Puntigrus tetrazona: A Comprehensive Guide

Puntigrus tetrazona, commonly known as the Tiger Barb, is a popular freshwater fish renowned for its striking appearance and energetic behavior. This guide covers essential aspects of keeping Puntigrus tetrazona, from their natural distribution and habitat to their dietary needs and spawning behavior.

Distribution and Habitat

Puntigrus tetrazona is native to the shallow, slow-moving rivers and streams of Southeast Asia, particularly in Sumatra, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula. They thrive in densely vegetated waters with a sandy or muddy substrate, often surrounded by submerged roots and leaf litter.

Size and Appearance

Tiger Barbs are small, typically growing to about 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) in length. They are easily recognizable by their bold black vertical stripes against a golden-yellow to orange body. Their fins often display a red or orange hue, adding to their striking appearance.

Water Parameters

Maintaining the right water parameters is crucial for the health of Puntigrus tetrazona:

  • Temperature: 74-82°F (23-28°C)
  • pH: 6.0-7.5
  • Hardness: 5-15 dGH

These fish prefer slightly acidic to neutral water and benefit from a well-planted aquarium that mimics their natural habitat.

Tank Mates

Tiger Barbs are active and can be semi-aggressive, especially if kept in small groups. Suitable tank mates include:

  • Other robust barbs
  • Larger tetras
  • Rasboras
  • Loaches
  • Plecos

Avoid housing them with slow-moving or long-finned fish like angelfish and bettas, as Tiger Barbs are known to nip fins.


In the wild, Puntigrus tetrazona feed on small invertebrates, algae, and plant matter. In captivity, they are omnivorous and thrive on a varied diet:

  • High-quality flake food
  • Micro pellets
  • Live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms
  • Blanched vegetables like spinach and zucchini

A balanced diet ensures vibrant coloration and overall health.


Tiger Barbs are highly active and social fish that should be kept in groups of at least six to reduce aggression. They exhibit playful behavior and can often be seen chasing each other around the tank. However, their nipping tendency means they need compatible tank mates.


Breeding Puntigrus tetrazona in captivity can be challenging but rewarding. To spawn them successfully:

  1. Conditioning: Feed the breeding pair a high-protein diet, including live foods, for several weeks.
  2. Breeding Tank: Set up a separate breeding tank with fine-leaved plants or a spawning mop. Maintain slightly acidic water with a temperature around 78°F (26°C).
  3. Spawning Process: The female will scatter eggs among the plants or mop. Remove the adults after spawning to prevent them from eating the eggs.
  4. Hatching: Eggs typically hatch within 24-36 hours. Feed the fry infusoria or liquid fry food until they are large enough to consume baby brine shrimp.

Fun Facts

  • Puntigrus tetrazona is known for its bold and dynamic behavior, making it a favorite among aquarists who enjoy active tanks.
  • They are often referred to as "Tiger Barbs" due to their distinctive black stripes.
  • Despite their small size, their vibrant colors and lively antics make them stand out in any aquarium.


Puntigrus tetrazona, with their striking stripes and energetic demeanor, make a captivating addition to any freshwater aquarium. By understanding their natural habitat, dietary needs, and breeding behavior, aquarists can ensure these vibrant fish thrive in captivity. Whether you're a novice or an experienced fish keeper, the Tiger Barb offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of active freshwater fish.