Odessa Barb 101: Complete Care Guide (2024)

Featured Image - odessa barb
Featured Image – odessa barb
Dr. Mollie Newton
Published by Dr. Mollie Newton PHD| Senior Editor
Last updated: May 10, 2024
Review Process and Evaluation Criteria
We conduct hands-on testing for all the products highlighted in our reviews and guides. Through anonymous product ordering and involving an independent team of testers, we gather direct experience to offer recommendations backed by data.

Odessa barbs, famed for their striking appearance, tranquil character, and spirited antics, are a preferred pick for freshwater aquariums among those passionate about fish keeping. Incorporating a group of these species into your aquarium surroundings will surely boost its allure and command your admiration and appreciation.

Article Summary

  • Odessa barbs are attractive, peaceful, and lively freshwater fish, making them popular among aquarists.
  • Odessa barbs require a tank of at least 30 gallons with a spacious, well-planted setup; they prefer slightly cooler water temperatures and slightly acidic water conditions.
  • Odessa barbs are generally peaceful but can be aggressive if not kept in large enough schools and are known to nip at the fins of slow-moving fish.

One of the first species I owned when I first started keeping fish almost a decade ago was a group of Odessa barbs, and they’re one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the aquarium hobby. Their simple care, bright colors, and active nature make them an outstanding fish to own.

If you’re thinking of adding Odessa barbs to your tank or simply want to know a little more about Odessa barb care, read on, as I’ll be going over everything you need to know about these gorgeous little fish!

Where Are Odessa Barbs From?

Odessa barbs are native to Southeast Asia and are found in Central Myanmar in freshwater ponds and rivers. They primarily inhabit the lower Chindwin River and an artificial pond above the Anisakan Falls.

The waters in these areas are slightly acidic with muddy bottoms, ample vegetation, and a moderate current.


Did you know that the Odessa barb was once believed to be a hybrid of 2 barb species until they were discovered in the country of Myannar?

Unique Features

Odessa Barb 3
Odessa Barb Appearance

At first glance, the male Odessa barb looks almost transparent with glowing red insides – it looks spectacular. Their pyramid-shaped dorsal fin and long, forked caudal fin allows them to swim quickly with little effort.

For such a small fish, they are incredibly fast and active, and you’ll often find them zipping around the aquarium like a ping-pong ball.

As mentioned above, male Odessa barbs have more intense coloring than females. Their bodies are slightly metallic silver in color with a thick, bright red stripe that’s dotted with black. The pectoral fins on the fish also have faint black dots.

Females, on the other hand, are a light golden brown color. Unfortunately, they don’t have the faded red-orange line, so they don’t look quite as striking.

How Big Do Odessa Barbs Get?

Average Odessa barb size is between 3 to 4 inches in length, with males usually being a bit smaller than females.

How Can I Get My Odessa Barb to Get More Color?

There are numerous factors that can cause subdued coloration in the Odessa barb fish, including illness, poor water quality, improper tank parameters, and bad diet.

You should make sure your tank is clean and has the right water requirements for this species (more on this later!), and ensure you are feeding your fish a variety of foods to gain the right nutrients.


Some good food options for this species that can help enhance color include bloodworms, seaweed, and brine shrimp.

Are Odessa Barbs Aggressive?

The Odessa barb is mostly passive and mind their own business, but they can be aggressive towards other tank mates especially to species with long fins and other males, even more so if they are not kept in big enough schools. You should also avoid housing them with slower-moving fish as they will be an easy target.

Are Odessa Barbs Fin Nippers?

Odessa Barb
Odessa Barb In a Tank

Yes, Odessa barbs are fin nippers and can be quite relentless bullies if housed with timid, slower-moving, and long-finned tank mates.

As mentioned earlier, they are very lively fish and will easily stress out gentler, peaceful species with all their hyperactivity. Consider this factor when placing them with other species.

How Many Odessa Barbs Should I Keep?

