Tiger Barb Fish Facts

Offer your tiger barb key vegetables to prevent munching on live plants.
Offer your tiger barb key vegetables to prevent munching on live plants. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Tiger barbs (Puntius tetrazona) are lively schooling fish that originated in Borneo and Sumatra, two islands in southeastern Asia. These robust omnivores flourish when they share aquariums with fish of their same species. Since schooling is their thing, groups of a minimum of five specimens usually work well. They are easily available in many pet shops. They are also referred to as partbelt barbs and Sumatra barbs.

Physical Appearance

These spirited tropical fish usually grow to around 3 inches long. Their physiques are yellowish-orange and are covered in four black bands -- hence the "tiger" visual association. Male tiger barbs' noses and fins also feature intense crimson coloring. The females are generally bigger than the males, particularly in times of spawning. The females also have more prominent stomachs. Tiger barbs' coloring is similar to the cyprinid fish Systomus anchisporus.

Living Environment

In tanks, tiger barbs typically succeed in temperatures that are between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Tanks that can handle at least 20 gallons of water are optimal, as these fish require plenty of swimming room. Since tiger barbs sometimes bite at others' fins, it's important to keep them away from fish that are sluggish or that have especially long fins. Do not allow them to live with bettas, angelfish or gouramis, for example. When these guys are kept in units of other tiger barbs, they usually feel at ease -- and have less of an inclination to annoy other creatures. Keep tiger barbs away from fish with fierce and turf-oriented tendencies, as well -- think African cichlids. Ensure that your tiger barbs have suitable hiding spots in their tank. Place plants in the tank, but keep them away from the middle so they don't interfere with swimming.

Diet in Captivity and Nature

These fish are true omnivores, like their fellow barbs. They aren't choosy about food and dine eagerly on flakes, brine shrimp, bloodworms and even tiny portions of vegetables such as zucchini and lettuce. In nature, tiger barbs eat similar foods, including plants and tiny crustaceans. They also eat phytoplankton and bugs.

In the United States

Although tiger barbs hail from Asia, members of the species have been spotted in distant locations within the United States, specifically in Texas, Florida, California, Wyoming and Puerto Rico. Their U.S. presence could be due to individuals escaping or being released from aquariums.

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