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FAQs on Tiger Barbs Behavior

Related Articles: Tiger Barbs, Barbs, Danios & RasborasA Barbed Response; Wrongly maligned for being fin-nippers, barbs are in fact some of the best fish for the home aquarium by Neale Monks

Related FAQs:  Tiger Barbs 1, Tiger Barbs 2, & FAQs on: Tiger Barbs Identification, Tiger Barbs Compatibility, Tiger Barbs Selection, Tiger Barbs Systems, Tiger Barbs Feeding, Tiger Barbs Health, Tiger Barbs Reproduction, & Barbs, Danios, Rasboras 1, B,D,R Identification, B,D,R Behavior, B,D,R Compatibility, B,D,R Selection, B,D,R Systems, B,D,R Feeding, B,D,R Disease, B,D,R Reproduction,

 

Help With Tiger Barbs, beh., hlth./env.    11/25/09
Hi!
<Hello,>
I was hoping that perhaps you could help me with my tiger barbs. I have been observing some odd behaviour from them as of late. I have searched the indexes but can't seem to find an answer that would suit my tank. First, my setup is a 20 gallon tank with gravel in the bottom. I have a clay pot that I glued gravel to with aquarium sealer (the stuff made for tanks) and they use it as a cave. I have a bio wheel filter that is in good working condition, and I have an undergravel filter with the two posts up each side with air stones in them. (I don't currently have the charcoal in them as I had to take them out for medication and haven't put them back in. It's just for aerating at the moment). I have a new heater which keeps my tank at 24c or 75f. I also have one plant in there which they have eaten all the leaves off in the middle half! Poor plant. Anyways, I have 5, well, HAD five tiger barbs. One died yesterday. I now have two regular tiger barbs, one of the albinos, and one green. They all get along great, (they aren't full grown yet, but close.)
<You really will need to keep them in groups of six or more; in smaller groups, Puntius tetrazona can become a real menace. As you recognise, it doesn't matter if you use the standard sort, the albinos, or the moss green tiger barbs. But you do need six or more.>
I basically have about 4 problems. The biggest concern for me is that they seem to be doing heavy breathing. Not all the time, and I don't seem them all doing it at once, but they do swim around breathing heavy by opening their mouths almost all the way and I can see their gills going. It at least seems heavy to me because not all of them do it, all the time.
<Barbs are like the old miner's canary: they quickly show when water conditions aren't good. Heavy breathing typically means high levels of ammonia or nitrite, or else dramatic changes in pH. Review water quality and check water chemistry stability. Tiger Barbs can muddle through the "cycling" phase of a new tank, but they will be stressed by it, and some may well die.>
The second problem I notice is sometimes when I come home and turn the lights on for feeding, I notice that some or all have faded colors. This usually returns in a few hours I'd say.
<Normal. Many, perhaps most, wild-type freshwater fish change their colours in the dark. Artificial varieties like Goldfish don't show this so much, which is why it's sometimes unexpected.>
The next is that I occasionally see them doing head stands but never for a long time. I also don't see it very often.
<Again, this is a classic sign of stress, typically ammonia/nitrite issues, but possibly sudden pH changes.>
And lastly, I recently added two of the regular tiger barbs to the three I had before. They were smaller than the other three but I have NEVER seem aggression among my fish. The one tiger barb has caught but to the others, but the other one is still quite small. He hasn't grown much. I seem him often hiding at the bottom of the plant, or in the cave. Is this because he's small? Or is there something wrong with him?
<This species is extremely hierarchical, and unless kept in adequate numbers, it is VERY common for one fish to become a bully, and the weakest fish to end up being picked on.>
I do test my tank and I have never seen ammonia or nitrite register on my tests.
<I just don't believe that this is reliable. What you're describing is classic environmental stress behaviour. If the tank has been running with fish for more than two months, and the nitrite and ammonia are both at zero, then you may be okay in terms of water quality. In that case, think about other possible sources of toxins, for example paint fumes. Also check you're using a dechlorinator that treats chloramine as well as chlorine.
Check the pH of your water is stable: some water supplies experience sudden pH changes over 24 hours. Take a glass of water, check the pH, and then repeat 24 hours later. If the pH is the same, you're fine. If not, you have a problem...>
Nitrate has never been above about 20. I don't do weekly water changes but don't feel that its overly important since I have very few fish in my tank.
