The Tiger Barb (Puntius tetrazona) is the most well-known and notorius of all aquarium barbs. While hardy and easy to care for, it is known as a "fin-nipper", a semi-aggressive fish that bites at the fins of other fish. This reputation is somewhat undeserved, however. Tiger Barbs are peaceful, schooling fish when kept in adequately large schools of at least 5 fish or more and in an adequately-sized aquarium. When kept in a small tank or in smaller groups, these barbs will vent their aggression on other tankmates. While they should still not be kept with long-finned fish, they can be kept in community tanks in large groups.
The natural Tiger Barb is golden-tan with with black stripes - one through the eyes, one at the base of the tail, and two on the body. The fins and mouth are red. Many aquacultured color varieties are also available like these Green Tiger Barbs. Green Tiger Barbs have dark metallic green bodies that mask the stripes. The fins may still be reddish, especially on the bottom.
Barbs are popular aquarium fish from the Cyprinidae family, one of the largest in freshwater that also includes other popular fish like Danios and Tetras. Most of the barbs available to aquarists are from the genus Puntius although several others are also found, including Barbus, Garra, Barbonymus, Barilius and others.
The large Puntius genus ranges from tiny 1” fish to larger species that reach a foot or more in length. Most of those sold for aquariums reach around 3-5 inches in length. This group includes some of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish: Tiger Barbs, Cherry Barbs, Gold Barbs, Rosy Barbs and others. This genus found throughout Asia. These fish are schooling and should be kept in groups of at least five or more fish. Keeping fewer fish will increase their individual aggressiveness, leading to their notorious reputation as semi-aggressive fin-nippers.
Barbs are generally not picky eaters. They will accept a wide variety of fresh and prepared foods like flakes and appropriately-sized pellets and frozen foods like formulas, brine shrimp, mysis, daphnia, blackworms and similar items. The smaller species can be kept in planted aquariums without damaging the plants.