Tiger Barb and Angelfish in The Same Tank – Should You? - "Tiger Barb 1" by willwhitedc is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Tiger Barb and Angelfish in The Same Tank – Should You? - "Tiger Barb 1" by willwhitedc is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


Welcome to the fascinating world of aquarium keeping, where the vibrant colors and captivating behaviors of freshwater fish species come to life. Among the myriad of choices available to enthusiasts, two standout species, the tiger barb and angelfish, have captured the attention of hobbyists around the globe. Both species boast unique attributes that make them popular additions to aquariums, but their coexistence in the same tank requires careful consideration due to the distinct characteristics they bring to the aquatic landscape. In this exploration, we will delve into the challenges and intricacies of keeping tiger barb and angelfish together, shedding light on the potential rewards and pitfalls of this dynamic aquatic pairing.

About Angelfish

Angelfish (Pterophyllum scalare) is a captivating and popular freshwater fish species known for its graceful appearance and striking colors. They are members of the Cichlidae family and are native to the tropical regions of South America, specifically the Amazon River Basin, Orinoco River Basin, and various other river systems in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru.


Angelfish are characterized by their distinctive triangular-shaped bodies and long, flowing fins that resemble angel wings, which is how they acquired their name. They have a compressed body with tall, triangular dorsal and anal fins, and a forked caudal (tail) fin. The most common coloration includes shades of silver, black, and white, but through selective breeding, a wide range of color variations have been developed, such as marbled, striped, and even golden angelfish.

Behavior and Temperament

In aquariums, angelfish are cherished for their elegant swimming style and social behavior. However, they can be somewhat territorial, especially during breeding. They are generally peaceful, but there can be some aggression, especially when trying to establish dominance or protect their territory. It’s crucial to provide ample space and hiding spots in the aquarium to minimize conflicts.

Aquarium Requirements

To keep angelfish healthy and happy, it’s essential to replicate their natural environment as much as possible. A spacious aquarium (preferably taller than wider) is recommended, as angelfish enjoy vertical space for swimming. A 20-gallon (75 liters) tank is the minimum for a pair of angelfish, but a larger tank with at least 30 gallons (113 liters) is better for a small community of angelfish.

Water temperature should be kept between 75°F to 82°F (24°C to 28°C), and the pH level should be slightly acidic to neutral, typically ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Regular water changes are crucial to maintain good water quality, as angelfish can be sensitive to changes in water parameters.


What do angelfish eat? In the wild, angelfish are omnivores and feed on various foods such as small insects, crustaceans, and plant matter. In captivity, they readily accept high-quality commercial flakes or pellets designed for tropical fish. Supplementing their diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia, enhances their nutrition and overall health.


Breeding angelfish can be an exciting and rewarding experience for aquarists. When angelfish form pairs, they become territorial and may exhibit interesting courtship rituals. The female typically lays her eggs on a vertical surface, such as a broad leaf or the aquarium glass. Both parents take an active role in guarding and caring for the eggs and fry. Once the fry hatch, the parents will continue to protect and tend to them for several weeks until they become independent.

About Tiger Barbs

Tiger barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona), also known as Sumatra barbs, are lively and colorful freshwater fish that belong to the Cyprinidae family. They are native to Southeast Asia, specifically found in the river basins of Sumatra and Borneo. Tiger barbs have become a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts due to their active nature and striking appearance.


As the name suggests, tiger barbs are named for their distinctive striped pattern, which resembles that of a tiger. They have elongated bodies with four prominent black stripes that run vertically along their golden to orange-colored bodies. The stripes are bordered by orange, green, or red hues, creating a beautiful contrast against the main body color. The fins of tiger barbs are typically red or orange, enhancing their overall attractiveness.

Behavior and Temperament

Tiger barbs are known for their lively and energetic behavior, making them a dynamic addition to community aquariums. However, they have a somewhat notorious reputation for being nippy and fin nippers, especially when kept in small groups or inadequate environments. In the wild, tiger barbs form large schools, and without such numbers in captivity, they might display more aggressive behavior.

To reduce fin nipping tendencies, it is recommended to keep them in a group of at least six or more individuals. In larger groups, their aggressive behavior is usually directed towards each other rather than other tank mates. Providing ample hiding places and breaking the line of sight in the aquarium with decorations can also help minimize aggression.

