Tiger barbs (also known as the sumatra barb) are stunning fish that sport brilliant black, red, and gold colors, but as they are schooling fish. This means they need to be kept in groups to thrive.
However, in shoals of tiger barbs, there’s likely to be a mixture of both males and females, which will result in breeding.
So, how do you tell if these fishes are “pregnant” or full of eggs? It might be hard to tell, especially if you are new to the hobby. I had to do a lot of research on the topic myself. Thankfully, I’ve whittled down the essential information to help you nurse your tiger barbs through this process.
Here I’ll be going over everything you need to know about tiger barb breeding signs and the best ways to raise tiger barb fry.
Do Barbs Get Pregnant?
Tiger barbs are egg layers, so they don’t technically “get pregnant”. During the breeding process, the female tiger barb will release eggs, which the male tiger barb will then fertilize by releasing milt (fish sperm).
Do Tiger Barbs Lay Eggs?
What Does a Pregnant Tiger Barb Look Like?
A “pregnant” female tiger barb will usually have a bloated, fat appearance, particularly around the belly, as she will be carrying eggs. Alongside a swollen abdomen, some aquarists have noticed that a female barb carrying eggs may be less active and more lethargic than usual due to the extra weight.
How to Tell If Tiger Barbs Are Pregnant?
As mentioned above, a female tiger barb who is full of eggs will usually have a swollen, enlarged belly shape. After breeding, she will be considerably slimmer as she will no longer be carrying any eggs.
Tiger Barb Breeding Behavior
Most female tiger barbs will develop eggs once they are sexually mature, but they usually only become full-size when they have paired off. Females who are full of eggs will look bloated and may appear lethargic.
Males and females will start pairing off together when they are ready to breed, so if you spot your fish in pairs, they’re likely to breed soon. Male tiger barbs are usually smaller and more brightly colored than females.
During the breeding process, the male and female will engage in a mating dance and will often swim all over the tank, just like some species of tangs. The male will chase the female and nudge around their back end, as well as occasionally nip at her fins and tail. This is to encourage the female to lay her eggs.
Tiger barbs can also chase and nip/bite other males to assert dominance!
The female lays her eggs in clumps, usually on live plants, rocks, or other decor in the tank, as this helps protect them from other fishes. The male fertilizes the eggs by releasing milt onto them.
After breeding, males and females can be quite aggressive towards one another and are also known for eating their eggs. Additionally, if you have a community tank with other fish species, they may also eat your barbs’ eggs.
If you want to raise tiger barb fry (babies), it’s best to put a mating pair in a breeding tank, then remove the male and female after a successful breed.
This will allow the eggs to hatch successfully without potentially becoming food to your other tiger barbs or another tank mate.
A female tiger barb can lay up to 300 eggs in one breeding session. Furthermore, if the tank requirements and water conditions are right, females can spawn every two weeks.
How Long Are Tiger Barbs Pregnant For?
A female barb will usually carry eggs for around 3 days before spawning with male barbs. Female tiger barbs can sometimes hold eggs when she is not in a breeding pair, which can cause issues if she does not release the eggs.
See what a pregnant tiger barb looks like below.
A female fish who hasn’t laid her eggs can become egg bound. You can help encourage spawning and help your female lay her eggs by feeding your barbs live foods and performing a water change, as well as slightly increasing the temperature of your tank water (3 or 4 degrees warmer).
Keep an eye on your water conditions (pH, nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, temperature, etc) to make sure they are adequate for your barbs. Tiger barbs prefer soft and slightly acidic water, but they can tolerate pH levels between 6 and 8 and a dH (degree of hardness) 5 and 19.
The temperature of your tiger barbs’ tank should be between 77 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like all species of fish, the nitrites and ammonia levels in your tiger barbs’ aquarium should always be 0.
How Long Does It Take For Tiger Barb Eggs To Hatch?
After a female fish has released her eggs and a male has fertilized them, it will take around 4 days for the eggs to hatch. The male and female as well as other fishes can eat the eggs and fry, so if you want the young to survive, put them in nursery tanks after the eggs have been fertilized by the male fish.
Breeding Fish and Caring for Tiger Barb Fry
If you want to raise the fry and ensure they survive and hatch, move the eggs to a nursery tank so they don’t get eaten by their parents or other barbs.
Once the eggs have hatched, the fry will eat the yolks from their egg sacs, so you won’t need to feed them for a couple of days. After the young ones have eaten their egg sacs, you can feed them infusoria, which is a food designed for fish fry.
Make sure you change the water in your nursery tank once a day (maximum of 10%) and ensure you have a good-quality sponge filter with a low flow rate (baby tiger barbs can’t swim very well just yet!).
You can also put some rocks, live plants, or fake plants into the tank to give the fry somewhere to hide if they feel scared.
When the fry start growing larger, you can begin to feed them daphnia and brine shrimp up to 3 times a day. At between 4 to 6 weeks old, the fry will be big enough to be sold or put back into the same tank as the parents or a tank with other non-aggressive species.
Tiger barbs are sexually mature once they reach between 6 to 7 weeks old. After this age, barbs will be able to breed.
What Do Tiger Barb Eggs Look Like?
Tiger barb fish eggs are very small, only a few millimeters in diameter. They have a round shape but can also be oval. Tiger barb eggs are usually an orange-tan color, but they can occasionally be a little darker.
As tiger barbs need to be kept in schools, it’s very likely that your fishes will reproduce once they are sexually mature. If you don’t want to care for baby fish or are worried about being overrun with fry, the tiger barb might not be the best fish for you.
Remember, a “pregnant” tiger barb will have a swollen, enlarged abdomen until she spawns and has laid her eggs.
If you know any other tiger barb owners or aquarists thinking of owning these gorgeous fish, be sure to share this guide so they know what signs to look out for in “pregnant” tiger barbs.
And if you’re looking for more fish care guides, take a look at my other posts here. I’ve also written about pregnant African dwarf frogs, if you have those species among your pets.