Datnoid Care: Diet, Lifespan, Tankmates, & More!

There are several types of datnoids. They include the Siamese tigerfish, Indonesian tiger fish, New guinea tigerfish, silver tiger fish, and the Thailand tigerfish.

They are found in the tropical Southeast Asian water bodies like the Mekong river and other water bodies in the Malay Peninsula.

Each species is different and this affects their unique needs.

Failing to consider these differences and many other important considerations can prove fatal for your beautiful tigerfish. Here’s an article that explains everything about datnoids.

About Datnoids

Datnoids refer to the five distinct species of the genus Datniodes in the Datnioididae family. They are also called Tiger fish because they have stripes like a tiger’s on their bodies. Like tigers in the jungle, they prey on smaller fish for food by stealthily approaching them.

Siamese Tiger fish in aquarium

The Datnioididae family is native to Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and New guinea. Some of these species are often mistaken for others because they usually do not exhibit distinguishing features at their tender age.

Types of Datnoids

There are five distinct species, and they are not all brackish or freshwater fish, even though the pet store attendant might tell you that.

Siamese Tiger Perch or Siamese Tiger Fish (Datnioides pulcher)

The siamese tiger fish is probably the most common datnoid species in the hobby. They are often mistaken for Indonesian tiger fish since they look identical.

However, Siamese tiger fish are distinguished by the three major stripes on their bodies and the two irregular stripes on their tail. They are also known as wide bar datnoid fish.

Indonesian Tiger Fish (Datnioides microlepis)

Indonesian tigerfish are the second true freshwater datnoids. Although they share almost the same identity as the siamese tigerfish, you can tell Indonesian datnoid apart from the stripes on their tail fins.

\While Siamese tigerfish have irregular stripes on their tail fins, the two stripes on the tail fins of Datnioides Microlepis are the same.

Datnioides Species ID Chart

Northern Thailand Tiger Fish (Datnioides undecimradiatus)

Also known as the Mekong tiger fish, this north Thailand tiger fish is the last of the three true freshwater datnoids. You will typically find them in the Mekong river basin.

They usually have about three to four stripes on their bodies. Their bodies have a brilliant golden color which almost always turns yellow.

Silver Tiger Fish (Datnioides polota)

One way to identify silver tigerfish is to look out for their silver-toned bodies, which is why they are called silver tigerfish. They are not native to America, as suggested by some.

They usually have irregular stripes all over their bodies. Datnioides polota is a true brackish water datnoid.

New Guinea Tiger Fish (Datnioides campbelli)

Although they are sometimes found in freshwaters, they are native to the brackish water bodies of New Guinea. You can identify them from the beautiful wavy stripes on their bodies. Unlike other datnoids, the color of their stripes is beautiful tones of gold and black.

Check out this detailed ID chart to know the different datnoid species.

Aquarium Tank Setup

Water Parameters

The optimal water temperature for datnoids is 75°F-84°F because they are tropical fish species. They prefer the water pH anywhere between 7.0 and 7.5.

Datnoids are very sensitive to nitrates and ammonia. It would be best to change the water regularly to keep them healthy. Installing a canister filter is another easy way to ensure optimum water quality.

Unlike many other freshwater aquarium fish, they produce enormous waste. You need an impressive filtration system coupled with regular water changes to keep the water quality at its best.

Try the Fluval 207 Performance Canister Filter

It is the ideal filter for your datnoids. The Fluval 207 Performance Canister Filter is

  • Easy to assemble and clean,
  • Powerful suction level,
  • An impressively low noise level.

Salinity is a very important aspect of water conditions to mention. Although datnoids are seen as freshwater fish, only three are strictly freshwater fish.

The New Guinea tiger fish and the silver tigerfish are true brackish water fish. They need to stay in water that is, although saltier than freshwater, is not as salty as saltwater.

That is how their real habitat is, even though they may survive for months in the freshwater aquarium.

