Barbs – Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona)

Updated on November 20, 2020 by

Endowed with exuberant colour shadings and remarkable personality, the Tiger Barb is one of the most popular freshwater fish, and a great beauty to the aquarium. They are social in nature and move in synergy of the school group, exhibiting delightful personalities.

Though they are notable fin-nippers, they would do great in the tank with the right companions. They are quite easy to care for, and would really make a great choice.

Quick stats – Tiger Barb

Max size3” / 7.6 cm
AquariumMin 30 gallon / 110 liters
Water74-79° F / 23-26° C

KH 4-10, pH 6.0-7.0

Care levelEasy
ColorsBlack, orange, white, yellow, green

Tiger Barb description

The Tiger Barb (Puntigrus Tetrazona) belongs to the Cyprinidae family. The scientific name Tetrazona depicts the 4-bands distinguishing it from other Barb species with more than 4 bands. Native to the Sumatra and Borneo regions, the Tiger Barb is sometimes also called the Sumatra Barb or Sumatranus.

The male Tiger Barbs are more colorful than the females, which are rather pale relative to the male. The female Barbs are rounded at their bellies and have the tendency of growing larger than the males.

Significant other types of Tiger Barbs are the Green Tiger Barb and the Albino Barb. The Green Tiger Barb has a metallic green color which is often influenced by the quality of the water. The Albino Barb is close to a whitish yellow in colour, having almost invisible stripes.

Notably fin-nippers, they are not kept with long-fin and slow fish, as they would harass them.

They can be found in most pet shops and fish stores. With just a few dollars, these lovely species can light up your home.

Providing them with the right environment and proper care, the Tiger Barbs can live up to 7-10 years.

Tiger Barb in the natural habitat

Originating from Asia and native to the island of Borneo, the Tiger Barbs are also found in lakes, streams and swamps of Sumatra, Thailand, and Cambodia.

In the wild they are found in moderate flowing freshwater bodies with highly oxygenated water, having a pH of 6.0 – 8.0, water hardness of 5 – 19 dGh, and a temperature in the range of 74 – 79° F.

Although they prefer shallow waters, they can be also seen at different depths.

They are found in environments with thin vegetation and an abundance of rocky substrate.

As a playful and social species, they always move in school groups.

Tiger Barb in the ideal aquarium

Tiger Barb - Puntius tetrazona

Setting up the ideal aquarium for the Tiger Barb would mimic its natural habitat, so as to provide their ideal comfort. As a social species, this requires housing 4-5 Tiger Barbs in a well filtered 30 gallon tank, having a pH of 6.0 – 8.0, temperature of 74 – 79° F and hardness of 5 – 19 dGh.

However if more Tiger Barbs are to be added into the tank, an extra 3 gallon space should be provided for each Tiger Barb added. The water flow should be moderate to fast flowing. The water should be changed every month, replacing about 40% of the water.

As active and fast swimmers, they have the tendency of jumping out of the tank, this requires that the tank should be provided with a tight lid.

A substrate of fine gravel with many rocks should mimic their natural habitat and provide the Tiger Barbs with enough comfort.

As active swimmers, they don’t require lots of vegetation for hiding. Submerged freshwater plants such as water wisteria, java ferns and dwarf hairgrass planted at the corners of the tank will be perfect for the tank, as these plants do not require special lighting and are suitable for the Tiger Barbs, and planting them at the corners will make enough room at the center for free swimming.

Tiger Barbs can survive in both high and low lighting, so whatever suits your home best will be okay with the Tiger Barbs.

Selecting tank mates for the Tiger Barbs can be a hassle, as they are mischievous species, notable for fin-nipping and can harass most of the other fish species, especially slow moving and long finned ones. Most suitable tank mates of the Tiger Barbs are more Tiger Barbs.

However, the same Barb species like Rosy Barb, Cherry Barb, Black Ruby Barb, and Tinfoil Barb, are compatible with the Tiger Barbs.

Also fast moving species alike such as Tetras, Danios, Bristlenose Plecos, are suitable tank mates for the Tiger Barbs. When housing Tiger Barbs with other species, they shouldn’t be the first members of the tank, else they will become territorial and see every other fish species added later as intruders.