Odessa Barb: Amazing Fish

The Odessa barb is a shoaling species and should be kept in a group of at least 6.

They can be rather cantankerous if kept in small schools, so the more you have in a tank, the better.

What Fish to Keep With Barbs?

The Odessa barb can be housed in a community tank – you just need to be careful when choosing tank mates. This includes other peaceful freshwater fish with high energy levels and short fins are ideal Odessa barb tank mates, such as the cherry barbs, apistogrammas, bolivian ram cichlids, roseline sharks, rosy barbs, and neon tetras.

Fish that should be avoided as tank mates in an Odessa barb community aquarium include bettas, guppies, gouramis, angelfish, and aquatic snails – pretty much any long-finned or slow moving fish.

Tank Size

The recommended minimum tank size for keeping odessa barbs is 30 gallons as they need a lot of space to explore. If you can invest in a slightly larger tank, your odessa barbs will certainly appreciate it!

Long aquariums are better than tall tanks as these very active fish love to zoom around. You’ll find them mostly in the middle region of the tank, so make sure there is ample swimming room in this section.

Water Parameters

Like any species of fish, Odessa barbs need specific water parameters in their tank in order to thrive. They are extremely sensitive to changes, but don’t worry, I’ll be going over all that below!

Water Temperature


Although classed as a tropical fish species, the Odessa barb prefers slightly cooler water than most other freshwater fish with warm water requirements. They can be kept in aquariums with a water temperature between 70°F to 79°F, but they can also tolerate as low 59°F.

If you live in a cool climate, you’ll need to grab yourself a 30-gallon aquarium heater to increase the temperature of your tank.

Make sure your tank conditions are consistent as fluctuations in temperature, pH, and water hardness can contribute to stress, illness, and even death in these lively schooling fish.

pH Levels

Odessa barbs live in slightly acidic water in the wild, so this should be replicated in the home aquarium. Ideal pH levels for the Odessa barb is between 6.0 to 7.0.

Investing in a digital pH meter is a good way to keep the aquarium water’s pH in check and know if you need to increase or lower the water’s pH.


Aim to keep your Odessa barb tank with a water hardness within to range or 4 to 10 KH.


Live or synthetic plants are a great way to add some decoration to your Odessa barb aquarium, as well as provide your fish with shelter and hiding spots.

If you’re planning to have a planted aquarium, real aquatic plants are particularly beneficial as they help you maintain proper tank conditions by increasing oxygen levels and absorbing excess nitrates.

Any freshwater plant species with similar water requirements to the Odessa barb are an excellent choice, but some of my personal favorites include hornwort, water wisteria, and java moss.

Bear in mind that Odessa barbs are omnivores, so they may occasionally nibble on aquatic plants in your planted aquarium.


Aqueon Quitflow Pro Internal Filter
Aqueon Quietflow Pro Internal Filter

Odessa barbs need moderate to high filtration as the current or water movement in their natural habitat in Southeast Asia is relatively strong. You should make sure your filter has an adjustable water flow like the Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Filter to replicate this fast-paced flow.

In addition, make sure your filter is powerful enough for the size of your aquarium – it should be able to turn at 4 times the volume of your tank per hour.


As mentioned earlier, wild Odessa barbs come from waters with muddy bottoms combined with gravel, so an aquatic substrate topped off with medium-sized pebbles is a good choice for these lively fish in the home aquarium.


Odessa barbs prefer soft, dim lighting, just like in their natural habitat. You can decrease the intensity of your lighting system by adding plenty of floating plants in your tank.

The Odessa barb is omnivorous, which means they eat both plant food and meaty foods. In their natural habitat, these freshwater fish consume insects, plankton, and small crustaceans.

What to Feed Odessa Barbs?

Pethia padamya has quite the appetite due to their lively nature. They aren’t picky when it comes to food, but you should still try to make sure you add some variety to their diet.

