Tigers in disguise
When is a Tiger barb not a Tiger barb? When it’s on sale in your local aquarium shop!
Scientists don’t believe that the Tiger barbs we see in the shops are the real deal. Wild-caught Tiger barbs have black ventral fins, whereas the farmed ones have orangey-red ventral fins, something also seen on Puntigrus anchisporus, an obscure and rarely imported species. Similarly, farmed Tiger barbs have a dark dorsal fin edged with orangey-red – something not characteristic of wild-caught Tigers but, again, it’s what you’ll see on Puntigrus anchisporus.
This sort of situation isn’t uncommon with aquarium fish. Your common or garden angelfish is often said to be Pterophyllum scalare, but it’s different enough from wild Pterophyllum scalare to make it highly likely that fish breeders crossed it with other Pterophyllum species over the years to produce the angels you see in your local aquarium shop.
It’s likely that our pet Tiger barbs are ‘mutts’ in the same sort of way, with not just Puntigrus tetrazona parentage, but also Puntigrus anchisporus and perhaps some other Puntigrus species in their family tree.