Tiger Barb Tank Mates: 12 Best & 7 Worst

If you’re wondering what the best tiger tank mates for your tiger barb are, then you’ve found the right article. In this article, not only will you learn about the best fish to add to your tank, you’ll also learn what to look for, what to avoid, and how to make your tiger barbs less aggresive!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What To Look For When Choosing Tank Mates For Your Tiger Barbs

If you plan on keeping your fish with other fish, then you should know exactly what to look for before hand! This way, not only will be able to choose from the tank mates below, but you’ll also learn what to look for on your own as well!

1. Temperament

There are a lot of peaceful fish in aquariums, but some fish are also very aggressive. Putting aggressive fish in the same tank as peaceful fish is often a bad idea, because they may bully the peaceful fish, making them stressed or weak.

Aggressive fish can also keep the peaceful fish from getting food, which could will also stress the fish out, and sometimes, starve them to death.

2. Similar Preferences for Water Temperature

You should also make sure you’re only putting your tiger barbs in tanks with fish that need similar temperatures to them. If the temperature is off for one fish, it can result in lethargy, or hyperactivity. Both of which are bad for your fish, and can result in sickness or a premature death.

3. Similar pH Levels

When choosing two fish to put together, you should also make sure they can survive in the same pH levels. When the pH is too acidic or alkaline, it can cause potential damage to them, and even burn their gills, and ruin their slime coat in extreme cases.

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4. Similar Diet And Feeding Behavior

You’ll be feeding your fish every day, so what they eat, and how they act around food can be a deciding factor in whether you want them in your tank or not.

If one of your fish is competitive or aggressive while feeding, it may eat all the food, leaving the other fish hungry and stressed. It may also attack your other fish while they are eating.

While the diet and feeding behaviors aren’t a dealbreaker, they’re still something you’ll need to consider!

5. Size

Always remember that a fish that grows big will probably eat smaller fish, even if the big fish is usually thought to be peaceful. This is because fish tend to eat and swallow anything that can fit in their mouths, so they might accidentally eat their tank mates. Ensure that the fish you choose are not big enough to eat the other fish accidentally.

6. Swimming Level

One thing that isn’t always taken into account when picking a fish to keep is the fish’s preferred swimming level in the tank. While tiger barbs swim all over the pace, they tend to level around the middle of the tank. So considering fish that stay near the bottom or top of the tank can be a good idea.

Infographic explaining the different tank mates for tiger barbs

What Are The Best Tiger Barb Tank Mates?

As a result of their aggression, tiger barbs have a limited selection of tank mates. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give your tiger barbs some friends. Here are some great fish that can live alongside your tiger barbs.

1. Swordtails

Swordtail Care Sheet
  • pH: 7.0 to 8.0
  • Temperature: 72°F and 79°F
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Fish Size: 5.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Swordtails and tiger barbs make great tank mates, because of the sword tails size, and confidence in a tank.It’s important to note though, that while you can keep swordtails alone, they do much better in groups, especially in community tanks.

Although you should be adding 5 gallons per fish, it is possible to keep 5 in a 30 gallon tank, with your tiger barbs, as long as you’re not keeping too many tiger barbs as well.

These fish do well in any substrate as long as you add hardy, dense plants like anubias nana, dwarf hairgrass, and scarlet temple.

2. Platy Fish

platy care sheet
  • pH: 6.8 to 8.5
  • Temperature: 70°F to 80°F 
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Fish Size: 3 inches
  • Lifespan: 2 to 3 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Platy fish are a great addition to your tiger barb tank as they’re so colorful and playful.  Not only this, but they’re easy to care for, can live in various water temperatures and conditions, and tend to keep to themselves, instead of aggravating other fish in the tank.

If you plan on keeping platies try adding plants like hornwort, duckweed, or java moss, and while platy fish can thrive with any substrate, I’d definitely recommend gravel over sand.

3. Molly

molly fish care sheet
  • pH: 7.5 to 8.5
  • Temperature: 71°F to 82°F
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Fish Size: 4 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Mollies make great tank mates for tiger barbs so they’re another great choice. It’s mainly the large size of the mollies, and their confidence in the tank, which are the reason for this. When keeping mollies with your barbs, ensure that there is only one male for every three females, so they don’t fight.

Mollies are hardy and don’t have favorite plants or gravel, but you can give them some plants like anubias and java ferns, to keep them happy.

4. Clown Pleco

clown pleco care sheet
  • pH: 6.8 to 7.6
  • Temperature: 73°F to 82°F
  • Tank Size: 20 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 12 years
  • Difficulty Keeping:

Tiger barbs get along well with clown plecos because of how calm and peaceful they are, and how they will most likely ignore your barbs. They’ll also spend most of their time at the bottom of the tank, steering clear of your tiger barbs.

