Tiger Barbs
caring for and breeding them in captivity

By Steven – lil_rocker_uk

Common Name: Tiger Barb

Scientific Name: BarbusTetrazona

Family: Cyprinids

Subfamily: Capoeta

Origin: Indonesia, Borneo, Thailand and Sumatra.

Habitat: Warm, shallow, fast flowing rivers, which are well planted.

Diet: Omnivorous, they will accept most aquarium foods. But try to vary their diet like you would any other fish, to keep them looking their best.

General Information: Tiger barbs are egg scatterers, which means they will scatter their eggs all over the aquarium and have no specific breeding site. Tiger barbs are a pale yellow colour with 4 black stripes running down their bodies. They have a slight “bump” behind the snout leading up to the base of the dorsal fin. There is another species of barb, the Pentazona Barb, which looks very similar to the tiger barb but has a fifth stripe running down its body. There are two other types of the tiger barb, the green tiger barb and the golden/albino tiger barb. Over the years there has been some debate to whether green tiger barbs are dyed. Although, there is a natural colour green tiger barb which is a metallic green colour. The better the water quality, the better the colour. My green tiger barbs when I purchased them six moths ago were a dull, light metallic green, now they are very dark blue. In some tiger barbs, the fish may show blotches of black scales as well as its vertical stripes.

Sexing: When mature, male tiger barbs will show bright red noses, his dorsal fin will have a red line above the mainly black fin and his ventral fins will turn bright red. When in spawning condition or fighting for a higher “rank” in the shoal, the males stripes turn a slight metallic green colour. And the tips to his upper body scales turn almost black and shine bright orange in certain light.
The females however, keep their pale yellow noses (may turn slightly pale red at times, which makes it tricky to determine their sex in store). They only show a small area of red at the tip of the dorsal fins, and ventral fins will stay pale red. In females, their stripes stay black.

Ideal Tank: Tiger barbs have a notorious reputation as “fin nippers”. However, this can be overcome when kept in its ideal tank setup. I wouldn’t recommend anything smaller than a 20 gallon tank for a shoal of at least 8 tiger barbs (this shoal can be divided into the 3 colour varieties stated above, therefore you do not need to keep just 8 normal tiger barbs). Its best to keep them in a shoal of at least 8 so they will not harass other fish species as much and will concentrate their aggression within their own shoal. The bigger the shoal the better, And do not keep them with highly territorial fish like African cichlids.
I have a shoal of 8 in a 20 gallon tiger barb species setup, with 5 normal tiger barbs and 3 green tiger barbs, soon to add 3 of the albino variety J
The tank should be well planted at the back of the aquarium, with plenty of open swimming space, as tiger barbs are constantly fast swimming fish.
As they have a reputation as fin nippers, even when kept in a large shoal, should not be kept with long finned fish like bettas (fighters) and guppies. But kept in a shoal of at least 8 tiger barbs, they will do great in a community tank (without long fins).

Size of fish: In the wild, tiger barbs can grow to three inches, although it is much smaller in aquaria, often no bigger than two inches.

Temperature: Anything between 24 – 28 degrees Celsius. 27-28 for breeding.

Breeding: Spawning and raising the fry is a relatively simple task. Set up a breeding tank of at least 20 gallons. Keep the water slightly acidic for breeding. The tank should have a heater, sponge filter, a layer or two of marbles on the tank bottom to hide and protect the eggs, and a few live plants. Lower the temperature to 25 degrees Celsius. Introduce the female first and condition on a variety of live, frozen or freeze dried foods like brine shrimp, the same goes for the male, but keep them separate for two days before introducing the male. When the female has filled with eggs put the male in the breeding tank in the afternoon. You will/should notice them instantly start to swim around each other and the male will “head stand” and spread all his fins right out and display to her, this will excite the female.
The actual spawning will take place the following morning. The male will franticly chase her through plants, nipping at her anal and ventral fins, soon the female will allow him to catch up with her, he will force her against the plants and she will release 1 – 3 eggs, which the male will instantly fertilize. Then the eggs will fall into plants and in between the marbles. Sometimes marbles can be a bad choice as some fry may become stuck in between them. The marbles also mean that you cannot tell whether you have any eggs unless you can see under the tank. Feed the pair white worms or bloodworms to reduce the amount of falling eggs they eat. Females can hold 200-700 eggs and will release them 1-3 eggs at a time. They will keep this up until all her eggs have been released. After she has released all of her eggs the pair will simply loose interest with each other, it is time to remove the pair. Put the male back in the community tank, the female can be added to the community tank or you can put her in a recovery tank for 2 weeks, then add her to the community aquarium.
You can carefully take the marbles out of the breeding tank, checking to make sure there are no eggs attached to them, leave the plants, heater and sponge filter in. Eggs that turn white can be removed as these are infertile and the fungus will spread to fertile eggs killing them! The eggs will hatch in around 48 hours.

Raising the fry: Once the eggs have hatched, you will notice tiny fry stuck to plants and the tank sides. They look like tiny shards of glass with 2 black dots, the eyes.
Do not feed the fry until they are free swimming as the fry are absorbing their egg sacs, this usually takes around 5 days. Use this time to culture infusoria (tiny microscopic organisms that the fry can eat) and baby brine shrimp. As soon as the fry are free swimming they will be looking for food, now is the time to start feeding, they will eat anything that can fit into their tiny mouths, so start with infusoria. You can buy commercial fry food, but not as many fry can find that food, they prefer the food to swim to them. After a further 5 days, you can start to feed them newly hatched brine shrimp nauplii, this will sometimes turn their stomachs orange, it won’t harm them, this is just the colour of the food. When the fry get a little bigger, you can start to feed them finely crushed tropical flakes (which you can make by crushing some flakes to powder). Then when a little older, you can move on to feed them a little older brine shrimp (juvenile) or daphnia, or crushed freeze-dried foods. When the fry reach a size of 11mm, you don’t need to crush up their food as much. Carry that on until they reach 2-2.5cm, then you can feed them regular sized flakes and foods. Fry will need to be fed no more than 3 times a day, when feeding infusoria, a small amount in the morning can last all day!
When the fish reach 2.5-3cm, you may add them to your community tank or sell them to your LFS (although phone them up first)

My comments: Tiger barbs make an excellent addition to the community aquarium. One of my tanks is dedicated to the tiger barb and contains 27 of these lively beauties, they are a mixture of all 3 colourations of the species and look their best when in a well planted aquarium. This fish is for the intermediate hobbyist

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