|Genus & Species: Puntigrus Tetrazona|
|Common Names: Tiger Barb, Striped Barb|
|Temperature: 77 – 82ºF (25 – 28ºC)|
|pH: 6.0 – 8.0|
|GH: 5.0 – 19 dGH|
|Max Size: 7 – 10 cm (2.75 – 4 inches) in length and 3 – 4 cm (1.2 – 1.6 inches) in width|
|Lifespan: 7 years|
|Depth Preference: Mid dweller|
|Tank Size: 30 gallons|
Tiger barbs are widely distributed and available throughout the aquarium hobby, which has resulted in the development of varying phenotypes that have undergone selective breeding, such as the albino, green, golden, platinum, black marble, and red variations.
Origin & Habitat
Tiger barbs are a freshwater species of fish endemic to Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. They have been seen in various parts of Asia but due to their popularity within the aquarium trade, differentiating natural habitats from introduced ranges has been challenging.
These barbs are often found in shallow backwater creeks and streams with moderate flow, water quality ranges from clear to murky waters.
Tiger Barb Care
Artificial lighting has been observed to affect the growth rate of tiger barbs, a recent study published their findings using 4 different shades of light. White light promoted the highest growth rates while green light produced the slowest growth rate. Artificial lighting had no significant effects on the fish’s survivability and mortality rates.
A tight-fitted lid will need to be installed since tiger barbs are rather quick swimmers and tend to jump out of open tanks. Filtration units should also be capable of producing enough flow to mimic their natural habitat rather than low oxygenated stagnate water.
The length of the aquarium is more important than the depth or height since schools of tiger barbs are a very active and agile species of fish. Creating enough room for them to swim while providing them shelter will ensure a healthy and stress-free environment.
Tiger Barb Diet & Feeding
Being omnivorous, tiger barbs will readily accept most commercially available foods. High-quality color-enhancing tropical flake food, pellet food, and protein-based foods of the proper size and texture should be combined into their feeding schedule to provide a nutritionally balanced and healthy diet.
An 8-week controlled study was performed consisting of diets varying in protein content (20%, 33%, and 45%) to determine the health effects of tiger barbs. Significant mortality rates were discovered in the group that was fed with the lowest protein content (20% protein), suffering a 32.1% mortality rate. The tiger barb group that was fed with a 45% protein-based food experienced no mortalities, growth rates were also the highest in this group.
The best sources of food that are high in protein consist of blood worms, insects, insect larvae, brine shrimp, daphnia, infusoria, and prawns. Live aquatic plants such as java moss, java fern, and water thyme are also great sources of plant-based food that barbs will typically nibble on which also helps in the prevention of bloat.
Tank Mates & Temperament
Tiger barbs are an active species of fish that will definitely make your aquarium much more lively! A semi-aggressive fish that forms a pecking order, in large numbers they spend the majority of their time chasing each other.
In smaller groups, aggression towards other tank mates may become more prominent and frequent in nature. Tiger barbs are a shoaling species of fish that are best kept in groups of 6 – 8 or more. It is recommended to add enough décor, plants, and rocks for fish to retreat to in order to reduce stress while sharing a community tank with barbs.
Ideal tiger barb tank mates are fast-swimming species of fish without long-flowing fins. The only angelfish that can be housed comfortably with a barb is the Dwarf Angelfish due to its more aggressive nature, smaller size, and speed. Barbs, corydoras, dwarf cichlids, danios, rasboras, livebearers, loaches, rainbowfish, tetras, catfish, plecos, and most other species of Cyprinidae are suitable tank mates.
Male & Female Differences
Females are typically larger than males in both length and width with a rounded belly, whereas males will be a little leaner and taller. Males will also display brighter red colorations on their dorsal fin, caudal fin, anal fin, and nose; sexual dimorphic characteristics are more prominent during breeding seasons when their red coloration will become much more pronounced.
