Fun Tinfoil Barb Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Jan 11, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 19, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
The Tinfoil Barb Fact File

Tinfoil barbs, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii, are fishes from the family Cyprinidae. This schooling species is a large barb variety of fish from Thailand’s Mekong and Chao Phraya basins.

You will often find different varieties of tinfoil barbs in freshwater aquariums. In the wild, large schools live in streams, canals, flooded fields, and ditches of Sumatra, Borneo, Singapore, Laos, Vietnam, and the Malayan peninsula.

The Barbonymus schwanenfeldii gets the name tinfoil barb from its silvery scales that give a tin-plated appearance. Barbonymus altus are red-tailed tin foil that is largely exported as ornamental fish.

The Barbonymus altus is in demand by aquarists for their attractive red pelvic and anal fins. The attractive golden tinfoil barbs are also popular color among the species of tinfoil barb Barbonymus schwanenfeldii.

Apart from the redfin, tinfoil barbs are also selectively bred into albino tinfoil barbs and a glass variety with a transparent body. The different varieties can be distinguished by their fin and eye colors.

Tinfoil barbs feed on plant matter including algae but sometimes also have worms, small fish, and crustaceans. When kept in freshwater aquariums, they can be fed fish food flakes, pellets, worms, spinach, mosquito larvae, algae, and brine shrimp.

You may also check out the fact files on cherry barb facts and Denison barb facts from Kidadl.

Tinfoil Barb Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tinfoil barb?

Tinfoil barb is a variety of freshwater fish found in Southeast Asian rivers streams, originally described as Barbus schwanenfeldii from the family Cyprinidae. They are large barbs with charming temperaments and can be called gentle giants in their natural habitat.

A variety of these species is found in various countries of Southeast Asia. They have a lifespan of 8-10 years. Their adult size reaches up to 14 in (35.5 cm).

What class of animal does a tinfoil barb belong to?

Tinfoil barbs belong to the class Actinopterygii meaning they are fish. This species from order Cypriniformes have a natural silvery or golden coloration with reflective scales. That earned them the name ‘tinfoil barb’.  Other common names given to the species are river barb, gold foil barb, and Schwanefeld's barb.

Tinfoil barbs are usually gentle-mannered and not aggressive fish, but if the schooling fish are placed alone in small aquariums with other fish species they may be extremely aggressive.

How many tinfoil barbs are there in the world?

It is difficult to state the exact number of tinfoil barbs, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii, as these freshwater fish have a wide range and are found in large schools rivers, canals, and ditches. However, they have a stable population and are not considered to be under threat of extinction.

Where does a tinfoil barb live?

Tinfoil barbs live in river streams, flooded fields, and open fresh water in their natural habitats. They are schooling fish living in large schools. This barb is ideal for aquarists who have large home aquariums to keep a school of at least five to six tinfoil barbs together.

The schooling behavior of tinfoil barbs is also an adaptation feature. A large school often appears like a large fish to a predator. Large numbers provide them a sense of safety and company.

What is a tinfoil barb's habitat?

In their natural habitats, tinfoil barbs live in rivers, streams, and other freshwater bodies with 6.5–7.0 pH and water hardness of up to 10 dGH. In large aquariums, this species is comfortable at a temperature of 72-77 F (22-25 C), because of their preference for warm water they may not survive in cold water.

Tinfoil barbs are considered big barbs growing up to 14 in (35.5 cm). This species is found naturally in fast-flowing rivers and streams with strong currents. It prefers waters with warm temperatures, plentiful aquatic vegetation where feeding is easy, and a large swimming space.

Due to their requirement of large moving space, and large adult size, tinfoil barbs need large tanks. The minimum tank size should be 70 gal (320 l) to house Barbonymus altus, or redfin tinfoil barbs, and the other varieties.

To house barb tinfoils, aquariums should be roomy with gravel substrate and dense vegetation. Plants should be placed along the edges of the tank. Usually nonaggressive, these large fish may eat smaller fish and are not always appropriate for community aquariums.

