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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Now before you throw your hands up and think that this is something that was so easy to see coming, just hear me out. This is my first tank, planted tank at that, so I am a rookie:

I've recently stocked my 45 gal with 5 Tigers, 5 Green Tigers, and 5 Rosy barbs. They all get along great, look great, are healthy and colors are absolutely gorgeous. The rosies were dull when I bought them and they have since become a very deep, rich rosy color and just look great. I also have 4 Otos in there that they don't bother, although the Otos were in there BEFORE the barbs, so that may be why. My tank is testing perfectly and continuing to hold all it's numbers at consistent values.

My issue arose yesterday from a disaster of incompatibility. I bought 12 Neon Tetras and had also just purchased the last of my barbs. I figured my tank was big enough, it's moderately planted with hiding spots, the barbs were going to be in shoals of 5 after my last three barbs were introduced, and also, with the introduction of 3 brand new barbs at the same time, the existing barbs would be preoccupied with them, and each other. I also did my research and found that barbs do tend to leave tetras alone in most cases if the barbs' shoals are big enough. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I acclimated the new barbs and tetras over the course of an hour and a half. I put the new barbs in first, then the tetras. Well you'd have thought my regular tigers were minature pirhanna... They chased the tetras till no end, biting at their fins. The rosies of course, and even the greens for the most part, left them alone. I had my light off and let it go for a while, which they did finally calm down...mostly. As soon as the light would go on, their killswitches would engage and they would attack the tetras. I wound up removing the tetras and taking them back to the store because I couldn't just sit there knowing they were getting, basically, butchered. Maybe they would have eventually acclimated and been left alone, but not after being terrorized and some even being killed, so I just removed them.

I know tigers are aggressive, and are territorial, but I honestly did not think it would be nearly this bad and don't know why they were so set on killing. Are my shoals not big enough? Or is it the fact that the barbs were introduced before the tetras and have become territorial? Because they don't bother my Otos at all. Maybe my 45 just isn't big enough? I really would have liked to get a rainbow shark eventually, which I was purposely going to get last due to it's territorial aggressiveness, but now I'm thinking I should have done it the other way around... Is there any fish I will be able to introduce to my tank without it getting mawed, or am I just going to have to have a species tank? Has anyone else successfully introduced other fish after their tigers have been in the tank? Mine have been in the tank for about a week now. I tested my tank about 3 hours after the removal of the tetras and thankfully everything is still fine. Any input?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm seeing that maybe the shoals need to be made up of 7 or 8, but at that point, any additional fish after that may start crowding the tank. Judging by how they acted with the tetras, I can't see any increase in shoal size keeping them from attacking new comers. Maybe a fish that is bigger in size and is also aggressive would be okay? I'm wondering if a bigger, aggressive fish would be intimidating and would cause them to leave each other alone...

The banded barbs are very similar. Would have been a solution before I purchased these tigers. I could remove them, but that isnt an option now. The only other tank I have access to is my girlfriend's 10 gal tank with a 4 year old betta....which obviously can't happen. But anyway, all the tigers seem happy and healthy and I wouldn't want to compromise that. Not to mention, I am one who does get attached to my fish and wouldn't be able to just remove and replace :biggrin:.
 

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Tiger Barb's have a well earned reputation as fin nipper's ,especially with much smaller fishes such as neon's.

Serpae tetra's may be able to hold their own but I would not bet the farm on it.
In the wild,,these fishes shoal in the hundred's perhap's thousand's, and are constantly establishing new pecking order's and weeding out weak fish.The minimum suggestion's for number's in the aquarium are just that, minimum.
perhap's in four foot tank or longer,,the tiger barb school could be large enough that they would confine nipping to amongst themselve's, but in smaller aquarium's and smaller school's, they often behave as you have noted.
The rosy barb's are not as aggressive in my view, but they too would prefer larger number's and larger tank due to their adult size of nearly six inches.
Barb's I have kept along with tetra's, often seem to do better in groups of a dozen or more which your 45 gallon may not be able to provide room for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tiger Barb's have a well earned reputation as fin nipper's ,especially with much smaller fishes such as neon's.

Serpae tetra's may be able to hold their own but I would not bet the farm on it.
In the wild,,these fishes shoal in the hundred's perhap's thousand's, and are constantly establishing new pecking order's and weeding out weak fish.The minimum suggestion's for number's in the aquarium are just that, minimum.
perhap's in four foot tank or longer,,the tiger barb school could be large enough that they would confine nipping to amongst themselve's, but in smaller aquarium's and smaller school's, they often behave as you have noted.
The rosy barb's are not as aggressive in my view, but they too would prefer larger number's and larger tank due to their adult size of nearly six inches.
Barb's I have kept along with tetra's, often seem to do better in groups of a dozen or more which your 45 gallon may not be able to provide room for.
The rosies definitely are a more peaceful fish. I may increase my shoal sizes to 6 or 7, but anything beyond that I think you are correct in that my 45 won't handle it. I do plan to upgrade to a 100+ gal in maybe 2 years or so once these fish become their full size.

Guess being a novice got the best of me here. Do you think there is any hope for a bigger, more aggressive species such as a rainbow shark in my 45, or should I expect the same issues. I mean, I see tigers living alonside these fish on youtube, but again, the shoals aren't usually the same size and in most cases, the barbs probably weren't the first ones introduced..
 

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Rainbow sharks are not as aggressive as Red Tail sharks and would probably stake out an area closer to substrate than go looking for fish to harrass. Tiger barb's I do not believe would pose seroius threat to shark.
Sometimes,if you purchase very small juvenile Tiger barb's and keep them with tetra's from the outset, they can co-exist without much trouble but usually in a bit larger tanks.
Were it me,,I might re-home tiger barb's and consider Black ruby Barb's.
They are way less aggressive and prettier in my view.
 

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And it also depends on the temperament of individual barbs as well. I like my tiger barbs, but keeping neon+cardinals with them was a failure, though over time. I have a pair of kribensis + GBR + >2inch Amano + a dwarf puffer in there with them now, and no aggression is taking place. My dwarf puffer even hangs out w/ the barbs sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well I did notice that the regular tigers were far more aggressive then the green tigers. After a while, the greens lost interest and left the tetras alone, but the regulars would not let up. It usually started with one tiger attacking and then the rest would spring into action, so not sure if there is one with a bad temper and he's influencing the others. I really think a shark would be okay, but it would be that initial release I'd worry about, especially since the shark will most likely be maybe 2.5 or 3 inches at first.
 

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I've had tiger barbs for years in almost every tank....i don't think it's a matter of who was introduced first. The Ottos are just bottom feeders and don't usually swim freely in open water so the barbs take no notice of them. Aggressive fish have to be stocked with other aggressive fish, period. Don't put anything in there that is slow moving or with long fins because they will be picked on.
 

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I second Roadmaster's comments. Go with the rainbow shark and give him a cave to guard. Get juvenile barbs and add them after everyone else is settled in for a while.
 

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personally I have 18 tiger barbs (6 regular, 6 green, 6 albino) in my 37 gallon tank and they do fine together with 5 otos. I would not really do anything else with these guys, they are very aggressive and if the otos are not resting on a leaf or feeding they get noticed and chased almost every time. they are so aggressive that they go after my arm when I am scaping (it feels weird, always makes me laugh).
 
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