Tinfoil barb description:

As mentioned above, the Tinfoil barbs can easily outgrow small aquariums since they can reach a length of 35 centimetres (14 inches). Large Tinfoil barbs display a silvery or golden yellow colouration with red fins. You can distinguish the Tinfoil barb from other members of its genus by looking at the dorsal fin. The Tinfoil barb features an orange or blood-red dorsal fin decorated with a black blotch at the tip. The pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are also red and have white margins. Along each lobe, you can see a black submarginal stripe. There are 8 scale rows located between the dorsal-fin origin and the lateral line. 

Tinfoil barb behaviour:

The Tinfoil barb is a schooling species and you should therefore always keep at least 5 specimens together. By keeping a group of Tinfoil barbs you will make the fishes much less stressed in the aquarium and you will also be able to enjoy a much broader range of natural behaviours. Shoaling Tinfoil barbs are highly active and entertaining. They spend most of their time between the bottom and the mid-level of the aquarium. Tinfoil barbs are peaceful creatures and can be housed with other docile fish species, provided of course that your aquarium is large enough. A well cared for Tinfoil barb can reach an age of 8-10 years.

tinfoil barb
Tinfoil barb picture. Copyright www.jjphoto.dk

Tinfoil barb setup:

The recommended aquarium size for Tinfoil barbs will naturally depend on how large the specimens are, but 55 gallons (208 litres) is considered an absolute minimum. Try to mimic the natural Tinfoil barb habitat when you set up the aquarium for your Tinfoil barbs. Wild Tinfoil barbs inhabit moving waters in Asia, such as rivers, streams, canals and ditches. Tinfoil barbs will therefore appreciate currents in the aquarium.

Tinfoil barb tank mates:

Tinfoil barbs should always be kept together in a group consisting of at least five Tinfoil barbs. The Tinfoil bar group can be housed together with peaceful fish species of similar size or bigger. If you have a really large aquarium, you can for instance keep a group of Tinfoil barbs together with large cichlids, such as the Oscar fish (Astronotus ocellatus). Tinfoil barbs are also frequently kept together with shy and jittery fish species, since a calm Tinfoil barb group will make less tranquil fish species feel much more relaxed in the aquarium and encourage them to spend more time out in the open instead of staying hidden. Tinfoil barbs feed are chiefly herbivores, but should not be kept with crustaceans and small fishes since they can be considered food.

Tinfoil barb care:

The recommended temperature in a Tinfoil barb aquarium is 22 – 25°C (72 – 77°F). Wild Tinfoil barbs have however been found in a much broader temperature spectrum. Tinfoil barbs living in east Kalimantan in Indonesia have for instance been shown to adapt to a natural temperature range that stretches from 20.4 to 33.7°C (68.7 - 92.7°F). The recommended pH range for Tinfoil barbs is slightly acidic to neutral; 6.5 to 7.0. The recommended dH is 10.

Tinfoil barb feeding:

Wild Tinfoil barbs are chiefly herbivore creatures and will eat aquatic macrophytes, filamentous algae, submerged land plants and similar. They will however also eat insects, worms, crustaceans and small fishes. In the aquarium, Tinfoil barbs are usually happy eaters that readily accept most types of food. Healthy Tinfoil barbs will try to capture as much food as possible when you feed them. Avoiding over-feeding is important since obesity is unhealthy for all fishes. Keep your Tinfoil barbs on a varied diet can consists of an herbivore base supplemented with occasional treats in the form of worms, crustaceans and similar.   

Tinfoil barb breeding:

The Tinfoil barb is an egg scattering species and the female Tinfoil barb can produce several thousand eggs per spawning. Sexing Tinfoil barbs is a bit tricky, since there are no obvious difference between males and females.

Since Tinfoil barbs grow so large, they are not easy to breed in captivity. According to unverified sources, a public aquarium has managed to breed Tinfoil barbs in captivity at least once, but as of 2006, no public aquarium has published any details regarding how to breed Tinfoil barbs. If you want to go about breeding Tinfoil barbs, you will need an outdoor aquaculture in a tropical climate or a really big aquarium.

Since the Tinfoil barbs are egg scatterers, they will not care for their eggs. Chances are high that they will eat egg and/or fry if kept together in the same aquarium. If you plan to breed Tinfoil barbs, it can therefore be a good idea to arrange a separate breeding aquarium where the offspring can be raised without the presence of adult fish. If you instead want to let the offspring stay together with the adult fish in the large aquarium, you can promote a higher fry survival by including a lot of plants in the set up. Java moss will for instance produce plenty of hiding spots for young Tinfoil barbs since Java moss produce and abundance of bushy leaves. Tinfoil barb fry will instinctively seek shelter and try to stay away from adult fish in the aquarium, just like they would do in the wild. 

