The Tinfoil barb (Barbus schwanefeldi) can reach a length of 14 inches (36 cm) and should therefore only be considered if you have a really large aquarium. It is not only a big fish; it is also a schooling species which means that you should keep a group of fish together. This will, of course, require plenty of space as the Tinfoil barbs grow. Keeping a single Tinfoil barb will make this normally active fish shy, stressed and prone to illness. A school of Tinfoil barbs is active and non-aggressive and can be combined with other fish of roughly the same size.
Just like the common name suggests, a Tinfoil barb is silvery with bright and shiny scales. The fins are decorated with striking red, orange and black colors. The Tinfoil barb looks quite similar to Barbonymus altus and these two species are sometimes confused with each other in the aquarium trade. You can distinguish them from each other by looking at the caudal fin. If there are black lines on the caudal fin, you are looking at a true Tinfoil barb.
As mentioned above, a group of Tinfoil barbs is active and ads action to the aquarium. They spend most of there time between bottom and mid-level. They should not be raise with small fish since such fishes will be considered prey. They appreciate a planted aquarium with open areas to swim around in, but can damage live plants by eating them. Ideally choose sturdy species that will tolerate some nibbling and feed your Tinfoil barbs plenty of vegetables. Tender plants are not a good idea, and plants that have not yet established its roots in the substrate are especially vulnerable. Certain individuals can be impossible to keep with live plants and artificial plants can then be a feasible alternative. It is a good idea to start out with really inexpensive plants to test how the Tinfoil barbs handle them.
Tinfoil barbs hail from tropical waters in Thailand, Sumatra, Borneo and the Malayan peninsula and they need a water temperature between 72 and 77 ° F (22–25 ° C). Their native environment consists of rapid streams and rivers and they will therefore appreciate an aquarium with powerful water circulation. The pH-value should be slightly acidic or neutral and kept between 6.5 and 7.0. The hardness of the water should not exceed 10 dGH.
Wild Tinfoil barbs feed mainly on plant material, but will also complement their diet with small fishes, crustaceans, insects and worms when they get a chance. Try to mimic this diet in captivity and feed your Tinfoil barbs plenty of vegetables and vegetable based food combined with occasional meaty treats. Getting Tinfoil barbs to accept different types of food in captivity is certainly not difficult. If you have filamentous algae growing in your aquarium, Tinfoil barbs will gladly take care of this problem for you.
In the aquarium trade, a majority of the Tinfoil barbs are wild caught specimens. Since they grow so big as adults, it is difficult to make them spawn in aquariums. It is also tricky to determine the sex of a Tinfoil barb. The Tinfoil barb is an egg-scattering species and the female can release several thousand eggs per spawning. If you provide Tinfoil barbs with ideal conditions and a balanced diet, they can survive reach an age of 8 years or more in captivity.