tiger barb swimming in tank with black background

How To Care For Tiger Barbs – Learn The Fundamentals!


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The tiger barb is a very popular fish, and I think for a good reason. Not only are they stunning, but they’re also fairly easy to care for and rarely boring.

These fish are great for beginners, but you do need to consider some things.

In this care guide, I will teach you the fundamentals of tiger barbs, including tank size, tank mates, diet, ideal water parameters, and much more. So without further to do, let’s begin.


A tiger barb swiming in a tank with a black background

The tiger barb is simply stunning and so unique that almost anyone could recognize it.

The tiger barb is a slightly wide and tall at the middle point of its body, which then tapers down to a triangular snout.

Tiger barbs are typically golden yellow with around four black stripes, but there are several variations of tiger barbs. They include albino tiger barbs, green tiger barbs, and black tiger barbs.

There are also Glo-fish tiger barbs, but if you want them to look how they are in the wild, I don’t recommend getting any.

Usual behavior

Tiger barbs are generally considered semi-aggressive. They can be docile, yet can and will pester smaller, slower-moving tank mates.

Even though they are considered semi-aggressive, some will advise you to ditch the idea of actually having other fish in the same tank and just get a tiger barb-only aquarium, but that is up to you.

Tiger barbs are schooling fish, so always keep at least 6 in your aquarium. The more the merrier, so try to get more if you can. Just remember that the more fish you keep, the larger tank you’ll need!

Tank Setup

These fish, which originate from the Malay Peninsula, are typically found in streams, lakes, and rivers.

When it comes to the tank setup, make sure the fish still have plenty of room to school, so avoid getting plants that will fill up the entire tank and keep tall plants near the back of the aquarium.

You may add driftwood and large rocks. Both of which will provide hiding spots for your tiger barbs so they can hide whenever they want to.


These fish can live for up to 7–10 years, but most tiger barbs will live for around 5 years if they are taken care of properly.

Make sure that the tank is clean and that the water parameters are stable. Unstable water parameters will make the fish stressed and ultimately shorten their lifespan.


These fish will typically get around 2.5–3 inches in length, but some smaller specimens may only get to about 1.5 inches long.

If you want them to grow to their maximum size, you must get your fish from a good seller or breeder and provide them with excellent care.

Tiger Barb Care

A green tiger barb in a planted aquarium.

Tiger barbs can live in a fairly wide range of water parameters and don’t need a massive aquarium, so overall they are easy to care for, but they do come with challenges.

Keep these fish the best that you can if you want them to thrive and live their longest.

Tank Size

Tiger barbs do best in at least a 20-gallon aquarium. This is mainly due to their very active nature.

Some will even recommend an even larger aquarium because of how active they are. Remember that these fish do school, so you won’t be keeping only one or two fish.

Tank Mates

Overall, these are not the best community fish, but they can live with some fish.

If you are planning on keeping other fish, make sure they’re larger and fast-moving fish. Tiger barbs can be quite curious and will eat slow-moving fish that happen to fit in their mouths.

Fish with longer fins are also not suitable tank mates, so unfortunately, bettas are out of the picture.


Tiger barbs thrive on a diet of variety. They will accept flakes (I recommend checking out API tropical flakes) and pellets, but they should never be the only food they eat.

Live baby brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and beef heart are all great supplements to their diet. They will also eat blanched zucchini, cucumbers, and algae.

Water Parameters

Tiger barbs can live in a variety of water parameters, but tiger barbs thrive in soft, slightly acidic water.

Make sure that the water parameters are always stable, otherwise, your fish could get stressed and contract an illness.

  • Temperature of the water: 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • 4-10 dKH water hardness

Common Diseases

Thankfully, there are no specific diseases that target tiger barbs, but they aren’t necessarily immune to disease either.

One of the most common disease  that these fish can to get is Ich. Ich is caused by a parasitic protozoan that eats into the victim’s body and forms a white dome around it. If your fish looks like it has salt on it, then it probably has Ich.

Luckily, Ich is treatable and curable, but it can be fatal if you don’t treat it in time.

To avoid this disease, ensure that the water parameters are stable. Sudden, large changes in the water parameters can stress the fish and make them susceptible to disease.

Typical Price

You can expect to pay around $2-3 USD for each individual, so you’re most likely going to need at least $12 if you want a school of six. However, remember that the price depends on the seller and where you live.

Breeding Tips

If you are planning on breeding tiger barbs, a breeding tank is strongly advised. Tiger barbs are known to show no parental instincts. 

The breeding tank should have similar water parameters to the main aquarium. Add fine-leaved plants and some marbles or a spawning grid if you want to ensure that the eggs do not get eaten.

If you don’t add a spawning grid, watch the pair carefully when they lay the eggs so they don’t eat them.

Males during breeding season will display bright colors and develop a red mouth. Females will be more swollen, indicating that they are full of eggs. When they are ready, take a breeding pair into the breeding tank.

Remember to feed the pair 3 times a day with live food before you add them to the tank.

Spawning will typically take place during the morning. If your tiger barbs haven’t bred in a couple of days, try making a partial water change to mimic the rainy season where they originate from.

The female will lay around 200 transparent eggs with a yellowish tint. Immediately, when the female lays her eggs, remove the breeding pair.

Once the fry has hatched (around 36 hours after breeding), you may feed them baby brine shrimp and crushed flake food.

If you’d like to learn more about breeding tiger barbs, I recommend checking out this article by Life of Fish.

Are Tiger Barbs Right for Me?

If you’re looking for a colorful, schooling fish that won’t spend half their time hiding, then perhaps the tiger barb is for you!

Note that these fish can be a bit aggressive, so be extra careful when you’re picking out tank mates for these fish. Also, these fish are very active, so you will need at least a 20-gallon tank.

Overall, they are a great fish for beginners and experts alike. Just remember that these fish do come with some challenges.



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