View Full Version : Successfull tiger barb breeding

05-07-2010, 03:24 PM
Hi Folks,

After a few attemps, I finally did successfully breed tiger barbs!! Since I had made a lot of research before doing so, and that some key part are not very well documented, I will explain all my experience here so maybe it will help any other people trying to breed tiger barb. Don't forget we're dealing with Nature, my experience may not apply to others cases...

Key points, not really documented :

Different behavior :
The head stand behavior, where the fish are face to face, and are like kissing each other, swimming curling around each other is more like a courting behavior. If that happens in a community tank, keep this pair to breed, they are a step before any others. That behavior is really short in time, from what I've seen in all my attemps, that behavior start within the first 2 minutes of getting the pair together, and last anything between 1 and 3 minutes. After that phase it seems normal that the pair loose interest for a while, but no one is hiding, they are just swimming not really caring for each other.

The chasing and nip ventral fin behavior is the part where (from what I've read) the male prepare the female for the egg laying. They will do the chase (they swim very fast) for a time, loose interest, start again, and they will do that for anything from few hours to few days. If you count time in days, watch closely the ventral fins of the female, to be sure that the male is not hurting her.

The belly pressing behavior is very different. The female usually drive the male where the eggs are to be laid. They swim rather slowly, the male follow the female and when they reach the spot, they swim side by side, pressing their bellies on each other. They even shake a bit, like if they caught a chill. Although I did see the behavior, I did not see any eggs drop. This will go on for hours.

Then, the loose interest behavior. When they loose interest after laying eggs, it will be really obvious! One will be in the lower back left corner, and the other will be in the upper right corner, almost like they don't want to see each other! Now is the time to take them back in the community tank. I did not try to leave them there to see if they would lay more eggs, maybe they would have, maybe they would have eat the ones already laids. I will try on another attempt!

One of the tricky part is to trigger the egg formation in the female, without messing the timing. I could see from my attemps that it takes time for a female to fill with eggs. If the female is rather slim, I would suggest forming the pair in the breeding tank, let them together for a day or two, remove the male and continue feeding the female with high protein food. Watch for her belly to grow, they really like ready to blow when they are filled. Few days later, separate the male again from the community tank for a day or two, then, put it back with the female if you saw any improvement on her size. Letting them for too long may lead to the male injuring the female.

To be continued...


05-07-2010, 03:25 PM

1st attempt : failed.

Steps :
1- separate the female #1 - 2 days before in the breeding tank ;
2- feed the female with dried freeze tubiflex worms ;
3- kept water parameters alike from the community tank ;

Breeding tanks : 30 gals with a layer of peebles, few rocks, a cave, few plastic plants.

On my very first attempt, now that I think back of it, I've probably made the worst beginner mistake : I am not even sure that I've put a male and a female together! Few criteria can be observed to tell a male of a female apart. One cannot show few criterions, they must have all. So, criteria are for male : dark orange almost red nose, colorfull orange stripe on the edge of the dorsal fin, ventral fins more colorfull and they are a little bit smaller.

Now, what happend for me to mistake a female of a male? Never until after my first attempt did the male really started to show his colors. So, judging by the ventral fins, nose and shape, I thought I had 2 males and 2 females. The smallest *female* was in fact my only male! All 3 others were female. After my 1st attempt, when I've putted back the pair in my community tank, a strange vibe, almost like a wave, went through the real male and his colors burst out!! I think that putting a female bloated with eggs trigger this.

Good sides : Female triggered the creation of eggs, I could see the chasing and nip ventral fin behavior, I actually saw eggs, cause around 50 of them were laids. Triggered the male to show his color, and I am now sure that I have 1 male 3 females and I know which is which.

Mistakes : Not sure I really put a male with the female, tank was not clean enough, peebles make it hard to see if /how much eggs there was.

2nd attempt : failed

After a week back in the community tank, the female #1 of 1st attempt was still filled with eggs. Most of the fish were chasing here, it was a mess in my community tank. Nothing seemed peacefull. So, I've putted the bloated female and the male straight to the now clean breeding tank. They skipped some of their ritual, and they go straight to the belly pressing behavior. They went from plants to plants(all fake) and it goes like that for hours. When they did loose interest, I've put them back in the community tank. There was not a single egg layed. Peace was back in the community tank.

Good side : First time I saw the belly pressing behavior. Was sure now that fake plants do the job.

Mistakes : Not sure. I don't know why no eggs were laid, I think timing was not good, and maybe the female had the eggs for too long.

3rd attempt : failed

Steps :
1- Separated the female #2 in the breeding tank 3 days before attempt ;
2- Seperated the male in a very small plastic beta tank ;
3- Feed both with tubiflex worms and high proteins grains ;
4- Kept water parameter close to community tank ;
5- Removed all the peebles in the bottom of the tank, except for a small corner (experimentation) ;
6- Had changed my filter, now a fluvial 102 much more powerfull ;

This one was actually pretty close of working. After 2 days where the male almost died of boredom, I finally joined the pair. They did the head stand behavior. They lost interest for a few time, then, started to chase one another throughout the breeding tank.