Make sure you’re keeping a sand substrate if you plan on adding clown plecos to the tank with your tiger barbs, otherwise, they may end up hurting themselves when foraging for food.

5. Pictus Catfish

  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 75°F to 81°F
  • Tank Size: 55 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size:  5 inches
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Pictus catfish are excellent tankmates for tiger barbs because of how peaceful. The only thing about pictus catfish is that they need to be kept in big tanks, so if you want to put them with tiger barbs, make sure to put them in fish tanks that are 55 gallons or larger.

When keeping them together, you can use sand or loose gravel as the substrate and put in a lot of plants like hornwort and java moss, to help them feel safe.

6. Clown Loach

  • pH:  6.0 to 8.0
  • Temperature:  77°F to 86°F
  • Tank Size: 150 gallons minimum for 5 fish
  • Fish Size: 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Intermediate

Clown loaches are also great tankmates for tiger barbs because once again they won’t bother them and they need almost the same conditions. But, remember, clown loaches need big tanks because of the size they can reach.

And at some point, you may need to move them to another tank. Once they reach their full size, they may be too big for your tiger barbs.

You also need to keep them in groups because they much prefer swimming in schools, and they’ll get stressed on their own.

The best plants to add to their aquarium are floating plants like java moss, water spangles, or hornwort, or tough leaved plants like anubias or java fern, so you don’t have to worry about your clown loaches damaging them.

7. Red-Tailed Sark

Redtail Shark Care Sheet
  • pH:  6.8 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 72°F to 79°F
  • Tank Size: 55 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size: 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Intermediate

Some people think that red-tailed sharks are too aggressive to keep with other fish, but if you keep an eye on them and make sure they have plenty of space in their tank, they can get along just fine with tiger barbs. Their tank should have plenty of hiding spots and places to explore so red-tailed sharks can stay out of trouble. 

Here you can see just how peaceful red tail sharks can be with other fish!

8. Black Skirt Tetra

Black Skirt Tetra Care Sheet
  • pH: 6.0 to 7.5 
  • Temperature: 70°F to 85°F
  • Tank Size: 15 gallons minimum for six fish 
  • Fish Size: 1 to 2.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Intermediate

Black skirt tetras are hardy fish that can get used to most aquarium environments without problems, which makes them great tank mates for tiger barbs. However, they do like to nip on long, flowing fins, so be cautious about other fish in your tank.

Again adding plants is best as it will add lots of hiding places and make all the fish in the tank feel more comfortable, but the plants you choose are completely up to you!

9. Zebra Danios

zebra danio care sheet
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Temperature: 64° F to 78 °F
  • Tank Size: 10 gallon
  • Fish Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 3 to 5 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Tiger barbs get along well with zebra danios because they are primarily calm fish, although they have their moments . They can also swim pretty quickly, so if your fish tank has enough room for them to swim around, they can just swim away from your tiger barbs. Remember that, unlike tiger barbs, they like to swim in water that moves slowly.

10. Cherry Barb

Cherry Barb Care Sheet
  • pH: 6 to 8
  • Temperature: 73°F to 81°F
  • Tank Size: 25 to 30 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Intermediate

When you add a cherry barb to your aquarium, you’ll never miss seeing it. These fish are happy, playful, and bright red (cherry-red). While cherry barbs, and tiger barbs, will never get along 100% the size of your cherry barb school and speed at which they can swim, make them viable tank mates!

Generally, these fish will be most comfortable when kept in groups of 5 to 10 fish. Just like tiger barbs, cherry barbs are also omnivores, so make sure you’re giving them a mix of meaty food and plant matter.

11. Tinfoil Barb

  • pH: 6.5 to 7.0 
  • Temperature: 72°F to 77°F
  • Tank Size: 70 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size: 14 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

As long as you’re keeping juvenile tin foil barbs, they can be a great choice for your tiger barbs. However as they grow to full size, you may need to consider moving them to a bigger tank. This is because they grow so large they could end up eating smaller fish in your tank (like tiger barbs).

12. Black Ruby Barb

  • pH: 6.0 to 6.5
  • Temperature: 72°F to 79°F
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons minimum
  • Fish Size: 2 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 years
  • Difficulty Keeping: Easy

Black ruby barbs aren’t as aggressive as tiger barbs, so they can make great tank mates for your tiger barbs, and other fish too. As long as the tiger barbs are kept in groups so they don’t get too aggressive, you should have no problem. Make sure to put a lot of plants in the tank so that both barbs can hide in them.

Are Tiger Barbs Good For A Community Tank?