Who do tinfoil barbs live with?

The tinfoil barb is an active schooling fish meaning it prefers living in large groups. If they are kept in tanks, at least six or more red tinfoil barbs should be kept together. They cannot live alone. They should not be kept with goldfish as their high activity levels can stress goldfish out.  

How long does a tinfoil barb live?

Tinfoil barbs can live up to 20 years with an average lifespan of 8-10 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

For breeding, tinfoil barbs return to their natal spawning grounds. If tinfoil barb owners plan to breed these species in home aquariums should know that they cannot be bred in indoor tanks.

For breeding, these fishes require open, outdoor space with proper temperature and water conditions. In their natural habitat, depending on the climate, food availability, and other conditions, tinfoil barbs may mate when the conditions are ideal.

The females scatter their eggs. This species does not take care of their young. A female lays thousands of eggs during the breeding season.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of tinfoil barbs is of the Least Concern.

Tinfoil Barb Fun Facts

What do tinfoil barbs look like?

Tinfoil Barbs in an aquarium

The body of the tinfoil barbs has a torpedo-like shape. Their tail is forked and the back high.

These large fishes can reach up to 14 in (35 cm) in length. Depending on the species, they have silvery or golden yellow body coloration. The dorsal fin of the red tinfoil barb is red with a black blotch on the tip, the pectoral pelvic and anal fins are only red.

The caudal fin has an orange hue or maybe deep red with black lines along each lobe. Barbonymus schwanenfeldii or the tinfoil barb possesses a visible black stripe along each lobe of the tail fins, but the red tail tinfoil barbs don’t.

In the juveniles, the red pelvic and anal fins are missing. Red and black shades cover the tail and the caudal fin, and the dorsal fins. Sometimes the tip of the dorsal fin is white.

How cute are they?

Tinfoil barbs cannot be called cute and cuddly, but they are mostly non-aggressive large fish.

How do they communicate?

It is not known how exactly tinfoil barbs communicate but they prefer to live in large schools.

How big is a tinfoil barb?

A tinfoil barb grows up to 14 in (35.5 cm) in length. Compared to a dwarf golden barb, the smallest of all barbs measuring 1.5 in (4cm), the tinfoil barb is almost nine times larger.

How fast can a tinfoil barb swim?

The swimming speed of the tinfoil barbs is not known but these fishes live in strong currents and swim fast.

How much does a tinfoil barb weigh?

The weight of tinfoil barbs has not been recorded.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female tinfoil barbs do not have any sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby tinfoil barb?

A baby tinfoil barb is called a fry.

What do they eat?

In tanks, the diet of tinfoil barbs can include a variety of commercially prepared fish foods like flakes, pellets, and freeze-dried foods. If you want to feed the fish some natural foods, they can be fed a diet consisting of plant matter, algae, spirulina wafers, or other herbivore foods.

Are they dangerous?

Tinfoil barbs are not dangerous and usually have a gentle temperament.

Would they make a good pet?

Tinfoil barbs are large freshwater fish and need large tanks to live a healthy life. They are kept as pets by many aquarists and thrive best when kept in a group of at least five to six fish.

Did you know...

It is common for the tinfoil barb males to feed on the eggs after they are laid by the female. In breeding tanks, if the male fish are kept for long, they may eat all the egg as well as the newly hatched fry.

Are tinfoil barbs aggressive?

Considering they are large barbs, red tinfoil barbs should be placed in large tanks with many schooling mates of the same species. That makes the barbs happy and confident. If not provided a spacious aquarium, these fishes can become aggressive in temperament.

What fish can live with tinfoil barbs?

Large and non-aggressive fish species like Bala sharks, Oscars, and cichlids can be tank mates for tin foil barbs. However, these barbs may nip at the fins of slow moving fish, if they are flashy and flowing. An angelfish may be an unsuitable tank mate for a tinfoil barb.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other fishes from our Japanese amberjack facts and peacock bass facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable tinfoil barb coloring pages.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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