Hot Water Fish

Tiger Barbel

  • Scientific name: Puntius Tetrazona, Barbus Tetrazona
  • Common Name: Tiger Barbel, Banded Barbel, Sumatran Barbel, Tetrazone Barbel
  • Aquarium size: 100 liters
  • Temperament: Aggressive
  • Temperature: 23ºC to 28ºC
  • pH: 6.5 and 7
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Length: 7 cms.


The Tiger Barbel , also known by its Latin scientific name, Puntius Tetrazona , is a very popular cyprinid , it may be the most commercialized of all the Barbus from the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
The reason is quite simple, it is a very resistant fish with a fairly intense color, which offers great showiness in a community aquarium.
However, not everything is fantastic, they are very active and fast swimming fish, which can annoy and nibble other much slower fish.


They are fish that in their adult state do not exceed 7 centimeters in length. They show a laterally flattened morphology, being wider in their central part: rhomboids.
The most commercialized species is the pink one, with four vertical black stripes, with the dorsal fin also black and with a slightly paler rim.
The pelvic fins are black in their central part, transparent at the base of the fin and at its end.
In addition to the «traditional» species, it is also possible to find other variants, such as the albino, green or moss green Tiger Barbel and the Golden Tiger Barbel.
Other varieties are available, such as black or coral marble. Some of these colorations are achieved by injecting colored dyes, which cause the premature death of the animal. This is a very cruel practice, which from here we totally disapprove and reject.

Tiger barbel, gold variety

Sexual dimorphism

It is difficult to distinguish the male Tiger Barbel from the female.
The most obvious difference is that
the male is slimmer, smaller and thinner, with a more intense coloration than the female.
It seems that the front part of the head of males, in the original coloration, is more orange than in females.

Distribution and habitat

The Tiger Barbel is endemic to the island of Sumatra, although there are also records of sightings on the island of Borneo.
Currently they can be found in other locations around the globe, such as Singapore, Australia, the United States or Colombia, but their origin is not natural, they are the product of releasing specimens in nature.
Its natural habitat is rivers and streams, with clear water, a substrate of sand and rocks , preferably with abundant vegetation.

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Aquarium conditions

We need an aquarium of about 100 liters , to maintain a small school of between 6 and 10 specimens, so that it does not disturb other species excessively.
They prefer aquariums with a substrate of sand or dark-colored pebbles , with good free spaces for swimming, but at the same time with adequate cavities to hide.
They are fish that consume a large amount of oxygen due to their constant and frenetic activity , so the aquarium must have a good filtering and oxygenation system.
The quality of the water must be maintained in the following parameters:

  • Temperature between 23ºC and 28ºC
  • pH 6.5 to 7
  • dH less than 10º


The Puntius Tetrazona is omnivorous, it consumes everything: dry, frozen food, flakes… but without a doubt what it likes the most are small live prey , so we can provide it with brine shrimp raised by ourselves .
It seems that they are always hungry, so you have to feed them at least twice a day.
Although we can feed them indefinitely with prepared dry food , the ideal is to give them a dry food intake, and another with live or natural food: brine shrimp, daphnia, tubifex, mosquito larvae or frozen food.

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Behavior and compatibility

They are fish in constant movement, they are very active and excellent swimmers. It sometimes chases quieter species and nibbles on their fins, especially when there is an excess of fish in the aquarium and space is limited.
This aggressive attitude is minimized if we breed them in groups of 6 to 10 individuals.
It is not an ideal companion for shy or slow species, but it can be raised with other cyprinids of similar size and with fish with which it does not share space.
For example, they could live with fish Tetras and Cobitids , which occupy a different space in the aquarium.

Fish compatible with Tiger Barbel

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Mosquito fish
  • Ax fish
  • Botia Clown
  • Goldfish
  • Zebra fish
  • Chinese Neon Fish
  • Silver Dollar Fish
  • Kribensis fish
  • Molly
  • Female betta fish

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Telescope
  • Otocinclus
  • Nun Fish
  • Molly fish
  • Gourami Pearl
  • Platy
  • Guppy
  • Drunk Fish
  • Harlequin fish
  • Ramirezi

Compatible fish without restrictions

  • Barbel Cherry
  • Guppy endler
  • Snail Apple
  • Neon Tetra Fish
  • Rasbora Galaxy
  • Corydora fish
  • Ancistrus

Restricted Compatible Fish

  • Rainbow Fish 
  • Koi Carp
  • Fish of paradise
  • Killi fish
  • Scalar Fish


It is not too difficult to reproduce the Tiger Barbel in the aquarium , as long as we provide the right conditions.
The ideal temperature to promote reproduction is around 27ºC, the aquarium must be spacious, well stocked with plants and with a protection grid for the eggs that end up at the bottom.
They usually lay between 100 and 400 eggs, which are deposited among the vegetation.
Once spawning occurs and the eggs have been fertilized, the adult specimens should be removed to prevent the eggs from being eaten.
Hatching occurs at 36 hours.
The fry have food reserves in their yolk sac. Once they reabsorb it,The feeding should be started with brine shrimp nauplii, infusoria and suitable food for fingerlings .

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