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Tinfoil Barb Overview, Care, Diet, Tank Setup & Mates

Do you prefer keeping large fish in your tank more than the smaller ones? Are you passionate about experimenting with larger barbs in your tank? Well, then Tinfoil Barbs will be the best choice of species for your community tank.

Tinfoil Barbs are quite easy to find worldwide as they are much popular in the aquarium trades. This type of freshwater fish is best cared for when kept in a school of 5 specimens in a large-sized tank. They are usually bigger and reach up to a length of almost 13.8 inches.

Species Overview

Level of CareModerately easy
AppearanceSilver or metallic golden yellow
Life Expectancy8-10 years
Tank Size225-gallons
Tank EnvironmentSoft and acidic water with a suitable substrate
Tank MatesPeaceful and energetic

Tinfoil Barb is one of the most exotic fish species that comes with its scientific name, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii. These are newer species in the Barbonymus genus.

Being one of the most handsome types, these are widely available in the river channels of Thailand, and Malayan peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra of Southeast Asia.

They are pretty popular in the aquarium trade of Singapore and other places across the globe. This species has been listed on the IUCN Red List as the Least Concern one as they are widely available in a vast range.

These fish are a kind of cyprinids that mainly inhabit large waterways like rivers, streams, canals, and even ditches. Also, sometimes they tend to enter the flooded fields for spawning and searching for food. And these Tinfoil Barbs are found to be migrating towards the river when the flooded areas tend to dry.

These are quite easy to spot with their typical torpedo-shaped body, along with a high back and forked tail. They come with a very creative coloration.


Usually, the large adult fish comes with a silvery or golden-yellow body. The dorsal fin of these Tinfoil Barbs is red, along with black markings or several blotches at the tip area.

Their pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins areas are also red. The caudal fin area is orange or deep reddish and, at the same time, includes some black lines submarginally on the upper and lower part of their lobs.

On the other hand, what is more interesting about them? Well, you can see the differentiation of color in the adult and the juvenile. The juvenile comes with an elementary silver look with scale rows.

As they get older, they tend to develop red pelvic and anal fins. The tail fin and the dorsal fin area of these fish are shaded with blood-red and black color, along with a white tip on their dorsal fin.

However, you can sometimes get confused with their other cousin fish species like the Red-tail Tinfoil Barb. But you can easily spot them having a larger size.


During their adulthood, they generally grow up to a length of 13.8-inches.


These are hardy fish. So, they are not easily susceptible to different diseases.

Usually, Tinfoil Barbs have an average lifespan of 8 years in captivity. However, with a proper level of care and diet, they can live up to 10 years in your tank.

Behavior & Temperament

Tinfoil Barbs are not much aggressive. Instead, they are quite peaceful and thrive nicely along with other community fish. Also, these are very energetic and prefer to roam around freely.

Besides, these are well-known as schooling fish. So, if they are kept singly or in a tiny group with only a few members in the tank, they might become aggressive or stressed. Too much stress usually makes them shy, or they fail to live happily.

Thus, if you are thinking of petting Tinfoil Barb in your fish tank, house a group of 5 or more to keep them happy and relieved.

Tank Requirements

Usually, Tinfoil Barbs come in a larger size and needs a proper tank setup for their aquarium. It is essential to meet all the tank requirements to offer them an appropriate level of care.

These fish usually prefer large areas to swim around in different places of the tank as they are great swimmers. Thus, it is recommended to keep them in a larger aquarium size.

Since these are large, there are more chances for the tank to get messy. So, it is crucial to add a powerful filtration unit to the tank. At the same time, it is vital to maintain enough amount of oxygen in the aquarium.

Usually, these fish species prefer a tank setup that mimics their natural wild habitat of flowing streams and rivers. Thus, a river manifold or powerhead will work the best in the tank.

The science is that these are large tropical fish, so they are likely to knock against most tank décors. Hence, it is better to add large driftwoods with firmly anchored plants as decorations in the fish tank. Now, for the substrate requirement, you need to add one, which will offer a smooth surface area.