Even though tiger barbs are beautiful and active fish to look at, it might not be a good idea to keep them in tanks with other fish. This is because they can be a little bit aggressive and bite any fish whose fins are moving. But with proper preparation and carefully picking their tankmates, it is possible to keep tiger barbs together in a community fish tank.

First, ensure the tiger barbs are kept in groups of six or more since they are schooling fish. If there aren’t enough tiger barbs in the aquarium, the ones that are there will be too aggressive. Also, put them in a large fish tank, so they have enough room to swim around.

Make sure you don’t put any aggressive fish in their fish tank. Tiger barbs are known for being aggressive, so putting them with another aggressive fish could cause them to fight constantly. Also, don’t pick up fish with flowing fins because the tiger barbs could bully them and nip their fins.

What Are The Worst Tank Mates For Tiger Barbs?

Tiger barbs are pretty and active fish to keep, but they can be mean to other fish in the aquarium. Because of this, it can be hard to choose a fish to keep with them. Here are some fish you shouldn’t keep with tiger barbs.

1. Angelfish

Any aquarium with tiger barbs can have a problem with them biting the fins of other fish, so they shouldn’t be kept with fish with long fins like angelfish. When kept together, your tiger barbs will nip the angelfish fins. Angelfish can also be aggressive, and they can also fight and overpower the tiger barbs.

2. Longfin Danio

Longfin Danios are another fish you don’t want near your tiger barbs because your tiger barbs will most likely end up nipping their fins. The main problem, however, is that they are small and would end up just getting bullied by your tiger barbs. When trying to get away from the tiger’s barbs, their long fins could pull them down, which could tire it out and kill it.

3. Bettas

Betta fish are another fish that don’t get along well with tiger barbs. Even though they have almost the same preferences in water parameters, tiger barbs will bother your bettas and nip their fins, making them bad tankmates. Bettas can also be extremely aggressive and may end up butting heads with your tiger barbs a lot.

4. Goldfish

While goldfish are another extremely popular choice of fish, you shouldn’t put tiger barbs and goldfish in the same tank because, for one thing, they need different water conditions to live well. Second, the tiger barbs are aggressive and will nip the fins of your slow-moving goldfish. In fact, goldfish and tiger barbs are one of the worst pairs you can put in any fish tank.

5. Guppies 

The guppy is another fish that the tiger barb’s habit of biting fins can hurt. They shouldn’t be kept together because tiger barbs can easily tear the large fan-shaped tails and fins of guppies to pieces. Also, guppies can’t move fast enough making them an easy target for the tiger barbs

6. Cichlids

Tiger barbs will also make a bad choice for community tanks. Cichlids are usually very aggressive fish, so it’s likely that the two will fight. And of course, both fish could hurt each other, which will stress them over time, opening them up to a weakened immune system and potentially even an illness like dropsy.

7. Gourami’s

While some gouramis are calm and peaceful, they don’t get along well with tiger barbs and shouldn’t be kept together. Both fish species can also be a little bit aggressive at times and have different dietary needs, which makes it hard for them to live in the same tank. If you know how to take care of both fish, you could technically keep them together, but there could be problems.

Can You Keep Multiple Tiger Barbs Together?

The general rule when keeping tiger barbs is that they should always be kept in at least schools of six. Tiger barbs naturally live in schools, so having less than six of them can make them more aggressive. It can also make them turn on each other and fight, which can lead to even more stress in the tank.

Since it’s best to keep tiger barbs in groups, make sure not to forget to put them in fish tanks that are large enough for them to live comfortably. Tiger barbs are fast and active swimmers so they need a large space to also swim comfortably. They also enjoy having lots of plants in their fish tank where they can swim and play around. 

You don’t have to worry too much about the substrate because you can use either sand or gravel substrate. Also, tiger barbs are mid-level dwellers and they don’t often spend time near the substrate. However, if you decide on placing them in a planted aquarium, it’s best to choose the substrate based on the plants you want to keep in their fish tank.

How Do I Make My Tiger Barb Less Aggressive?

Tiger barbs are well known for being aggressive fish in fish tanks. However, with proper care, you can mitigate their aggressiveness. Here are some ways to lessen the aggression of your tiger barbs.

1. Keep Them In Groups

Keeping only a small number of tiger barbs can cause them to become more aggressive. You should keep them in groups of at least six so they don’t get stressed out and are less likely to attack. Not only will this make them feel safer, but they are also less likely to try and establish dominance.

2. Don’t Keep Them With Bad Tankmates

Tiger barbs are notorious fin nippers and are semi-aggressive so it is best not to house them with other aggressive fish, or fish with long fins.

3. Keep Them In Big Tanks

Tiger Barbs will also become less aggressive if you put them in large enough fish tanks. They are active and can grow up to 3 inches which means they need a large fish tank which is a minimum of 20 gallons. Putting them in a large aquarium means they have more territory they can claim and swim around.

