April 15

Tinfoil Barb – Habitat, Care, Breeding Guide


Are you looking for an aquatic friend that is peaceful and coexists harmoniously with other tank mates?

Perhaps you should be looking for Tinfoil Barb as this variety can be the best fit for your aquarium.

Tinfoil Barb

Where does the Tinfoil Barb originate from?

Tinfoil Barbs originate from South East Asia in the Chao Phraya and Mekong river basins. They are also seen in Taiwan, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula.

What sort of habitat does the Tinfoil Barb belong to?

Tinfoil Barbs are mostly found in freshwater bodies like large and medium rivers, ditches, streams, canals, and flooded fields. Generally benthopelagic by nature, these fishes can float easily and thrive well in the middle and bottom level of the water body.

What is the average lifespan of a Tinfoil Barb?

Under suitable conditions, a Tinfoil Barb lives for 8 to 10 years.

What are the overall features of Tinfoil Barb you need to keep in mind?

Scientifically known as Barbonymus schwanenfeldii, Tinfoil Barbs usually thrive in a tank size of 176 gallons capacity or more and can grow to a size of 14 inches. They are mostly of peaceful temperament and prefer an omnivorous diet. To create a congenial environment, try to keep the temperature of 72- 75 degrees Fahrenheit while maintaining the pH of the water at 6-7. Although Tinfoil Barbs are quite undemanding, keeping such large fishes is quite troublesome and also an expensive affair.

What are the physical features of the Tinfoil Barb?

The red-tailed tinfoil barb, with the scientific name Barbonymus Altus, is a sizeable Cyprinid fish and grows up to 8 cm in length. It has a golden yellowish or silvery body having reflective scales which gives it a typical tinfoil appearance. There is a dorsal fin that has a botched marking present along the tip. The color of the pelvic, anal, and caudal fins is red except the dorsal fin. The common names given to Tinfoil Barb are Tall barb and Redtail Tinfoil Barb.

Out of the 5 species of the Barbonymus genus, two varieties are regularly imported. There is hardly any distinctive difference between the male and the females. The easiest way to identify the females from the males is to look at the forked tail fin. Both the varieties of Tinfoil Barb have a black marking on the dorsal side of the fin while the regular Tinfoil Barb has a red dot on its fin. Also, they tend to have a silvery overall lining and golden bronze color.

How does a typical Tinfoil Barb behave?

Tinfoil Barbs are a schooling species and hence should be kept in a group of five at least. If these fishes are kept in a group, they are less stressed and feel comfortable. It would also help them to maintain a broader range of natural behavior. Most of their lives, the Tinfoil Barbs spend in the middle and the bottom levels of the aquarium. They are generally peaceful creatures and can be easily housed with other docile species.

What sort of temperament do Tinfoil Barbs show?

Tinfoil Barbs are semi-aggressive in nature but are rarely aggressive. These fishes prefer to keep up with a slightly rougher crowd. Any fish which is small in size is not a preferable one to keep in the company of Tinfoil Barb. Since they are larger in size, the smaller fishes are largely at risk of being eaten up. Tinfoil Barbs are sturdier enough and therefore can be kept with cichlids and other semi-aggressive types of fishes.

The large and aggressive varieties are usually predatory in nature. As they are slow swimmers and eaters, you can keep your Tinfoil Barb with tank inhabitants like crabs, snail, and shrimps which are not very aggressive. The fish will eat soft-leaved plants.

What is the typical feeding habit of Tinfoil Barb?

Tinfoil Barbs are opportunistic and omnivorous in nature. They generally feed on invertebrates, smaller fishes, plant matter, algae, and other organic detritus. While in the aquarium these fishes eat various types of fresh, flakes, and live foods. You must give them high flake food every day, in order to maintain a good balance. Tinfoil Barbs would love to have some live food like shrimps or worms, and they require a lot of vegetable food apart from proteins. The vegetable supplements include vegetable-based fish pellets as well as blanches spinach or lettuce.

While offering food to your Tinfoil Barb, you must make sure that you give them food that can be consumed once in 5 minutes. And in case you provide them food several times a day, you must feed them whatever they can eat within 3 minutes.

What are the sexual differences between the male and female variety?