 The Tinfoil Barb is a fish that is often available in pet shops and sold to the beginning aquarist but it is not the best choice for those beginning in the freshwater hobby. The tinfoil barb requires a very large tank, at least 75 gallons (284 liters) because of its potential adult size of 13 inches (32 cm). They like to have lots of space for swimming and they are indeed fast swimmers. They also like to jump out of tanks that don't have tight fitting hoods.

The sides of the Tin foil Barb resemble tin foil (hence the name) and the fins on the this barb will become more red as they mature. Juveniles (pictured below) lack the red on the fins.

Tin foil Barbs will accept most fish food, including flakes, pellets, frozen and freeze-dried foods. They will also go after your live plants and any smaller fish if given the opportunity.


Juvenile Tinfoil Barb

Freshwater Fish Species Profile and Care Information

Scientific Name : Barbus schwanefeldi

Common Names : River Barb

Care Level : Easy to Moderate, this fish needs a larger tank

Size : 13 inches (32 cm)

pH : 6.0 - 7.5

Temperature : 75°F - 80°F (24°C - 27°C)

Life span : 8 - 10 years

Origin / Habitat : Rivers in Thailand and Sumatra

Temperament / Behavior : This fish can be peaceful enough for a very large community tank, but it may eat smaller fish.

Breeding / Mating / Reproduction : May be possible to breed in the home aquarium. You would need a very large tank to house the adults. Egglayer that likes higher temperatures (77 - 80°F) for breeding. Remove adults to keep them from eating the eggs.

Tank Size : 75 gallon (284 liters) minimum

Compatible Tank Mates : May go well with Bala Shark, Pleco, Silver Dollar and other large fish

Fish Disease : Freshwater Fish Disease

Diet / Fish Food : An herbivore - provide a varied diet with algae wafers, pellet food and frozen food.

Tank Region : Mostly middle to top

Gender : Difficult to determine

Similar Species : Cyprinids, Barbs



Common Freshwater Fish Diseases

One of the problems that many fish keepers face is the daunting task of identifying problems in the aquarium. Unfortunately, lack of experience, or subtle signs of stress can let a disease run rampant until it destroys the infected fish (sometimes the whole aquarium). I have included this page simply as a guide for diagnosing diseases in Tropical Fish. It is by no means complete, and I cannot guarantee that it is 100% accurate, but should help steer you in the right direction.

Always ask your local merchant if the medication you are buying is right for the disease you are trying to cure.