Tank Setup

Before you bring Tinfoil Barb to your home, you need to ensure that you are maintaining the proper tank setup.

So, check out the tips below to facilitate an appropriate tank setup for your fish.

  • To care for Tin foil Barb in your aquarium, you need to provide them with a large tank setup. To keep adults in your tank, a minimum 225-gallon aquarium size is required.
  • While you pick the substrate in a community aquarium, make sure to choose a smooth substrate that won’t hurt their barbels. It is better to opt for a sand and gravel mix substrate to offer enhanced care to your fish in the tank.
  • Keep the lighting intensity in the tank
  • To acquire a proper water parameter for the tank, maintain a temperature range of 72-77 ℉.
  • This freshwater fish species usually prefers to be surrounded by neutral to slightly acidic water in their tank. So, maintain the pH range of the tank water at 6.5-7.5.
  • They usually thrive best in a soft water tank. Thus, it is better to maintain the hardness range within 2-10 dGH.
  • The water movement in the aquarium needs to be very strong.
  • Besides, it is better to add some rocks and pebbles to their tank to offer them ample hiding spots.
  • There is no need for dense vegetation in the tank of Tinfoil Barbs. It is better to provide them with hardy land plants firmly planted on the substrate.
  • Also, you need to use a strong filter. You can equip a canister filter to the tank.
  • Since they require enough current and water flow in the aquarium, you can consider adding a wave maker to ensure a strong water movement.
  • For this tropical fish, it is essential to keep the water slightly warm. So, you can consider adding a heater to the tank.
  • A correct CO2 setup for the tank is necessary if you are adding live plants. However, make sure the level of CO2 does not surpass the level of O2 in the tank water.

Tank Mates

If you are thinking of properly caring for Tinfoil Barbs in your home aquarium, then you need to pick suitable tank buddies for them.

These are large; thus, they can eat smaller fish if given an opportunity. So, while picking tank mates, make sure you are not housing them with slow-moving or shy enough fish.

The best tank mates for these species would be those fish that are usually similar in size and meet the same energy level as them. They are best kept with specimens of their own kind.

If you are housing your Tinfoil Barbs with other peaceful and timid fish, you need to monitor them continuously. Also, it is better not to keep them with too large and aggressive fish.

So, here are the most suitable tank mates that you can house with them.

Group of tinfoil barbs

Food & Diet

Tinfoil Barbs are omnivores in nature. Thus, feeding them in your tank will not at all be an arduous task. You can easily provide them with all suitable fish food products.

These usually accept any kind of fresh live foods, along with various types of flake foods. Since they are large, it is essential to provide them with a healthy diet to maintain their health status.

To keep a good balance in their diet, you can feed them fresh flake foods every day. Also, it is necessary to offer them other live treats like worms and shrimps.

Tinfoil Barbs usually love to have an adequate amount of protein in their diet. Thus, you should include protein-rich foods like brine shrimps, blood worms, daphnia, etc., in their regular diet.

At the same time, it is essential to offer them a vegetable diet to serve them a proper level of vitamins for their ultimate growth. Besides, fish foods like algae wafers, cooked lettuce, blanched spinach, cucumber, and oatmeal also serve them a very sumptuous meal.

However, when you offer them food every day, avoid feeding them one large meal. Instead, you can consider giving them smaller feedings several times a day in an amount, which they can easily consume within 3 minutes.

Tinfoil Barb Care

Tinfoil Barbs are pretty docile fish. And this attribute makes them much easier to care for in an aquarium.

However, keeping such large fish in your aquarium might be troublesome at times, which is why they are quite rarely kept in a home aquarium.

Well, you can call them pretty undemanding. For facilitating the best care in the tank, you need to offer them a very top-notch oxygen supply. Also, it is vital to ensure that there are plenty of large and open spaces in the tank where they can swim around freely.

