Can Tiger Barbs Eat Plants? (Fully Explained!)

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If your Tiger Barbs have just started eating the plants in the tank, you might be a bit confused. Even if they have suddenly started eating plants they’ve never touched before, there’s no reason to be alarmed.

Tiger Barbs are omnivores, which means they eat plant matter and animals. As a result, Tiger Barbs eat plants, but they often don’t touch plants in their tanks if they are provided a well-balanced, nutritious diet. It’s important to keep in mind that not all plants are healthy for Tiger Barbs, though. 

To learn more about Tiger Barbs and how they behave around aquarium plants, keep reading. This article fully explains which plants are best for Tiger Barbs and what to do if your Tiger Barbs are eating them.

Do Tiger Barbs Eat Plants?

Tiger Barbs are omnivores, allowing them to eat both plant matter and animal matter. In the wild, they prefer to eat algae, plants, small crustaceans, and insects. Because Tiger Barbs eat plants in the wild, they will eat plants inside their tank as well.

In fact, you should not be surprised if your Tiger Barb starts eating the aquarium’s plant life. This is a common occurrence for many Tiger Barb owners. Other Barb species eat plants as well.

It’s important to note that Tiger Barbs don’t always eat plants consistently. Many owners report that their Tiger Barbs will go months without touching plants. 

All of a sudden, they will start chowing down on them. In other words, Tiger Barbs eat plants in the aquarium, but not always consistently.

What Else Do Tiger Barbs Eat?

As omnivores, Tiger Barbs will eat just about anything you put in their aquarium. 

The healthiest Tiger Barbs are fed a diet of high-quality flake food with live food, frozen food, and vegetables offered occasionally. These foods ensure that your Tiger Barb is getting all of the nutrition it needs.

Read Also: Do Tiger Barbs Eat Snails?

What To Do If Your Tiger Barbs Are Eating Plants?

If your Tiger Barbs are eating your plants and you don’t want them to, there are two main things you can do. 

First, change your fish’s diet. This will fix most problems. You might need to remove the plants entirely if your Tiger Barb is simply obsessed with the flavor of the plants.

Here is some more information about what to do if your Tiger Barbs won’t stop eating your plants:

#1. Change Diet

If Tiger Barbs are constantly fed healthy meals with all the nutrition they need, they often do not touch the plants inside the aquarium. After all, it’s easier to wait to be fed than to forage for food themselves.

Because of this fact, Tiger Barbs mainly only eat aquarium plants if they are hungry or lacking some sort of nutrition. 

This is especially true if the Tiger Barbs only eat the plants sporadically or occasionally. If you notice your Tiger Barb randomly eating plants, you should change its diet.

Once again, select a high-quality fish flake as the Tiger Barb’s main diet. Although high-quality flakes are great, that cannot be the only thing you feed your fish

Supplement the flakes with live or frozen food and fresh vegetables. The fresh vegetables are responsible for keeping the Tiger Barbs away from the plants.

Two vegetables you should definitely provide for your Tiger Barb include blanched zucchini medallions and shelled peas. These two vegetables will make sure your fish has the nutrition it needs. All the while, Tiger Barbs seem to go crazy over these vegetable flavors.

#2. Remove Plants

If you cannot seem to get your Tiger Barbs away from your plants, it might just be best to remove the plants. 

Allowing the Tiger Barb to finish the plant won’t hurt it as long as you double-check that the plant type is safe. However, certainly don’t waste your money by constantly replacing the eaten plants with new plants 😉

Should I Put Plants In My Tiger Barbs’ Tank?

It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you should put plants inside your Tiger Barbs’ tank. Tiger Barbs will certainly appreciate the foliage, but it is not necessary since these fish prefer open waters.

On the one hand, plants at the bottom or middle levels of your tank are great for Tiger Barbs. They provide shelter for algae that can serve as a supplemental food source. On the other hand, Tiger Barbs prefer open swimming areas.

To ensure that you use submerged plants properly for Tiger Barbs, only select plants that are suitable for this fish type. Then, place the plants against the side of the tank. 

Leave the center and the vast majority of the tank completely open for the Tiger Barb to swim around.

What Plants Are Best For Tiger Barbs?

The best plants for Tiger Barbs tend to be submerged, freshwater plants. Java Fern, Water Wisteria, and Dwarf Hairgrass are favorites. 

These plants are safe for your Tiger Barb to eat, and they do not take up too much space in the aquarium either.

Of these three options, Dwarf Hairgrass is specifically good if you want to line the aquarium’s substrate for breeding purposes. In comparison, Java Fern and Water Wisteria are great for regular aquariums that just want some easy plant life.

Also Check: How Many Tiger Barbs In A 10 Gallon Tank?

How To Use Plants In A Tiger Barb Aquarium?

If you decide that plants are right for your Tiger Barbs’ aquarium, begin by making sure the tank has the right parameters.

The tank needs to be at least 20 gallons large. Select a bigger tank if you have multiple fish or plan to use a lot of plants inside. 

Make sure that the water is between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0.

Pack the bottom of the aquarium with fine gravel. You can offer large rocks for shelter, but fine gravel is most important. 

Put an under gravel filter inside the tank to replicate currents that the Barbs would swim in naturally.

Now, it’s time to focus on the plants. Select submerged freshwater plants. These plants should specifically be placed in the corners or sides of the tank. Do not put plants at the center of the aquarium.

Don’t go crazy with the plants either. Although there are some species that love to hide in the plants, this is not the case for Tiger Barbs.

Instead, do not clutter up the aquarium. Leave the center and the majority of the aquarium open so that the fish can swim freely.


Tiger Barbs are omnivores and often eat aquarium plants as a result. Especially if their diets are not well balanced, these fish will begin eating the plants inside their aquarium to get all of the nutrition they need to be happy and healthy.

If your Tiger Barb only suddenly begins eating plants, that is almost a definite sign that your Tiger Barb is missing something from its diet. Make sure to start feeding your Tiger Barb fresh vegetables, such as zucchini or peas, to deter it from eating the plants.

In a worst-case scenario, the Tiger Barb could continue eating the plants. As long as you select plants that are safe for Tiger Barbs, you don’t have to worry about your Tiger Barb getting hurt, though you might waste your money if you continually buy more plants for your hungry friend.

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