The one problem is that my tank water is..... well.... hard. Very hard in fact. I would say it's reading at about an 8.5.
<In and of itself, this isn't the end of the world, assuming the Tiger Barbs were settled into this water chemistry by your local retailer. Yes, choosing hard water fish would be better: swordtails, platies, etc.>
The people at the fish store give me mixed suggestions on what I should do.
The one told me to use a ph reduced and against what I thought, I did.
(thinking they know best).
<Bad idea.>
But I had to put sooooo much of that in just to make like a .1 reduction. I had to double, sometimes triple the dose. And only to have my water return to where is was in just a couple days. I went back and the other fish guy told me that that's okay, and they can live in very hard waters and not to try and mess with the ph. A stable ph is better that a neutral ph.
<Indeed.>
So, basically, I just want to know what's going on with my fish. I have only had them two months so that one fish wasn't just old.
<See, in a young tank, I'd put money on water quality issues.>
My tank was very well cycled and I put a bacteria supplement into the water to help it.
<Most of these supplements are bogus.>
I did medicate them about 2 1/2 weeks ago with these fizzy tablets that turned the water green. It was a general bacteria medication because I noticed that it seemed like the fish had a gold shimmer to them.
<Gold shimmer is velvet, and a bacterial medication won't make a blind bit of a difference there. Be sure to identify the problem, and then medicate accordingly. Wrong medications can, will kill your fish.>
After the two doses I realized they still had it, but it's only when the sun in setting and shining into my window.... I think it's just the fish.
They weren't sick. The guy at the fish store said it was velvet. Oh well.
<Hmm...>
Sorry if I seem like I went on forever, I just wanted to give as much information as possible. Hopefully you can help.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re Help With Tiger Barbs (RMF, any reason for pH 9 water?)<<No... odd. See below. RMF>>   11/28/09
Thank you for your response. I just have a couple follow up questions.
<Fire away.>
My water at home does have a ph swing after sitting out for a day or two.
It comes out of the tap at 7.4, and in a day or two it will be 8.5 - 9. Is this water not okay to use?
<I'd say not. Would recommend mixing 50/50 with rainwater (free!) or RO water (safest).>
or should I just make sure the ph stabilizes first?
<Always, always, ALWAYS let the pH stabilise before adding to the aquarium.
Get a 5 gallon bucket from a DIY store, fill with water, and leave overnight before using.>
Also, the pet store I buy them from keeps their water at 7.8. Is this to much of a difference?
<From pH 7.8 to pH 9? Gosh! Yes, far too much of a change. Are you using municipal water or well water?>
I have noticed sudden sickness after I brought them home. In fact, the one that died I had since the end of September.
<I bet.>
I do use a dechlorinator that does to chloramine as well.
<Good.>
Also, as for the number of fish, I do plan on having the whole tank stocked with the tigers, I was taking them home a few at a time to add them but then I stopped buying after the second bunch when they got sick. I feel I should have the tank under control before adding new fish.
<If you really do have water this hard and this basic, Tiger Barbs would not be my preference; I'd be looking at either hard water fish (like Platies and Guppies) or a brackish water community where the marine salt mix would stabilise the pH somewhere useful (e.g., with a mix of Mollies).>
And as for velvet. Could they still have it?
<Sure.>
I notice it on my green moss barb. He still has the gold shimmer to him.
It's hard to see on the others. If it's velvet, could that be what's causing the odd behaviour? Or killed the other fish?
<Velvet attacks the gills before the skin, and yes, this will cause respiratory stress.>
Now also, I said that since my tank has been established, I haven't seen ammonia or nitrite on my tests. Were you saying that you don't think my testing is reliable?
<Impossible for me to say.>
I use the liquid testing in the vials. I do it according to the instructions and when I color match, I don't see any color on them.
<That's usually a good start.>
So i guess, my final question is, do you think that it's that they have velvet or poor water conditions? Or both?
<The two things do tend to go together.>
And I guess I should be leaving my water to sit before adding it to the tank. Although the water stabilizes in about 24 hours, and it doesn't seem to affect the overall ph much, could this be causing the symptoms well
after the fact?
<Could well be.>
I appreciated your time to answer my questions. It's helped a lot.
<Cool.>
Oh, and I was thinking of getting some driftwood for my tank. I know this lowers the ph (or can) slightly. Is this a good idea?