Extremely aggressive species should be greatly avoided in the tank of Tiger Barbs, as this might create territorial disputes between the species. Also slow moving fish should be greatly avoided, as the Tiger Barbs will always outcompete them for food, leaving them always starving or poorly fed.

Also species with long fins should be greatly avoided too, as these mischievous fin-nippers would continuously harass them, making their stay unbearable and uncomfortable. This requires that species such as Betta, Angelfish, Gourami and small invertebrates are unsuitable tank mates for the Tiger Barb.

Tiger Barb feeding

As omnivores, they can feed on different varieties of food, including meaty food (live or frozen), vegetables and flaked meals.

They are not heavy eaters and as such should be fed with just as much as they can eat in 3-5 minutes.

Brine shrimp, bloodworm and beefheart would make a great meaty meal for the Tiger Barbs. Boiled lettuce and zucchini are delicious plant food for the Tiger Barbs.

Flaked meals are used to supplement their diet and provide them with the needed nutrients for vitality. Every leftover food should be removed from the tank as soon as they are done eating.

Tiger Barb breeding

Tiger Barbs are temporarily-paired spawners, this simply means that the Tiger Barbs do not have a particular/preferential breeding mate. They choose different mates each time they want to spawn. So preferably they should be kept in larger groups until formed pairs are noticed and moved to a different tank.

A breeding tank should be provided for the breeding process. The water condition of the breeding tank should have a pH of 6.5, temperature of 80° F, and hardness of 10dGh.

A submerged thick vegetation in the form of grass and reed would provide comfort for Tiger Barbs during the breeding process.

The female should be the first introduced into the breeding tank, after which the male tiger barb should be introduced 2-3 days later. During this period, the pairs should be fed more often, feeding them with a highly proteinous meal 2-3 times a day to stimulate breeding.

When they are ready for breeding, the male Tiger Barb brightens up with a more intense color while the female becomes bigger and rounder.

As an egg-scattering species, the females scatter their eggs along the substrate during spawning, after which the male Tiger Barb follows to fertilize the eggs.

After the eggs have been laid and fertilized, the pair needs to be removed as they lack parenting instincts and have the tendency of feeding on their eggs.

Usually, the eggs hatch in 48 hours but are still enclosed in their yolk-sac for 3-5 days after which they become full fry. The fry should be fed with brine shrimp larvae for a period of 2-3 days, after which they are capable of feeding on commercial and larger foods.

The fry mature in 6-7 weeks, upon which they are ready to explore other aquarium worlds.

Tiger Barb - Puntius tetrazona

To conclude

Tiger Barbs are playful social species that comfortably thrive in captivity while kept in school groups having at least 5 – 6 Tiger Barbs. Special types are namely the Green Tiger Barb and the Albino Barb.

As active fast swimmers and notorious fin-nippers they are not compatible with slow moving and long-finned species.

As omnivores, they can feed on a variety of meals, ranging from live food, to vegetables and flaked meals.

A breeding tank should be provided to stimulate the breeding process. After spawning and fertilization, the Tiger Barbs should be removed from the breeding tank, to avoid feasting on the fry.

With proper care, Tiger Barbs can live up to 7 – 10 years and can grow up to 3” (7.6 cm) long while beautifying your aquarium world.

Tiger Barb - Puntius tetrazona
Tiger Barb - Puntius tetrazona
Tiger Barb - Puntius tetrazona


Tiger Barb FAQs

How long do Tiger Barbs live?

With proper care and adequate environment, Tiger Barbs can live up to 7 – 10 years old.

What are suitable tank mates for Tiger Barbs?

Suitable tank mates of the Tiger Barbs are other species of the Barb family, such as Rosy Barb, Cherry Barb, Black Ruby Barb, and Tinfoil Barb.

However, most suitable tank mates of the Tiger Barbs are more Tiger Barbs.

What is the maximum size of Tiger Barbs?

The Tiger Barbs can grow up to 3” or 7.6 cm long.