The tiger barb can grow to about 7 centimeters long (2.75 in) and 3 centimeters wide,(1.18 in) although they are often smaller when kept in captivity. Native fish are silver to brownish yellow with four vertical black stripes and red fins and snout. The green tiger barb is the same size and has the same nature as the normal barb but has a green body. The green 'tiger barb is often called the moss green tiger barb. People vary considerably in how green it looks to them. To some people it looks nearly black. Albino barbs are a light yellow with four stripes just barely visible.
It has been reported that the tiger barb was found in clear or turbid shallow waters of moderately flowing streams. It lives in a tropical climate and prefers water with a 6.0–8.0 pH, a water hardness of 5–19 dGH, and a temperature range of 77 - 82 °F or 25 - 27.8°C. Its discovery in swamp lakes that are subject to great changes in water level suggests a wide tolerance to water quality fluctuations. Its average lifespan is 6 years.
Importance to humans
The tiger barb is one of over 70 species of barb with commercial importance in the aquarium trade. Of the total ornamental fish species imported into the United States in 1992, only 20 species account for more than 60% of the total number of specimens reported, with tiger barbs falling at tenth on the list with 2.6 million individuals imported. (Chapman et al. 1994). Barbs that have been selectively bred to emphasize bright color combinations have grown in popularity and production over the last 20 years. Example of colour morphs (these are not hybrids) of tiger barb include highly melanistic green tiger barbs that reflect green over their black because of the Tyndall effect, gold tiger barb, and albino tiger barb.
In the aquarium
The tiger barb is an active schooling fish that is usually kept in groups of five or more. They are often aggressive in numbers less than 5 and are known fin nippers. If you only keep two in a tank, one will eventually chase the other fish. Semi-aggressive fish form a pecking order in the pack which they may extend to other fish, giving them a reputation for nipping at the fins of other fish, especially if they are wounded or injured. They are thus not recommended for tanks with slower, more peaceful fishes such as bettas, gouramis, angelfish and others with long flowing fins. They do however work well with many fast moving fish such as danios, platys and most catfish. When in large enough groups, however, they tend to spend most of their time chasing each other and leave other species of fish alone. They dwell primarily at the water's mid-level. One of the best tankmates for the tiger barb is a clown loach, which will school with the tiger barbs and act as they do, and the tigers act as the loaches do. Tiger barb do best in soft, slightly acidic water. The tank should be well-lit with ample vegetation, about two-thirds of the tank space. These barbs are omnivorous and will consume processed foods such as flakes and crisps as well as live foods.
The tiger barb usually attains sexual maturity at a body length of 2 to 3 centimeters (0.8 to 1.2 inches) in total length, or at approximately six to seven weeks of age. The females are larger with a rounder belly and a mainly black dorsal fin while the males have a bright, red nose with a distinct red line above the black on their dorsal fin. The egg-layers tend to spawn several hundred eggs in the early morning in clumps of plants. On average, 300 eggs can be expected from each spawn in a mature broodstock population, although the number of eggs released will increase with the maturity and size of the fish. Spawned eggs are adhesive, negatively buoyant in freshwater and average 1.18 ± 0.05 mm in diameter.
Tiger barbs have been documented to spawn as many as 500 eggs per female (Scheurmann 1990; Axelrod 1992). With proper conditioning, females can spawn at approximately two week intervals (Munro et al. 1990)
Once spawning is finished, they will usually eat any of the eggs that they find. It is usually necessary to separate the fish from the eggs after spawning in order to prevent the eggs from being eaten.