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Why You Should Not Keep Tiger Barbs With Cichlids

Why You Should Not Keep Tiger Barbs With Cichlids

Providing proper tank mates for your fish can be just as important as providing proper water parameters. This might make you think, can you keep tiger barbs with cichlids, or is this a bad idea?

Cichlids are some of the most beautiful fish out there. You can find them in many shapes, colors, and sizes.

Tiger barbs are popular fish that love to swim in large schools. They generally enjoy the company of other fish and should live in groups to be happy.

Surely the two make great tank mates, right?

Sadly, things aren’t always as they seem. I’ll explain.

Can You Keep Tiger Barb With Cichlids?

I am sorry to disappoint you and let you know that tiger barbs and cichlids are not the best tank mates possible. In fact, keeping them together can go wrong in many ways.

Tiger barbs are semi-aggressive fish. They are also fin nippers. If you have any experience in fish keeping, you’ll know that finding tank mates for such fish can be a nightmare. 

Similarly, most cichlids are also fin-nippers. Not just that, but many species tend to be even more aggressive than barbs! 

Just by reading this, you can probably guess why combining the two might not be the best idea.

Aggression Problems

There are many reasons why cichlids and tiger barbs cannot be friends, but all come down to one single cause: Aggressive behavior.

As both of these fish aren’t known for being the most pleasant animals out there, they certainly won’t behave nicely toward one another.

Tiger barbs are curious and active fish that aren’t easily spooked. They’ll love to annoy cichlids!

On the other hand, cichlids simply don’t want other fish in their territory – especially those that behave like little barbs. 

While the two don’t share the same living area of the tank (most cichlids are bottom-dwellers while tiger barbs swim in the middle of the aquarium), their curious nature will bring them together. This will rarely end well.

You can try many methods to lower the chances of aggression. From stone caves to fast-growing aquarium plants – I’ve tried them all. 

Eventually, these fish will clash and this can result in complete chaos. 

Luckily, these fish are unlikely to cause serious harm to one another. However, they’ll constantly be stressed out, and this shouldn’t be something you’d want for your fish.

Can You Keep Tiger Barbs With African Cichlids?

african cichlid fish

Not all cichlids are the same. Some species are more aggressive than others. This can greatly impact your chance of successfully keeping the two together. 

So, what’s the deal with African cichlids?

African cichlids are a group of cichlids that, as their name suggests, originate from the African continent

There are many species of African cichlids, such as kribensis cichlids, bumblebee cichlids, peacock cichlids, red zebra cichlids, and blue cichlids. They are the most popular cichlids in the aquarist hobby.

Can You Keep Tiger Barbs With Red Zebra Cichlid?

red zebra cichlid

Red zebra cichlids are fish most commonly sold under the name African cichlids. However, these fish are just one of the species that belong to this group of fish.

While red zebra cichlids are considered some of the most peaceful cichlids, they are still semi-aggressive. However, out of all cichlids, they are the ones most likely to be able to coexist with tiger barbs.

Still, you shouldn’t combine the two unless you absolutely have to. 

Even red zebra cichlids are known for being territorial and defensive. While they don’t have particularly long fins, barbs will still attempt to nip them. This can cause stress and trigger bad behavior in cichlids. 

Can You Keep Tiger Barbs With Kribensis Cichlid?

kribensis cichlid in aquarium

Kribensis cichlids are colorful dwarf cichlids that are fairly common in the trade. These bottom-dwelling fish are known for being territorial and aggressive, so finding good tank mates for them is always a hassle.

Sadly, this means that you shouldn’t keep tiger barbs with kribensis cichlids. 

Even though tiger barbs don’t prefer to stay at the bottom of the tank, the two will still clash, especially during the feeding time when kribs tend to swim at the above levels. 

In fact, as kribs are some of the most aggressive types of cichlids, they might even chase your barbs through the tank!

Such endeavors can end badly for the krib if you keep barbs in larger schools. Barbs are known to defend their kin, and your krib won’t stand a chance.

You’ll be better off by keeping your kribensis with a more peaceful tank mate, such as guppies

The Good Side

One thing I didn’t mention is that there is a reason why you might purposely want to keep tiger barbs with cichlids. 

Any aggressive or semi-aggressive cichlid can be very stress-inducing for other fish in the tank. You can never know when these fish will lash out at their tank mates! However, barbs can help you keep them under control.

A tiger barb can serve as a type of bait for your cichlid. What do I mean by that?

Cichlids are bullies that are always looking to start a fight. Tiger barbs are their perfect fighting companions!

As barbs are fin nippers (and courageous ones, at that!), they’ll try nipping on cichlids’ tails. Cichlids will become annoyed by this, which will result in them attacking barbs and forgetting about other fish in the tank.

Tiger barbs are pretty hardy fish that can withstand lots of cichlids’ force, especially if they’re in groups. Most cichlids won’t be able to truly harm them.

By doing this, you’re keeping other, much more sensitive fish safe from cichlids’ wrath. This can help you have more variety in your tank. Sure, you still won’t be able to keep tiger barbs with goldfish, but you’ll have more options. 

Now, does this mean I am recommending that you do this? No. I don’t think it’s ever okay to intentionally stress your fish out. However, some people are swearing by this method, and I have seen it work before.

The Bottom Line

Now you know that combining tiger barbs with cichlids isn’t a good idea.

Sure, there are many types of cichlids, and the only way I could give you a complete answer would be to name every single one of them and explain their temperaments to the T. However, no cichlid can ever be considered tiger barb-friendly.

Cichlids have peculiar temperaments, and many fish species cannot deal with this. Tiger barbs are among them. So, if you ever get the desire to combine the two, save yourself the trouble and don’t do it. They might be able to coexist for a short while, but the inevitable will always happen.