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My Tiger Barb Died with Its Mouth Open! (Possible Causes)

My Tiger Barb Died with Its Mouth Open! (Possible Causes)

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This post is written to the author's best knowledge and is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. In addition, this post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

For the most part, tiger barbs are very easy to take care of. These are hardy fish that are considered great options for beginners.

Since they’re beginner-friendly fish, they aren’t all that difficult to keep alive. Things can go wrong, though.

On average, these fish live between five and seven years in a fish tank setting. If something goes awry, a tiger barb could die much sooner than that.

If one of your tiger barbs died recently, you might be wondering what happened. What does it mean when a tiger barb dies with its mouth open?

Read on to learn about some common reasons why these fish might die. This should help you to get a better idea of what happened.

Why Would a Tiger Barb Die with its Mouth Open?

Some enthusiasts suggest that a tiger barb dying with its mouth open indicates that it was gasping for air. This could be true, but you can’t know that for sure.

It’s pretty standard for fish to die with their mouths open. This happens all the time whether the fish is dying due to some type of disease or if it’s dying of natural causes.

Another thing to consider is that there could have been an oxygen issue. If the oxygen levels in the fish tank are far too low, it might be the case that the fish was not able to breathe.

How does the oxygen level get dangerously low in an aquarium? This occurs when you let the water get far too dirty.

Cleaning a Fish Tank with a Sponge

Dirty water is going to cause the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels to rise substantially. When these levels get too high it’ll become very tough for the fish to breathe.

Some fish are more susceptible to low oxygen levels than others. Even hardy fish such as tiger barbs will have difficulties surviving if the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels get too high.

Whether this is what killed your fish is hard to say. Test the levels in the tank and see if things are higher than they should be.


There are many types of diseases that will cause tiger barbs to die. Dropsy is a disease that can easily kill tiger barbs.

These fish are also known to get ich, and that can kill them if left untreated for long periods of time. Fin rot could wind up killing a fish due to causing secondary infections.

Velvet is a disease that could kill tiger barbs. You’ll find many types of diseases and infections that will lead to the death of the fish.

Of course, tiger barbs can get better when they get sick. You just need to give them the proper treatments and fix any issues that are present in the aquarium.

It’s also wise to try to treat the fish as soon as you notice something. Catching diseases too late might make it impossible to save the fish.

Prevent diseases by doing a good job of keeping the fish tank clean and safe. When fish get stressed by poor water conditions, they become more susceptible to diseases.

Incompatible Tank Mates

Tiger Barb in a Community Tank

It’s possible that tiger barbs could get killed by other fish. Of course, the other fish might choose to eat the tiger barb once they kill it.

This may or may not be something to look into. Either way, it’s worth knowing that you need to pick tiger barb tank mates carefully.

Tiger barbs aren’t the best community fish out there. They often become problems in community tanks due to fin nipping.

This will be less of an issue if you keep the fish in groups of six or more. When kept in proper group sizes, these fish will just fight among themselves to establish dominance while leaving tank mates alone.

You could put tiger barbs in fish tanks with fish that are larger and more aggressive. This would be a mistake since the tiger barbs could get hurt.

Find compatible tank mates for the fish to get the best results. Ideally, you should pick fish such as platy fish and danios fish to be tank mates for tiger barbs.

Clown loaches are also known to be safe tank mates. Even certain types of catfish will get along well enough with these fish.

Can Tiger Barbs Kill Each Other?

Two Tiger Barbs Facing Each Other

What if you aren’t keeping these fish in community tanks? Can tiger barbs potentially kill each other?

Yes, this can and has happened. Tiger barbs might sometimes bully a weak or undersized fish in the group.

There have been situations where tiger barbs have been bullied to death by the other fish in the group. Although this doesn’t always happen, it’s possible that it could be to blame.

Some reports indicate that owners have discovered dead tiger barbs in the morning. There could be some situations where tiger barbs will bully others of their kind overnight.

Don’t worry about this too much. It isn’t something that happens all the time and it likely isn’t something that you can prevent even if you want to.

You can’t completely control the behavior of the fish in your tank. They will act on their instincts and sometimes fish will bully others in their group.

Final Thoughts

The tiger barb in your tank could have died for several different reasons. It might have died due to not being able to breathe properly.

Perhaps the oxygen levels were too low in the tank. The water in the tank might have been very dirty and the ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite levels might be elevated.

Another possibility is that the fish died due to having some type of disease. Perhaps the fish had velvet disease, ich, or dropsy.

The fish could have been killed by other fish as well. It could have been bullied by other fish in the community fish tank that it isn’t compatible with.

Other tiger barbs might have bullied the fish to death, too. This has been known to happen even if it doesn’t occur all the time.

You might be able to determine what happened by examining the information above. Hopefully, it’ll help you to protect your other tiger barbs and keep them alive for as long as possible.

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