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BARBUS TETRAZONA








BARBUS TETRAZONA
(Tiger Barb)

The species Barbus tetrazona is not a cichlid. It belongs to the Family Cyprinidae (carp-like fishes). Its common name is "Tiger barb" and one just needs to take one glance in the photos above to find out why. There are three color morphs of this species. The normal one (silver body with black vertical stripes) the green (green body with black vertical stripes) and the albino (yellow body with white patches in the place of the stripes). In the lower photo one albino tiger barb is visible. Although not cichlids these are among the best fish for a beginner and, why not, the advanced aquarist. This species is characterized by a number of advantages very rarely seen in other species. They are very social schooling fish (you should always keep more than six of them, a dozen is preferable). They are not shy so you can see them all day long. Moreover they are very good swimmers and they use the whole tank. They will not attack plants so they are also a first class colorful selection even for planted tanks. Not really aggressive but they may occasionally nip on long fins of slow species (gouramis, siamese fighting fish, discus etc.), which can be avoided if kept in large schools. Provided with shelter (usually overhanging leaves) they may spawn and lay their eggs on the lower surface. 

Some people use these fish as dither fish in African cichlid tanks (especially with mbunas) to reduce aggression among the latter. It is believed that mbunas will chase and attack the barbs instead of attacking each other. Moreover, they are used by the mbunas as a "warning" for enemy approach. It is true that tiger barbs are quite fast and they can serve the task of dither fish. However, my experience is that, sooner rather than later, the mbuna will kill them. They may stay in the tank for a year (even longer) but you will always see them with wounds, missing fins and, in the end, floating. Although beyond the scope of this brief information note, I believe that our decision to keep African cichlids should work on its own. The hobbyist must carefully arrange his tank and select the species he is going to keep (according to his tank dimensions) and not rely on the torture of other fish in order to keep aggression at bay. These beautiful species doesn't stand a chance to survive, basically because it doesn't belong to the African cichlid environment and its genetic code will not warn it about what is happening. I have repeatedly seen tiger barbs closing in the spawning site of my Pseudotropheus lombardoi (while the male was spawning) to investigate what is happening. Nine times out of ten, a barb would end up with wounds.

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