Last update: November 29, 2023

15 Best Tiger Barb Tank Mates

If you’ve been on the hunt for the best tiger barb tank mates, but have heard a lot of rumors about these fish being especially aggressive and better kept in isolation, you’ve come to the right place.

Sure, some tiger barbs can be a little more challenging to keep than others. And some are decidedly more feisty than your average tiger barb, too.

At the end of the day, though, if you pick the right tank mate companions – like the ones that we highlight below – you won’t have anything to worry about.

Let’s jump right in!

Tiger Barb Tank Mates – What You Need to Know

Before we get into our picks for the very best tank mates for your tiger barbs it’s a good idea to highlight the qualities that these tank mates should exhibit to be a perfect fit.


Because tiger barbs can be a little on the more aggressive side of things (though they aren’t always “switched on”) it’s a good idea to choose tank mates that have a more passive personality, a more docile personality, and are generally just a lot more agreeable.

One of the reasons tiger barbs have a reputation for aggression is because beginners don’t always know that tiger barbs are a schooling fish. Your tiger barbs will feel more comfortable in a group of 6 or more and less like to lash out towards other species in the tank.


At a maximum size of around 3 inches tiger barbs aren’t the biggest fish in the aquarium world. They require at least 20 gallons of space, but more space is better if you have a large school of them or when adding tank mates.


As a general rule of thumb, try to make sure that the fish you’re adding to your Tiger Barb underwater environment are free of long and flowing fins. This can ramp tiger barbs up quite a bit, compelling them to “nip”, and that’s when things can really escalate.

Water Parameters and Tank Setup

Tank conditions for tiger barbs should be kept within tropical water temperature zones. We are talking about temperatures between 70° and 80°F or so with lots of plant life and lots of open space for these fish to zip around in.

The 15 Best Tiger Barb Tank Mates

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1. Pictus

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  • Scientific Name:  Pimelodus pictus
  • Adult Size:  5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Bristlenose Pleco, Angelfish, Rainbow Shark
  • Water Temperature:  75°F-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  50 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A wonderful little fish to mix in with all different kinds of barbs, these catfish are super docile, very peaceful, and generally pretty relaxed – though they do pick up the pace a little bit during the night.

These fish require a larger enclosure (40 gallons) so that they can sort of “stretch their legs”, so to speak. That means there’s going to be plenty of room for these catfish and your tiger barbs to live in without bumping up against each other all the time.

2. Molly

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  • Scientific Name:  Poecilia sphenops
  • Adult Size:  4.5-5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Guppies, Platy, Swordtail
  • Water Temperature:  75°-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Very Easy

Wildly popular with home aquarium owners (and for good reason), these fish are hardy, simple to care for, and come in a wide array of colors, patterns, and personalities.

Just make sure that you’re keeping small schools of mollies together in your tank. One male and three or four females work best, keeping everybody happy and calm and eliminating competition for resources.

3. Pleco

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  • Scientific Name:  Hypostomus plecostomus
  • Adult Size:  15 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, Guppies, Tetras
  • Water Temperature:  74° – 80° F
  • Minimum tank size:  75 gallons
  • Care Level:  Easy

A super interesting looking fish (and always a home aquarium owners favorite), this catfish type has almost armored scales on their body that can protect them from tiger barbs that do have slightly more aggressive personalities.

These fish can get to be 18 inches long (or longer) so they’ll need a larger enclosure. 75 gallons at a minimum works well, but that means there’s lots of extra room for your tiger barbs, too.

4. Platy Fish

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  • Scientific Name:  Xiphophorus maculatus
  • Adult Size:  2.8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, cory catfish, bristlenose, rainbow fish
  • Water Temperature:  70-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These fish are bright, vibrant, and have super fun personalities and are always a great addition to your underwater home aquarium environment.

Very easy to care for, able to tolerate a whole host of water conditions and temperatures, and generally a “keep to themselves” kind of fish, these are fantastic companions for your Tiger Barbs.

5. Clown Loach

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  • Scientific Name:  Chromobotia macracanthus
  • Adult Size:  6-8 inches
  • Compatible with:  Discus, Rainbowfish, Barbs
  • Water Temperature:  70-82°F
  • Minimum tank size:  75 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

Universally regarded as the most beautiful of all the Loach fish on the planet, this bright, energetic, and happy little fish is a wonderful companion for your tiger barbs. With stripes and colors that resemble the tiger barb, combining both species could make for a prolific tiger-striped display!