They have a nasty habit of trying to pass in the closest gap anywhere they can find. On this attempt, the female actually squeezed her between a rock and the bottom and were stuck there! I find her when I came back from work, she was almost dead! I free her, she was in no condition to breed anything, so I've put the male back in the community tank and I gave her a few days of rest before putting her back in the community tank. What a shame!

4th attempt : failed

Did the same steps as attempt #3, except, with the female #3 (wanted to give time to rest to female #2).

After putting them together, they did the head stand , the chasing all around but it never went any further. I've let them for as long as 5-6 days together, but, nothing happend. The female was all the time hiding in a corner of the tank, mostly behind the filter, heater or anything that would make a very small space for her. From time to time, the male came and started to nip her ventral fin. She would go out of her cache, they would chase for few seconds, and she would retreat in another spot. On the last day, I saw that the female almost have no ventral fin left! The male had nip them off! I've putted back the male in the community tank and give a few day break to the female. Ventral fin started to regenerate, and after a few days, I've put her back in the community tank, making sure the other fish would not attack her. All was peacefull, she is still recovering and the fin seems to grow back. I think that this pair was not meant to breed, like they did not pass the natural selection of the race.

To be continued....

05-07-2010, 03:28 PM

5th attempt : Success!!

Same preparation as attempt #3 except with the female#1.

They did all the specials behavior in order, starting with the head stand , to the chasing and finally to the belly pressing . On the second day, I could see around 50 eggs and the pair did lost some interest, so I decided to put them back in the community tank right away. I have read that they could lay as much as 300 to 900 eggs, dont know if its true, but anyway, I dont want 300 barbs, just a few will be fine for now! As of now, I never saw more than around 50-60 eggs layed in one time ; though I read that fish are getting better at breeding the more they do...

Not even 24 hrs later, eggs started to hatch! YESSSS!! I've stopped my filter, and I can now spend hours trying to see one more time one of those tiny fry. It is so incredibly small that eyes need few minutes adjusting to focus on such small thing. Now, I'm facing the challenge of raising the fry!

Personnal recommandation :
If you are to check often your breeding tank, I would not recommand using marbles on the bottom. Eggs are hard to see, if you are quick to remove the pair, they will not eat the eggs (based on my experience).

I didn't use a sponge filter. Instead, I did make sure that my tank was sparkling clear before breeding. Once the eggs were laid, I've waited 24hrs and then stoped the filter. On each days, I start my filter for half an hour holding it with my hand and watching carefully that no fry is near the filter. If you did not overfeed the breeding pair, the water is unlikely to pollute fast.

Breeding can occurs if the fish feel safe, and in a sense, happy. If your barbs are not peacefull, if your community tank do not seem to be a happy place for fish, my guess is that breeding wont work. Put some time in searching for water parameter, tank setup and species mix you have to check what can you do to improve hapiness . For barbs, I can say that plants, space and peacefull neighbours are essentials.

After 3 days that the fry had hatch, it seems now safe to turn on the filter again full time without watching it all the time. They seem good swimmer enough to me to be able to swin away from the filter ; and in fact, I dont seem to have lost any since then.

Raising the fry
If you watched carefully and spotted the eggs, you will likely check them all and see that they are all gone, so that fry had hatched. Now, don't get discouraged if you can't find any, they are there! They are just so tiny that finding one is real hard. And, they don't really move the first day or two, they are busy absorbing the yolk from the egg.

For the first three days, refrain to feed them, they will not eat and you will just pollute the water. Instead, prepare baby brine shrimp to feed them. You should feed your fry 2-3 times a day, with microscopic live worms and/or baby brine shrimp (egg or shrimp). Each 2-3 days, they will double their size, so in the first week, they will most likely triple to quadruple their size, and gain some color so they will start looking as fish, not shards of glass.

I am raising the fry for a full week now, and they still doesn't have any colors, except for their organs. I will begin to feed them finely powder flakes with brine shrimp eggs and stop the worms. They are now big enough to eat powder flakes. The first few days, I counted a maximum of 4 fry, now, I can count around 12, so I will guess that I have probably around 16 or so, they are still difficult to spot quickly. If my estimation of 60 eggs was good, that would mean 25% success and survival rate. I will try to improve that!

I hope this can help any of you that want to try breeding tiger barbs.


05-07-2010, 05:18 PM
Congratulations on the successful breeding.

12-22-2011, 04:16 PM
Well done! I would love to have a settled tank with super happy fish that lay eggs. I'm still at the cycling process and also have an outbreak of fungi, :( So unhappy,,,

12-22-2011, 05:16 PM
Idea for helping survival rate: put a huge wad of live java moss with the fry. This will be full of tiny things the smallest fry can eat, and you will not have just the fry large enough to eat food you give them. This will also keep the water cleaner. Many people also put a used filter sponge in their fry tanks. It has tiny bugthings for fry to eat.