The feisty Tiger Barbs is very popular among many fish enthusiasts. It can be quite amusing to watch them play with their friends, and zipping around in the tank.

They are full of energy, but this can sometimes prove to be a disadvantage when keeping slow-moving fishes with them. Beside that, they are also renowned for nipping fins of fish with long, flowing fins.

However, Tiger Barbs are the kind of fish that are not known to grow very big in size. But that does not mean they are any worse than the bigger varieties.

If they are properly cared for, they can live upto 5 years on an average. Another good thing about them is that they are omnivores. So, you can feed them all types of fish food.

There is no telling what mischievous things they would do if they were any larger. So, how big do they actually get? Is there a way to enhance the factors contributing to their growth?

What tank size do you require to accommodate them? What should you put in your tank to keep them happy? All your questions will be answered soon.

A Brief Species Profile

Quick Species Facts
Scientific Name Puntigrus tetrazona
Other Common Names Sumatra Barb, Partbelt Barb, Tirger
Family Cyprinidae
Origin Asia- Malay Peninsula, Sumatra & Borneo; Tropical waters
Average Lifespan 5 years
Type Freshwater

How Big Do Tiger Barbs Get?

On average, they can grow to a size that varies from 7 cm (2.8 in) to 10 cm (3.9 in) in length. And their width can be in the range of 3 cm (1.2 in) to 4 cm (1.6 in).

Although these values are the most common, some can even achieve a size of over 13 cm (5.1 in). However, in captivity, Tiger Barbs fail to grow to such incredible sizes.

They are much smaller in an artificial environment, even if good conditions are provided. But nobody knows why this happens. We can only suspect that natural conditions may stimulate better growth in them.

How big do other Tiger Barb varieties get?

Green Tiger Barb size

These grow similar in size to regular Tiger Barbs which are around 7 to 10 cm (2.8 to 3.9 inches) in length and 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 inches) thick. The only thing different is their color.

The main body is primarily green in color. Their green shades may vary from light to dark, which depends upon the individual fish.

Their fins are like standard Tiger Barbs, orange with black stripes. They are also known as Moss Green Tiger Barb in some regions.

Albino Tiger Barb size

Just like the standard and Green Tiger Barbs, these varieties also attain a similar size. Their bodies have a pale hue of orange or gold, but the stripes on their body and fins are white in color.

The stripes on the fins are light and can be barely noticed. These are very rare compared to other types of Tiger Barbs.

How fast does a Tiger Barb grow?

Tiger barbs grow at a comparatively faster rate than many other small fish of identical sizes to them.

If we were to measure their growth rate, then it would be approximately ¼ or ½ an inch of gain every six weeks or a month and a half.

See also  Pacu Fish Care in Captivity with Complete Facts

At this rate, they would attain their full size in about six to eight months. Some do it in a year also. This really depends on the conditions they are living in.

Some have even reported that their Tiger Barb have achieved full maturity in under 4 months. However, these sizes are smaller compared to wild ones.

In the wild, they get enough food and natural minerals dissolved in water, which helps them grow faster and bigger. However, in captivity, the availability of quality food and water conditions can greatly influence their growth rate.

Factors responsible for Tiger Barbs’ growth rate

There are no secrets when it comes to the growth of Tiger Barbs. It is similar to keeping any other fish in your tank.

However, there are certain factors that can help in maximizing the growth rate to its limits and helping the fish achieve a big, healthy size.

A rich and healthy diet

Food is very important for growth. If the diet is rich in various nutrients, the fish will have no problem growing up fast.

Moreover, you must ensure that they get enough protein and vitamins daily. Proteins are extremely important as they help in cell repair and regeneration of new ones.

Along with it, the addition of vegetables can also be a good choice as it provides necessary minerals and vitamins. The Food items that you can give to your Tiger Barbs are as follows-

  1. High-quality fish flakes
  2. Worms (Bloodworms, Tubifex worms, Earthworms, etc.)
  3. Brine shrimps
  4. Tiny crustaceans (Artemia, Daphnia, etc.)
  5. Raw or blanched vegetables- greens, carrots, plantains, etc.

A low-stress environment

Stress can be a crucial factor in their growth. It is not only responsible for their growth, but also for the overall health of the fish.

Tiger Barbs are social fish, so they live happier in a group. The bigger the school, the better their livelihood is.

So, ensure you put them in a big school of at least 8 to 10 Tiger Barbs with an equal number of males and females to relieve competition between them.

Having a compatible companion is another important factor. Putting big, aggressive fish like Jack Dempsey Cichlids, Flowerhorn Cichlids, Oscars, etc. can prove to be bad for them.