<If your water is rock hard -- and I strongly recommend you test the General Hardness and Carbonate Hardness before doing ANYTHING else -- then bogwood will have little/no impact on pH. Cheers, Neale.> <<Summat is wrong here... either the test kit/reagents are shot, the user has misunderstood/is not following directions, or the municipality/source water is treating the tap for some reason with chemicals that is greatly elevating pH. I would do as Neale states and check your water for both KH and GH, and maybe contact your water supplier. Bob Fenner>>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (RMF, any reason for pH 9 water?) 11/28/09
About the note at the end, I don't believe I misunderstood the readings. I read the instructions every time I use it and it's clear. For both. The other testers I use in the kit work fine.
<Cool.>
As for my water, it's well water.
<Hmm.>
For using to water, is it safe to gradually switch them over to 100% RO water? Or how should I go about that?
<You MUST NOT use 100% RO water. That will be too soft. As I said, a 50/50 mixture of RO water with hard, basic tap water will produce something of moderate hardness and approximately neutral pH that suits a wide variety of community fish.>
And how would the salt help the ph?
<Salt doesn't change the pH at all. Marine salt mix isn't "just" salt, it's a mix of salt with various carbonates, sulphates, and lots of other things.
Taken together, marine salt mix raises pH and hardness alongside salinity.>
I really don't want mollies, and platies. Or guppies. I grew up with them and just want something different.
<Fair enough. Do review some of the other, less often seen livebearers though, like Limia nigrofasciata, Poecilia salvatoris, Heterandria formosa, for example.>
Is there much selection for brackish water fish.
<Yes, a very big selection, from Figure-8 puffers, Mudskippers, Spaghetti Eels, Archerfish to Violet Gobies, to name just a few. Do see my Brackish Water Aquarium FAQ for more.
http://homepage.mac.com/nmonks/Projects/brackishfaq.html
But not all species are on sale all the time in every pet store. So you have to keep your eyes peel, shop around, and build your collection slowly.>
And would I have to change the equipment I have for my setup.
<Depends. A low-end brackish water system is much like a regular freshwater tank, except roughly a level teaspoon of marine salt mix (6 grammes) is added per litre of water. Many plants will thrive under such conditions, so apart from the marine salt mix, the tank looks like a community system. At higher salinities things get different, and more like a marine aquarium in terms of decor.>
I looked at my fish again today and it's only the moss tiger that seems to have the shimmer, I don't see it on the other ones. I did noticed the he kept his two bottom fins close to his body the whole time, I suspect this is the ph...
<Could well be a factor.>
So, all said, should I look for an ro supplier and what ratio should I gradually change them to.
<I find 50/50 works well.>
Will it hurt them further to treat with a good velvet specific medication if it's possible they don't have it?
<Yes; all medications are poisons, and used unnecessarily, can cause problems.>
And how long can the ro water sit in a jug before using?
<Keep unused RO water in a bucket with a lid. Kept thus, it's fine for a week or two. Eventually dust, cooking grease, and so on will end up in there, and while not necessarily toxic, such things are best avoided.>
I will take your advice and test the hardness. Didn't suspect it was that because when I took my cycled water to the store to be tested, I assumed they checked it but said everything looked great. My kit only tests ph,
nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia
<Would strongly suggest you check the general hardness (degrees dH) and carbonate hardness (degrees KH) before going further.>
Oh, I guess I should ask, for my little guy, should I get something so he can be separated in the tank?
<Not much point.>
I haven't figured out who the alpha is yet. Any suggestion on food besides flakes and granules that might help him catch up in size?
<Doesn't work this way; fish grow every day of their lives, though the rate slows as they mature. A fish that reaches "adolescence" smaller than its peers will always be smaller.>
Thanks for all your help
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?)  11/30/09
<<Some do, but most of this water is contactor-processed. RMF>>
I will test the two things as you suggested. Is there any way to alter these if they are way off?
<Letting the water stand so its pH stabilises, ideally with an airstone, but otherwise for 24 hours, will be helpful. Mixing 50/50 should result in something around 10-15 degrees dH, 5 degrees KH, and pH 7.5. If this is indeed what you get, this is absolutely fine for almost all community fish.>
Will the ro water help it?
<See above.>
Final question. With the ro water. Should it come from a fish store?
