The 8 Best Tank Mates for Tiger Barbs

Written by Arlene Mckanic
Published: July 21, 2023
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The 8 Best Tank Mates for Tiger Barbs

The tiger barb is a beautiful little aquarium fish that gets its name due to its yellow body, orange fins and snout, and black stripes, all of which are reminiscent of a tiger. It’s a fish that’s easy to care for even though reproduction in captivity may be challenging. Best of all, it can get along with mostly peaceable tank mates that are about the same size, which is between 2.8 and 3.9 inches long.

The barb thrives in an aquarium that holds at least 20 gallons of just slightly acidic water. The water should also be a little hard, and you’ll need to maintain its temperature at 68 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re going to add companions, make sure you have a school of at least six tiger barbs. Tiger barbs are aggressive toward other fish when they are solitary or there are only a couple of them in a tank. Here are some fish that make great companions for your tiger barb.

1. Other Barbs for Tank Mates

Aquarium fish experts claim that the best companions for tiger barbs are other barbs. These barbs may come from other genera than the tiger barb, whose scientific name is Puntigrus tetrazona.

Rosy Barb

Rosy barbs make good tank mates for the tiger barb.

©Kkonstan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

This fish, which can grow to around 6 inches, is also known as the tiger barb, but its scientific name is Pethia conchonius. This beautiful fish also likes to live in schools and can also be a little aggressive. This is especially true when they’ve just been introduced into an aquarium with other fish. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have places in your tank where fish can hide for a while.

Cherry Barb

Cherry Barbus fish swims in an aquarium. (Puntius titteya, Barbus Titteya)

A rosy barb swims in an aquarium with a tiger barb and other tank mates.


The rosy barb is also called the cherry barb, but the real cherry barb’s scientific name is Puntius titteya. It grows to only 2 inches long yet is compatible with other barbs. If fish are capable of cheer, these fish are cheerful, especially if they’re kept in schools of between five and 10 individuals.

Tinfoil Barb

Tinfoil barb fish

The tinfoil barb is a good companion for the tiger barb.

©Khairul Ishra Najeeb/ via Getty Images

Though this fish can grow several times as large as the tiger barb, it is still a good companion for it as long as the tiger barb isn’t too small. The tinfoil barb, whose scales flash like tinfoil when it swims in a school, is an omnivore and isn’t above eating tiny fish. However, because the tinfoil barb can grow to about 14 inches in length, you’re going to need a bigger tank.

Black Ruby Barb

pethia nigrofasciata fish in an aquarium

The black ruby barb is prized for its beauty.

©wahid hasyim asyari/ via Getty Images

This gorgeous fish is smaller than the tiger barb at only about 2 inches. It has a head of deep purplish red, and the body sports the rich, nearly blackish red of a Thai ruby. The color is especially vivid in males of reproductive age. You can tell if one of these fish is unhappy because its body turns pale. It’s best kept in schools of at least eight fish.

Odessa Barb

Odessa barb Pethia padamya freshwater aquarium fish

Gorgeous odessa barbs also make worthy tankmates for the tiger barb.

©Mirko_Rosenau/ via Getty Images

These fish grow to be the same size as tiger barbs, and neither one is likely to harass the other. Again, it’s a good idea to keep the Odessa barb in schools of at least five fish. You can tell sexes apart because the male’s body has a brilliant red stripe that runs from head to tail against a beige ground color. He has greenish fins, and when he’s ready to mate, the colors intensify. The female is a bit more drab. Her fins are yellow-green, and she has black spots on her dorsal fin. Her scales are silvery and flash when she swims.

Besides barbs, other fishes that make good tank mates for the tiger barbs are:

2. Clown Loach

Types of Long Living Pet Fish - Clown Loach

The long-lived clown loach can grow to be a large fish but still gets along with the little tiger barb.

©Grigorii Pisotsckii/

The clown loach can grow to 12 inches and can live as long as 25 years, four times as long as the tiger barb. But it’s peaceful, with a long and slender body that comes in shades of orange and banana yellow with brilliant red fins. Wide black bands contrast pleasingly with the yellow or orange ground color. Though it’s a docile fish, it does have a spine beneath each of its eyes, so be careful handling it.

The clown loach isn’t the only loach that can be tank mates with the tiger barb. Others are the zebra loach, the yo-yo loach, and the Kuhli loach.

