How Many Tiger Barbs Should Be Kept Together? [Explained]

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If you want an active and beautiful fish species in your tank, you can’t go wrong with the tiger barbs.

But tiger barbs are semi-aggressive fish and territorial in nature. So choosing the right number of these species is crucial for your given fish tank size.

Whether you have a 10-gallon, or a 75-gallon tank, in this guide, we will share the right number of tiger barbs you can keep together. So let’s get started!

How Many Tiger Barbs Should Be Kept Together?

The general rule is to keep at least 6 tiger barbs together. However, if your tank size permits, you can also house more of them in the tank because they are schooling fish.

There are three crucial things to consider while keeping tiger barbs:

  1. Tiger barbs are schooling fish: So keeping less than 6 of them won’t be a good decision.
  2. They are highly active fish: These fish are active swimmers of the middle range of your tank. So enough free space is required in the tank so they can swim easily.
  3. They can grow up to 2-3 inches; they are semi-aggressive and can be territorial: So housing them in a big enough tank is important to reduce the chances of territorial fights among the fish.

Why Is It Important To Keep Tiger Barbs In A School?


If you don’t keep tiger barbs in school, aggression will increase, leading to stress among the tiger barbs. 

Tiger barbs are active and playful fish. They are not highly aggressive fish like an Oscar. However, they are not completely peaceful either, like a neon tetra. Their aggression level lies in the middle.

And when it comes to protecting their territory, they won’t miss the chance to nibble on each other. 

Now let’s say you kept only 2 tiger barbs in a tank. In that case, you’ll frequently find one tiger barb being chased by another. 

Fish generally ‘school’ together as a defense against predators to better locate the food and to swim in a better way.

For the proper well-being of your fish, it is always best to give them the best habitat and condition according to how they have evolved.

All the extreme behaviors of a schooling fish start rolling in when you don’t keep them in school. 

Either your fish will become shy and keep hiding a lot, or they will become more aggressive and attack each other.

For instance, with clown loaches, the first case holds more true – so if you have kept only 1 or 2 of them, you’ll find them hiding most of the time.

However, with tiger barbs, the opposite thing happens. When you don’t keep them in groups, their aggression level starts to appear more and more.

You increase the number of tiger barbs to 6 or more – they feel comfortable because that’s how they prefer living normally. Also, now, the aggression is spread among more fish, and thus that results in better harmony among the fish.

How Many Tiger Barbs Per Gallon In A Tank?

In-home aquariums, tiger barbs can grow up to 2-3 inches. As a general rule, a 20-gallon tank is enough to house 6 tiger barbs. And that turns out to be about 3.33 gallons per tiger barb in a fish tank.

Please note that the number of tiger barbs we recommend in this guide is only a general rule.

Many factors can vary the ideal number of tiger barbs you can keep in your tank. 

For instance, if you don’t want frequent water changes, housing a smaller number of tiger barbs than the general rule makes more sense. 

Why? Because fewer tiger barbs mean less fish waste, and thus, less will be all that ammonia build up in the tank.

On the other hand, if you perform regular water changes and many live plants are present in the aquarium that help you maintain the ideal water parameters, keeping 1 or 2 tiger barbs more than the recommended levels won’t be a big issue. 

Why? Because (provided) you are already maintaining your tank well, your tank system will be efficient enough to handle that extra bioload.

Tank Size:Recommended Number:
10* Gallons3-4 Tiger Barbs
15* Gallons4-5 Tiger Barbs
20 Gallons6-7 Tiger Barbs
30 Gallons9-10 Tiger Barbs
40 Gallons10-12 Tiger Barbs
55 Gallons16-20 Tiger Barbs
75 Gallons22-30 Tiger Barbs

*A 10 or 15-gallon tank is too small to house a school of 6 tiger barbs. So starting with a 20-gallon tank and 6 tiger barbs is highly recommended.

How Many Tiger Barbs Can You Have In A 10 Gallon Tank?

A 10 Gallon tank can house 3-4 tiger barbs. However, since tiger barbs are schooling fish, it is essential to start with at least a group of 6; a 10-gallon tank is small for such a large group of tiger barbs.

And if you are thinking of adding tank mates, then again, the tank size will be a limiting factor. However, if you are still willing, you can look for any small-size fish like zebra danios or small cory catfish.

