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Maximum size : 35 cm

Tinfoil Barb - Barbonymus Schwanenfeldii : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Tinfoil Barbs (Barbonymus Schwanenfeldii) are stunning, peaceful, and energetic fish in their juvenile stage. These captivating creatures typically spend most of their time at the mid-level and bottom of the water, adding a dynamic element to any aquarium. However, their rapid growth is impressive, with some individuals reaching a size of 35cm within a relatively short period. Consequently, keeping them requires a large aquarium, making them challenging for novice aquarists or those with limited space. To keep Tinfoil Barbs happy, it's recommended to keep them in a group of at least six, as they are schooling species that prefer to be with their own kind. Additionally, inadequate numbers may cause some individuals to become skittish or even aggressive. Though not inherently aggressive, these fish will eat smaller species and may upset slow-moving, more timid fish with their constant activity and vigorous feeding behaviors. To avoid any issues, it's best to house Tinfoil Barbs with strong tankmates of similar size or larger, with larger cichlids being a popular option. It's worth noting that inexperienced hobbyists often purchase juveniles without realizing how large they can grow, leading to complications down the line. To maintain the desired level of oxygen and flow, Tinfoil Barbs require a massive external filter or two, as their native streams have strong currents. The aquarium should also have a tight-fitting lid, as these Barbs can be skittish and leap quite high. In addition to their captivating personality, Tinfoil Barbs boast a golden-silver body with a blood-red dorsal fin featuring a black blotch on the tip. Furthermore, their pelvic, anal, and pectoral fins are red with white edges, and each section features a dark black submarginal stripe. Finally, eight scale rows are located between the dorsal fin and the lateral line, further adding to their stunning appearance.

Tinfoil Barb Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Identifying the sex of Tinfoil Barbs can prove challenging, as there are no overt physical characteristics that can be used to differentiate between males and females.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBarbonymus Schwanenfeldii
Year Described1853
Other NamesGoldfoil Barb, River Barb, Schwanefeld's Barb
OriginsIndonesia Myanmar
Max Size35 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyIntermediate - Advanced
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespan8 - 10 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.0 - 7.5
GH5 - 15
75 - 80
23.9 - 26.7

Natural Habitat

The Tinfoil Barb is indigenous to the Mekong and Chao Phraya basins, Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra in Indonesia, and Southeast Asia. These remarkable creatures inhabit a wide range of environments, including streams, large rivers, ditches, human-made canals, and even flooded fields. The Tinfoil Barb's adaptability to different environments is a testament to its hardiness and versatility. With their stunning metallic colouration and distinctive markings, these fish are a true marvel of nature and a captivating addition to any aquarist's collection. As you observe the Tinfoil Barb in its natural habitat, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for the delicate balance of our planet's ecosystems. These fish serve as a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts to protect and preserve our planet's precious resources. Prepare to be entranced by the stunning beauty of the Tinfoil Barb and the wonders of the natural world. With their unique natural habitat requirements and fascinating behaviour, these fish are sure to captivate your attention and leave a lasting impression on anyone who observes them.


Breeding Tinfoil Barbs in a home aquarium can prove challenging, given their substantial size. Although reports suggest that public aquariums have successfully bred this species in captivity, no updated breeding details have been published since 2006. To breed these barbs, an outdoor aquaculture setting in a tropical environment or a vast aquarium is recommended. As egg scatterers, Tinfoil Barbs do not tend to care for their eggs adequately and are likely to consume both eggs and fry if kept together in the same aquarium. Hence, it is advisable to have a separate breeding tank where the offspring can be raised without the presence of adult fish. If you decide to keep the offspring and adult fish together in the larger aquarium, adding ample vegetation such as Java moss can help to increase the fry's survival rate. The lush, bushy leaves of Java moss provide numerous hiding spots for the young barbs, mimicking their natural habitat. This arrangement encourages the fry to seek shelter and avoid contact with adult fish, as they would in the wild.

Diet & feeding

Tinfoil Barbs are known for their high degree of dietary versatility, readily accepting most food types. A well-rounded diet consisting of pellets, flakes, algae wafers, and frozen or freeze-dried foods is recommended. It's worth noting that Tinfoil Barbs have a voracious appetite and will not hesitate to consume live plants and smaller fish if given the opportunity. As such, providing appropriate food and monitoring their feeding habits is critical to maintaining a healthy and harmonious aquatic environment.

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