<Some folks do buy their RO water from fish shops. In the long term, it's more economical to own your own RO filter. Domestic water softeners aren't the same thing though, because they add sodium salts to replace the carbonate and bicarbonate salts that "fur" up pipes, kettles and appliances. That said, if you had brackish water fish species, the additional sodium would be well within their tolerances, so you can keep brackish water fish just fine with domestically softened water that has a bit of marine salt mix to replace some of the lost carbonate and up the salinity.>
The local grocery stores sell ro water in the vending machines for reusable bottles. Is that okay to use? I tested the water and it was very acidic.
Around 5.5. I was under the impression it should be around seven.
<I've asked Bob to comment here, but when I lived in the US, the grocery stores were selling filtered, not RO, water (e.g., Culligan's drinking water). This isn't the same thing as RO water at all. It could be used for keeping fish if the carbonate hardness, general hardness, and pH levels are in the tolerances of the species being kept. But given the very low pH of the water your vendor sells, it sounds unlikely that in its "raw" state such water would be acceptable. By all means try a 50/50 mix with tap water, and see what the general hardness, carbonate hardness, and pH levels come out as. If they're in the safe zone, then it'd be fine to use. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter where you get the water from, just so long as these three critical parameters are acceptable to the species being kept. I collect and use rainwater for example, which costs nothing and is about as environmentally friendly as water can get. On the downside, I need to strain out detritus (dead insects and leaves, mostly) that end up in the water butt, and it does have a low pH because of CO2 and organic acids that accumulate in the water butt, so mixing with tap water at a 50/50 ratio is essential. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?) 11/29/09
I want to thank you for all the help you've provided. It's nice to just get straight answers instead of worry about whether or not the person is just trying to sell me something.
<Cool.>
I have tested the two hardness levels and I think I have found part of the problem. My general hardness is 120 (which according to the chart is moderately hard (100-200) although I'm not sure how this is for my tigers.
<Moderately hard levels of general hardness are just fine for most community fish, including Puntius spp.>
I will definitely research this. The second one, which I was surprised to find, was the carbonate hardness was way off.
<You mean extremely hard? High levels of carbonate hardness are not acceptable to most community fish. Do read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
I tend to work in degrees KH because it's easier, but on the tables there you'll see how to convert between degrees KH and mg/l calcium carbonate.
Anything above, say, 8 degrees KH, about 140 mg/l calcium carbonate, is above what community fish like.>
I figured this was tested when I took my cycled tank water into the pet store before I bought my fish. Maybe it changes, or maybe they didn't test it, I don't know. I didn't get an exact reading as I stopped the test because I felt like I was wasting all my liquid and I know I need to mix some ro water in.
<Yes, this seems reasonable. Try a 50/50 mix and see what you get.>
The test I have, you drop in a drop of the yellow stuff and it turns blue, then you count the drops it takes to change the liquid you yellow/lime. I stopped counting my drops at 21 and it just started to turn a green. Still a very dark blue/green. This means that my carbonate hardness (or alkalinity) over 210 mg/L!!
<Very high carbonate hardness. This is fine for some fish, like livebearers, but less so for others.>
I will buy ro water when I get back from my trip. I will experiment with different ratios of my tap and ro water to get the water parameters that best suit my tigers.
Thanks for everything.
<Happy to help. Cheers, Neale.>  
RE: More RE: Help With Tiger Barbs (Bob, do US grocery stores sell RO water?)
oh, I forgot to mention that I live in Canada. I did check and they do say it's ro water... b
<I tend to skeptical, and I'd encourage you to be likewise. Many people do not know the difference between RO water, mineral water, bottled water, and domestically softened water -- so it's good to be clear. RO water isn't
normally drunk; while it may not actually be harmful, it doesn't taste good and lacks the minerals (particularly calcium and fluoride) that promote good health. RO water will have zero general hardness and zero carbonate
hardness, and should have a pH of 7.0 (though this can vary because it has zero buffering capacity, so even slight impurities can alter the pH).
Cheers, Neale.>