You can offer them high-quality fish flake food or pellets as their primary food, supplemented by either frozen or live daphnia, brine shrimp, fly larvae, mosquito larvae, and vegetables like cucumber or spinach.

When to Feed Odessa Barbs?

As the odessa barb is an active fish, they should be fed 2 to 3 times a day.

How Much to Feed Odessa Barbs?

Bloodworms in Plastic Container
Bloodworms in Plastic Container

Overfeeding your odessa barbs can cause health issues, so only offer them as much food as they can eat within a few minutes. After this time, remove any leftover food with a net.

Odessa Barb Lifespan

The average lifespan of an odessa barb is between 3 to 5 years with good care. A healthy diet, large tank setup, and proper water conditions can all help the fish live up to its maximum lifespan.

Common Diseases

Pethia padamya are hardy fish for the most part, so as long as you keep on top of their care and tank maintenance, you shouldn’t encounter many health issues. However, it’s always important to stay vigilant and know how to identify disease or illness so you can separate the infected fish and select the appropriate treatment.

Some typical tank diseases include ich, fin rot, flukes, columnaris, dropsy, and fish tuberculosis.

Common signs of illness in freshwater fish are clamped fins, rapid or shallow breathing, gasping near the water surface, flashing or scratching against tank decor, visible lesions or cuts, inflamed or reddish gills, and lethargy. Make sure to watch out for any early signs of sickness so that your fish can live a long and happy life.

How Do Odessa Barbs Breed?

Male and female Odessa barbs will pair off with one another once they are ready to breed. Due to the species sexual dimorphism, you can can easily tell the difference between males and females.

The male Odessa barb is metallic silver with a thick red stripe along their side, whereas the female Odessa barb is a light golden brown. Females tend to be larger with a more rounded body shape too

Odessa barbs are egg scatterers, so during spawning, the female will deposit her eggs around the aquarium. The egg scattering strategy involves the eggs being fertilized externally. The male Odessa barb will then fertilize the eggs externally, and that’s when the fishes’ parenting duties end.

How to Breed Odessa Barbs

Although this fish usually spawns on its own, you can help the Odessa barb breeding process along and increase the likelihood of the fry’s survival by moving males and females to a separate breeding tank. This is especially advantageous if you keep the species in a community tank.

You should move twice as many females as males in your breeding tank – make sure to add a few aquatic plants to help replicate the Odessa barb’s natural habitat to trigger spawning.

Females who are full of eggs will look bloated and may appear lethargic. Once spawning occurs and the eggs have been fertilized, move the adults to a separate tank as they may eat some of the babies.

After around 48 to 72 hours, the Odessa barb eggs will hatch. The free-swimming fry should then be fed dysphoria or baby brine shrimp in the breeding tank, gradually moving them onto the same diet as the adults once they’re big enough.

Is the Odessa Barb for You?

Odessa Barb
Odessa Barb

If you’re looking for a small, unique fish that’s both beautiful and interesting to watch, the Odessa barb is the right fish for you. They can be housed in a minimum tank size of 30 gallons (ideally, well-planted tanks), so they’re a good choice if you don’t have an overly large aquarium.

Better yet, they are relatively hardy and can adapt to a wide range of parameters, which is ideal if you’re new to the fishkeeping hobby.

The Odessa barb can be kept in a community tank with other fish, but caution should be taken when choosing tank mates. Although mostly peaceful fish, they can be aggressive towards slow-moving or long-finned species, especially if they are not kept in a group of at least 6.

Other tank mates of a lively nature make the best roommates for an Odessa barb tank setup.

Additionally, breeding odessa barbs is pretty straightforward, making them a fantastic choice if you’re new to raising baby fish.

Final Thoughts

I hope I helped you learn a little more about Odessa barb care and, hopefully, encouraged you to add a group (of at least 6!) to your aquarium.

What do you like the most about the Odessa barb? Be sure to let me know on our social media platforms and share this guide with others in your pet enthusiast’s circles – they might be persuaded to own this glorious species too!

You May Also Like