3. Swordtail

Red swordtail is swimming in aquatic plants tank. green swordtail (Xiphophorus hellerii) is one of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish species. it is a livebearer fish.

The swordtail gets its name from the male’s extended caudal fin.

©Arunee Rodloy/

This fish gets its name from the “sword” that extends from the male’s caudal or tail fin. Swordtails are one of the easiest fish to keep and are often beginner fish for people, even children, setting up their first aquarium. These pet fish come in all manner of colors, including neon, red, painted, and pineapple. Like the tiger barb, swordtails like swimming in schools. They are also livebearers. Prepare for clouds of fry if you keep males and females together. You’d think that the sword of this fish would be irresistible to a tiger barb, but if both fish have enough of their conspecifics around them, they’ll leave each other alone.

4. Silver Dollar

School Silver Dollar Fish in aquarium


silver dollar

fish do best in schools.


If this fish looks uncomfortably familiar, there’s a reason for it. The silver dollar, or Metynnis argenteus is a relative of the piranha, but don’t worry. Like all of the tiger barb’s tank mates, it’s peaceful and even timid. It’s also an herbivore that can grow to about 6 inches in length and live more than 10 years. Its silver scales glitter and may show tints of green or blue with tiny dots on the sides. You can tell a male because his anal fin is lined in red. Silver dollars do best in schools and in large tanks with many places to hide.

5. Black Widow Tetra


Black skirt tetras are about the same size as tiger barbs and make good tank mates.

© Carlos Juarez Jaramillo

This tetra grows to the same size as the tiger barb and lives about five years. The typical black widow tetra is silvery though there are black bands behind the head and around the middle of the body. The back part of the body is also black. This makes the fish look like it’s wearing a black skirt and gives it its other name of black skirt tetra. However, there are varieties that come in all kinds of colors thanks to the inclusion of jellyfish genes. This tetra needs a school of its conspecifics to be happy, and like the tiger barb it tends to nip at fish with flowing fins such as certain types of guppies.

6. Zebra Danio


Zebra danios make good tank mates for tiger barbs.


Like the tiger barb, this robust little fish grows to about 2 inches and lives about five years. It is also called the zebrafish, even though there are other fish with this common name. Its scientific name is Danio rerio.

This fish is easily identifiable by its long body and bluish-purple stripes that run from its gills to its tail over a silver gilt ground. Zebra danios have also been bred to be albino, with veil-like tails, long fins, and leopard spots. There are even strains of this fish with jellyfish DNA that allows for a rainbow of body colors. As with all other tiger barb tank mates, they need to swim in schools.

7. Platy

Southern platyfish

People breed platys to display brilliant colors.


Like barbs, platys have been bred through many generations to exhibit a a wealth of neon-bright colors and patterns. They grow to the same size as the tiger barb, and their lifespan is a bit shorter at four years. They are peaceable but tough, very easy to care for and prolific when it comes to breeding. Like swordtails, platys bear live young and lots of them. Some aquarium fish specialists claim that raising schools of barbs and platys together is an ideal set up.

8. Molly

Molly (Poecilia sphenops) - black molly fish

Mollies are good tank mates for tiger barbs, but the lyre tail of this one may cause a barb to nip.


Another live-bearing fish, the molly, has been bred to display a variety of colors and body types. They range from the velvety black molly to the sun-yellow golden molly to the sailfin molly with its spectacular dorsal fin. Mollies are robust fish but do best in warm water that’s suitable for their tiger barb tank mates. They grow up to 5.5 inches long, live up to five years, and like to swim in schools around the midlevel of the aquarium. Just make sure there are more females than males.

Summary of The 8 Best Tank Mates for Tiger Barbs

RankTank Mates for Tiger BarbsLifepsan
1Rosy Barb3-5 years
2Clown Loach30 years
3Swordtail3-5 years
4Silver Dollar10 years or less
5Black Widow Tetra3-5 years
6Zebra Danio3-5 years
7Platy3-4 years
8Molly5 years

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Faucon, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Arlene Mckanic is a writer for A-Z Animals whose focus is on plants and animals of all kinds, from ants to elephants. She has a Bachelor's Degree from City College of New York. A resident of South Carolina, she loves gardening and though she doesn't have pets, a black racer snake does live in her kitchen.

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