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Systomus tetrazona - Tiger barb/ Sumatra barb


  • Systomus tetrazona - Tiger barb/ Sumatra barb

    Photo thanks to Aquasaur

    Photo thanks to ChrisandDrew green moss barb variant

    Scientific name: Systomus tetrazona
    Common name: Tiger barb
    AKA: Sumatra barb
    Mistakenly or previously labelled: Barbus tetrazona / Capoeta tetrazona/ Puntius tetrazona/ Systomus sumatrensis/ Systomus sumatranus

    Country of origin: South-East Asia Sumatra
    pH: 6.0 8.0
    Temperature: 22 - 26c
    Hardness: 36 357 ppm
    Water flow: standard
    Oxygenation: standard

    Maximum size: 6.0 cm

    Diet: Live, frozen, flake & pellet foods it is an omnivore. It does best with regular live food and some vegetable matter, such as spirulina and algae wafers.

    Males: smaller, slimmer, brighter colours
    Females: larger, rounder, duller colours

    They are an egg scatterer, and if provided with a mop or sufficient moss or plants, they can lay eggs, however they need to be kept from them by a division in the tank, or removal of the eggs or fish. They will not provide any care, so removal of the parents is still the best plan, as they will eat their eggs and fry. Breed in a separate tank in a pair or a group.

    Most fish in the trade are commercially bred.

    Lifespan: years

    Tank companions:
    They are NOT good tank companions with shrimps.

    They are a schooling species. They should be kept in groups of 8+ to spread the aggression in the group.

    Like other tiger barb species (there are many similar looking fish with this common name), they have a nasty reputation for nipping (particularly other species), but this is often curbed by keeping them in a group. They should not be kept with species with long, trailing fins (such as bettas or paradise fish) for this reason.

    They are boisterous, and should not be kept with shy fish. Other tankmates of a similarly boisterous nature & size are ideal, such as swarf gouramis.

    As with any fish they will eat any fish small enough to fit in their mouths, and equally can be eaten by any fish large enough to eat them. This should be taken into account when choosing tankmates.

    Stocking plans can be checked with

    Minimum tank size is 2.5 ft for a small group. More room is needed for a larger group and/or tankmates.

    They could be kept in a heavily planted tank with open areas for swimming, floating plants for cover and driftwood. They could otherwise be kept in a biotype with tannins, sand, driftwood and plants such as java fern varieties, bolbitis or anubias species.

    Confused with:
    There are other recognised species in the genus, all of which are allowable imports to Australia:
    Systomus hexazona (previously Puntius hexazona) - Tiger Barb/ Sixband barb - clear at back of dorsal fin
    Systomus lateristriga (previously Puntius lateristriga) - Spanner Barb/ T-barb
    Systomus partipentazona (previously Puntius partipentazona) - Tiger barb/ Partipentazona Barb
    Systomus pentazona (previously Puntius pentazona) - Five-banded Barb/ Pentazona barb dark stripe at back of dorsal fin
    Systomus tetrazona (previously Puntius tetrazona) - Tiger Barb, Sumatra Barb

    Until recently these and many other genus were known as Puntius this is still the genus name given on the allowable import list.

    There are 3 colour variants of this fish:
    Albino see picture. Pink with white stripes & red eyes
    Coral Red
    Green moss see picture. Grey/green body & red highlights on fins
    Golden leucistic
    Standard gold with 3 black vertical stripes, and another through the eye

    Dyed fish are also available. The fish are injected with dye. Many of them die immediately and those who do not are susceptible to illness and have a shorter lifespan. The best way to deal with this practice is to refuse to buy them. If there is no commercial demand or profit in doing this to fish, the practice will stop.

    These are the most common of the Tiger barb species in the aquarium trade, and most are commercially bred. Wild fish are very rare in the trade.

    Puntius tetrazona (previous synonym) are legal imports to Australia as of 27/01/2014 (list last updated 16/10/13).

    The IUCN Red List reports Systomus tetrazona as a species which has not been assessed yet, at 27/01/2014:

    It is very important not to release any aquarium specimens into our waterways. Any that are not sold or re-homed/ given away, can often be re-sold to aquarium stores. If they are homed in ponds, care should be taken that they cannot escape in run-off into our waterways. Even if fish are native & local they should not be moved from one waterway to another, as this can transfer disease. If they are not local fish, they can both spread disease and either out-compete or eat local fish, shrimp & plants, causing their demise.

    They are good fish for beginners.

    Relevant threads:

    Systomus pentazona, Five banded barb:



    Seriously Fish:


    Pics & threads with pics:

    Photo thanks to Aquasaur albino tiger barbs

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