Can I mix these types of Tiger?

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Can different varieties of Tiger barb be kept together in a tank? Bob explains...

Q) Can I mix Green tiger barbs with the standard and albino variety and how many will I need to avoid fin nipping problems? My tank is 120x45x45cm and I'm not keeping any long-finned fish but there are five small Boeseman’s rainbows and 20 Cardinal tetras already in the tank. It's planted with both real and artificial plants. The water is 7.4pH, moderate hardness, temperature 25-26°C, and I do a 20% water change every week. The tank is filtered by two Fluval underwater filters and has been set up about three months.

NIGEL H., VIA EMAIL

A) Bob replies: All the different varieties of Tiger barb can be kept together; the only issue is that some of the more extreme line-bred varieties can be a little weaker compared to their more naturally coloured cousins (probably the result of a shallower genetic pool). Ideally, I'd recommend keeping a group of ten Tiger barbs as an absolute minimum, but the more the better to contain any antisocial behaviour that might emerge.

However, I personally would not recommend keeping these fish alongside Cardinal tetras due to the barbs’ robust behaviour as well as their potential adult size. Instead, it might be worth considering the far more community friendly Six-banded barb, Desmopuntius hexazona. Confusingly, it is often sold under the moniker of Pentazona barb — a very similar looking fish but one that’s rarely imported. These have much of the stripey charm of the Tigers with none of the nippy behaviour and, while a little more demure, they should settle nicely into your tank alongside your current stock.