08-15-2011, 10:49 AM
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Welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum. Glad to have you with us.
Barbs are in the Cyprinidae order, and are shoaling fish which means they live in large groups naturally. Shoaling fish must always be maintained in a group in the aquarium. This helps to prevent stress, and stress weakens the fish's immune system causing other health problems that would otherwise not occur. Shoaling gives the fish security (safety in numbers), and many species have relationships within a group that is essential to the fish's instincts. Sometimes it may be more what we would think of as "play" but this can be serious to the fish, and sometimes it may be mild or higher aggression. But it is natural. Some species are highly social.
Within the barb family there are "peaceful" species and there are some boisterous species that have aggressive traits such as fin nipping or worse. The aquarium must be large enough to accommodate a group of each species so that they will have opportunity to exercise their inherent traits properly. The size of group sometimes varies with the specific species. Most shoaling fish are recommended to be kept in groups of six or more, but with all species it is always better to have more if space permits. It is now proven scientific fact that when shoaling fish are kept in groups less than six, they show a significant increase in aggression, even with otherwise "peaceful" species. The same occurs if the aquarium is too small, which means the fish sees it as insufficient to be "natural." So groups are important for the fish's health, and the larger the better.
Some species must have larger groups to avoid increased aggression even beyond the above. Tiger Barb for instance are notorious as fin nippers, and the recommended minimum group for this species is 8, and in a 30 gallon tank. Any fewer fish, or in smaller tanks, is only asking for trouble, as the fish will be frustrated, and this means a probable increase in aggression.
We have fish profiles, under the second tab from the left in the blue bar across the top of the page. You will find barbs under the Cyprinids section. If you click on the underlined name "Cyprinids" in the profile section, you will see some general data on this large group of fish. The species included in the profiles are listed under the name and each is linked. When the common or scientific name is used in a post exactly as it is used in the profile, it will shade, example Tiger Barb, and you can click on the shaded name to see that profile. In the profile there is information on minimum numbers, minimum tank size, compatibility (what other fish will or won't be good in the same aquarium), and other care details. Several barb species are included, so you can browse the profiles and select suitable species for your size of aquarium. Most can be mixed, provided the appropriate number are kept and the aquarium is large enough; the minimum size in each profile is for the recommended number of fish of that species only; adding others means increasing the aquarium size accordingly.