How to Take Care of Tiger Barbs

A group of tiger barbs in an aquarium.
A group of tiger barbs in an aquarium. (Image: Stevan Mihajlik/Hemera/Getty Images)

Lively and swift, the colorful tiger barb is an easy-to-keep fish who prefers the company of his own kind. Characterized by the thick stripes adorning their shiny bodies, tiger barbs are a hardy, undemanding fish when it comes to the acidity of their water, though they do enjoy a varied diet. Because they are easily kept and entertaining to watch, tiger barbs are a favorite of fish keepers the world over.

Things You'll Need

  • Tank that will hold at least 20 gallons of fresh water.
  • A school of at least six tiger barbs.
  • Fine gravel substrate for the bottom of the tank.
  • Driftwood or large rocks for hiding places.
  • Fish food of different types, including vegetable flakes, frozen and live food.

Prepare the aquarium. The ideal home for a tiger barb is a tank that will hold at least 20 gallons of water, according to the Fish Channel. Tiger barbs will do best in a tank lined with fine gravel substrate. The temperature of the tank may vary between 68 to 78 degrees.

Provide a hiding place. Placing driftwood or large rocks in the center of the tank will give tiger barbs some privacy for resting or spawning purposes. Many fish enthusiasts enjoy keeping live aquarium plants, which the fish will nibble on when not chasing their fellow tank mates.

Keep tiger barbs in schools of at least six fish. These social aquarium-dwellers gain a sense of security in numbers, and will appreciate the company of their own kind. They can often be observed chasing one another and engaging in mock-battle scenarios, according to the Fish Channel. These aggressive tendencies may be imposed upon slower, more vulnerable fish if tiger barbs do not have a school of their own.

Feed them properly. Wild tiger barbs are omnivorous, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and their tame cousins are no different. Domestic tiger barbs prefer a variety of foods, including live bloodworms or glass worms. They will enjoy consuming vegetable flakes and may try parboiled lettuce or zucchini if offered.

Clean the tank on a regular basis. Tank maintenance is an important part of preserving aquarium life. Fish experts at the website Pet Education recommend cleaning freshwater tanks on a weekly basis, and testing the water if the aquarium has no plants. Tank owners should first remove the aquarium's residents, unplug the heater or pump and remove plants and tank decorations. The tank should then be scrubbed with an algae sponge. A gravel cleaner can be used to remove fish waste and food particles. When 20 to 30 percent of the water has been removed, fresh water of the same temperature can be added to the remaining water. When the water is at the same level as it was before cleaning the tank, decorations can be replaced and the water pump and heater can be plugged in.

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