You will find not much difference between Tinfoil Barb males and females. However, females have a tendency to get relatively rounder during the spawning period.

What are the breeding/reproduction habits of Tinfoil Barbs?

Tinfoil Barbs cannot be bred in the home, nor it is commercially viable, but they are generally cultivated as food in the native countries. Like many other Cyprinid fishes, the red-tailed Tinfoil Barbs have egg layers which scatter eggs instead of using a specific site. The females generally lay thousands of eggs. The males do not care and sometimes eat those eggs.

    If you want to successfully breed your Tinfoil Barbs, try to keep them in large tanks with the young ones separated from the parents.

    What are the aspects to be kept in mind while breeding Tinfoil Barbs?

    There are some general aspects of fish keeping, such as feeding them properly and providing them with the right environment. You need to keep proper water conditions so as to keep a watch on the disease conditions.

    Some fishes will breed with ease and will readily spawn in the community tank. You will be required to understand the spawning behavior and needs so that a particular type of fish will be successfully and rewardingly breeding.

    You should select the ‘brooding stock’ and condition them in good food condition, as it is very important. You might require a breeding tank separately for the purpose. The breeding aquarium requires the right temperature conditions for stimulating the spawns and to let the eggs hatch properly.  Not only that, but you must also help support the survival of fries and see that they are protected where they hide.

    How to maintain perfect tank conditions for maintaining the Tinfoil Barb?

    You have to choose a tank, 800 liters in capacity or might be more and spend some money on decoration. It would be best if you can decorate the tank as naturally as possible. The bottom substrate of the tank should be filled with stones, which should range from very large to smooth ones. For better results, the bottom strata should resemble a real river bed.

    The tank conditions for rearing Tinfoil Barbs should be as perfect as possible. The fish prefers an ambiance where the water is rich in oxygen, and it can’t withstand any organic waste or accumulation in water. The water in the tank should be crystal clear and contain a low level of magnesium or calcium salts. You should renew at least 15-20 % of the water in the tank on a weekly basis. The freshwater has to maintain the same pH factor, dGH, and temperature, which is well regulated at the bottom substrate. It should be suitable for cleaning and removing organic waste.

    The optimum pH for water should be maintained at 6.5 to 7, the hardness of water at 10dGH, and the temperature should be kept at 72 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

    What are the fishes which are compatible with Tinfoil Barbs in the fish tank?

    Tinfoil Barbs are not aggressive in nature, and it treats the smaller sized fishes as food. Make sure you don’t rear Tinfoil Barbs with slow-moving fishes like goldfish. The active Tinfoil Barbs can make the goldfish very much stressed. It best mingles with fishes that are not aggressive like fire eel, Bala shark, and clown loach.

    The Tinfoil Barb prefers to swim in shoals of at least five. If the fish doesn’t have a company, then it tends to get aggressive.

    What are the difficulties in keeping Tinfoil Barb?

    Tinfoil Barbs are very easy to handle and least demanding. It eats everything that comes on its way. But the challenge is that it grows very fast and overgrows the dimension of the tank very soon.

    As this fish demands a very spacious tank, it may not be possible for every aquarium hobbyist to arrange for the same. Frequently used in commercial business, the Tinfoil Barbs have a silvery coloring and have a tendency to stay in a school of fishes.

    As a matter of fact, more than home aquariums, the Tinfoil Barbs are kept in public places like offices, shopping malls, schools, etc.

    How to set up a fish tank for your Tinfoil Barbs?

