Why Aren’t My Tiger Barb Fish Eating? {How To Wake Up Their Appetite}

Have you noticed that your Tiger Barbs are not eating? Are they sick, starving themselves or secretly eating without you seeing? In this article, we’ll find out why your Tiger Barb fish are not eating.

Why Aren’t My Tiger Barb Fish Eating? Your Tiger Barbs should love to eat. The first few days or changes to tank water, tankmates, decorations or planted areas may cause them to give up eating. Look for signs of lethargy or illness. Vary their diet and ignite their appetites with bloodworms or brine shrimp. Give it time. They can go many days without eating.  

How Should I Feed My Tigers Barbs?

Your tigers barbs are going to get comfortable and start consuming what you offer them. Feedings shouldn’t last too long. They can foul the water with their leftovers if you don’t remove what they don’t consume in 1-2 minutes.

The more leftovers you see, the less you need to feed them. You can reduce feedings to once a day. Tiger barbs tend to overeat, but we should gauge their interest by seeing:

  • how long it takes for them for them to eat everything
  • how much is leftover
  • which foods are eaten faster

What Should I Feed My Tiger Barbs?

Your tiger barbs are either going to tell you what they like or you’re going to make them eat what you think is best for them. It might turn into a battle similar to getting the kids to eat their veggies.

A comprehensive blend in flake foods is sure to provide the healthy balance they need, but will your tiger barbs wait it out for the tastier stuff? The following meals are commonly fed to tiger barbs:

  • tropical flakes
  • veggie flakes
  • pellets
  • bloodworms
  • brine shrimp
  • peas

You can get creative with your own homemade blends of vegetables and meats. Cut them up and place the blend in ice trays and freeze them for occasional meals. If you offer the tastiest live, frozen or freeze-dried foods, you may notice your tiger barbs giving up on flakes and pellets.

Why Won’t My Tiger Barbs Eat?

Your tiger barbs should have an insatiable appetite. They may stop eating when they are first introduced to your tank.

  • Wait 3-5 days
  • Vary their diet
  • Remove leftovers
  • Check water quality
  • Prevent overcrowding
  • Try garlic
  • Offer peas


Be patient. Tiger barbs can last up to 14 days without food. 3-5 days of not eating will not kill them. Stress will. Make sure their aren’t other reasons why there is a lack of appetite.

Change the Diet

Offer frozen, freeze-dried or live foods for these hungry tiger barbs. Start slow and offer only a little at a time. Space out the feedings and don’t throw away your flake food just yet. Once they start eating, they’ll accept them once again.

Leftovers and Water Quality

Wait 1-2 minutes and remove leftovers. The bioload from leftover debris fouls up the tank pretty quickly. Always check the water parameters before adding new tiger barbs and keep the ammonia levels at 0 ppm.


Tiger barbs like to be in groups. These schooling fish will need at least 30 gallons of water when they are fully grown. An overcrowded tank without enough room will stress your tiger barbs and they may stop eating.


Garlic helps the immune system. It also makes food taste better. These claims can be refuted, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying. Dip any food into a garlic solution before dropping it into the tank. You can also freeze liquid garlic with brine shrimp for a tempting meal that most tiger barbs will devour.


Peas are offered usually when we see that our tiger barbs are too full to pass their waste. Pease help pack in fiber to move things along. If your tiger barbs empty their bellies, they will resume eating ferociously once again.

Can I Feed My Tiger Barbs Only Bloodworms?

You may notice that your tiger barbs are only eating bloodworms and nothing else. Should you give in and only feed them what they like? Tiger barbs are omnivores, but do not attack vegetables and plant matter the way they would for meaty foods.

Bloodworms are not nutritious enough to satisfy their dietary needs. Bloodworms also get stuck on plants, leaves and in the substrate which substantially adds to your tank’s bioload.

A comprehensive blend of flakes for barbs and color enhancing flakes or pellets will help you tiger barbs get the best nutrition they need. It’s ok for them to adjust to life without daily bloodworms.

They will get get hungry in a few days without starving. The flakes will become much more attractive then. Dip the flakes in garlic solution to entice them further.

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Is My Tiger Barb Sick?

Are you noticing any physical marks, abrasions or spots on your tiger barbs? If not, then you may not have sick tiger barbs just yet, but they might be stressed. Look for the following symptoms:

  • not eating
  • cloudy eyes
  • pale color
  • lethargy or sluggish

There might be internal parasites or a bacterial infection emerging. Isolate your weakened tiger barbs and place them into a quarantine tank. Make sure your main tank has pristine waters that are ideal parameters for your tiger barbs.

Can Tiger Barbs Overeat?

Tiger barbs and other barbs are known to overeat if we overfeed. We can lessen the amount of food we offer or spread the one meal per day into two.

Tiger barbs can live off 1/8 of a teaspoon of flakes per day. It’s best to keep these schooling fish active. If they are sluggish, they are most likely overfed.

How Long Can Tiger Barbs Go Without Eating?

A tiger barb can give up eating up to 14 days. This is not common in community tanks. Your tiger barbs will eventually settle into a tank with ideal space and water quality within 3-5 days.

They may become aggressive when they are hungry. Feeding can turn into a frenzy, but this is normal. Active swimming tiger barbs are not overfed and will gladly consume what you offer. If they don’t, pick up the leftovers and don’t be too concerned about it if they wish to skip this meal.


Thanks for visiting HelpUsFish.com for another article on Tiger Barbs that we greatly enjoy in our community tanks. Check out more of our articles on the variety of marine life we research and keep. Bye for now!

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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