Aquarium Requirements

A tank size of at least 20 gallons (75 liters) is recommended for a small group of tiger barbs. Larger tanks are preferable if you plan to keep a larger community or add other fish species. Tiger barbs prefer slightly acidic to neutral water conditions, with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. The temperature of the water should be maintained between 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C).

Plants and hiding spots are essential as they mimic their natural environment and provide security for the tiger barbs. Floating plants can help diffuse the light and create shaded areas, which the fish appreciate.


Tiger barbs are omnivores and have a varied diet in the wild. In captivity, they accept a wide range of foods, including high-quality flakes or pellets, frozen or live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. Offering a diverse diet helps ensure they receive the necessary nutrients for their health and vitality.

Tiger Barb and Angelfish in The Same Tank – Should You? - "Tiger Barb 1" by willwhitedc is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Tiger Barb and Angelfish in The Same Tank – Should You? – “Tiger Barb 1” by willwhitedc is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Challenges With a Tiger Barb and Angelfish Aquarium

Keeping the tiger barb and angelfish together in the same aquarium can present some challenges due to the different behaviors and temperaments of these two species. One of the main concerns is the fin-nipping behavior of tiger barbs, which can be particularly troublesome for the more delicate and slow-moving angelfish. Here are some of the potential challenges:

  • Fin Nipping: Tiger barbs are known for their fin-nipping tendencies, especially when they are kept in smaller groups or confined spaces. They might view the long, flowing fins of angelfish as tempting targets and may relentlessly nip at them. This can cause stress, injury, and even infections in the angelfish, leading to a compromised health condition.
  • Aggression: Tiger barbs can be somewhat territorial and can display aggressive behavior. Angelfish, on the other hand, are generally peaceful but can become stressed and intimidated by the constant aggression from the tiger barbs.
  • Incompatibility in Numbers: Both tiger barbs and angelfish prefer to be kept in groups for social interaction. However, since tiger barbs are more active and may be kept in larger schools, their higher numbers might make them more dominant in the aquarium. This can lead to a situation where the tiger barbs overwhelm the angelfish, making them uncomfortable and stressed.
  • Tank Size: The tank size plays a crucial role in the dynamics between the two species. A small or crowded aquarium can exacerbate aggressive behavior and limit the angelfish’s ability to escape the nipping of tiger barbs. A larger tank with plenty of hiding spots and visual barriers might help reduce the negative interactions between the two species.
  • Feeding Differences: Tiger barbs are known to be voracious eaters and may outcompete the angelfish for food, especially during feeding times. This can lead to malnutrition in the angelfish and weaken their immune systems.

To mitigate these challenges, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Provide Sufficient Space: Opt for a larger aquarium that allows both species to have their own territories and reduces competition for space and resources.
  • Keep Both Species in Groups: Keep a larger group of tiger barbs (6 or more) to spread out their aggression and minimize the chances of them solely focusing on the angelfish.
  • Introduce Tank Decorations: Use decorations and plants to create hiding spots and break the line of sight within the aquarium, reducing stress for both species.
  • Tank Mates Selection: If you still wish to have your tiger barb and angelfish in the same tank, consider choosing angelfish with shorter fin varieties, which might be less tempting for the tiger barbs to nip.
  • Observe and Monitor: Regularly observe the behavior of both species in the tank. If you notice severe aggression or stress on either side, it may be necessary to separate them into different tanks.

Ultimately, while it is possible to keep tiger barbs and angelfish together, it requires careful planning, a suitable tank setup, and diligent monitoring to ensure the well-being of both species. If the aggression and fin-nipping become an ongoing issue, it may be best to house the tiger barb and angelfish separately to prevent any harm to the angelfish.


In conclusion, while the combination of tiger barb and angelfish in the same aquarium can create a visually captivating display with their striking colors and active behavior, it presents significant challenges due to the fin-nipping tendencies of tiger barbs. Their aggressive behavior and the potential for stress and injury to the more delicate angelfish make this pairing a delicate balancing act. To ensure the well-being of both species, aquarists should carefully consider factors like tank size, group numbers, and tank decorations, while also closely monitoring their interactions. Ultimately, success in keeping tiger barb and angelfish together requires a well-thought-out approach and the willingness to make adjustments if needed to foster a harmonious and healthy environment for all the inhabitants.