    • Proper planning to set up your tank: In case you want to keep Tinfoil Barbs, you need to set up a big tank that can hold 176litres of water. The type of fish you want to keep along with invertebrates will determine the size of the tank.
    • Preparing the tank: Make sure that the tank is clean. Use a clean cloth to wipe the dampness of the fish tank. Avoid using soap or detergents for cleaning the tank. Any equipment used in the tank should be perfectly clean else the presence of chemicals inside the tank can harm the fishes.
    • Methods of using a used tank: In case you have purchased an old tank, use vinegar and cloth to make it sparkling clean. Remove any debris from the tank. Be extra careful while cleaning an acrylic tank. You can check if the tank is leakproof by filling water and running your finger at the bottom of the tank.
    • How do you position your tank? It’s always better to keep your tank in the right position, as once set up, it gets very difficult to move it.
    • Adding the substrate and water: When your tank is clean and in the right position, it’s time you should fill your tank with the substrate. The amount of substrate is directly proportional to the thickness you desire. For 1 pound of the substrate, the thickness can be 1 inch. And, for 2 pounds, it will be 2 inches.
    • Wash the substrate: Although the substrate is pre-washed, the one you have in place has to be rinsed and washed again properly. Better you put the substrate in a bucket and wash it repeatedly. For cleaning gravel, you can use a hosepipe to force water into it. Sometimes the substrate which contains gravel gets washed away, and can even get cloudier. After proper cleaning, you may add the substrate to the tank.
    • Adding water to the tank: You may start adding water to the tank after adding the substrate. In order to prevent the substrate from getting disturbed, you can place a saucer and then start pouring water over it. Once the tank is filled, you need to add a de-chlorinator to the tank. You can make sure that the water you have added is perfectly clean using the reverse osmosis method.
    • Installing equipment: Now you require a filter to be added to the tank. For that, you may opt for an external or internal filter. Refer to YouTube videos for installing the filter. Internal filter is relatively easier to install. Make sure that before you fill the tank with water, the filter is installed correctly. The outlet and inlet tubes should not be bent so as to avoid any restriction regarding water flow. Now you may install the heater inside the tank. A thermometer installed on the opposite side will ensure the tank is continuously heated.
    • Adding plants and decorations: Add caves and artificial plants so that the tank looks very natural. You may add Java fern, Anacharis, and attach driftwood.
    • Cycle the tank: Make sure you start cycling your tank before introducing the fishes. You may apply the process of nitrogen cycling. Cycling the tank means you are building bacteria in the bed. Ammonia and nitrites are toxic to the bed, so you can remove them by changing the water periodically.
    • Adding fishes to the aquarium: You have to acclimatize your fishes and slowly remove them from one tank to another. The fishes need to adapt to the new environment, temperature change, pH, and other factors. Turn the lights off while acclimatizing the fishes in the new tank.

    What are the various diseases that Tinfoil Barbs get affected with?

    Diseases caused to Tinfoil Barbs can be categorized into four segments – bacterial infection, protozoan infection, fungal infection, physical ailment, and wounds.

    • Bacterial diseases are generally characterized by red spots, steaks at the body, or swelling in the abdomen or eye area. They can be cured by taking amoxicillin, penicillin, or erythromycin.
    • Fungal diseases appear in the form of white/grey patches
    • Parasitic diseases: The most common type of parasitic disease is Itch. This can be treated with copper or Malachite green has given in the right dosage. Water treatment like Aquari–sol has copper as an ingredient. You should remember to remove all carbon from the water before the commencement of water treatment begins.
    • Physical ailments: The environment causes physical ailments. When the water condition is poor, the fish might suffer from gasping, not eating, and jumping out of the tank, and many more. Battling space with tank mates might result in bite wounds and nibbed fins.

    What are the various ways to avoid diseases of Tinfoil Barbs?

    If you can follow some simple steps meticulously, you can protect your Tinfoil Barbs from any possible diseases.

    • Buy fishes that are compatible and of good quality.
    • Quarantine new fishes before introducing them in the fish tank.
    • Avoid all conditions that might stress the fish, which includes rough handling, change in water, and bullying tankmates.
    • Avoid overfeeding your fish.
    • Whenever you see a sick fish, immediately remove that from the tank.
    • Disinfect the nets which are used to remove the sick fishes.
    • Never transfer any water from the quarantine tank into the main aquarium.
    • No metal should ever come in contact with the aquarium water.
    • Whenever you are using an antibiotic, make sure that the biological filtration of the aquarium is not affected.
    • You may monitor the ammonia in the aquarium water or remove ammonia with ‘AmQuel’
    • Copper can be used to prevent various diseases, but if applied in a greater amount, it may cause serious harm to the fishes. For example, snails may die if an excessive amount of copper is used.

    Always refer to a diagnostic chart to determine the type of disease your fish is suffering from. If you observe the symptoms carefully, you will be able to prevent the diseases by acting proactively. Use the prescribed medicine to get rid of the common diseases of fish. If properly maintained, the Tinfoil Barb will be the most resistant fish and will live a disease-free life.



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