Heavy Breathers <Maris... Anthony Calfo here with bells on, in Bob's stead> Could you tell me why my tiger barbs all time very fast breathe and very often stand with the heads to ground, fast breathing? <Perhaps because they know that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to win the Super Bowl (I'm feeling and acting the same way myself)... but all joking aside, the symptoms you have observed are not necessarily normal or healthy. So many things it could be... high water temperature, gill damage from medication or infection, impending outbreak of a pathogen, toxin in the water, etc. Do the fish act normal at feeding time or through most of the day with other fishes? What readings do you get with water chemistry test specifically? How old is the tank and how well is it stocked? Please reply with more info. Thanks kindly, Anthony>

Re: Tiger Barbs <Maris... your English is very good. My apologies for making the joke about football that was not familiar to you (smile). It is a pleasure to hear from you from so far across the world!> And so you said me to give more info about my tiger barbs. I have 45 litres tank, the temperature is about 27-29 0C. I don't now how much it is in the Fahrenheit scale.  <good but perhaps a tiny bit warm. I would maintain 27C as the maximum temperature... especially in a well stocked tank to allow for more dissolved oxygen> But maybe you know. I have only 2 these tiger barbs in my tank, I have 9 other fishes living in this tank. I now that they don't have enough room, but I don't think that this could be the reason of so strange behaviour of barbs.  <yes... a bit overstocked which makes it more difficult to maintain water quality. Check the pH if possible. If it is lower than 6.5, that may also cause such strange behavior from acidosis with this creature> I don't have the this water chemistry test equipment. I live in Latvia (If you know this country. It lays at Baltic sea), where this water chemistry test equipment that costs not so little money, how it could cost in America. My tiger barbs at feeding time act normally, they only catch food very fast. In other time my 2 tiger barbs all time try to catch each other, I own them almost 2 years, <wonderful and mostly normal> and they stand with the heads to ground very often all these 2 years.  <again... not terrible, perhaps normal. My main concern is the rapid breathing> And I know that they are healthy. My tank is clean too. Maybe you didn't understand something of my story, because my English isn't very good. But I hope you understood something. <very clear and understood, Maris. I wish I could do you the honor of speaking in your language p.s.: Maybe you could tell me how often it is necessary to change the water of tank and how much? <25% monthly is a good start for water changes. With heavy fish loads you may want to try 10% weekly which is even better> I hope I didn't bother you much. I see you love bowling or maybe it is football. <no bother at all... my pleasure! And yes, I am a good American football fan and we have a championship event coming up... Go Steelers! Best regards to you, Anthony>