The only thing you really have to concern yourself with when raising these fish with others are making sure that the water is kept free of toxic substances. Nitrogen levels need to be checked and double checked on a regular basis for sure.

On top of that, these fish are happiest when you keep them in small schools. Five or six clown loaches together work best.

6. Rosy Barb

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  • Scientific Name:  Pethia conchonius
  • Adult Size:  6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cherry barb, Tiger barb, Tetra
  • Water Temperature:  65-72°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

One of the larger members of the barb fish family, this is another fish that really likes to be kept in smaller schools of five or six – but it blends in nicely with tiger barbs (and other barbs, for that matter).

You will want to keep your eyes on the rosy barbs that you add into your tiger barb enclosure, at least at first. These fish can have a tendency to nip the fins of other fish that they are meeting for the first time.

If your tiger barbs are a little on the aggressive side of things stuff can go sideways in a hurry. If you have a little extra room for these fish to swim around in, though, competition and aggression fades almost completely.

7. Swordtails

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  • Scientific Name:  Xiphophorus hellerii
  • Adult Size:  6.3 inches
  • Compatible with:  Cory catfish, platys, neon tetra, mollies, guppies
  • Water Temperature:  72-79°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Medium

Almost hyperactive fish that love to move from one end of your aquarium to the other (and then back again) almost constantly, these fish can quickly become the star of your aquarium environment – all while leaving your Tiger Barbs alone for the most part.

These fish are a little bit on the larger side of things (at 6 inches or so when fully grown). That helps to calm down the aggression that Tiger Barbs might have otherwise had.

The larger size will require you to have a bigger enclosure, though, and that means there’s going to be more real estate for all of your fish to call their own.

8. Red Tailed Shark

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  • Scientific Name:  Epalzeorhynchos bicolor
  • Adult Size:  4-6 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, Bala sharks, Angelfish
  • Water Temperature:  72-79°F
  • Minimum tank size:  55 gal
  • Care Level:  Medium

Some people feel that red tailed sharks are a bad addition to a tank with Tiger Barbs just because these sharks are known to be particularly aggressive. But, for one reason or another, these two types of fish really don’t have a lot of competition with one another and actually get along better with each other than most people would expect.

Just be sure that your tank has at least 50 gallons of water to swim around in, caves and structure for fish to explore, and lots of plants to break up constant line of sight between fish that might not love being challenged all the time.

9. Black Widow Tetra

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  • Scientific Name:  Gymnocorymbus ternetzi
  • Adult Size:  2 inches
  • Compatible with:  Tetras, Gourami, Danio
  • Water Temperature:  78-80°F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A very hardy fish (which makes them ideal for beginners), you’ll find that black widow tetra fish are able to acclimate to all different kinds of aquarium environments without any headache or hassle.

These fish are beautiful, colorful, and about as peaceful as aquarium fish can be. Sometimes they do like to nip long and flowing fins (which makes them tough with angelfish), but tiger barbs won’t have anything to worry about when it comes to aggression or competition here.

10. Zebra Danios

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  • Scientific Name:  Danio rerio
  • Adult Size:  1.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Catfish, guppies, platys, mollies, swordtails
  • Water Temperature:  64 – 75 °F
  • Minimum tank size:  10 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A lot of aquarium owners start their underwater worlds off with zebra danios and it’s not difficult to understand why.

Very easy to care for, easy to breed, and adaptable to a whole bunch of different types of water conditions, these fish are also pretty happy-go-lucky. They don’t have a lot of demands (even when it comes to food), keeping them from getting into competition and scraps with your tiger barbs.

Just know that these fish do like to zip around pretty much nonstop. Sometimes that can drive more peaceful minded tiger barbs a little crazy.

11. Cherry Barb

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  • Scientific Name:  Puntius titteya
  • Adult Size:  2 inches
  • Compatible with:  Barbs, Mollies, Platys
  • Water Temperature:  73-81°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Very Easy

You’ll never miss spotting a cherry barb when it’s been added to your aquarium. These fish are happy, playful, and bright red (cherry-red) and get along with pretty much every other fish in the barb family – as well as most other freshwater fish, for that matter.

As a general rule, these fish will be happiest when they are kept in schools of anywhere between 5 and 10 fish. Smaller schools can make these fish a little on the skittish side of things, and larger schools can be a little more challenging to manage.