These fish can harass the smaller Tiger Barbs, creating an agitated environment for them, maybe even hurting them. All of these can contribute to the improper growth of the Tiger Barbs.

Sometimes the decorations inside the tank can help with relieving stress. It can provide hiding or resting spots for Tiger Barbs if they ever get agitated by anything. In the upcoming section, we will discuss the appropriate decorations for your fish.

Keeping the water clean

As time goes by, the accumulation of organic waste from fish and left-over food particles can raise the nitrogen levels in the water.

If the level gets too high, it might become toxic to the fish. This can lead to poisoning, which obviously is intolerable for small fish like Tiger Barbs.

They cannot tolerate high levels of nitrates in still waters, like in tanks. In addition to that, it can also lead to nitrate shock, which not only affects the growth rate but also the overall health of the fish (ref.).

Even if the fish manages to recover after this, it will permanently become susceptible to the slightest level of nitrogen.

A high-efficient filter will be able to keep your water clean, but a water change every month is highly advised.

Periodic replenishing of water

The elevated nitrogen level isn’t the only factor affecting their development. Fish also release a type of growth-inhibiting pheromones or organic chemicals known as somatostatin from their body (ref.).

These pheromones, when taken up by other fish, lower their growth rate, keeping them limited to size till maturity. Thus, they cannot attain the size they are supposed to have.

See also  Celestial Pearl Danio (Galaxy Rasbora) Care: Are Danios Hardy?

But this does not often happen in nature because in moving water, these hormones flow away with the stream, so they do not accumulate in a single place.

However, in tanks, the water is not going anywhere. The filter cannot filter out the water-soluble chemical. So, it greatly affects the other fish, stunting their size.

A big tank

No matter what you decide to put in your tank, if it is not big enough, the Tiger Barbs won’t grow as big as it is supposed to be. Although there isn’t any scientific claim proving this, many have experienced this.

If you think about it, if the volume of the tank is less, the fish will get less space to swim in it. They will not be able to fully utilize their bodies, leading to slower growth as the muscles won’t develop properly.

To mitigate this, try to get them adequate space to swim. A bigger tank will definitely solve this problem.

Another problem with having a small tank is that the water parameters get changed easily and faster than in bigger tanks. So, a sudden increase in nitrate levels in small tanks could pose a threat to your Tetra. A bigger tank will retain its normal parameters for a longer time.

Beware of rumors

You will see it on a lot of websites and YouTube videos, where people claim that you can accelerate your Tiger Barbs’ growth.

Well, let me tell you in short, these are all false. There is no way to accelerate their growth rate by any means. Unless there is any scientific proof that there is, everything else is just rumors and wrong information.

If you ever decide to follow any of those, it could prove to be bad for the fish’s health. Consequently, it will stunt their growth rather than accelerate it.

Tank Size Recommendations

Quick Tank Facts
Water Temperature 68.0 to 79.0° F (20.0 to 26.1° C)
Minimum Size 20 gal (76 L)
Water Hardness 2 – 30 dGH
pH Level 6.5-7.5 (6.5 optimal)
Brackish Water Nil
Lighting Moderate

Tank size for Tiger Barbs

If you want to keep a school of at least 6 to 8 Tiger Barbs, then you should put them in a tank with at least 20 gallons of volume.

However, I would recommend you to get at least a 30-gallon tank. Tiger Barbs are very active fish species, so they require a little more space to swim around.

And if possible, try to get a tank that is long rather than tall. Because they generally swim in the middle area of the tank, the upper and lower sections won’t make a difference to them.

So, if the tank is longer, the middle space will be more for them. As a result, the fish will get more space to swim.

Tank for Breeding Tiger Barbs

If you ever decide to breed your precious Tiger Barbs, it would be a good choice to use a separate tank for it. Breeding in a community tank can become chaotic and would end in the demise of the eggs.

However, before you go on and set up a different tank for breeding, there are some steps that I would advise you to follow first.

  • Prepare 2-3 tanks for different purposes, which include- conditioning, hatching, and raising of babies.
  • Get a hold of some high-quality fish food.
  • Set up reliable tank monitoring equipment.

Tank for Conditioning

Conditioning is the process of separating the male from the female into different tanks. After that, maintain a high-protein diet for the female Tiger Barb to induce healthy spawning.

This tank does not need to be very big. However, you should consider at least a 15-gallon tank for this purpose. The temperature should be around 80 °F, and the pH should be slightly acidic, between 6.5 to 6.7.

Tank for Breeding

The female spawns about 200-300 eggs every two weeks if she is healthy. Bigger ones can even spawn up to 700 eggs. The laid are laid in clusters on flat surfaces.