Fish may dart and gasp. Acidic Water Acid from fish wastes or decayed food.  Acidic water can iritate gills and skin. 
White water line. Plants die, fish have frayed fins. Alkaline water can destroy gill and fin tissues. Ammonia becomes more toxic. Alkaline Water Seashells or limestone in tank or hard water supply
Fish die. Water may be cloudy. Ammonia in Water Product of decaying wastes.
Threadlike worm hanging from fish. Base of anchor worm may be red. Anchor Worm A parasitic crustacean (Lernaea).
Quarter inch bubble like lumps slowly moving on skin and fins. Argulus A parasitic crustacean. Sometimes Ergasilus also.
Fish floats with fins closed. Betta Pinch Fin Gill parasites.
Small black specks on skin. Black Spot Small fish worms (Diplostomulum).
Red streaks on fins, especially goldfish. Parasites or Bacterial Infection Gyrodactylus parasites (monogenetic trematodes*), possibly bacterial septicemia
Fish dying within 24 hours. Gills become brown. Chloramine in Water Water company adding chloramine as a substitute for chlorine.
Fish dart about. gills pump furiously. Chlorine in water supply Chlorine added to water supply to kill bacteria.
Fins held close to body, especially in livebearing fish. Clamped Fins Gill or body parasites.
Water not crystal clear in established tank. Cloudy Water Wastes, small animal and plant life. Possibly over feeding.
Small particles suspended in water causing a cloudy look. Cloudy Water in New Tank Floating silts from gravel especially newly set up tanks.
White cotton sprouting from fins or body. Fungus, possibly Bacteria A bacteria, Flexobacter (Chondrococcus) or Fungus
Fish act very uncomfortable. Contaminated Tank water Chlorine, chloramine, copper or manufacturing oils in the water.
Grey film on all or part of body. External Parasite External protozoan parasite (costia necatrix).
Gills hang partly open at all times External Parasites (Dactylogyrus) Small gill parasites (monogenetic trematodes).
Fish darts about wildly and may smash into glass. Discus Head Worms Parasitic protozoa in sinus canals of head.
Fish bloated with scales standing out. Fish resembles a pine cone. Dropsy Kidney or Liver Damage (possibly both)
White film on eyes. Eye Cloud Eye injury. From handling or breeder fighting, possibly bacterial Infection
Fins ragged with jelly at edge of ragged part. Fin Fungus  This is not a disease exactly, but can be cured by improving water quality
Fins eaten away with redness at base of bad area. Fin Rot Sprolegnia fungus with Pseudomonas or Aeromonas bacteria.
Fish swim aimlessly. May have spasms. Bacterial Infection Internal Flavo Bacteria infection
Small lumps under skin or on fins. Flesh Worms Parasitic worms.
A light grey cottony growth or patch on any part of the fish. Fungus (grey) A parasitic fungus, Saprolegnia.
A white cottony growth or patch on any part of the fish. Fungus (white) A bacteria, Flexobacter (Chondrococcus) Columnaris.
Open sores on Gouramis or other anabantids. Bacterial Infection (Furunculosis) Aeromonas salmonicida bacteria.
Gills hang partly open and may pump fast. Gills may pump fast. Gills may appear red. Gill Flukes Small gill parasites (Gyrodactylus) monogenetic trematodes.
Fish rocks back and forth while staying in place. Gourami Disease Dactylogyrus parasites (monogenetic trematodes*).
Skin looks grey in patches. External Parasite Costia necatrix parasites.
Fish scrape on objects in tank. External Parasite Gyrodactylus parasites (monogenetic trematodes*).
Red steaks on fins usually near body with no sign of skin damage. Hemorrhagic Septicemia A bacteria, Aeromonas (liquefaciens) hydrophylia.
Tiny tree-like animals attatched to objects in tank. Hydra Carivorous microanimal
White sugar-like crystals on fins or body of fish, fish scrape against objects in tank External Parasite (ICK aka ICH, possibly others)) Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, a parasitic protozoan.
Fish are thin and act listless Internal Parasites or Internal Bacterial Infection Tiny internal parasites or Bacterial Infection (wasting diesease)
Fish may go to top or bottom or dash about when first introduced to the tank. Tank water is vastly different from original source water Change in water from which fish are first acclimated.
Stains on glass or ornaments. Iron In Water Supply Dissolved iron in water supply.
Insoluble white deposit or water line. Lime Deposits on Glass Caused by lime, a mineral found in water supplies or from salt buildup.
Fish stay in one place buy wiggle, wag, or shimmy. Livebearer Disease or Molly Disease Water lacks electrolytes needed for normal metabolism.
White cotton sprouting from mouth sides. Mouth Fungus A bacteria, Flexobacter (Chondrococcus).
Flesh eaten away around mouth. Mouth Rot Saprolegnia fungus with Pseudomonas or Aeromonas bacteria.
Color fades from red line. Line may turn yellow. Neon and Cardinal Disease A parasitic protozoan, Plistophora hyphessobryconis.
Fish dart about. Gills pump furiously after a water change. Dissolved gasses or metals in the water. Dissolved gasses or metals in the water.
Body skin of fish appears dusty in yellowish or grey patches. Oodinium (also called VELVET or RUST) A parasitic algae, Oodinium limneticum.
New Fish act stunned or gasp at top of water after releasing them from bag. Oxygen Deprivation, CO2 Poisoning, Ammonia Poisoning Ammonia and carbon dioxide suffocating fish in container.
White water lines. Plants die, fish have frayed fins. pH Bounces Back Up after Being Lowered Hard water supply. Seashells or limestone in tank.
Eyes stand out from sockets. Pop Eye Infection from fighting, possibly a bacterial infection causing fluid to accumulate behind the eyes
Flesh decays at the mouth or tail. Rot, Fungus Saprolegnia fungus with Pseudomonas or Aeromonas bacteria.
Frayed looking fins and moldy looking slime on body. Saprolegnia Fungus A true fungus called Saprolegnia invades the gills causing suffocation.
Small fish, especially neons, angels and guppies die without visible symptoms. Saprolegnia Fungus A true fungus called Saprolegnia invades the gills causing suffocation.
Fish swimming with head down (not level). Swim Bladder Disease Bladder infection.
Fish thin and weak. Parasites or Bacteria internal or external parasites. See GYRODACTYLUS. Possibly "wasting Disease" a bacterial infection
Water may be cloudy or have an odor. Too Many Dissolved organic Compounds Decaying food or plants.

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