Placing a single plant in the backdrop or a small cave would also look good in the tank.

Read: Can Tiger Barbs Eat Plants?

How Many Tiger Barbs Can You Have In A 15 Gallon Tank?

A 15-gallon tank is enough to house 4-5 tiger barbs. However, since the size is still small, you will have to look for small-sized tank mates like zebra danios or cory catfish.

How Many Tiger Barbs Can You Have In A 20 Gallon Tank?

A 20-gallon tank is the best size tank to start keeping a school of tiger barbs containing 6-7 fish. You can also reduce the tiger barb number and add a few compatible tank mates like mollies and platies.

With a 20-gallon tank, your options for including big-size decorations also increase. So now you can also have a big piece of driftwood in the tank to give a nice natural touch to your aquarium. Like plants, driftwood also provides a good hiding place for your tiger barbs.

How Many Tiger Barbs Can You Have In A 30 Gallon Tank?

In a 30-gallon tank, you can house 9-10 tiger barbs together. And if you reduce that number a bit to make extra room for other tank mates, you can house black widow tetras and siamese algae eaters

Also, you can add rocks to the tiger barb aquarium. By adding rocks and an appropriate substrate, you can have a rocky feel to your tank. 

Learn more about how to know if a rock is safe for aquariums in this guide.

How Many Tiger Barbs Can You Have In A 40 Gallon Tank?

A 40-gallon tank is spacious enough to hide around 10-12 tiger barbs. You can house all other tank mate options like zebra danios, cory catfish, small loaches, and algae eaters like Otocinclus catfish.

The otocinclus catfish (also known as Oto cats) are small peaceful fish, popular as an algae eater, and can be a nice addition to your tiger barb tank.

How Many Tiger Barbs In A 55 Gallon Tank?

In a 55-gallon tank, you can keep 16-20 tiger barbs. With a bigger tank like a 55-gallon, you can also have other companions for your tiger barb, such as Cherry Barb, Rosy Barb, or the Red Tail Shark.

How Many Tiger Barbs In A 75-Gallon Tank?

In a 75-gallon tank, you can house 22-30 tiger barbs. With this type of big tank, you can create a community tank with tiger barbs with all the suitable tank mates like Loaches, Algae Eaters, Red Tail sharks, Mollies, Platies, or Cherry Barbs.

But ensure that whatever combination of tank mates you choose is compatible with each other.

Tank Mates To Avoid:

One of the crucial things to consider while choosing the tank mate for tiger barb – tiger barbs are fin nippers! So avoid housing any delicate fish that have decorative fins (like betta fish) with tiger barbs!

Here are some of the tank mates you should avoid housing with tiger barb:

  • Angelfish
  • Guppies
  • Bettas
  • Cherry Shrimp
  • Goldfish

Further Read: Can Tiger Barbs Live With Snails?

What To Put In A Tiger Barb Tank?

The best way to keep tiger barbs is to have them in a heavily planted aquarium. They are active swimmers and prefer having open swimming spaces. 

So it’s best to give your tank a natural look and have the plants (either live or artificial, based on your preference) on the periphery or background of the tank.

The typical colors of the tiger barb pop well when there is a natural green setting in the background!

Tiger barbs are playful and active-natured fish, so you’ll find them swimming around your tank. But most often, they like to spend their time swimming in the mid-level area of the tank. 

Regarding substrate, you don’t need to worry a lot – you can go with what you prefer, whether sand or gravel-based substrate. If you decide to have them in a planted aquarium, it’s best to select the substrate according to the plants you keep in that tank.

Here are the preferred water parameters for Tiger Barbs:

Temperature:77-82 °F (25 – 27.8 °C)
Water Hardness5-19 dGH

To learn more about tiger barb care, I highly recommend watching this video from Prime Time Aquatics:

Final Thoughts

In short, keep at least 6 tiger barbs in 20-gallon tanks or more, have enough plants, hiding places, and suitable tank mates – and your fish will be fine to thrive well.

Although they are semi-aggressive and can be nippy, they are not very aggressive. Keep them in an adequately sized school with suitable tank conditions, and they would do just fine like any other tank species.

So I hope you know what will be the best tank size for tiger barb and how many of them you can house together. If you are interested in more fishkeeping-related content like this, feel free to look around this blog! Happy Fishkeeping!