What to Know About Odessa Barb

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on December 02, 2022
4 min read

A freshwater aquarium is an entertaining and trendy way to bring nature into your home. The global aquarium fish trade has boomed in the past few decades as more people keep fish tanks. Aquarists trade over a billion individual fish internationally each year, and the fish trade involves over 5,300 species of freshwater fish. If you want to start or add new fish to a freshwater aquarium, consider the Odessa Barb. 

The Odessa Barb is a small fish from south Asia. Aquarists have long appreciated this species because of the male’s vivid coloration. An Odessa Barb can be a great addition to many freshwater aquariums. Discover this fish’s traits and care requirements.

Pet fish owners have kept the Odessa Barb (Pethia padamya) since at least the early 1970s. Aquarists in Odessa, Ukraine, first owned this species, giving the fish its distinctive name. But the origin of the Odessa Barb was unknown until 2008, when scientists discovered the species living in the wild in the Ayeyarwaddy River drainage area of Myanmar. 

This fish is a member of the Cyprinidae family, which includes freshwater fish like barbs, carps, and minnows. It has a small body with a forked caudal fin, a slanted dorsal fin, and a short anal fin. Its short head has a round snout and a single pair of maxillary barbels, or whiskerlike appendages. 

Some aquarists refer to the Odessa Barb as the Ruby Barb due to its unique coloration. The adult male typically has a pale yellow or light brown body with a bright orange or red stripe that extends from the head to the caudal fin. This fish also has black or dark blotches or vertical stripes on its body. The dorsal and anal fins have irregular rows of black spots. Together, these bright colors give the male Odessa Barb a distinctive appearance that makes it a stunning addition to any freshwater aquarium. 

The female Odessa Barb is less colorful. The fish has a light yellow chest and abdomen without bright pigmentation. Its scales have a silvery sheen, and the dorsal and anal fins are pale white with indistinct black spots. 

Today, captive-raised Odessa Barb fish are widely available in the global aquarium trade. However, scientists have found wild specimens in only two locations in central Myanmar. More research is needed to determine the fish’s range and population.

It’s relatively easy to provide appropriate Odessa Barb care as long as you consider the species’ needs. This hardy fish should live in a freshwater aquarium with slightly acidic water with a pH of 6 to 7. The ideal Odessa Barb temperature is 70°F to 78°F, and you should maintain a water hardness of 2° to 10° dH. 

The Odessa Barb is a quick swimmer that requires adequate room to explore. You can keep one Odessa Barb per every 10 gallons of water, so it’s a good idea to invest in a large tank if you want to have multiple fish. The Odessa Barb also thrives most when kept in a tank with plenty of plants.

The male Odessa Barb can show territorial aggression toward other members of the species. Both genders may nip at slower tank companions with flowing fish, like Angelfish. To avoid conflict, it’s best to house your Odessa Barb with calm and peaceful species like Corydora Catfish, Ram Cichlids, or Tetras.

The Odessa Barb is an omnivorous fish that tends to eat meals with gusto. When kept in a freshwater tank, the bulk of the Odessa Barb diet should consist of high-quality fish flakes. You can also feed it freeze-dried foods, live foods, and even fruits. 

On average, the Odessa Barb tends to live three years or longer. Providing appropriate care for your Odessa Barb can help it have a long and healthy life. 

While the Odessa Barb doesn’t have as long of a lifespan as some other species, adding this creature to your household is still a substantial commitment. It’s a good idea to make sure that you can care for your fish for several years before starting an aquarium.

The average Odessa Barb size is around 3 inches (8 centimeters) when fully grown. Females usually grow larger than males and have plumper bodies when carrying eggs. 

Many aquarists enjoy breeding their fish, but mating and raising Odessa Barb can be challenging. You can increase your chances of success if you keep your fish in a breeding tank instead of in a community aquarium with other species. 

The female Odessa Barb scatters eggs. Placing marbles at the bottom of the breeding tank can prevent the fish from eating the eggs. After the eggs hatch, you can feed them fry food and baby brine shrimp. Change the water frequently to make sure that the growing fish have a clean environment.

Interacting with Odessa Barb and other species of fish provides many health benefits, including: 

  • Decreased anxiety 
  • Glycemic control 
  • Higher pain threshold 
  • Increased mood 
  • Lower diastolic blood pressure

But adding freshwater fish to your home also poses potential health risks. Fish can transmit harmful bacteria to humans, like Mycobacterium marinum and Salmonella. You can prevent the spread of this bacteria by cleaning your aquarium regularly, immediately disposing of dead fish, and washing your hands thoroughly after touching aquarium water and fish. 

With proper care, the Odessa Barb is a colorful and unique freshwater fish that will brighten up any aquarium.