4. Keep The Water Conditions Optimal 

When the water conditions aren’t just right, tiger barbs can get a little mean. Make sure to keep the pH level between 6.0 and 8.0 and the water temperature between 77°F and 82°F. Also, keep the water clean and stable by putting a heater and filter in the aquarium.

5. Try To Mimic Their Natural Habitat

Another way to make tiger barbs less aggressive is to try to make them feel more at home by making them feel like they are in their natural environment. You can give them places to hide in their fish tank by putting in plants like java fern, water wisteria, and dwarf hairgrass into it. You can also use a fine material like gravel or sand as the substrate and line it with big rocks and cobblestones that can also be used as hiding places.

Tiger Barb Tank Mates_ 12 Best & 7 Worst

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about keeping tiger barbs with other tank mates!

Are Tiger Barbs Aggressive?

Tiger barbs are different from most schooling fish because they are aggressive. Most schooling fish are usually calm, and peaceful and won’t bother other fish. But with tiger barbs, they tend to nip or peck other fish especially if they have long or flowing fins.

Do Tiger Barbs Eat Other Fish?

Tiger barbs can eat other fish if they are small enough to fit through their mouths or if they are fry. It’s also not uncommon to see tiger barbs eating their dead tankmates. However, it’s unlikely that your tiger barb would have killed them intentionally.

Do Tiger Barbs Eat Guppies?

Since they are about the same size, an adult guppy can’t be eaten by a tiger barb. But because guppies have long fins and tails, tiger barbs can bite their fins and make it look like they are eating them slowly.

Most of the time, it’s not a good idea to put guppies and tiger barbs together.

Can Tiger Barb Live With Goldfish?

Goldfish are usually calm and peaceful, but they can’t live with aggressive tiger barbs. Tiger barbs are mean to other fish, especially ones that move slowly or have fins that move around. Also, they have completely different water parameter needs which make them incompatible.

Can You Keep Two Tiger Barbs In A Bowl?

Fish shouldn’t be kept as pets in a fish bowl as they need a clean environment to stay healthy, and fish bowls often lack filters and heaters. On top of this, they also need to be kept in groups, a pair would just end up fighting.

Can Tiger Barbs Eat Shrimps?

Tiger barbs eat shrimp in the wild, so shrimps are part of their food chain and they won’t hesitate to eat them. This is especially true if the shrimps are still larvae and are small enough for the tiger barbs to eat in one.

However, if your shrimp are full sized, and they’re big enough, then they may be fine.

Can You Keep Tiger Barbs With Mollies?

Mollies are one of the best fish you can put in a tank with a tiger barb. First of all, they need the same water parameters as each other. Just make sure to put them in a big fish tank with lots of areas they can claim, and don’t let them get too stressed out.

Can Tiger Barbs Live With Neon Tetras?

Neon tetras and tiger barbs can live in the same fish tank. Your tiger barbs will get along fine with them as long as they don’t get too stressed. Make sure to add plants and caves to their fish tank so your neon tetras can hide in case the tiger barbs become aggressive.

Can Cichlids And Tiger Barbs Live Together?

Tiger barbs and cichlids can’t live together in the same tank. Most cichlids don’t have the same water parameters needs as tiger barbs. Cichlids are also aggressive and will fight back if you put them together with tiger barbs.

What Triggers Tiger Barb Aggression?

If you have too few tiger barbs and don’t have much room, your tiger barbs will become more aggressive. These can make them territorial and fight other fish or themselves over territories in the fish tank.

So when keeping tiger barbs, always put them in fish tanks large enough for them to claim and establish territories and swim comfortably.

Is 4 Tiger Barbs Enough?

It’s not enough to keep only four tiger barbs together. Tiger barbs should be kept in groups of at least six so they can be happy and healthy. When there are a lot of tiger barbs together, they are less likely to be mean to each other or to other fish, because they are mean to fish lower on their “pecking order.”

Are Tiger Barbs Good For Community Tanks?

Tiger barbs are not the best fish for community tanks, but if you’re adding them to community tanks with other fish that don’t have long flowing tails, and won’t tolerate bullying, they can still make great additions.

Recap

Even though tiger barbs are aggressive, they can still live with other fish. It’s just that their aggressiveness can make it hard to find other fish to live with. But if you keep the water clean and stable, make sure the tiger barbs don’t get stressed out and keep them in groups, they will be happy and healthy.

About the author

Hey! I'm Antonio!

Betta fish keeper for over 6 years now! Since owning a betta I've also housed all kinds of tropical fish, and have seen all manner of problems and how to look after them!

If you need any advice you can always message me or better yet join the Facebook group where a community can answer your questions!

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