can grow about three inches in length. It has a large mouth that it can use to eat smaller fish if they are kept inside the tank of small fish. Also, they would attack anyone trespassing their territory, so you should keep them with other fish species that do not infiltrate each other’s territory.

But they are also a social species of fish. They like to live with other members of their family. They swim together in a schooling pattern most of the time but to see a proper school, you will have to put at least six of them inside one tank. It is also one of those species in which members of the species like to attack each other and test themselves for dominance inside the tank. Every member of their tank should be competitive otherwise they would bully it and would eat most of the food and that can starve the smaller and less aggressive fish species.

Here is a list of the fish species that they get along with very well and you can put them in the same tank.

  • Clown Loach
  • Most Danios,
  • Platys
  • Loaches
  • catfish
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Cherry Barbs
  • Tinfoil Barbs
  • Tetras
  • Gouramis

You can keep them with any of these peaceful and smaller species of the same size. But you should not keep them with either larger or smaller fish species. Smaller species would be attacked and bullied by them and the larger species would bully them. For that reason, you should avoid keeping them with any of the large species of barbs, gouramis, or tetras. Here is a list of the species that you should not put in the same tank-like the Tiger Barbs.

  • Any large fish species.
  • Angelfish
  • Bettas

NOTE: You mustn’t keep a single Tiger Barb inside the tank. This can cause stress in the fish which can kill your fish. It is better to introduce more than 5 of them inside a single tank.


Dennis Lamczak, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the most beautiful fish species and is known for its beautiful colors. It is also one of those species that are so widely spread that it is easy to recognize them inside any tank. This fish species has a wide body, the middle part of their body is the tallest part of their body. They have a fin on the tallest part, which makes them look even taller. Height lowers from the middle towards the mouth and also towards the tail of the fish. Their eyes are bulging round, and huge, covering a large part of their head.

The largest individuals in this species can be larger than three inches. Usually, those are the females. The average size of this fish species is between 2.5 to 3 inches depending on the age of the fish. According to expert fish keepers, it is possible to increase their size. They grow longer and bigger if the conditions inside the aquarium are perfect. Apart from that, always buy your fish from reputable aquariums and sellers. This will help you get healthy individuals for your tank, and these healthy individuals are the ones that can grow up to three inches.

The eyes of this fish have black color on the mouth side while the side that faces the body is laced with a golden stripe that only covers a small portion of the head including the backside of the eye. Apart from this, they have a special colorful body with a beautiful pattern of black, gold, and golden-yellow colors. The genetically modified species might have slightly different variations of the colors such as rose-gold tint. These are rare and expensive and have similar body shapes, and patterns but colors are different.

Their body is also covered with multiple stripes of black color. Usually, there are five stripes on each side. The first black stripe is closer to the eyes and head, the second starts just after the gills. The third stripe of black color starts from the middle part and goes from top to bottom of the fish body. The fourth stripe starts at the end of the fish body near the anal fin. The last and fifth stripe is present on the anal fin of this fish. The fin at the middle of their body also has black, and golden-yellow contrast of colors.

The male Tiger Barbs and female Tiger Barbs are also slightly different from one another. This difference helps you identify them correctly during the time of breeding and it enhances the chances of success at breeding. Females in this species are larger and heavier, while male Tiger Barbs are thinner and shorter as compared to females. During the spawning season, males develop Red Snout, which makes them even easier to spot.

Origin and Natural Habitat:

The Tiger Barbs are found in shallow waters, where the flow of the water is slow or moderate. They cannot swim if water is flowing at a faster rate. It is the reason this fish is usually found on the sides of the rivers, lakes, and ponds and not in the middle. They originated from Borneo, Indonesia, which has a tropical climate, and the water temperature in these regions is between 77 – 82 °F or 25 – 27.8 °C. Also, it needs the water to be as neutral as possible, the pH of this water is usually between 6.0–8.0 and the hardness of this water is about 5–19 dGH.

It is one of those fish species that are capable of living through changes in water conditions and can live through these changes. That is what helps them survive the mistakes made by the fish keepers. This region is also volatile, meaning that changes in temperature, pH, and hardness are common but it can survive through all of this. If the conditions inside these environments are kept perfect and there are no predators around, these fish can live up to 7 years in their natural habitat.

But their natural habitat is full of predators who eat the smaller fish species including the Tiger Barbs. That is why this fish species has developed effective methods of reproduction that help them replenish the number of lost members of the community. If you want them to live in your aquarium, breed, stay healthy and reach their optimum lifespan, then you should create an aquarium that depicts these conditions, it would help them live and survive for a long time inside your tank.

Tiger Barb Lifespan:

The average lifespan of this fish species is between 5 to 7 years in their natural habitat. But if you provide them with better conditions inside the tank, they can outlive this typical lifespan. If the conditions inside your tank are not perfect, then chances are they will get some type of disease or parasite and die after a few years. Their quality of life impacts their lifespan, that is why you will have to make sure that you are providing them the perfect conditions that they need to live and thrive.

