Buy Tropical Fish Online - Tropical Fish Shop -

Price Match Guarantee - ☆☆☆☆☆ 4.8 Star Review Rating

Tinfoil Barbs


The following article is a revised version of an article which previously appeared in both Ryedale Reporter, the monthly magazine of Ryedale Aquarist Society (England), and the York & District A.S. Newsletter. David made reference to this article for his commercial article on Tinfoil Barbs that appeared in the October 2002 issue of the U.K. magazine 'Tropical Fish' but the breeding section of that piece was completely different in wording, and less 'warm', than what follows:-


By David Marshall, Ryedale Aquarist Society

When articles on the Tinfoil Barb (Barbus schwanenfeldi) appear in the popular aquatic press I am always surprised when these end in words such as 'impossible to breed in captivity'.

During the mid-1980's I had two 36"x12"x12" tanks which stood side by side in our kitchen. One of these tanks contained a community of small fish and the other a shoal of Brochis splendens, various Synodontis, several Dianema longbarbis, various colour variants of Trichogaster trichopterus and two Tinfoil Barbs.

The two Tinfoils had been in my care for around 18 months and had really grown in this time. One was longer in size than the other but did not have the other's weight. I hoped that I may have a pair but had no thoughts that they would ever 'spawn'.

The two tanks received natural daylight via a south facing window, and the amount varied as to the time of year. When areas of both tanks were fully illuminated the fish would 'dance' in this light. One summer morning, 6 a.m. approximately, I heard a loud splashing noise and thought that a fish in the larger community was in distress. The morning sun had created an area of intense illumination around a large 'bushy' plastic plant. The larger, in weight, Tinfoil was swimming just above this plant and all the catfish were in a very excited state and trying to get as close to this plant as they could.

As I stood and watched I was amazed with the sequence that followed. The thinner Tinfoil, which turned out to be a male, swam parallel to the body of his mate and then delivered a small series of heavy 'punches', by slightly curling his body, to her side. His mate responded by returning to a position above the plant and with a slight 'quiver' released a mass of large opaque coloured eggs, in one go. The male followed releasing a cloud of milt.

Before my mind thought about trying to save any eggs the catfish moved in for breakfast and would soon be 'bloated' from caviar. How their instincts told them what was about to happen was amazing (like female Betta picta who always warn you of when a female livebearer is about to give birth by following the 'mother to be' around the tank like a tiger stalking a deer in nature documentaries).

I was disappointed but very lucky to witness the actual spawning. Thankfully both Tinfoils soon recovered.

Apart from citing the position of the sun I cannot give much advice as to what triggered this 'spawning'. I had not fed large amounts of living food, done any mass changes of water, realised that what turned out to be a female Tinfoil was full of eggs, etc., so this really was an 'accidental spawning'.

Although both fish lived on for a further two years, and the sun shone on their favoured plant many times, they were never to 'spawn' again. How do I know? Because on that first 'spawning' the male released so much milt (rivalled in recent years by my Koi) that it 'clouded' the tank and it took several weeks, and large daily changes of water, to get this water fully clean again.

I would dearly like to hear from anyone who has not only 'spawned' Tinfoils but managed to rear any resulting fry.

e-mail David at


The article has been reprinted with the kind permission of .

For details of how to join the Ryedale Aquarist Societ, please go to the TFF Fish Clubs section.


Other fish articles:

Other fish articles you may be interested in are listed below, click an article for full details.