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Breeding Tiger Barbs – A Comprehensive Guide You Must see

Is It Easy To Breed Tiger Barbs? Yes. Tiger Barbs are a relatively easy-to-breed species that are excellent for beginner aquarists. They are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They reach maturity within 6 to 8 weeks and spawn multiple times throughout their lives, making them easy to breed if done correctly.

Separating Male And Female Tiger Barbs

Before breeding tiger barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona), you should separate male and female fish into separate tanks. This process is called conditioning the fish, and you should be able to identify males and females correctly to do this task.

Male And Female Identification

The fish reach sexual maturity on average 6-12 months. But the primary differences between men and women can be observed as early as 3 months.

Tiger Barbs doesn’t show any sexual dimorphism, which makes it harder to differentiate male from female.

However, there are slight differences between genders. The fin rays and snout of male tiger barbs have a bright red coloration. Females have less coloration but plumper than males. Females are also smaller than males. other than that female has a rounded belly.

Male nose, dorsal and anal fin borders, as well as the edges of their tail, are all colored red, which intensifies when they spawn.
Male fish are more active than female fish, and they organize fights among themselves. Males can become aggressive if there are smaller representations of other species in the aquarium.

How To Treat Male And Female Tiger Barbs In Separation

After separating Tiger Barbs into two tanks, you must ensure they enter breeding conditions correctly.

Male Barbs that have entered breeding condition displays more intense colors, and females will become larger and rounder. When you see these differences, you can place them together to pair off.

To condition Tiger Barbs, you should provide them with a protein-rich diet about three times per day.

Tiger Barbs are happy eaters and will accept anything you feed them but to ensure successful breeding, feed them a meat-based diet.

Freeze-dried Tubifex, adult brine shrimp, and freeze-dried bloodworms are good choices to induce the spawning of Tiger Barbs. Live food is also a good idea.

Tiger Barb female
Tiger Barb female

Preparation Of Breeding Tank

You should do breeding tank preparation carefully in order to successful breeding. The water condition should be slightly soft and acidic, and the temperature should be around 80 degrees.

With a mature sponge filter, you can keep the water conditions optimal. You should also provide optimum spawning sites inside your breeding tank.

To do this, you can add two bunches of Cabomba plants or a pair of spawning mops along with medium-sized cobbles or marbles.

Tank size

To breed one pair of Tiger barbs, you need at least 10 liters of water in your breeding tank. That is about 2.65 gallons in one tank. Increase the tank size accordingly.

Water quality

The ideal Ph level for Tiger Barb breeding should be slightly acidic than pH 6.5. Water Hardiness should be slightly soft (ideally below 10dGH). The temperature should be warmer than the normal level (average temperature 68°F to 79°F). It should be about 80 °F.


You can add medium-sized cobbles or marbles as the substrate.

Filter system

You should install a mature sponge filter in the breeding tank to keep cycling the tank.


Cambodia plants, Java fern, or spawning mops are needed to allow the eggs to drop safely and to survive the eggs from adult fish.

Perfect Water Parameters To Breed Tiger Barb

Tiger Barbs prefer slightly acidic water to breed. The ideal pH level for tiger barb breeding is between 6.8 and 7.8. They also prefer slightly soft water for breeding. The ideal alkalinity is between 3 to 8 dkH. The water should be slightly warm, and the ideal temperature is between 75°F and 80° F.

How To Introduce Breeding Pair

After separating male and female barbs, you should keep them separated for about 3 to 4 days. After about 3 to 4 days, you can add both fish to the breeding tank to introduce the breeding pair.

Mating Dance Of Tiger Barbs

The most interesting part about tiger barb breeding is their mating dance. They do a funny little dance when mating, and it’s a pleasant behavior to watch. They appear to be “kissing,” and then they go nose to tail with each other and swim in a circle like dancing.

This behavior goes on for quite a while. This behavior is called the mating dance of Tiger barbs, and there is some video footage of Tiger Barb mating dance on YouTube to confirm this.

How They Lay Eggs And How How Tiger Barb Eggs Looks Like

Tiger barbs are temporary-paired spawners, meaning they bond only for a short period required for spawning. This is a common characteristic in schooling fish like barbs and gouramis.

Tiger Barbs are egg-layers which means female barbs lay eggs while spawning, and males fertilize them while the eggs fall. The eggs fall into the ground, and adult fish tend to eat the eggs. Females can lay more than 500 eggs in one pairing.

Tiger barb eggs are transparent, with a barely perceptible Amber tone, sticky; much of it remains at the roots of the fern.

What Should We Do After They Lay Eggs

If they finish spawning and laying eggs when you are in the watch, remove the adult fish from the tank right away. If not, remove the pair after a day to save the eggs from the adult fish. Usually, Tiger Barbs begin spawning very soon after they have been brought together again.

Tiger barbs are bad parents. They do not care about their babies and tend to eat the eggs and fry whenever possible. So, it is crucial to remove adult fish from the breeding tank in order to save their eggs.

To prevent the development of a fungus that appears on dead eggs, you should add methylene blue to the water. Doing this will also help you identify unfertilized eggs because unfertilized eggs turn white when methylene blue is added.

Hatching Tank For Tiger Barb Eggs; Is It Necessary? 

A hatching tank is unnecessary because you remove the adult Tiger Barbs from the tanks as soon as possible.

However, you need to darken the breeding tank with paper because Tiger Barb eggs are sensitive to light. The eggs will hatch within 48 hours, depending on temperature. After additional three days, the fry will become free-swimming. At this time, you can start feeding Tiger Barbs fry.