Habitat and Tank Conditions:

If you want your fish to live long and stay healthy, you will have to create a perfect environment for them. A perfect fit for the Tiger Barbs is the type of environment that is similar to that of their natural habitat. So, when you are creating an aquarium for your fish you need to make sure that the tank environment resembles their natural habitat. There are a few things that you might need to keep in mind while building a perfect tank for your fish. The paragraphs below will help you do that.

You should start with the size of the tank. There are a lot of limitations when it comes to the size of the tank. You do not want a small tank because these are territorial fish and in a small tank they would fight over territory all the time and there will be no peace inside the tank. You also do not want a very large tank that is difficult to fit anywhere. So, you need to get a tank that is not small to cause territorial issues and that is not so big that it is difficult to fit and move. When deciding about the size of a tank, you should do some research and find out about the fish/gallons ratio of the Tiger Barbs. This will give you an idea about the number of fish that you want and the appropriate size of the tank.

Once you have obtained the tank of the right size, it is time to start creating an environment inside the tank. You will have to start at the bottom layer of the tank. Start by putting the fine gravel substrate at the bottom layer. These fish like the fine gravel because it resembles their natural habitat that is also covered with gravel and small stones. You can also put round rocks inside the tank, including cobblestones that will give your tank a more authentic look. 

There are a lot of submerged plants that you can add to your tank for the Tiger Barbs including the  Java Fern and Water Wisteria. These plants produce algae that these fish eat, also, they provide them shelter to hide and explore. You can also put rock caves, and driftwood inside the tank to make it look even more real. But make sure that everything that you are putting inside the tank is clean, washed preferably. This will prevent any kind of infection from spreading, and will also help you avoid creating muddy water due to the dust that comes attached to stones, gravel, and other things that you are putting in the tank.

You will also have to take care of the lighting for your tiger barbs. They need standard lights for about 12 hours, to depict the natural day and night cycle. Apart from lighting, you will also have to make sure that water inside the tank is clean all the time. And you can ensure that by using a robust filtration system. To maintain the temperature inside the tank, you will have to put in a controllable water heater to maintain the temperature. But this fish can also live in tanks without a heating system if the water remains at room temperature. But if you live in a cold area where the temperature of the water could drop, it is advised to use a heating system that can maintain temperature.

Water Conditions:

Apart from the environment inside the tank, other important parameters need to be taken care of. These water parameters include temperature, hardness, quality, and pH of the water. These are some of the most important parameters because they directly impact the health of your fish. For example, the fish needs water to maintain its internal temperature, and if the temperature of the water is hotter or colder than the recommended parameters, it can kill the fish inside the tank. Apart from that, higher or lower pH can also kill your fish. That is why you need to maintain these parameters of the water to make sure that your fish stay healthy.

  • pH: Neutral is better
  • Hardness: less than 15dGH
  • Temperature: 77 – 82 °F or 25 – 27.8 °C

If you failed to maintain these conditions in the water of your aquarium, there is a chance that your fish would not reach their expected lifespan. These fish are capable of surviving if the changes in these parameters are for a short time. But if these changes kept happening, again and again, it would significantly reduce the lifespan of your tiger barbs.

Water Source:

For the tank of Tiger Barbs, you can use the type of water you want. For example, you can use the water from your tap, local river, lakes, and ponds. But you will need to test the water before putting it inside the tank to make sure that the water is safe for the fish. Also, to make sure that the pH and hardness of the water are according to the requirements. If water is not according to these conditions or if the water is contaminated, you should clean it or use purified water. You can use reverse osmosis to clean your water before putting it inside the tank. Also, keep a filtration system inside the tank to keep it clean.

Ideal Size For The Tank:

The ideal size for the tank of tiger barbs is 30 gallons but you can also use a smaller tank. Using smaller tanks is not recommended because it can create territorial issues between the members of the tank. If you are looking forward to knowing about the size of the tank that you should use for the tiger barbs, then you should know two things.

First, the total number of fish that you want to put inside that tank. The bigger the number of fish, the bigger the tank you will have to use. The second most important thing that you need to know is the fish/gallons ratio. The bigger this ratio is the larger tank you will have to get for your aquarium. For a group of 6 to 7 individuals, you can use a tank of 20 gallons, but if possible, you should use a tank of 30 gallons capacity.

Behavior and Temperament:

This is one of the partially aggressive, mostly peaceful, and very social fish species. It connects with the other members of its species inside the tank and develops schooling and shoaling behaviors. Also, this fish species has the nature of trying to dominate others inside the tank. So, you might notice skirmishes between the members of your tank. But these are not a serious problem because they do not fight to kill, but to dominate the other members of the tank. Keeping them in a larger tank would help you avoid such problems.