See also  Introduction to Paludarium Tank - What is it and How to Setup

After that, you can put a male into the tank with a female, which will help him fertilize the eggs. After which you can either remove the parents or transfer the eggs to a different tank.

Tank for incubating eggs

For the incubation purpose, you can opt for a small tank as space won’t matter to the eggs. In addition to that, it is easier to maintain the water parameters of a small tank rather than a larger one. However, this is optional.

Tank for Rearing of Baby Tiger Barbs

The tank size will depend upon the number of eggs. The higher the number, the bigger the size of the tank. However, for a few hundred eggs, 20 to 30 gallons should be enough.

Maintain the temperature between 78 to 80 °F, with slightly acidic conditions, and a hardness of 10 dGH. This will ensure your eggs hatch in the proper conditions.

The eggs will hatch in 2- 3 days, and the timing of the hatching will be at random. However, the sac-fry after hatching will take around a week to start swimming.

A good diet is very important during this developmental stage. So, you can feed them liquid baby fish food, powdered fish flakes, infusoria, moina, microworms, and even dried krill. You should feed them 3 to 4 times a day. You can use a dropper to put it near their mouth if you feel like it.

After a few weeks of development, they will start to appear more like their parents. At this stage, you can safely transfer them to the community tank.

What to Include When Setting Up a Tank


All kinds of freshwater aquatic plants can be planted as long as they provide natural oxygen for the fish. Plants also provide a place to hide if the fish feel stressed.

However, try not to plant too many as the fish will feel cramped. Try to plant them at the sides, providing ample open space for the Tiger Barbs to swim in the middle.

A few examples are as follows-

  1. Anubias Nana
  2. Java Fern
  3. Water Wisteria
  4. Dwarf Hairgrass


A fine sandy substrate would be good enough. However, you can also use fine gravel and pebbles as well. Using a plant substrate will also be fine for them. So, the plants can also benefit from this.


They like to have hiding places in their habitat, whether natural or artificial. Hiding helps them relieve stress as they tend to get nervous sometimes.

Some natural, hollow driftwood can prove beneficial. Additionally, large rocks with holes in them will also do the job.

Suitable Tank Mates

Tiger Barbs are generally peaceful and friendly, but sometimes they may show some fin-nipping activity. It is also seen when they are kept solo or in a very small group.

So, it is better to avoid keeping long-finned fishes such as Bettas, Angelfish, etc. with them. A list of compatible tank mates is as follows-

  1. Other Barbs varieties (Cherry Barb, Tinfoil Barbs, etc.)
  2. Plecos (Royal Pleco, Clown Pleco, etc.)
  3. Catfish (Corydoras, Bumblebee catfish, etc.)
  4. Small Tetra species
  5. Snails (Nerite, Ramshorn, etc.)
  6. Ornamental shrimps

Frequently Asked Questions

How many tiger barbs can be put in a 20-gallon tank?

For a 20-gallon tank, a group of 5 to 6 Tiger Barbs should be fine. Remember, this is the most you can keep without exerting stress on them. But, if we consider more swimming space for them, then a group of 3 to 4 can be kept.

However, small groups like this can make them more agitated. They are already quite shy, so individuals in such a small group will stay hidden most of the time.

Are tiger barbs livebearers?

No, Tiger Barbs are not livebearers. Livebearers are the kinds of fish that retain the eggs inside their bodies and give birth to live babies.

Tiger Barbs are egg layers, and their babies hatch from the eggs outside of the mother’s body. Their fertilization also takes place outside the female body.

Are tiger barbs a schooling fish?

Yes, they are schooling fish. They like to stay together like a family and are most active if kept in a group. If you keep only one or a pair of them in a tank, they will stay hidden and inactive most of the time.

About the Author

Victoria Lamb

Victoria is a freshwater aquatics specialist, fish keeper, and amphibian enthusiast. She has had more than 6 years of experience caring for aquariums and keeping several fish species, and her home boasts of 3 aquariums and a garden pond. Her goal is to educate fish owners on raising healthy and happy aquatic pets.

Career Highlights:

  • Has worked with several aquarium manufacturers as a consultant
  • Organized and hosted workshops on freshwater fish keeping at retail stores, educational facilities, and libraries
  • Released content for the amphibian community through her writings

Educational Highlights:

Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior and Welfare

  • University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK (2014-2018)

Writing Experience

Victoria has done ghostwriting for many aquarium and pet websites in the past. She has also worked for Canada's largest natural health magazine- ALIVE, with 300,000 monthly circulations as a freelancer. She had six published articles on animal behavior and welfare during her graduation for her thesis.

View All Articles