Keeping them in freshwater for too long without a mild increase in the salinity of the water will put them under stress and even lead to more serious health issues.

Although they have to be put in pure freshwater, a little salt once in a while will stimulate the production of their slime coat. 

Tank Size

Datnoids can grow up to a shocking length of 16 inches. The smallest tank size for your datnoid is a 150-gallon tank. If you wish to have them live in a community tank, you would need a bigger tank.

You can raise juvenile tiger fish in smaller tanks of about 50 gallons. But they will outgrow the small aquarium, and you would have to upgrade the tank to a bigger one.

Datnoids are notorious for jumping. It would be wise to fix a cover for the aquarium to prevent them from jumping out of the aquarium. A tight cover will do a great job.

Tank Decor

Many hobbyists prefer to leave the tank floor bare for easy and thorough cleaning. But you can replicate their natural environment in your aquarium with sparsely placed plants.

This will provide your fish with sufficient space to swim and hide. Providing aquatic plants with hiding spots to hide within the roots and other parts is as important as providing enough room to swim freely.

They are tropical water fish found in rivers and swamps, so the water flow must be moderate as in their natural environment. Installing diffused lighting, especially close to the hiding spots, is another great idea to recreate the dim lighting in swampy areas and rivers.

Datnoid Diet

In the Wild

Datnoids are carnivores, and they have a predatory nature. In the wild, they tend to eat other smaller aquatic animals. They eat small crustaceans such as crabs. They also eat insects, insect larvae, and fish fry. They also eat worms such as bloodworms, blackworms, and snails.

They eat smaller fish too. But they will only eat smaller fish on rare occasions, such as when food is scarce.

In Captivity

Due to their predatory nature, tiger fish are no different in captivity in the new environment. They tend to naturally prefer live foods. You can feed them small crustaceans like shrimp, krill, and crabs. You can also feed them worms such as blood worms, black worms, and other healthy larvae you can find.

Since this can be too expensive to cope with sometimes, you can supplement their diet with frozen food like frozen bloodworms. Otherwise, you can feed them freshly chopped seafood such as clams, mussels, etc. Using feeder fish is also another option that many aquarists explore.

But be careful with feeding feeder fish. Feeding feeder fish to your tiger fish without taking steps to purge them of possible parasites can be fatal for your pets. It would be best to first quarantine them in a separate tank to eliminate whatever parasites they may have in them before feeding them to your datnoids.

Floating carnivore pellets can always come in handy when you run out of meat until you replenish your stock. But you are more likely to run into trouble feeding pellets to older tiger fish than you would with younger tiger fish.

Best Food Recommendations for Datnoids

For pellets, remember that your tiger fish are not bottom feeders. They like to stay in the middle area of the tank but will come up to suck food. Some great recommendations your tigerfish can eat whenever you run out of live foods to feed them include the following:

Jack Supper’s 3000ml Floating Carnivore Fish Food

This floating carnivore pellet is 60% protein, 6% Moisture, 10% Fiber, and 8%fat. The high protein value makes a must-have choice if you are raising tropical carnivores like Datnoids. It does not matter whether it is an adult size datnoid or young datnoids.

Another good option is the Sera 400 Arowana Floating Pellets for large carnivores.

This product offers the following advantages:

  • Easy digestibility
  • Low water pollution rate
  • Quality aquatic protein

Feeding Frequency

Young datnoids should be fed no less than twice a day. But the feeding frequency should be reduced to once a day after they reach adult size. Feed only what your fish can finish in 2 minutes. This is one of the best ways to limit pollution and ensure proper living conditions.

If you notice that they prey on other species in the tank, you can feed them more often without worrying that they will grow fat. The warm temperature will cause a faster rate of metabolism to ensure that they do not grow fat.

Choosing Tankmates

You can have more than one Datnoid fish in the tank. Datnoids serve as a great tankmate for other datnoid fish. You want to avoid keeping them in the same tank with small fish species.