Tiger Barb Question Hi.  Been checking out your site since we started keeping tropical fish.  Very informative!! <Thank you!> My question; I've had a couple tiger barbs for a couple of months.  It almost looks like there is a very, very light film on them at times. The black bands don't seem as "black" as they used to.  When I looked at them with a flashlight, I could see a green color on the scales in the black bands.  I don't know if that is the normal color or not. <This sounds as if it may be Costia (Ichthyobodo), Please see http://www/wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwfshparasites.htm for more info on the disease and for treatment.> The tank they are in is just about done cycling. They seem to be doing very well otherwise.  Eating, chasing, etc. <This is very good.> Is this a fungus or disease?  Or have I just been staring at the fish too long?!? <Most likely a parasitic disease> Appreciate your help!! Jan Emerson <You're welcome! Ronni>

Tiger barbs acting oddly (06/21/03) <Hi! Ananda here today....> I have a ten gallon tank with Tiger Barbs (2 male?), Black Mollie (I think a balloon, 1 female), Pineapple Swordtail (2 female), Cory (copper?1), Frog(1), a fry net hanging off the side with two baby mollies, and a few plastic plants. <Ouch! Your tank is quite overcrowded....I would suggest a substantially larger tank. Both the tiger barbs and the Corydoras fish are happier in larger groups.> I have two questions, first, the barbs occasionally sit nose down in the tank, is that normal? <Nope.> The smaller of the two has recently gotten into the habit of doing that more often, I'm worried that it may be sick? <Check your water quality: ammonia, nitrites, nitrates... if you have *any* ammonia or nitrites, do water changes to get the levels down. The fish can take some nitrates, but you should try to keep those levels under 40.> My second question is just recently one of my swordtails turned belly up on my and i was thinking of replacing her with a male, but i don't know if i should do to the barb nasty fin nipping. <Nope! You need another tank, first. One for the barbs, one for the fish with fancy fins.> Let me know what you think, any help would be appreciated! Thank you Dave <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Some not so green Green Barbs Your site kicks xxx <butt>. I never new there was so much to aquariums. <Just glass, glue, and some plastic trim> I'm new on the block when it comes to fish and aquariums, its helping me to no end. I've only got a small set up, 40L tank, with a 55W heater and AquaClear 200, which was given to me by a mate. I recently introduced some moss green tiger barbs to the tank, and they are/were traveling fine, although they have started to lose the really deep green they had when I first got them. I've kept the pH at 7, am not sure whether it has something to do with this, or the temperature or what. <Keep temp steady and in the mid to high 70's> They haven't really questioned off with respect to their activity, except for chilling out under a rock setup I have. Is there anything I'm doing wrong that you may be able to think of? Thanks heaps for your help.  Cheers for now. Brenton <Hi Brendon, Don here. How long has the tank been running? Do you do partial water changes? Test the water? If so, post the numbers. If the set up is new, then it must cycle. Until then the fish will be stressed by the build up of their own waste, ammonia. Also, you said you have "kept the pH at 7". Was it something different at one time? pH is something better left as is, unless very high or low. It's the swing in pH that does the most damage. If all that is good, then look into a good quality "color food" or a more varied diet to get the brightness back. Darker substrate will also deepen the color of the fish.>

Mad-Crazy Barbs! We have two tiger barbs, one small and one much larger. Unusually, from what we have heard, they pretty much totally leave our other fish alone, only acknowledging each other. Mostly the little one chases the fatter one all over the tank non-stop, but every once in a while their colors will darken and they will do this thing where they spin in a circle, nose to nose, sometimes for several minutes at a time. They don't appear to be fighting for real, as neither sustains injuries. Is this some sort of play fighting or sparring for dominance, or something else? >>Yes, your barbs are sparring. Tiger barbs are schooling fish that will chase each other all the time. Because you have only two the less dominant animal is always under stress. The little more slender fish may well be a male, the fatter fish a female. It may be a good idea to add two more tiger barbs. Good Luck, Oliver <<

