Keeping Tiger Barbs in the Aquarium – here’s how it works

tiger barb

The tiger barb is one of the most popular freshwater fish among aquarists worldwide and should not be confused with moss barbs. Thanks to the attractive colouring and the particularly lively species, this ornamental fish is an interesting eye-catcher in any aquarium. The Tiger barb belongs to the family of carp fishes and attracts attention with its distinct play instinct. The active aquarium inhabitant does not only look pretty, he is also easy to keep and breed, if some conditions are created.

How you can keep the up to six to seven centimetre large animals in your aquarium, which water characteristics Sumatran barbels prefer and with which species they can be socialized, we show you in the following Aquarium Guide article.

Table of Contents

Everything important about tiger barbs in brief

  • The freshwater fish is known as tiger barb, tiger barb, Hong Kong barb and tiger barb
  • tiger barbbelongs to the class of ray fins, the order and family of carp and the genus of striped barbels
  • Sumatran barbs originate from South East Asia and are native to Central Kalimantan and Borneo
  • Adult males and females reach a size of six to seven centimetres
  • Sumatran barbs should always be kept in groups of at least eight to ten animals. In this way, it is possible to observe their interesting behaviour patterns closely.
  • A socialization with long-finned fish, such as the honey gouramis, should be avoided, as the animals tend to nibble on the fins.
  • Sumatran barbs can be kept in aquariumfrom 180 litres, i.e. an edge length of one metre
  • The natural habitat of tiger barbhas dark sand, roots and dense planting
  • tiger barbcan be kept in the aquarium at 22 to 26 degrees Celsius, a pH value between six and eight and a total hardness between five and 19 dGH
  • The males are less corpulent than the females
  • Characteristic are the four broad cross-bands in black, which run through the eye, from the anal to the dorsal fin and from the back to the belly

Where are tiger barbs found?

Although the name suggests that Sumatran barbels are native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, tiger barb occurs in the wild in Indonesia on Kalimantan and Borneo. The natural habitat are the rather cool and easy flowing rivers Bulungan, Kapuas and Mahakam in the west of Borneo – but also in Malaysia and Singapore tiger barbs are quite common.

How many tiger barbs are kept in the aquarium?

The tiger barb shows a pronounced play instinct. In order for the active freshwater fish to live it out, you should keep it exclusively in a group. In order for the animals to fully live out their distinctive social behaviour, at least eight other conspecifics are recommended.

For the Sumatran barb, small fights are part of the typical behavioral repertoire, which are best fought out with conspecifics. Other fish would perceive the pronounced play instinct as aggressive and stressful, which is why it is essential to have enough conspecifics in the aquarium.

The gender distribution in the group plays a subordinate role in tiger barbels and only needs to be considered when breeding is planned. If breeding is planned, the group of tiger barb should include several females at the same time.

How do you keep tiger barbs in an aquarium?

The tank in which the swimming Sumatran barbels are to be kept should have a capacity of at least 180 litres and an edge length of 100 cm – in this way the animals have sufficient swimming space.

If the barbs pluck the fins of other aquarium inhabitants and show a high degree of aggressiveness, this is a signal that the habitat is not large enough. Either the tank is too small, too badly structured or the stocking is too large. To avoid the fill error, we recommend our guidebook article “180-240 liter aquarium fill examples”.

The optimal tank for tiger barbels must necessarily contain some roots and stones, which serve as visual protection and as a territorial boundary. Furthermore, the tank must have dense edge planting and some retreat possibilities.

The balancing act between hiding places, dense border planting and sufficient free swimming space must be mastered. The reason for this is that the Hong Kong Barb is usually found in the middle layer of water, where it hunts and plays. They therefore need sufficient free space, especially in this region of the pool.

As Puntigrus terazona are known to burrow in the ground to look for food, the ground should not have sharp edges. Accordingly, no coarse gravel should be used in the aquarium, but fine sand – quartz sand from the hardware store is very suitable for this purpose.

In their natural habitat, tiger barbs find hiding places in the queasy subsoil of densely planted riparian zones. The aquarium should be designed in accordance with the natural habitat so that the animals feel comfortable in the tank.

An external or internal filter should always be used in the aquarium. Hong Kong barbels live in slow-flowing waters in the wild, so the aquarium should also have a light current. A strong external filter also contributes to the cleanliness of the tank.

If tiger barb is upside down, this is a typical behaviour, which is no cause for concern as long as the fish does not move away from the shoal. If the animals move away from the group, this may indicate a possible disease or a defective lateral line organ. In this case the condition of the animals should be observed further – if the group becomes too small due to the death of a barbel, the group size must be increased again.

Which water values does a tiger barb prefer?

