The Tinfoil Barb (Barbus schwanefeldi) is a tropical ray finned fish which is commercially important in the aquarium hobby trade. It is distributed in Mekong and Chao Phraya basins of Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo and the Malayan peninsula. It inhibits in rivers, streams, canals and ditches. It also enters flooded fields and forests during wetter months to feed and spawn, returning to the rivers as the water begins to recede.

Tinfoil Barb’s Overview

The tinfoil barb has stream-lined body and plated with large, silver scales. Body is silvery or golden yellow with forked caudal fin. Dorsal fin is red with a black blotch at the tip. Caudal fin is red with white margin and a black sub-marginal stripe along each lobe. Pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are also red in color with white margin. Dorsal fin contains 3 spines with 8 soft rays while anal fin bears 3 spine and 5 soft rays. There are 8 scale rows which are located between the dorsal-fin origin and the lateral line.

The tinfoil barb is omnivore species and in wild condition, its natural diet consists largely of aquatic macrophytes and submerged plants including filamentous algae. It prefers water pH and hardness which ranges from 6.5 to 7.0 and 4.0 to 10 dGH respectively. The Tinfoil Barb reaches a sexual maturity at a size of 30 cm in length. It is one of the largest species of barbs which grows up to 35 cm in length and more than 1.0 kg in weight. Its lifespan ranges from 8 to 10 years.

Scientific Name:   Barbus schwanefeldi

Common Name: Red Tail Tinfoil Barb, Goldfoil Barb, Schwanefeld’s Barb, River Barb

Origin: Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo

Adult Size: 13 inches (35 cm)

Behavior: Peaceful

Tank Level: Bottom, Mid dweller

Minimum Tank Size: 75 gallons

Diet: Omnivore

Breeding: Difficult, Egg Layer

Care level: Easy

Water pH: 6.0 -7.5

Water Hardness: 4 to 10 dGH

Water Temperature: 72-77° F

Water Movement: Strong water movement

Lighting: Moderate – normal lighting

Lifespan:  8-10 years

Background of Tinfoil Barb

The Tinfoil Barb (Barbus schwanefeldi) is a tropical Southeast Asian freshwater fish which belongs to the family Cyprinidae under Order Cypriniformes of Class Actinopterygii. This species was described by Pieter Bleeker in 1853. This species is also synonymus to Barbonymus schwanenfeldii or Puntius schwanenfeldii. The sides of the Tin foil Barb resemble tin foil that gives the name tin foil barb.

Housing Tinfoil Barbs

The tinfoil barb is a very hardy and active swimmer which requires at least 75 gallons aquarium with lots of space for swimming. If you keep more than one fish a much larger aquarium is recommended. The recommended temperature in a Tinfoil barb aquarium is 72 – 77° F. The Tinfoil Barb is a schooling fish and should be kept in a group of at least 6 or more individuals with other non-aggressive large fish. It is recommended that they should be kept with fish of similar size or larger. Suitable tank mates of tin foil barb include Bala Shark, Barbs, Clown Loaches, Danios, larger Gouramis, Oscars, Plecos, Rainbows, Rainbow Sharks, and Silver Dollars. It prefers living in water with strong currents similar to those found in their native streams.

The tinfoil barb is an active, peaceful species that spends most of its time in the mid-level and bottom of the water. The tank should be decorated with driftwood branches, water-worn rocks of varying sizes and aquatic plants such as Java Fern, Bolbitis or Anubias species for aesthetic value. The Tinfoil Barb is an active jumper, so a tight-fitting hood is required to prevent injury. The tinfoil barb also requires heavy feeding so good filtration system is required to keep water quality within acceptable parameters. 25 – 50% of the tank water should be replaced at least once a month. If the tank is densely stocked 20 – 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week.

Tinfoil Barbs and Feeding

The tinfoil barb is omnivore species and in wild condition, its natural diet consists largely of aquatic macrophytes and submerged plants including filamentous algae. In captive condition it accepts most prepared commercial fish foods including flakes, pellets, frozen, freeze dried foods. It also takes live food such as Tubifex worms, brine shrimp and small fish.

Breeding Tinfoil Barbs

The tinfoil barbs is an egg scattering species. They are not often bred in captivity due to their large size. The female can produce several thousands of eggs during one spawning. It prefers higher temperatures during breeding season which ranges from 77 – 80° F. After releasing eggs adults should be removed from the tank to protect them from eating the eggs. The transparent eggs hatch in about 24 hours at a temperature of 75° F. In about six days the young are free-swimming and can be fed with infusoria, a liquid fry food, or newly hatched baby brine shrimp until large enough to accept crushed flake food. Feed should be offered at least three times a day. The fry always require clean water to survive.

Sexing tinfoil barb

Sexing the tinfoil barb is very hard. There are no external differences between male and female.  Mature females are usually deeper-bodied than males especially during spawning season. Otherwise there are no obvious external differences.

Tinfoil Barb for Sale

The tinfoil barb has been a very common fish in the larger aquatic world and is widely available in most speciality shops. Even though you can find Tinfoil Barbs all over the internet, Please be cautious with some breeders that like to tattoo these beautiful fish. If you don’t know where some reputable Tinfoil Barb for sale are, check down below for some recommendations.

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I'm not the greatest writer in the world but I like to educate people on how to setup and maintain a beautiful shrimp tank that friends and family will be envious about. It's a great hobby and takes a bit of knowledge but once you get it down - it seriously beats looking at a screensaver of fishes!