The Beach Boys Givin' off Good Vibrations?  4 Vibrating Green Tiger Barbs Hello! <Hi there> I have a 37g tank with 4 green tiger barbs and 1 albino Pleco. It's running an Eheim 2026 with all biological filtration: Ceramic noodles and Eheim EhfiSubstrate. I do ~10% weekly RO water changes. I've tested nitrates which are < 20 ppm, nitrites don't register, nor does ammonia. The water has running a bit warm at 80. <Okay> My problem is this: especially later in the day, the tiger barbs stay towards the bottom of the tank and vibrate, mostly in the same spot. Have you ever heard of this type of behavior? I'm at a loss to what to do. Could it be the temperature? I'm going to go through my master test kit and test all the water parameters... anything I should look out for? <Have heard/seen this... and do think it's temperature related...> Thanks! - Chad <I would add a mechanical "bubbler", some sort of added circulation, aeration here... turn your heater down, or if the lighting is boosting temperature, set this on a timer and leave off during the mid-day... see if you can add surface disruption and keep the temperature under 78 F. Bob Fenner>

Tiger Barb Beh.   1/6/07 Hi folks, <Doug> I am VERY sorry if this information is already here, I did use the search engine, but I was not able to find what I was looking for. <Many topics not discussed, as yet> I am also sorry if this is a silly question, because I feel pretty sill asking it!  I have had 4 tiger barbs darting around like little bumble bees in my 30 long for a couple months now, but I noticed something for the first time the other day.... Are their stripes green????? <Mmm, depends on the angle of viewing, light source/quality... these small minnows have chromatophores (color) and iridophores (reflective) that give their appearance a variable quality> I know I have seen green tiger barbs, but I suppose I never paid attention to the stripes on the "regular" tiger barbs.  The reason I ask, is that I just want to make sure it is not a sign of illness. <Mmm, unlikely> Also, I noticed a few folks talking about their Tiger Barbs doing headstands.  Mine do this as well, and I have seen it in some of the LFS tanks also. <Mmm, typically a response/reaction to too much feeding... particularly of dried foods... better to feed more frequently, smaller amounts> When mine do it, they do it "in formation" noses straight down, tails straight up.  Sometimes for 5 minutes or so at a time, and typically they quit in a day or so.  No change in appetite, no changes in the water quality no ammonia, nitrates or nitrites, no discernable pattern as to when (i.e. before/after water changes, night or day, ) they will do it.  Just thought I would share... <Appreciate this> Thanks so much!  You folks are GREAT!!!!!!  You should be given some type of world recognition award! Doug Alley <You've just done so, and I/we thank you. Bob Fenner>

Headstanding barbs - usually a sign of nitrate poisoning   3/1/07 Hello <Hi Rick, Jorie here> I have tiger barbs and green barbs.  Both are doing what I would call head stands  (i.e. they are nose down).   The green barbs are losing their colour.  They seem to hide for a while and when they come out they are doing these head stands.  Any idea of what I can do?  Is there a cure?  Water has been by the local pet store and they suggested I contact you. <This behavior is usually a sign of too-high nitrates. Did you by chance ask the pet store who tested your water what the actual ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH readings were? "Acceptable" can be a very subjective term when it comes to water parameters. Better yet, I suggest you invest $15 in a quality liquid test kit, something like the one put out by Aquarium Pharmaceuticals. It's not too complicated and truly, it is better to have the kit and home and at your disposal, so you can test when you need to without relying on anyone else. How long has this tank been established? How large is it, and how many barbs are in it? Are there any other fish? My educated guess is this is a water-quality problem.  Without more info., I'd suggest doing a water change ASAP - it can't hurt, and may indeed help. Thank you in advance Rick McInnis <You're welcome. Best of luck, Jorie>

