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What You Didn’t Know About Keeping Tiger Barb With Goldfish

What You Didn’t Know About Keeping Tiger Barb With Goldfish

Few things are prettier to fish keepers than community tanks! There is nothing better than looking at different fish species coexisting. When choosing beautiful tank mates, you might be tempted to think – can you keep tiger barbs with goldfish?

Goldfish are probably the most famous fish species out there. Whether you’re an aquarist or you know nothing about the hobby, you’ll know what a goldfish looks like!

Tiger barbs are yet another popular pet. However, despite their cute appearance, they can be a bit tricky – especially when talking about living peacefully. 

Here is the truth about keeping the two together!

Can Tiger Barbs Live with Goldfish?

In short – No, keeping tiger barbs with goldfish isn’t advisable. However, to truly understand this, you need to understand a little bit about these two fish.

Tiger barbs (Puntigrus tetrazona) are tropical freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia. They are semi-aggressive fish that prefer to stay in large groups and are easy to care for, which is what makes them some of the most popular pets in the hobby.

Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are social fish known for their orange scales, round bodies, and long tails. They are hardy, social, and easy to care for. Not to mention they are entirely gorgeous!

Unfortunately, these two are not compatible with each other. I’ll explain in depth why.

Possible Issues

goldfish in aquarium

There are several issues you might (or if I dare say, you will) encounter if you keep tiger barbs and goldfish together. Most, but not all, have much to do with the tiger barb’s temperament.

Both goldfish and tiger barbs are very social fish. They are omnivores, so they eat both plant matter and algae, as well as insect larvae, insects, and small crustaceans.

This is where the similarities end.

While goldfish are very calm and friendly, tiger barbs are known for their problematic temperament. They are not as aggressive as crowntail bettas, for example, but they are still not the friendliest of fish. This can endanger poor goldfish and lead to many issues. 

Still, this isn’t the only problem you might face.

Here are several problems that will arise if you attempt to keep goldfish with tiger barbs:

Different Living Conditions

First off, some fish keepers have reported problems as goldfish and tiger barbs prefer different living conditions.

While both are hardy fish that can withstand various water parameters, they will thrive in different conditions

First off, goldfish prefer cooler water temperatures, while tiger barbs are tropical fish. Goldfish love it when their water temperatures are between 68° and 74° F, while tiger barbs dislike waters colder than 77° F. 

Sure, they both can survive in the temperatures the other lives in, but there is more than just surviving. 

Also, tiger barbs prefer slightly acidic water compared to goldfish, but this isn’t a huge issue as there is a big overlap in pH values.

Still, just by temperature alone, you can see that they might not be the best suited tank mates out there.

Fin Nipping

Next, tiger barbs are known for their fin-nipping behavior. Any fish that is known for nipping the fins of other fish should be kept away from slow-swimming fish with long tails. As is easy to guess, goldfish are just that!

Sadly, it is almost certain that tiger barbs will bite off pieces of fins off your goldfish. These are just too tempting for barbs not to bite on.  

This will not just ruin the looks of your beautiful goldfish, but it can cause numerous other issues. 

Despite some people claiming otherwise, fish can feel pain[1]. It’s easy to assume that fin nipping is painful for the bullied goldfish.

Also, when you have a fin-nipping fish in the aquarium, some serious illnesses, such as fin rot, might go unnoticed.  

Food Competitiveness 

Tiger barbs are much quicker than goldfish. As both are known for loving to eat – and eating whatever they can get – they can become quite competitive for food. This means that goldfish are in trouble.

Considering that barbs live in groups and swim rather quickly, they can easily steal all the food from goldfish. This can become quite problematic, especially as it can lead to malnourishment in goldfish and obesity in barbs.

Death of Fry

While we’re at food, both fish are notorious for eating anything that can fit into their mouths. Sadly, this includes fish fry. 

While I’m always suggesting that you breed your fish in a 40-gallon breeder tank only, this is especially important when you’re having these two species. 

Tiny fry is no match for much larger barbs and goldfish, and either of these breeds can kill and eat baby fish. 


Finally, tiger barbs can be true bullies toward other fish. 

This can especially happen on certain occasions – for example, if there isn’t enough space or if the water temperature is off. Also, if you don’t keep enough barbs in a school, they can become stressed out and lash out at other fish. 

All of this can end very badly for your goldfish. While tiger barbs won’t go around killing every fish they can find, they can bite and nip at others. This will ruin the quality of life of their tank mates.

Can You Help Them Coexist?

tiger barbs in aquarium

In general, I wouldn’t even try to keep tiger barbs and goldfish together. However, if this is something you really want to attempt, there are a few things you can do to increase their chances of living in peace. 

  • Give them lots of space. The more space they have, the fewer the chances of tiger barbs feeling the need to attack other fish. 
  • Keep at least 6 tiger barbs together. Barbs that live in larger schools are less likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors.
  • Provide plenty of hiding spots. Hiding spots are a great way to increase a fish’s confidence and to keep them from attacking each other. Each fish can choose its own hiding spot without disrupting other animals in the tank.
  • Make sure the water temperatures are proper. While this can be a bit problematic since goldfish and barbs prefer different temperatures, you might have better success if you keep your fish in warmer waters. Barbs are less likely to be aggressive if water parameters are suitable for them, and goldfish can survive in tropical temperatures.
  • Feed them the right amount and the right type of food. Fish that aren’t hungry are less likely to fight.

Final Words

As you can see, keeping tiger barbs with goldfish comes with its own set of challenges. For most people, this might be impossible. Even experienced fish keepers can have problems with this match!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for the two to coexist. Still, I don’t think either fish would be happy in each other’s company. 

There are probably many other, better suited tank mates, for both goldfish and tiger barbs, you can choose from.


[1] Braithwaite V (2010). Do Fish Feel Pain?. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-161396-8.