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Tiger Barb

Scientific Name: Puntius anchisporus
Family: Cyprinidae, Sub-Family Barbinae

About the Tiger Barb

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Cyprinids

Care Level: Very Easy. Will tolerate a wide range of water parameters including pH, temperature and hardness. Can tolerate higher nitrate levels than other fish and is hardy enough to withstand the cycling process. Will readily eat prepared foods and has no special care requirements.

Origin: Native to the island of Borneo but populations have been introduced elsewhere. Occurs in quiet streams in the forest, with sand and rock substrates and dense marginal vegetation. Available fish are almost certain to be commercially tank or pond raised.

Compatibility/Temperament: Not a good "basic community" fish. It should either be kept in a group in a species tank along with bottom fish like loaches, or it may be combined with similar-sized non-aggressive fish such as other barbs, the larger rasbora and loaches in larger aquaria (50 gallons and up).


Tiger barbs have been in the aquarium trade for many years and they still have raving popularity due to their regular availability, beautiful colouring and being adaptable to varying water parameters. Available fish will undoubtedly be commercially raised unless specifically imported.

Tiger barbs differ in behaviour from most other barbs. They have a well-deserved reputation as fin nippers, although this behaviour can sometimes be lessened by maintaining them in larger groups (8 or more), as they establish a pecking order within their group. These are not good community fish and should never be mixed with slow, sedate fish or those with long trailing fins. See additional comments under Temperament/Compatibility.

An active and boisterous species, they will fare best in an aquarium with a sand or gravel substrate, small stones, and thickly-planted around the sides and back to provide adequate swimming room.

Males often appear to be more colorful but slimmer in body appearance compared to the females. Spawning is fairly easy in soft, acidic to neutral water with plenty of fine-leaved plants around; the fish is an egg scatterer. Adults will readily eat the eggs if not removed, and the female should be given rest and separated from the males following spawning.

Several selectively-bred variants are now available, including the green, gold, albino, blushing, and some others. Maintenance is the same. Sometimes the incorrect common name "Sumatra Barb" is used, but that technically refers to a different fish.

The Tiger Barb has long been known under the incorrect scientific name of Puntius tetrazona. The true species was originally described as Barbus anchisporus by L. Vaillant in 1902, but initial imports misidentified the fish as Systomus Capoeta sumatrensis, a similar-looking species, which after several name changes has ended up as Puntius tetrazona. This fish is quite rare, and probably all but unknown in the hobby. Maurice Kottelat sorted out the confusion in 1993 but the Tiger Barb still frequently appears in the literature under the incorrect name.

The subject species was moved to the genus Puntius by T.R. Roberts in 1989. Puntius pulcher, assigned incorrectly to the same species by H. Rendahl in 1922, is recognized as a synonym [Roberts, 1989]. This genus was erected in 1822 by F. Hamilton for the spotted barbs, and currently contains some 139 species; many ichthyologists feel that a full revision is needed. The name Puntius comes from the Bangla term pungti (small cyprinids).

Tiger Barb Diet

An omnivore by nature, it accepts a range of foods including prepared dried and frozen; lettuce, zucchini, peas, bloodworms, brine shrimps and mealworms are greatly appreciated.


Attains 2.5 inches, usually slightly smaller.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

30 gallons

Ideal water parameters for Tiger Barb

Soft to moderately hard (hardness to 20 dGH), acidic to basic (pH 6 to 8) water, temperature 22-26C/72-79F. Wild-caught fish require soft, acidic water, but commercially-raised fish are adaptable.

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