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July 19, 2013

Good morning, folks! Anthony is away at the American Cichlid Association convention this week; it’s been quite some time since I’ve written the notes for you all and I hope you don’t mind the slight change of pace. 

I’m sure most of you are quite familiar with Puntius tetrazona “Tiger Barb” as a cyprinid widely available in the hobby. This particular fish is well-known enough to be featured on postage stamps in Cambodia, Cuba and Afghanistan. We wanted to share with you some interesting facts about this fish, as well as a special treat we’ve got available for any barb fans.

Puntius tetrazona


To start with a bit of history, the Tiger Barb was first described in 1855 by Bleeker and its genus has been changed many times over the years. Its true classification and identity is still under debate, but P. tetrazona should serve our purposes well. Tiger Barbs have been kept in aquariums for many decades and suppliers have had much success in breeding them as livestock for sale as well as creating various color morphs through selective breeding. Wild specimens of P. tetrazona are exceptionally rare in the hobby compared to the ubiquitous tank-raised stock. Because the Tiger Barb has been commercially bred for so long, many strains available have been poorly maintained, resulting in poor health or physical deformity. Rest assured, of course, that we are quite careful about the fish that we stock and avoid any subpar strains.


Puntius tetrazona seems to be a very adaptable fish: While native to Sumatra and Borneo, specimens have been introduced in Colombia, India, the Phillipines, Singapore, the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Suriname and Australia and have established themselves well in most of these locations. With a temperature range of anywhere from 68°F to nearly 80°F as well as tolerance for both somewhat acidic and alkaline waters, this is not surprising. This makes the Tiger Barb, particularly well maintained strains of tank raised fish, very easy to keep in your home aquaria.


We have two color morphs of P. tetrazona available right now, including the “Green Tiger Barb”. As far as ornamental fish strains go, this is a quite fascinating one. Specimens of Puntius tetrazona have been selectively bred for broader and darker black bands with the end result of a nearly black fish. Of course, it does not appear to be a black fish – the Green Tiger Barb reflects stunning green coloration over its black markings. This color effect is the result of light scattering off microparticles of the fish’s scales. This is known as the Tyndall effect, an optical physics property responsible for blue eyes in humans and the apparent blue color of vehicle exhaust and opalite glass.

Puntius tetrazona "Green"


Our other color morph is the “Albino Tiger Barb”, bred over generations for the fully recessive trait of albinism. These fish show pinks, yellows and reds with shining white stripes. For those of you who enjoy albino fish, these specimens are definitely a treat.

Puntius tetrazona "Albino"


Now, I did mention a special treat. As I stated earlier, nearly every specimen available in the hobby is commercially bred. However, we have obtained an absolutely beautiful batch of wild-caught Tiger Barbs! This is definitely a fish not to miss out on!


Thank you for reading this week! Anthony will be back to the notes next week, so you can all breathe a sigh of relief.  


Jessica Supalla