They are also a very joyous and super active fish species. They like to swim together and dart from one part of the tank to another. When they swim at fast speed, their movement would make the tank look alive, and it is a treat to watch. You might also notice that they are very explorative fish species, as they would move through the entire tank trying to dig through the gravel and checking out the caves inside the tank.

Breeding Tiger Barb:

It is one of those species that are easy to breed because both males and females are easy to identify. That can be a problem for a lot of other species of fish, where it is extremely difficult to identify the male and female separately for breeding. As you know the differences between males and females, you should separate them from their main tank and put them in a tank where you want to breed them (special breeding tank).

You should raise the temperature of your tank slightly and apart from that, put a lot of food in the breeding tank. As the female feeds on the food, it grows larger and its belly starts to swell and it produces eggs. You will see that the males and females have started to form pairs. This pairing behavior lasts only a few days during the breeding season and after that, females can choose new partners for the next breeding session.

The spawning happens early in the morning. You will notice the male circling the female to court. Female would lay about 200 eggs for one male to fertilize. These eggs are yellowish and transparent. Some of these eggs would be scattered over the plants inside your tank and some might end up in the bottom of the tank as well. It is important to remove the female at this point because it might try to eat the eggs. Male would fertilize as many eggs as it can and they would hatch after 36 hours.

Eggs and Fry Care:

The fry that would come out of these eggs would start to eat the egg sacs that they were inside. After a few days, you can start feeding the fry specialized food made for these little creatures. Fry in this species starts to swim after the fifth day of hatching, meaning that it is the time when you can start putting the food inside the fry tank. Powdered fish food, infusoria, or baby brine shrimp are some of the food items that you can put inside the tank of Tiger Barbs.

Diet of Tiger Barb:

The diet of tiger barbs is omnivore like most of the small fish species. It would eat anything that it can find in the wild environments including small insects, worms, invertebrates, and algae. That is why it is easy to care for them inside the tank. You can feed them any type of food including flake food, frozen food, and live foods.

Live foods act as their major protein source that is why you should provide them live food at least twice a week. Brine shrimp, water fleas, and bloodworms are some of their favorite live foods. They also eat vegetables including romaine lettuce, cucumbers, or zucchini, but you will have to shred the food before putting it inside.

Diseases of Tiger Barb:

You will have to take good care of your fish because there is a chance that they might get some infection, or disease which can kill them. This happens mostly because of the low quality of water, uncleanliness, and changes in water conditions. These factors can cause various health issues for your fish. The most common disease that is found in this fish species is known as Ich.

  • Ich: It is a highly contagious but treatable disease that can wipe out your aquarium if not taken care of. First of all, identify the fish with white spots and separate them, and put them in a quarantine tank. There are medicines and treatments available for this disease that you can use to treat your fish.

There are no other serious diseases that are commonly seen in this fish species but you will have to be cautious. Keeping the conditions inside the tank according to the defined parameters will help you keep your fish healthy and alive.

Are Tiger Barbs a Saltwater or Freshwater Species?

The Tiger Barb is a freshwater fish species. It is native to Indonesia and other East Asian countries.

Are Tiger Barbs a schooling species or not?

Yes, this fish displays schooling behavior. But to see this behavior, you will have to put 6 or more individuals inside the same tank. This is because the smallest school size of this species is 6. It is a very social species of fish that swims with the other members of its species. They might fight for dominance but once these fights are done, they would follow the leader inside the tank while schooling and shoaling.

Conclusion – Are Tiger Barbs Suitable For Your Aquarium?

Yes, this is one of those fish species that are suitable for any aquarium. For example, it is suitable for your aquarium if you are looking for a beautiful fish species with hyperactive nature. It is also suitable for your tank if you are new to fish keeping because it is easy to take care of and breed. You will be able to learn about fish keeping but keeping them inside your tank and taking care of them. Also, it is one of those species that are easy to breed, so, if you are a fish breeder or want to become a fish breeder, you can learn about breeding by experimenting on them. Based on these reasons, we can say that it is a suitable species for your aquarium.


Question: What is the minimum size of a school of tiger barbs?

Answer: The minimum size of a school of tiger barbs is 6. You will have to keep 6 fish inside the same tank to see the schooling and shoaling behaviors.

Question: Are tiger barbs aggressive?

Answer: Yes, they are a partially aggressive but mostly peaceful species. They fight other fish and their kind for dominance inside the tank. But they are also a social species, meaning that after these fights end, they would swim together and follow the leader.

Question: How do you breed tiger barbs?

Answer: It is very easy to breed tiger barbs. You will need to create the right conditions inside the tank and put them inside that tank. Feed them, and wait for the female to lay eggs, after that remove it, and remove the male after it is done fertilizing the eggs. After that, take care of the eggs and fry after the eggs hatch.

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