Why Did My Tiger Barb Die? {Why Tiger Barbs Kill and Get Killed}

Are you having trouble keeping your Tiger Barbs alive? Did one or more Tiger Barbs suddenly die even though your water parameters are ideal? In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the issue of why you Tiger Barb died.

Why Did My Tiger Barb Die? Sudden fluctuations in water quality and temperature could lead to the death of your Tiger Barb. Stress from aggression, bullying and overcrowding could have played their part as well. Medicate the tank if you are concerned about any surviving fish getting ill from any unknown diseases or cycle your tank once more. 

How Do You Keep Tiger Barbs Alive?

Tiger barbs would prefer to enjoy their daily activities in groups. They may chase and compete for food, but their hyperactivity shouldn’t lead to violent aggression if you keep them in a spacious tank with ideal parameters and proper temperatures.

We have made a list for your reference, but there is always room for debate. The ranges below have worked successfully for many aquarists who keep Tiger Barbs:

  • Ideal Temperatures For Tiger Barbs: 70-79°F
  • Tank Size: 30 Gallons or more
  • Amount of Tiger Barbs: 5 or more
  • pH: 6.0-7.0
  • Water Hardness: Up to 10 dGH
  • Nitrates: Less than 20 ppm
  • Nitrites/Ammonia: 0 ppm

Are Tiger Barbs Hard To Keep Alive?

Tiger Barbs should not be difficult to keep alive under the right conditions. They should be allowed to swim and stay active in groups of 5-12. 7-8 is the average number of Tiger Barbs that many aquarists keep.

We also advocate for a species specific tank with only Tiger Barbs to enjoy. This type of fish enjoys exploring and taking up space all over the tank. They grow to about 3 inches when they become adults.  Try to include the following:

  • Tank Size: 30 Gallons or more
  • Substrate: Fine gravel
  • Decorations: Large rock and cobbles
  • Plants: Java fern, Water Wisteria, Dwarf Hairgrass
  • Food: High quality flakes and pellets. Omnivore diet of meaty proteins (live, frozen, freeze dried) and fruits/veggies

What Is The Lifespan Of A Tiger Barb?

Your Tiger Barbs could be fortunate enough to live for 5-7 years. The community tank you place them in must be suitable for tropical fish. Ideal water parameters and temperatures between 70-79°F are crucial to a long life.

Tiger Barbs thrive in their own group of 5-12 and do not need to be mixed in with other aquatic life. You may have a better chance of keeping them alive longer this way.

Tankmates that take up space in the middle of the water column may get in the way. If they have flowing fins, your Tiger Barbs may nip at them. Bottom dwellers like Corydoras are ideal with Tiger Barbs if you plan on keeping these striped fish within a community.

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Why Are My Tiger Barbs Killing Each Other?

Possible Reasons Why Your Tiger Barbs Are Hurting Each Other:

  • Tank Is Too Small
  • Food Is Scarce
  • Bullying
  • Unwillingness to accept hierarchy 
  • New Tiger Barbs unable to acclimate

Tiger Barbs should be rambunctious, but that doesn’t mean they should attack each other. The natural instinct to jockey for position and rank themselves in the pecking order is something they have to endure. It’s better than keeping only one Tiger Barb who could die from stress related to loneliness.

A healthy group of Tiger Barbs will accept their positions in the hierarchy. The dominant or alpha Tiger Barb should allow the rest to eat and not chase them away.The group must accept the leadership and not challenge it or fights may emerge.

New Tiger Barbs will also have to fall in line or else the bullying, fighting and chasing may last longer than the usual couple of days. Remove any perpetual aggressors and either return or exchange them if you can.

Why Are My Tiger Barbs Dying?

The first instinct for most aquarists is to test the water in their tank. Testing strips may not read accurately and we result to taking a sample of our tank water to the local fish shop. An API Master Test Kit would be advised to keep at home.

Sudden fluctuations may occur in between tests when a tank isn’t cycled properly or harmful bacteria isn’t being converted to nitrogen. New fish may have arrived with bacteria or parasitic infections that you were unable to spot. Sometimes it’s practically impossible and using a quarantine tank for the first few days to a couple of weeks would be a better plan.

Your Tiger Barbs look healthy, but they are dying. It might be time to treat the tank with medication such as Melafix. A seven day treatment might be in order. Please follow the directions of any medication and hope that most of your affected Tiger Barbs survive this ordeal.

Will Changing The Gravel Help My Tiger Barbs?

The most suitable substrate for Tiger Barbs is a fine gravel. If you decide to change out the gravel, you will have to remove your Tiger Barbs first.

If you are using buckets or anything else to temporarily house your Tiger Barbs, there should no residue or toxins that can easily seep into the plastic bag.

Water changes at this time will also be a good suggestion. Instead of small water changes of 10-20% weekly, consider a larger change at 50-60% every couple of weeks.


Look closely at your Tiger Barbs to notice signs of stress. Are their scales bulging out? Are their bellies swollen? Discoloration, excessive hiding and retreating from the group will surely lead to the death of your isolated or sick Tiger Barb.

Sometimes it’s simply bloating that can be relieved with a couple days rest and shelled peas to help move things along. Other times, there’s a bully or dominant Tiger Barb that is being too aggressive and causing stress to negatively impact the fragile immune systems of its tankmates.

We hope your remaining Tiger Barbs enjoy years of activity in a spacious tank with plenty to eat and enough of them to enjoy their strength or comfort in numbers rather than living alone or in groups under 5.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com with your concerns or curiosity surrounding Tiger Barbs. We have plenty more informative articles on these and other aquatic life that may also be of interest to you. See you soon!

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.

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