Animal Information

The Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona)

The Tiger Barb was previously known as Barbus tetrazona. It was once called the “Sumatranus” because it came from Sumatra. Other common names they are known by are Sumatra Barb and Partbelt Barb.

The Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona) was described by Bleeker in 1855. They are native to the island of Borneo and found in both the Malaysian state of Sarawak and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island. Now in 2018 feral populations have been found in Singapore, Australia, the United States, Colombia, and others.

Generally, this  Cyprinid species fish are not wild-caught. They are normally farm-bred in the Far East and Eastern Europe. Several varieties and ‘color morphs’ of this barb are also available.

Tiger Barb fish has been a popular fish for a long time because these fish are easy to keep and well suited to aquarists of all experience levels. The Tiger Barb is hardy as long as their water is kept clean with regular water changes. These very active, fast swimming, and playful fish like an aquarium with plants, but it’s best to situate the vegetation around the perimeter of the tank to leave a lot of open area for swimming.

Can They Live Together? Or With Other Fish?

This species does need company and will do best in a school of at least 6 or 7 fishes. They are rather nippy, and in a school, they will quickly establish a “pecking order.” They have been known to nip the fins of slower-moving and long-finned fish as well, such as gouramis and angelfish, particularly when they are kept individually or in a smaller group. In a larger school, they are generally too busy chasing each other to bother with their other fish you may have in your aquarium.

The lively Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona)makes a good community fish, especially with other fast-moving fish. However, they have been known to get a bit nippy, especially when kept singly or in very small groups. They have a tendency to nip the fins of slow-moving and long-finned fishes, such as gouramis and angelfish. A singly kept fish will be highly aggressive.

Groups of this fish will be hierarchal. It is a good idea to keep them in a school of at least 6 or 7 to diffuse some of their aggressive tendencies. This can help to prevent bullying of other fish. In schools, they bother each other instead of the other tank inhabitants.

What Do Tiger Barb Fish Eat?

They will eat all kinds of foods and are fairly easy to breed. A great fish for both beginning and advanced aquarists, Tiger Barbs can be nippy with tankmates. The omnivorous Tiger Barb feeds on insects, diatoms, algae, small invertebrates, and detritus in the wild. Captive Tiger Barbs will generally eat all kinds of living, fresh, and flake foods. To keep a good balance, give them a high-quality flake food every day. Feed brine shrimp (either live or frozen) or blood worms as a treat.

Tiger Barbs (Puntius tetrazona) are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. Aquariums are closed systems, and regardless of size, all need some maintenance. Over time, decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and water hardness increases due to evaporation. Replace 25 to 50% of the tank water at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked, 20 to 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

What Kind Of Enclosure Do These Fish Need?

This fish is striking and will enliven and beautify any tank. This species is the largest of the ‘banded barbs’ and has a gaily colored yellow-to-red body with 4 very distinctive black stripes. When mature, the colors tend to fade a bit, but a school of these fish playful and attractive fish kept in a nice-sized aquarium makes an awesome display.

These fish will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks that simulate their natural habitat. As with most of the barb species, they are most at home in well-planted aquariums. They also need open swimming areas. Along with plants, a sandy substrate, and bogwood. The more you mimic their native habitat the happier they will be. An efficient filter and good water movement are needed for the male fishes to develop their coloration.

Can You Breed Tiger Barb Fish?

You can tell the difference between male and female is that the female is heavier. She is especially heavier during the spawning season. The males are more brightly colored and smaller. During spawning, they will develop a very red nose.

The Tiger Barb is moderately easy to breed.  They become sexually mature at about 6 to 7 weeks of age when they have attained a size between about 3/4 of an inch to just over an inch in length (2 – 3 cm). Select breeding pairs from the school that have excellent markings and strong color.

These fish are egg layers that scatter their eggs rather than using a specific breeding site. The eggs are adhesive and will fall to the substrate. These fish can spawn in a 20-gallon breeding tank. The water should be a medium hardness to 10° dGH, slightly acidic, with a pH of about 6.5, and a temperature between 74 and 79° F (24 – 26° C).

Condition the pair with a variety of live foods, such as brine shrimp. Introduce the female to the breeding tank first, and add the male after a couple of days when the female is full of eggs. The courting ritual will start in the late afternoon with them swimming around each other. The male will perform headstands and spread his fins to excite the female. The spawn will take place in the morning, with the male chasing and nipping the female. The female will begin releasing 1 to 3 eggs at a time. Up to 300 eggs will be released, though more mature females can hold 700 or more. After the spawn, remove the parents as they will eat the eggs. The eggs will hatch in about 48 hours.

Baby Tiger Barb fish are called fry. Raising the fry is relatively simple. These baby fish will be free-swimming in about 5 days. The free-swimming fry should be fed infusoria, a liquid fry food, or newly hatched baby brine at least 3 times a day. Pay close attention when feeding, as uneaten foods can quickly foul the water, and the fry requires clean water to survive.

Enthusiast Secret!

The rule of thumb when offering food several times a day is to offer only what they can [su_highlight]consume [/su_highlight]in 3 minutes or less at each feeding. When offering food just once a day, provide what they can eat in about 5 minutes.


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