Re: Headstanding barbs - confirmed poor water quality - need to do water changes ASAP!  3/1/07 Thank you for your prompt reply.   <Sure> I have further information re the water. The PH is 8.5 (normal for this area) , the ammonia is 0/1ppm, nitrates is 5mg/litre and nitrites are 0.01 per litre.  This was given to me by the local pet store after testing my water this morning after receiving your reply. <Did this store tell you these parameters were "OK"? If so, don't ever go back there again - they are morons! Sorry to be so blunt, but that's really bad.  In any case, ammonia and nitrites must always be at zero when livestock is in a tank; nitrates can be as high as 20 ppm.  You need to do a large water change ASAP; invest in your own test-kit (my favorite one can be ordered here, if you like: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000255NCI/sr=8-1/qid=1172781451/ref=pd_bbs_sr_olp_1/104-6447593-2649521?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden - but, if possible, see if you can buy it locally (but NOT from the original store in question, please!)) I have also changed the water in the 35 gallon tank.   Do these levels appear to be normal to you and if not what should I do. <They are not normal, and your fish will likely die if more water isn't changed ASAP.  Start "preparing" more water (treated tap water, DI or RO/DI filtered water) ASAP and reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrite fast.> Just to let you know there are 5 barbs and 2 catfish in the tank. <There won't be much of anything if you don't dilute these toxins quickly...> Thank you once again. Rick <You're welcome.  I'm appalled that the fish store said your water was fine - once you get everything under control, I'd recommend you talk to the manager.  That's not acceptable AT ALL.  Sounds like your tank may need to cycle - read here for add'l info.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwestcycling.htm The good news is this is a problem that can likely be 100% rectified by improving the water quality. Good luck! Jorie>

Tiger Barbs 4/3/07 I have 4 tiger barbs, they seem to be pretty healthy but sometimes one of them swims nose down & stays like that for sometime by the driftwood. Is that normal for tiger barbs to do that? <This behavior is often in response to poor water conditions, especially high levels of nitrate.  Please check your water parameters.> <Chris>

A few questions... Tiger Barb beh.  10/10/07 We have just set up our first, what I like t call, 'proper' fish tank with tropical fish in. We have 4 Tiger, 6 Green, 3 Albino Tiger Barbs, 3 Black Widows and several Neons. My main reason for asking a question is that two of the green barbs seem to kiss each other and then swim side by side and nudge each other. Can you suggest why they are doing this? Or is it normal behaviour? Also, what level should the nitrate and pH be? Thanks in advance! <Greetings. Tiger, green (moss), and albino tiger barbs are all the same species of course (Puntius tetrazona). They are intensely social fish, and spend much of their time jostling for position in their hierarchy. They don't normally fight, but they can get a bit rough. That's what you're seeing at the moment. It's normal. For the selection of fish you have, aim for a nitrate level of less than 50 mg/l. In many English cities at least this might not be practical; Thames Water for example comes out the tap at 50 mg/l thanks to urban development and intense agriculture. But provided you don't overfeed your fish and you do 50% water changes per week, the nitrates should stay love enough not to cause long-term harm. Certain fish (such as mollies and many cichlids) are nitrate-sensitive, but for the most part barbs and tetras are quite tolerant. The pH should be somewhere between 6 and 8 for these fish. The ideal would be around 7. Don't focus on pH though; what matters is hardness, since that's what directly affects the fish and the water. Your fish will appreciate soft to moderately hard water, though barbs and black widows at least can prosper in very hard water (Neons tend to be a little more sensitive). One last thing: all three varieties of barb and the black widow tetras are NOTORIOUS fin-nippers, so under no circumstances add anything slow moving or with flouncy tails. No angels, Gouramis, fancy guppies, Bettas, etc. Just fast moving fish. Good luck, Neale>



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