Also, you need to make sure that you maintain a close resemblance to a natural river bed in the aquarium to provide them the natural habitat-like environment and keep them stress-free.

The bottom surface needs to be smooth and soft while adding a background view to the tank mimicking the river shore.

Tinfoil Barbs have some strict requirements regarding the quality of water. They thrive well in clean and oxygen-rich lotic water. Thus, you need to make sure that there is zero organic waste in the tank.

The aquarium water needs to be crystal clear. Also, to facilitate proper water parameters in the tank, it is essential to maintain a lower level of dissolved calcium and magnesium salts.

For proper tank maintenance, it is essential to renew the water weekly. It is recommended to perform 15-20% of water changes in the aquarium every week.

The fresh replaced water needs to have the same pH level, dGH, and temperature range as the existing water to sustain the exact chemistry.

Also, it is vital to keep the bottom substrate clean regularly and remove any kind of organic waste from the tank. You can even consider using an algae magnet in the aquarium to keep the viewing panes clear.

Tinfoil Barbs are usually very hardy. Thus, they are quite unlikely to catch diseases if you keep them in a well-maintained aquarium. However, if the water quality is poor in the tank, you will surely deal with some fish diseases.

So, it is always recommended to quarantine new fish, plants, or decorations before adding them to the aquarium.

Due to their strong resilience, they do not cause any outbreak of diseases in the tank. However, make sure you are offering them a well-balanced diet and weekly water changes to let them stay happily and healthily in the aquarium.

Also, if your it gets infected with any disease, quarantine it to prevent large outbreaks of diseases in community tanks.

Breeding Guidelines

Breeding Tinfoil Barbs in your tank is quite tricky. However, you can easily do it by using the correct method of breeding.

Being a cyprinid fish species, these do not require any particular breeding site. Instead, of being egg scatterers, they tend to scatter their eggs in random areas of the tank.

Usually, females scatter more than thousands of eggs. However, the parents might eat away the eggs without caring for the young ones. Soon after fertilization of the eggs, you should remove the parent fish from the nursery tank.

Nevertheless, spawning requires some expertise in breeding large fish species. Thus, if you are a beginning aquarist with novice fish-keeping skills, it is better not to attempt breeding these barbs in a home aquarium.

These species are usually aquacultured in the aquarium trade as food fish and are mainly bred with the help of hormones in Hawaii.

However, if you are thinking of breeding them on your own, you have to opt for a large enough aquarium that can breed adults and nurture young ones separately.

Interesting Facts

If you are thinking of caring for Tinfoil Barbs in your tank, then you must know some fascinating facts about them.

So, here are a few interesting facts about these barbs that you need to know.

  • It is quite hard to differentiate between their male and female specimen. They hardly have any gender discriminating traits in their appearance.
  • These mostly stay in the mid-level and bottom areas of the tank.
  • Besides being excellent swimmers, these are skilled jumpers too. So, it is crucial to add a tight cover over the aquarium to keep them from jumping off.

Where to Buy?

Barbonymus schwanenfeldii having the common name Tinfoil Barb, are readily available in any fish and pet store. So, you will not face much difficulty in finding the right ones for your tank. These are moderately priced; however, prices differ based on the purchase size.

You can also easily get them from your local aquarists. Besides, Tinfoil are widely available in online stores as well. Just search for these with their scientific name and buy them if available.

However, before purchasing, remember that some specimens are artificially dyed and sold under various names like Blushing Tinfoil or other names. There are also many albino and transparent types of Tinfoil that become ideal for artificial coloration.

So, while buying them, make sure you are not purchasing the colored specimens as artificial coloration is not at all healthier for them.

Wrapping Up

Tinfoil Barbs will not at all be hard to tackle in a fish tank for experienced aquarists.

These fish live happily if you keep them in a large aquarium and provide them with proper tank requirements. However, they are much more prone to get stressed if you don’t house them in a school of 5 or more specimens.

Generally, these fish species are not at all demanding. But it is vital to maintain a top-notch water parameter for facilitating the best care.