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Can You Keep Tiger Barb With Gourami? What You Need To Know

Can You Keep Tiger Barb With Gourami? What You Need To Know

Finding suitable tank mates for your fish is just as important as having a proper setup. For example, you need to know if you can keep tiger barbs with gouramis, or if this is a bad combination. 

Tiger barbs are popular and adorable fishies everyone has probably seen at their local pet store. They live in large groups and are really easy to care for. 

Gouramis are a group of colorful fish that are also a household name for everyone in the hobby. 

As the two have unique appearances and live in similar conditions, you might consider keeping them together. Is this a good idea? Let’s explore! 

Can Gouramis Live With Tiger Barbs?

gourami fish

The short answer is: No, it isn’t smart to keep tiger barbs with gouramis. 

Sure, the two can survive in the same tank when it comes to water parameters, so that isn’t the issue. The problem arises with their temperaments. 

Tiger barbs are semi-aggressive fish that can become quite territorial, especially if you don’t keep them in large schools of at least 6 fish. 

Similarly, gouramis are known for being bullies. While not all gouramis have the exact same temperament, generally none of them deal too well with fish that aren’t peaceful. Sadly, tiger barbs are far from non-violent!

Possible Issues

The temperaments of these two fish can lead to several issues. It’s important to fully understand them, so you’ll know why keeping them together isn’t a good idea. 

Here are several reasons why you shouldn’t keep tiger barbs with gouramis:


As I’ve already mentioned, both tiger barbs and gouramis are known for being semi-aggressive. Sure, they’re not as aggressive as my king crowntail betta, but they can still be very dangerous for fish that aren’t docile. 

Neither barbs or gouramis can tolerate each other’s temperament. While they might be okay with a peaceful fish, such as cory catfish, they will not enjoy the presence of each other.

This can result in a severe fight – one that will likely end badly for your barb. It isn’t unheard of to hear that a gourami has killed a smaller and more sensitive tiger barb. 

Of course, the exact prognosis depends on the species and the size of your gourami.

Fin Nipping

Tiger barbs are fin nippers. They are known for shredding fins of slow-swimming or long-finned fish. 

While most gourami species don’t have the longest caudal fin out there, they are still likely to fall victim to tiger barb’s fin-nipping behavior. While it isn’t certain whether fin nipping causes pain, it will certainly stress your fish out. 

Not just that, but barb’s nipping can (and likely will) trigger aggression in gouramis. 

Size Difference

Finally, there can be a notable size difference between the two species which will additionally increase the problems between the two.

Many gourami species can grow to be much larger than tiger barbs. While barbs rarely grow larger than 3 inches, certain gourami species, such as kissing gouramis, can grow up to 10 inches or more!

While you’ll rarely find a gourami large enough to eat your barbs, their size gives them a great advantage over small tigers. Unfortunately, gouramis are known to kill smaller fish, and tiger barbs fall into this category.

The only way you’ll keep your large gourami from killing your barbs is to make sure you have a large enough barb school. Sadly, this can lead to your barbs getting together and killing your gourami instead!

Can You Help Them Coexist?

tiger barbs in aquarium

While I am not advocating for keeping tiger barbs with gouramis, I understand that some of you might still want to keep them. 

There is no way to be entirely certain that the two species will live in peace. However, there are a few things you can do to lower the chances of incidents. Here’s what they are:

Make Sure The Tank Is Large Enough

Acrylic or glass aquarium – it doesn’t really matter. One thing that is important, though, is to make sure your tank is large enough. 

While the smallest recommended size is 20 gallons, I would say that you shouldn’t go with a tank smaller than 50 gallons – especially if you have larger gourami species.

Gouramis aren’t the smallest fish out there, and tiger barbs should live in large groups. All of this increases the required size of your tank.

Provide Hiding Spots

Tank size is not the only thing you should worry about. Decorations are also very important. 

Hiding spots can help aggressive and territorial fish with their temperament. They can help them feel secure. Also, this will help smaller barbs stay safe from gouramis.

Live plants are also a good choice. While plants that don’t need substrate are suitable, don’t use floating ones. Gouramis need to reach the surface to breathe.

Ensure Proper Parameters

When the water parameters are proper, the fish are less likely to feel stressed and to lash out at one another. Luckily, doing this isn’t as difficult as if you’d wish to keep tiger barbs with goldfish.

Both gouramis and barbs need water temperature that is around 80° F and neutral pH. As long as you ensure this, you’ll lower their stress levels to minimum.

Give Them Enough Food

Everyone is more aggressive when they are hungry! This is especially true for your little aquatic pets. 

If your fish aren’t fed properly, they’re more likely to become aggressive over food. When you don’t give them enough food, barbs and gouramis will fight over pellets like there’s no tomorrow. Sadly, they’ll often fight to their death. 

Not just that, but larger gouramis might even dare to kill and attempt to eat barbs! This can directly lead to your fish’s demise. 

As such, you should always make sure your fish are fed just the right amount.

Both tiger barbs and gouramis are omnivores that eat the same type of food. This will make things much easier! The only thing you should worry about now is to make sure they are fed regularly. 

Don’t give them food that will lie around for hours, though! This can lead to increased ammonia levels and this can be deadly. If you see food leftovers about an hour after you’ve fed your fish, take them out. 

Final Word

Choosing proper tank mates can be just as important as providing your fish with the right water parameters! It is essential for the fish’s wellbeing to stay in company that will help them thrive instead of stressing them out or leading to fights. 

No matter how good they look together, it is not recommended to keep your tiger barbs with gouramis. Things are more likely to go wrong than not. 

While you can attempt to give them the best tank ever and to reduce the aggressive behaviors, you’d still need to constantly monitor your fish’s behavior. All it takes is an hour for a catastrophe to happen! 

With so many beautiful fish on the market, why risk it? It’s much better to find a better pair for both species.