Taking Care Of Baby Tiger Barbs

Tiger barb fry should be fed with living dust food like newly hatched brine shrimp. But you can supplement or replace it with the yolks of hard-boiled eggs.  They need to be fed about 5 times daily, and water changes are necessary for keeping ideal water conditions.

When they grow bigger, you can slowly introduce protein-rich food such as nematodes, infusoria, rotifers, and nauplius, but you need to keep feeding five times per day.

You should provide proper aeration to the fry and keep the tank temperature at about 24C.

If given good care, Tiger Barbs grow quickly. However, the growth rate of each tiger barb varies. Some barbs grow bigger and some smaller. Therefore, you should separate stronger specimens from weaker relatives to prevent eating smaller relatives.

Moving Grown Up Tiger Barbs In To Grow Out Ponds

Tiger barbs are moderately hardy fish that can tolerate steady temperature changes. Given that they can not survive in sudden temperature changes.

However, if the weather in your area is similar to their native waters weather, your fish should be fine in a pond.

However, you should add plenty of live plants to the pond to provide natural filtration. Tiger Barbs’ native habitats are the waters of Africa, South, and Southeast Asia.

Tiger Barb Eggs Hatching Time

Tiger Barb eggs hatch between 24 to 48 hours. If taken longer, either they are not fertilized or infected with fungus. If the eggs appear and you still don’t see fry after 48 hours, you can be sure that your breeding process was not successful.

Do Tiger Barbs Eat Their Eggs

Yes. Tiger Barbs are notoriously bad parents that are known to have a voracious appetite for their own eggs. If left unattended, they will eat eggs and fry, and there will be no Tiger Barb babies to grow.

Therefore, breeding tiger barbs in a community tank is not recommended. And also need to remove adult fish from the eggs to save the eggs or else remove the eggs to a hatching tank.

How Often Do Tiger Barbs Breed?

Tiger Barbs breed every two weeks. Female barbs can produce up to 500 eggs or more per spawn if adequately conditioned. Females can spawn as frequently as every two weeks.

Tiger Barbs Mating Or Fighting

Tiger barbs are well-known fish species that fight all the time. However, they don’t harm each other when fighting. It is like play-fighting. In a community tank, the breeding process rarely happens.

For tiger barbs to mate, you should follow the above steps correctly. Otherwise, even males and females stay together; Tiger Barbs don’t breed because their reproduction system simply doesn’t work when males and females live together. So, if you see dancing behavior in a community tank, it is most likely fighting.

Do Tiger Barbs Eat Their Babies?

Yes. Tiger barbs eat their babies when the babies are still fry. Once the babies pass the juvenile stage, the adults don’t bother eating them. So, you have to care for Tiger Barb babies until they are bigger enough to live with others.

Tiger Barbs Growth Rate

Tiger Barbs usually grow fast. The average growth rate of Tiger Barbs is about ¼ to ½ inch every six weeks. Usually, a fry grows for about 0.5 inches within a month. However, the growth rate depends on tank parameters (pH, hardness), temperature, space, and feeding.

Tiger Barbs Size

A Tiger Barb will grow up to 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) long and up to 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) wide. So, a tiger barb baby reaches its mature size within about 8 -12 months.

Diseases, During The Breeding Season

When introducing Tiger Barbs in the breeding tank, the barbs may get infected with parasites or bacterial infections for various reasons.

The breeding tank may get ectoparasites and pathogens of dangerous diseases for fish through insufficiently clean water or food. Hence, you should check with any changes of your Barbs during the breeding season.

You should check out for,

  • If the barbs get sluggish
  • Loses interest in food or
  • Covered with a layer of mucus, and the fins stick together.

If you see any of these symptoms, you should start treating them right away. For this, you can use one or more of the listed treatments.

  • Tint the water with methylene blue
  • Carry out a short term salt bath for fish
  • Add antibiotics to the tank

And also, as a treatment, you can change half of the water into distilled water and increase ventilation a day after the completion of the tiger barbs spawning. 

When the breeding process is finished, you should remove the adults from the breeding tank and follow the below steps.

  • Replace one-third of the water
  • Tint the tank with methylene blue to prevent the development of fungal infection
  • Cover the tank with papers to prevent the mutation of eggs because of ultraviolet rays. If the eggs are exposed to UV rays, the eggs get mutated, and the color of the fish changes.


If you are used to breeding fish that care for their eggs and fry, like Angelfish, you may find Tiger Barb breeding is difficult as it involves extra work of taking care of eggs and fry.

This is why fish breeders call it a third-level breeding experience because it involves more work. However, breeding Tiger Barbs is a wonderful experience you can get, especially because of their funny mating dance.

And also, breeding tiger barbs is relatively easy because they can breed frequently. Following the given steps will guarantee you a successful breeding experience from your Tiger Barbs.

Read more Black Oranda goldfish care 15 things must know


Saxby, Amelia, et al. “The effect of group size on the behaviour and welfare of four fish species commonly kept in home aquaria.” Applied Animal Behaviour Science 125.3-4 (2010): 195-205.

Gallagher, Anne EC. Aggressive behaviour in tiger barbs (Barbus tetrazona). Diss. University of St Andrews, 1990.

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About Dr.Chamika

Hello, I'm Dr. Chamika. I am a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. I am a passionate fish keeper, with10 years of experience. My mission is to help other aquarists experience the joy of fish keeping.