Setting up a tank with just barbs, need some advice - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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Setting up a tank with just barbs, need some advice

Have set up a new 14G tank (already cycled and water tested). My intention for the tank was just to have barbs in it along with a bottom feeder fish. I have already added 2 tiger barbs a few weeks back and am looking to add some more fish. I have gotten two totally different stories on the compatibility of different types of barbs from two people who both seemed quite knowledgeable on the subject, so that is why I am here........for a 3rd and hopefully right opinion

Initially and ideally I wanted to put in maybe 3 different types of barbs (2 of each type, tiger barb for sure, maybe emerald and one other type). When I mentioned this to someone at the fish store (whose staff is usually very knowledgeable) they said mixing different types of barbs wouldn't be an issue as long as there was a decent amt of barbs in the tank (5+). However when I went back to the store to pick up some other items, I talked to another employee at the store, who told me that i should just stick to one type of barbs and could probably get away with putting up to 10 of them in my tank. I guess its possible both employees are right, any opinions? As I mentioned, ideally I would like to put different types of barbs in tank, but don't want to go that route if it would cause undo stress on some of the fish.

Ok, last question, what type of bottom feeder catfish would go best with a small tank of barbs, should I stick to a semi aggressive catfish, or should I not worry about it as most likely the barbs wouldn't pick on the catfish?

Thanks in advance and sorry for long post!
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-01-2011, 05:06 PM
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I'm afraid you will have serious issues with Tiger Barb (or most any other barb for that matter) in a 14g tank.

First, barbs in general: they are fairly active fish, so swimming space is essential or they become stressed. And they are shoaling fish, so they must be in a group. Six is usually considered minimum for each species, except Tigers [more on them in a moment]. They can also be somewhat aggressive, aside from the Cherry Barb which usually is not, so these issues are even more critical because fish that need space or need a group will often become very aggressive due to the stress at not having what they "need."

As most of them get a decent size (over 2 inches), a group of 6 would not be comfortable in a 14g tank. We have fish profiles here, second tab from the left in the blue bar at the top, or you can click on the fish name when it is shaded in posts and see that fish's profile. Info includes minimum tank size, numbers in the group, behaviours, and compatibility including what other fish will work with each species.

To the Tiger Barb specifically: this fish is notorious as being aggressive and a fin nipper, although these traits can often be minimized (to some extent) by being kept in a larger group, no less than 8, and in nothing under a 30g. Eight Tigers in a 30g on their own, or with a bottom fish, is max for this species. Check the profile for further info.

Unfortunately you are getting some very inaccurate advice from that fish store. All too common, sadly.


Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]

Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-02-2011, 08:13 AM
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Agree with Byron 100%. That tank is way too small for a proper school of tiger barbs. If you have your heart set on a barb tank, check out deals on Craigslist or freecycle for cheap setups of 55 gallons or more.

If you don't have the means or the room for a larger tank, you should rethink your choice of fish for the 14g. Maybe a few schools of small fish depending on your water hardness/ph.

Good luck and welcome to the forum.

Animal testing is a terrible idea; they get all nervous and give the wrong answers.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-07-2011, 01:08 PM
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in a 14 g you should try some cherry barbs and possibly golden barbs.. they both are very stunning fish when given a good home with floating plants and substarte plants.. when they are at the fishstore they dont even show half there potential colours.. The golden barbs having black spots down there side with a nice golden shine while the cherry barbs have beautiful coloured strips down there body with black barb like dots running down there belly :) Easy fish to care for and i love em lol
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