Sumatran barbs are not only very suitable for beginners in terms of their behaviour, but also the preferred water characteristics of the animals can usually be easily achieved with typical German tap water – without the need for an osmosis plant or other technology. If the following water values are given in the aquarium, tiger barb feel particularly well:

  • Temperature: 22-26° C
  • pH value: 6.0-8.0
  • Total hardness: 5-19° dGH

For your tiger barbs to feel completely comfortable, the temperature should be between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius. Make sure that the pH value does not fall below 6.0 and is not above 8.0. As far as total hardness is concerned, you should aim for a value between 5 and 19° dGH.

These water values make friends with many South American and Southeast Asian species, which is why the animals can be socialized with countless animals – but more about this in the next section.

association of tiger barbs

The tiger barb is an extremely active fish, which forms territories in the group and knows how to defend itself from other inhabitants. The animals should therefore not be associated with species that are too calm, such as red neon or the Ember tetra.

Sumatran barbs tend to nibble long fins. They should therefore never be socialized with long finned species: so angelfish, fighting fish or gourami should be avoided altogether.

Sumatran red mullets should be socialized with larger and more robust species that can defend themselves against the dominant behaviour of the animals. In addition, the preferred water values of tiger barb should be considered.

Ideal for socialization are catfish species such as the L333, the whiptail catfish or the feather beard catfish. But also small loach species, such as the ember terta and other barb species, such as the wedge-tailed bearblings are very well suited for socializing with tiger barbs.

What does a tiger barb eat?

The freshwater fish from the southeast of Asia are grateful omnivores. Sumatran barbs can be fed with any food, but a varied diet is advisable – by the way, you will find an overview of the different types of aquarium fish food in our guide article.

tiger barb is happy about live food, which can be fed once or twice a week. Tubifex, mosquito larvae and water fleas are real treats for ornamental fish.

However, the daily food basis can be granulate or flake food, which is easy to feed on the one hand and affordable on the other.

Frozen food also represents a change in the diet. tiger barb does not despise food and also likes to eat fresh vegetables. Instead, lettuce can be cut into strips and doused with hot water – the finished, vegetable food can then be fed to the tiger barbs in the aquarium from time to time.

Feeding of the brood of the animals should be started with dust food. Subsequently, a change toBrine shrimp is recommended. But more about this in the following section about breeding tiger barbs.

How are tiger barbs bred?

The majority of the Sumatran barbs offered in the fish trade are bred. This already indicates that the breeding of the animals can be done quite easily, which is quite true in practice.

For breeding, optimal water values in the separate breeding tank are the basic requirement. Optimal in this context means that the water in the aquarium should be soft and slightly acidic. The water from the community tank can be used in the breeding tank without any problems if between five and ten percent of the water is still exchanged for cool fresh water.

Now you choose a well-fed couple from the community tank, which you then place in the breeding tank.

tiger barb is a free spawner. In order for the eggs to be laid, the spawning tank must be planted very densely with tufts of fine-grained plants, in which the females can lay their eggs.

The breeding tank does not require a substrate, but it must be additionally darkened with a dense blanket of floating plants. Floating plants provide excellent protection against strong light.

To prevent the female from eating the eggs, she should be fed with Enchyträen already weeks before breeding. The females can lay up to 200 eggs, which hatch after three to four days.

After hatching, the fish larvae feed on their yolk sac for five to six days. Only when this is completely used up do the young begin to swim freely in the tank and search for food. The young tiger barbs should first be fed with particularly fine dust-feed and later with Brine shrimp. Infusoria can be used for targeted feeding.

Conclusion: Keeping tiger barbs in the aquarium is not difficult

The tiger barb is a colourful freshwater fish that can live out its intensively pronounced social behaviour in a shoal of eight to ten conspecifics.

Sumatran red mullets feel comfortable at a water temperature between 22 and 26 degrees, a pH value between 6.0 and 8.0 and a total hardness between 5 and 19° dGH.

In the middle layer of water, sufficient free floating space must be provided, while at the same time there must be dense border planting and some hiding places at the bottom. A dark and fine bottom ground and a light current are gladly accepted by the animals.

Under no circumstances should tiger barb be socialized with long-finned species. Instead, catfish, loaches, barbels and bearblings can be used as supplementary stock.

Sumatran barbs are omnivores, which should be fed a variety of live food, frozen food, vegetables, flake food and granules.

If you follow a few guidelines and tips, you will certainly have a lot of fun with tiger barb and only little effort, which is why the animals are in our opinion definitely suitable for beginners.

Do you already keep tiger barbs in your aquarium? Show us your pictures!

Keeping Tiger Barbs in the Aquarium – here’s how it works

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