12. Corydora Catfish

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  • Scientific Name:  Corydoras paleatus
  • Adult Size:  2.5 inches
  • Compatible with:  Almost everything
  • Water Temperature:  72-82 F
  • Minimum tank size:  20 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

A big part of why these catfish are so successful with tiger barbs is because they live pretty much exclusively in the bottom levels of the aquarium water column. Scavengers by nature, they just sort of cruise around the substrate, minding their own business, and staying out of the way of other fish that you keep in the tank.

These fish, though, often play a critical role in keeping your water conditions healthy for all of the underwater life you’ve got in the tank. You can’t go wrong adding these into the mix.

13. Tinfoil Barb

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  • Scientific Name:  Barbonymus schwanenfeldii
  • Adult Size:  14 inches
  • Compatible with:  Chichlids, catfish, tetras
  • Water Temperature:  72-77°F
  • Minimum tank size:  70 gal
  • Care Level:  Easy

These shiny little fish got their name from looking like bits of tinfoil that had been dropped into your aquarium, as far as barbs are concerned these just might be the most peaceful of the entire fish family.

It is important to remember, though, that they can grow to pretty large sizes. We’re talking about sizes that are significantly larger than your average tiger barb – twice as big or bigger, even – which is part of why they are such great tank mates.

To keep these fish happy, though, you want to make sure that you have at least five of them in a school. That means you need a pretty decent sized enclosure (70 gallons or larger) or you’ll be stressing your fish out quite a bit.

14. Black Ruby Barb

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  • Scientific Name:  Pethia nigrofasciata
  • Adult Size:  3 inches
  • Compatible with:  Barbs, Red tail sharks, Plecos
  • Water Temperature:  72-79°F
  • Minimum tank size:  30 gal
  • Care Level:  Very Easy

These barbs have an almost identical personality to tiger barbs, placing them at the top the compatibility scale. They are about as peaceful a neighbor in your aquarium as you will be able to add.

You should remember, though, that these kinds of barbs are going to want to spend a lot more time down near the lower levels of your aquarium water column.

You will need to make sure that plenty of food makes it down to them (and doesn’t get gobbled up by tiger barbs), but you also want to make sure that your substrate and your plantings are done to accommodate these fish as well.

Closing Thoughts

Finding the best tiger barb tank mates becomes a whole lot easier than you might have thought when you use the inside information we highlighted above.

While these fish do have a little bit of a reputation for being on the wilder side of things (and maybe even a little aggressive), the truth is that – when combined with the right fish – they are wonderful tank mates themselves and aren’t going to cause you a lot of worry your frustration.

As always, it’s a good idea to add new tank mates into an aquarium with tiger barbs slowly and methodically. Dump too many visitors into the tank at one time and you’ll inevitably trigger a pretty aggressive response, making a mess of your underwater environment almost immediately.

Be very deliberate in the fish you choose to share the space with your Tiger Barbs and introduce them into the tank one by one (or at most two at a time).

This will help you keep all the fish involved a lot less stressed, give everyone a chance to better acclimate, and helps you better control your environment – and scoop out any fish that need to be rescued if a fight breaks out.

Just make sure to pick from amongst the fish options we highlighted above, give your tiger barbs plenty of room to swim around, and keep water levels dialed in and you won’t have anything to worry about.

All in all, finding a way to fill out your aquarium with Tiger Barbs and other tank mates isn’t the most challenging thing in the world. These fish are pretty friendly, are adaptable and capable of living in different types of water environments, and are more accommodating to newcomers and other species of fish than most people realize.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fish I should avoid keeping with Tiger Barbs?

Definitely! Tiger barbs and their aggression can get triggered more frequently when they are mixed in with angelfish, with bettas, and with goldfish (believe it or not). Steer clear of them and you’ll be good to go.

Can multiple Tiger Barbs be kept together?

Tiger barbs actually do better when they are kept in small schools (we’re talking 5 to 10 fish maximum), and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having that entire school of barbs being made up exclusively of tigers.

What about shrimp, are they safe to keep with Tiger Barbs?

It’s becoming more and more popular to add shrimp to aquariums, especially shrimp that eat algae, working to keep your underwater world clean and free of toxins. While you might be able to get away with algae eating shrimp in other aquariums, you definitely don’t want shrimp floating around with tiger barbs on the prowl.

Ian Sterling

Ian Sterling, founder of, began his aquarium journey over 30 years ago, driven by a deep fascination for fish and their diverse personalities. His website,, is dedicated to making fishkeeping accessible and enjoyable, offering beginner-friendly guidance, expert insights, and a community for aquarists to connect and share experiences.

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