The red coloration is usually absent in females but they may display small blotches of faint red coloration on their fins and nose.
Breeding & Spawning
Tiger barbs are an egg-scattering species of fish that exhibit no parental care, fish fry typically spawn within 36 – 48 hours post-fertilization; they will become free-swimming within 3 – 5 days.
With the right conditions and a nutritionally balanced diet, they will likely spawn without any intervention at all. Males and females temporarily pair off and bond during this period, scattering eggs onto fine-leaved aquatic plants.
A more controlled and effective approach would require separating both sexes for 1 – 2 weeks while placing them on a strict live food diet consisting of cultured daphnia, brine shrimp, or mysis shrimp. Feeding intervals should be increased to 4 – 5 times daily in smaller amounts without causing too much excess waste.
During this time, female tiger barbs will become plumper and their eggs may even become visible, the males will display brighter red colorations.
Place one male and one female into a small 5 – 10 gallon tank with a spawning mop or fine-leaved aquatic plants for the females to scatter their eggs onto. Continue feeding them live foods in frequent yet small amounts throughout the day. Each morning you will want to investigate the tank for any signs of eggs so that you can remove the adults in order to prevent them from eating their eggs.
Some aquatic plants produce higher quantities of eggs and hatch rates when it comes to breeding tiger barbs. Water thyme (Hydrilla) has been observed to produce the most eggs with impressive hatch rates of up to 88.14%. The survival rate was attributed to the high concentration of dissolved oxygen that the Hydrillas produced.
The fish fry will need to be fed cultured infusoria, daphnia, or baby brine shrimp for the first couple of weeks before they will readily accept flake food.
The tiger barb was originally recognized in 1855 and given the scientific name Barbus Tetrazona by Dutch ichthyologist Pieter Bleeker. But shortly after, Bleeker referred to an entirely different species using the same scientific name. In his more than 500 publications on ichthyology, Bleeker described more than 500 new genera and about 2,000 new species.
Previously, the genus Puntius was considered to be a polyphyletic universal term that included over 100 different species, but this problem has now mostly been addressed. Older publications that uses Puntigrus Tetrazona’s former names frequently refers to it as Puntius Tetrazona, Systomus Tetrazona, or Capoeta Tetrazona.
Kottelat created the genus Puntigrus in 2013 to house a collection of species formerly known as the Puntius Tetrazona group. In addition to Barbodes, Desmopuntius, Haludaria, Oliotius, Pethia, Puntigrus, Sahyadria, and Systomus, many species that were previously classified under the genus Puntius have been reassigned to different genera.
Puntigrus Tetrazona can be identified from close relatives by the combination of the following traits: lateral line incomplete; 12 circumpeduncular scales; 19-21+2 scales in the lateral row; pelvic fins that are predominantly black in the middle but translucent at the base and tip; and reasonably wide dark body bands that can cover up to 2.5 scales.
Frank Chapman. Evaluation of Commercially-Formulated Diets for Feeding Tiger Barb, Puntius tetrazona. 2008
Rumondang, Suhardi Indra Fansyah, Juliwati Batubara, and Khairani Laila. Tiger Barb (Puntiustetrazona) Spawning Using Different Substrates. 2018
Mohammad Hadi Abolhasani, Seyed Abbas Hosseini, Rasool Ghorbani, Mohammad Sudagar, and Seyyed Morteza Hoseini. Growth, Survival, and Stress Resistance of Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona) Larvae Fed Fish Oil-Enriched Artemia franciscana Nauplii. 2014
Mohammad Forouhar Vajargah, and Seyed Aliakbar Hedayati. Study of growth indices and survival rate of un-matured Tiger barb (Barbus tetazone) during exposure to different light colors. 2016
Rohan Pethiyagoda. Haludaria, a replacement generic name for Dravidia (Teleostei: Cyprinidae). 2013
Maurice Kottelat. The fishes of the inland waters of Southeast Asia: A catalogue and core bibliography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries. 2013