Odessa Barb Care And Breeding Guide

Odessa Barb is an aquarium favorite because of its bright colors. Also referred to as the Scarlet Barb, this marine animal can be a delight in a tank. Unlike most fish species, one is able to tell the difference between the male and female. This makes the possibility of spawning them in a home tank easy. It also tolerates most water conditions, making it a perfect favorite for a first time hobbyist.


Odessa Barb

Scientifically known as the Puntius Padamya, this Asian fish has distinct features cutting across the sexes. The males are silver black with bright red stripes running from the head to tail horizontally. Females on the other hand are silvery pink with black spots somewhere above their pectoral fins. Both the sexes are lovely to look at. Their azure is surreal when together in an aquarium.

They can grow to be large in size too, when cared for properly. An adult odessa barb may measure anywhere from 40 to 45mm. Of the available records, the largest is reported to be 46.4mm.


Originally from Myanmar, the specimen of the fish are said to have been collected from a dug out pond fed by water from a small stream in a village by the name Toe Gyi. It lies in the State of Mandalay in Myanmar.

Some of the fish species are reported to inhabit stretches of River Chindwin. This is a tributary of the Ayeyaruady. More of the fish have been spotted in a small pond off the main channel of River Chindwin (500m).

Tank Requirements

Odessa Barb is an easy fish to keep in a home tank owing to its tolerant nature. It is able to withstand a variety of water conditions. Below are recommended tank requirements:

  • It is a deep swimmer in its natural habitat. A fairly huge tank would fit its needs well. A tank that can contain at least more than 30 gallons is suitable.
  • The water should be slightly acidic.
  • A pH of 6-7 is suitable.
  • Temperatures of between 70 and 78 Fahrenheit (21-26 degrees centigrade) should suffice.
  • Add plenty of rocks and driftwood. While doing this, ensure plenty of space is left for it to swim. Remember it enjoys swimming towards the bottom of the tank.
  • Provide a set-up with many friendly plants. The darker the substrate, the better. More plants in the tank tend to highlight the color of the fish, giving it a beautiful appearance.
  • Floating plants can be added to the aquarium. This will diffuse the light to give the tank a more natural feel.
  • Talking of light, the fish does better with little light.
  • Provide high to moderate filtration. It enjoys plenty of water movement as is found in its natural habitat.
  • Water hardness of between 90 and 357 PPM is necessary.
  • A stream-like set-up can be provided to give the fish the happiness it desires.


Known to be omnivorous, Odessa Barb feeds on a variety of foods. Some of these include:

  • Live worms
  • small insects
  • lettuce
  • Organic detritus
  • Live and frozen foods like Artemia, daphnia and frozen worms.
  • Dried granules and tropical flakes
  • Mini pellets


Unlike most fish species that present problems for most hobbyists in sex identification, Odessa Barb males and females have got distinct differences. They can be identified through their color, body shape and behavior.

Differentiating the male and female Odessa barb:


The male barbs are more colorful than their female counterparts. Their color gets highlighted during their breeding periods. The males have a red, broad band running from their heads to the base of the fin found on the tail. On their abdominal scales are dark distinct margins. Females are silver pink with dark spots somewhere above the pectoral fins.

Body Size and Shape

Females have a round body shape which is also larger than the male’s. Around the belly, the females have more flesh as compared to the males with their streamlined slender forms.


During breeding periods, the males show off to their female counterparts to attract attention. They are likely to chase each other (the males) around the tank to showcase their prowess around females. They will also swim around where the females are.

Since distinguishing their sexes is easy, breeding them can be fun and less hectic. Provide plenty of space during the time for breeding. Ensure the rocks in the tank are well arranged with plenty of plant life around them.

If possible, isolate the male and female during this time so that there is no interference from other tank mates. Two males sharing a tank with the female is likely to give a hobbyist even better results. The females scatter their eggs around the rocky areas. The males then follow to fertilize them. After a few days (48-72 hours), the fry begin to appear. This fish species does not take care of its fry.

Within the first few days, provide the fry with infusoria food. They are likely to feed on it until they are able to eat bloodworms.

Other facts about the Odessa Barb

It is a peaceful fish that can comfortably share the tank with other tank-mates. The males chase each other around the tank most of the time. During the period of breeding, there is more activity around the tank as males compete for hierarchy and attention. This is usually a very interesting spectacle to observe.

When bringing in more tank mates, do not include smaller ones as they are likely to be bullied. To enjoy a lovely spectacle of the odessa barb’s colors, dim the light. They are quite spectacular to just observe as they roam around the tank.

Regularly change the tank water so that their habitat remains fresh. They are quite hardy. Do not fall ill very often. When considering a new tank addition, an Odessa Barb will gladly do.

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