Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Barbonymus schwanenfeldii

Tinfoil barb

Tinfoil barb, Barbonymus schwanenfeldiiTinfoil barb, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii
Photos by Andy Rapson


General Notes:

Tinfoil barbs are large active and fast moving fish which grow rapidly. Their size apart they are easy to care for but they obviously require a very large aquarium and they aren't suitable for the average home aquaria even as juveniles. Most captive species come from the wild since they aren't bred for the aquarium trade because of the limited demand for them due to their size. Tinfoil barbs require very good water quality which is high in oxygen and so excellent filtration is required along with a good maintenance regime. As with a lot of other barbs, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii is a shoaling fish and does better in a group of at least five individuals. Tinfoil barbs are caught for their flesh, they are a popular food fish in their native lands.
If you do go ahead and keep this species please be aware of what is needed to keep them healthy as adults, public aquariums, pet shops have long run out of space for rehoming fish which can't easily be sold on due to their size.


Tinfoil barbs are true omnivores but with a strong preference for vegetable matter. In the wild their diet includes aquatic and terrestrial plants, algae, detritus and insects, larva, worms even smaller fish.
In captivity they are very bold feeders and will eat practically everything offered. Their diet should include some fresh greens several times per week. Smaller fish which are growing rapidly need a diet which is higher in protein than do the adult fish.


There are no reliable external differences between the sexes.


Barbonymus schwanenfeldii has never been bred in the home aquaria, nothing is known about their natural breeding behaviour.

Wild status

The range of Barbonymus schwanenfeldii is very large and although some local populations have had their difficulties the species is under no immediate threat in the wild.

Information at a glance

pH: 6.5 - 7
dGH: 4 - 10
Temperature: 22 - 25°C (72 - 77°F)
Diet: Omnivore / herbivore
Size: 35cm (14in)
Min tank size: 675 litres
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Middle

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Tinfoil barb, Barbonymus schwanenfeldii

Origin: Asia: Mekong and Chao Phraya basins, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo.

Habitat: Found in rivers, streams, canals and ditches. Occurs in medium to large-sized rivers and enters flooded fields.


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Barbonymus
Species: B. schwanenfeldii, (Bleeker, 1854)

Common name:
Tinfoil barb

Synonyms: Puntius schwanenfeldii, Barbus schwanenfeldii, Barbodes schwanenfeldii.