View Full Version : How much bullying is natural with barbs?

08-13-2009, 10:14 PM
Hi all, I just started a tank after not having fish for a few years. Its a 30 gallon, 36 in long, with an aquaclear 50, 150W submerged heater, and bubbler. It has a few live and fake plants, a chunk of driftwood, some slate and 2 caves. It's been running a few days, and today, about 5 hours ago, I added 2 albino tigers and 2 green tigers. I used seachem stability to help with the cycling process, as it claims, and the LFS agrees, that you can stock lightly the same day. I plan on buying 5 more tiger barbs to get a nice sized school.

The problem is that one of the greens is definately the alpha male (or female), constantly chasing the 2 albinos around, although he ignores the other green. I'm worried this is too stressful for the albinos, as they have taken to lurking behind decorations, while being chased and occasionally nipped constantly.

Will they be alright while I wait for the tank to cycle before adding more, and if not, what do can I do, possibly a holed plastic divider?

Edit: Also, the albino lowest on the ladder has taken to hanging around with his dead pointed about 30 degrees below horizontal, which the other barbs don't do, he gets chased by everyone, so he is having it pretty rough.

08-13-2009, 10:31 PM
It is quite normal in small groups like you have. They should settle down once you increase the school size. Keep a close watch on your parameters, there is no guarantee you will not have a cycle.

08-13-2009, 10:58 PM
I'll be getting the water checked at my LFS often for the first few weeks, until ammonia and nitrite hit zero. I'm just worried the dominant green might kill an albino from stress before I can get more in there.

08-13-2009, 11:57 PM
i would put maybe 4-6 more barbs in your tank now. a 30 gallon will take forever to cycle with only 4. like Rich said this will also help with the aggression.
since you are cycling with fish i would also recommend you invest in a good water tester. most people here recommend API freshwater liquid testers. you are going to need to test your water daily for the health of your fish. and having your own testers is a lot easier that making a trip to the lfs daily.
i believe holding their head down like you described is a sign of submission to the dominant fish, but i would wait for someone more knowledgeable to come along and back that statement up.

08-14-2009, 01:34 AM
I have a handful of barbs in a 20G tank at the moment. There is definitly some nipping but nothing serious. The more you have the less aggression you'll see because the alpha fish will be able to spread out the anger to all the fish in the shoal.

Wild Turkey
08-14-2009, 03:17 AM
Since you cant test on the spot, its tough to say whether your barbs are showing typical barb aggression, or aggression from the stress. Once your tank is cycled you will get a better idea of how they are going to behave typically.

The additional tiger barbs (a few weeks after the tank is cycled) should help a bit, a school as small as 4 barbs going at it is quite typical

08-14-2009, 03:33 AM
I definately want to put more in, but I'm trying to find a balance between the stress from high ammonia and the stress of a small group. Would it be any use separating either the highest or lowest on the chain with a holed divider, even for a short while?

Also, in an unrelated question, when I do buy more, I'd prefer to buy the usual striped tiger barbs, which I didn't purchase today because they were a new batch right off delivery. Is this ok, or would more greens and albinos be better for them?

Wild Turkey
08-14-2009, 03:41 AM
Wait until after you are done cycling to add anymore fish definitely. Your fish will thank you and it will be less headaches and time spent

The different colors are just different morphs, so they are all the same species and are usually just as tolerant of any other morphs and will school together etc

08-14-2009, 12:03 PM
Ok, thanks for all your help guys.

Lady Hobbs
08-14-2009, 01:22 PM
Good luck with your barbs. Starting out with all of the same species probably would have helped with the aggression as well. Try to get some females in their. Holding their head downward is a sign of submission. Some species look down and others look up.

Make sure their is dense areas for hiding.

08-14-2009, 04:13 PM
Yea, I stuck in some pieces of slate against the wall to form little caves, which have become quite popular with the albinos.

08-18-2009, 06:23 PM
Is the dominant one bigger than the albinos? Just from my early experiences with barbs, I had the biggest of four bully the other three until one died and the other two did nothing but hide and turn white. I had much better luck later when I added six green barbs of identical size. Not sure if the similar size or bigger group was the biggest determining factor...

08-19-2009, 06:06 PM
I agree that the size is an issue when the school is undersized. However, when the school is of propper size there can be all different sized fish without incident. IMO they look best that way - with fish of a few different sizes.