Green Tiger Barb - 3 in tank, 1 was picked on/almost killed
Hi all, new to the forums here! I appreciate all the great advice from previous threads and apologize if a similar one has already been created but I couldn't find it.
I have a 28 Gallon, 30Lx12Wx18D with 12 total fish, all young. (3) Green Tiger Barbs, (3) Harlequin Rasboras, (3) Buenos Aires Tetras, (1) flame dwarf Gourami, (1) Thomasi Pleco, and (1) Bristle Nose Pleco. I had (1) Rainbow Shark who has since died but I believe was a part of the problem I am describing below.
The Issue: (1) of the Green Tiger Barbs had most of its fins nipped off and was having an incredibly difficult time swimming. The injured barb is noticeably fatter and larger than the other 2 and doesn't have the bring orange accents that the other two do. All (3) of the barbs would get chased around by the rainbow shark and occasional fin nipping took place but I didn't see any reason to be alarmed as none of the fish were ever injured. Recently, I noticed the (1) larger Barb hiding in corners and not swimming around as much. I assumed it was the red tail shark, but he died a couple weeks ago and it has only gotten worse for the larger Barb. I am assuming that it was the other two Barbs who were inflicting all the damage. I can try to upload pictures later to show the Barbs condition, but the lower fins and select spots on the tail were missing. The fish had a hard time swimming and definitely couldn't get food in a tank this hectic. I have moved the injured tiger barb to a new tank and he is doing much better (swimming around, eating food, etc.).
- How long does it take for injured fins to repair themselves and the fish to gain full mobility?
- Once the Barb is at full health, should I try and reintroduce him into the original tank? Or keep it separate indefinitely?
- Is there a way to minimize the aggressive behavior of the green tiger barbs?
I appreciate any input you have to offer,
Green tiger barbs need to be kept in a larger school than 3 or 4. I'd say minimum 6 to ease aggression.They're known to be slightly aggressive and will only be worse in a small group. The rasboras should be in a school of at least 6, but 8 or more would be better for them. The same goes for most tetras.
Agree, the issue is too small a group. Shoaling fish need a group for various reasons, and in the case of a fish like the Tiger B that is naturally rather aggressive in its behaviours, a group of no less than 8 usually (though not always) keeps this fin nipping under control. You can read more in our profile:
The mentioned tetra species can be somewhat similar in small groups, here is its profile:
The Red Tail Shark frequently takes a strong dislike to striped fish, so I would not replace it. Aside from that, it needs much more space anyway, so you're better off without it.
The rasbora need a lareger group just to be healthier. Another issue is a gourami in with "nippy" fish. You need to rethink your fish selection before acquiring more fish, and removing some, whichever.
On the fin regrowth, if a fin is nipped off it will regrow provided the nipping didn't get down to the caudal peduncle (on the body of the fish), but was just the fin.
And, welcome to Tropical Fish Keeping forum.:-D
What you are describing is relatively normal tiger barb behavior. They generally do very poorly in small groups. However, even in larger groups this behavior still exists. Tiger barbs will sometimes eject a fish from the school - that fish is harassed and is made to live in the corners, or behind the heater, or filter. They are prevented from eating, and eventually die. I have tried removing and rehabbing such fish, but after it is reintroduced, it is rejected again. In my experience, it is an inevitable end and I would just cull rejected fish. People say you need at least 6, but in my experience you need more than 10, and a 4 foot long tank to really begin to curtail that behavior.
To answer your questions, it can take a few months to rehab a fish, depending on the severity of the injuries. Like I had mentioned, in my experience reintroducing the fish doesn't work. I would see if you can swap it out for another at the store. Perhaps when you go in to get more, you can turn that one in. Or, maybe after you add more you can try reintroducing it. if it works - great, otherwise you're back where you started. Keeping a large school to help to prevent any one fish from being singled out, and keeping them in a larger tank are all you can really do to minimize this behavior. And even then, it would be minimizing, not eliminating.
If the tank was big enough to increase numbers... would a "Dither" species help? Or would the Tiger Barbs just harass anything on the surface as well?
Dither fish are typically fish that you add to a tank to make other fish feel more secure. Seeing a school of fish swimming overhead, and being able to use their cues as part of the fish's defense mechanism is what makes fish like cichlids and others to feel comfortable about being out in the open, "exposed". Tiger barbs don't really fit that - if anything, THEY are dithers.
I kept tiger barbs as species only, modified community, and in full community settings, in a variety of tanks up to 55 gallons. Their tendency to eject a fish from the school was unchanged by the manner in which they were kept. The only difference I found was that in the 55 gallon, they left the other species alone.
As for other fish in the tank, if the space is sufficient to allow for a good sized group of TB, plus other fish, then any other fish that are reasonably active will be fine. Or, should be. The other fish should never be obvious targets, by which I mean slow, sedate fish with trailing fins, etc. This is just like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
In both cases (the group of TB themselves, and the other tankmates) we must remember that we are dealing with fish, and there is always the exception to the norm. I was yesterday reading the answer by Neal Monks to a question on the red tail shark in the current PFK, and he said exactly what I have said, that the "norm" for this fish is to be nasty, but every so often a fish will be contrary to the norm and manage fine; but the responsible aquarist is the one who accepts the "norm" as probable, and acts accordingly. This is sensible advice, considering that most who ask these questions probably have one tank, and thus no where to move a problem fish. Over the years I have had to move a group of fish from tank to tank, sometimes more than once or even twice, due solely to compatibility issues that I had no knowledge of beforehand, usually because it has been my first experience with the species.
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