Your datnoids will eat them sooner or later. While bottom dwellers will be good tankmates for datnoid fish, you want to ensure that you get big bottom dwellers to limit the chances of these great fish attacking them for food.

Another tip is to keep larger and semi-aggressive species of whatever tankmates you choose.

Some tankmates to consider are:

  • Stingrays
  • Arowanas
  • Peacock bass
  • Larger catfish species
  • Spiny eels
  • Dinosaur Bichir
  • Silver dollars
  • Tinfoil barbs

Common Diseases


Ich is a typical aquarium disease, and many aquarium species of fish are susceptible to it. Stress is the main cause. Stress weakens their immune system and leaves them susceptible to the disease.

Sudden changes in the water conditions, quality, spikes in the waste materials, and even choosing the wrong tank mates for the aquarium put your datnoid fish under stress.

Symptoms to watch out for are clamped fins and small white spites on their skins. You can treat this disease by identifying and eliminating the cause of the stress.

You also want to ensure that the water quality is optimal. It would also be best to quarantine the affected datnoid in a different tank for treatment.

Tail and Fin Rot

Tail and fin rot is another disease that many aquarists deal with, including datnoid owners.

The reasons for tail and fin rot are poor water quality and improper water temperature. Bacterial infections can also cause it. Preventing tail and fin rot is a critical aspect of datnoid care.

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • The entire rotting away of the fin
  • Whitening of the fin edges
  • Ragged appearance of the fin
  • Splitting of fins and fin inflammation.

You can avoid it by quarantining feeder fish well before feeding them to your datnoids. You also want to avoid keeping very aggressive and territorial fish with a tiger datnoid, especially during their young and middle age.

Underestimating good datnoid care practices like keeping the water quality pristine can also lead to tail and fin rot. Many aquarium hobbyists also treat it with tetracycline and chloromycetin.

Eye Problems

This disease is called Popeye disease and is often characterized by mild protrusion to the extreme swelling of your datnoid’s eyes. Cloudy eyes are another symptom of this disease. You may also find the eyes discolored or red with blood and a loss of appetite.

Popeye disease is an ocular disease caused by poor water conditions and the presence of bacteria in the tank. Sometimes, an eye injury from another datnoid or other housed aquarium species may take too long to heal.

This usually exposes the fish to infection. Datnoids with eye injuries should be watched closely.

Usually, the popeye disease heals by itself with a regular datnoid care routine. You can also remove decorations with sharp pointed edges that may have caused the injury.

You can also treat with amoxicillin and penicillin, especially when there is reason to believe the underlying cause is bacteria. But you want to move the affected datnoid fish to a separate tank for treatment.

Datnoids or Not?

Datnoid fish are large fish species. Keeping this large fish species requires a lot.

You would need a large fish tank, the right aquatic plants for decor, powerful filters, top-quality pellets when you can’t cope with the cost of live food, and many more important concerns. These concerns tend to make aquarium hobbyists prefer other fish species.

But the sight of a thriving new guinea tiger in the tank with other colorful tank mates is one of the most priceless sights you can behold as an aquarist. You only need to make space for the right datnoid tank and choose the right tank mates.

Breeding Datnoid

Datnoids breed naturally in the wild, but breeding datnoids in captivity has been impossible. There have been progress reports with some farms breeding datnoids in Thailand. The process has, however, not been made public.

Final Thoughts

You can never go wrong with tiger fish. Keeping this fish may require some serious investments in food, expensive structures, and more.

But the sight of these beauties is worth every bit of the investment as they can live up to 10 years! This article has explained in details everything you need to know about datnoids.

One mistake that could undo all your hard work is choosing the aggressive pairs to share the aquarium with them. You want to avoid fish like central American cichlids.

Most of these fish are aggressive and will perceive your tiger fish as a contender. You can be sure they will attack your poor tiger to assert their superiority, even if it leads to the death of your tigerfish.

Kelly Stanley