Freshwater Fish

Odessa Barbel – Pethia padamya: Care Guide

The Odessa Barbel is a fantastic freshwater fish to keep in your aquarium. They are easy to care for, peaceful and very pretty (especially the males).

Its popularity has grown significantly in recent years, and we have heard from a number of aquarists who have added this species to their tank.

Due to this growing interest, it made sense for us to put together a guide on this species. In it, you will learn everything you need to know about caring for Barbo Odessa.

Let us begin!

Species Summary

Odessa barnacles (Pethia padamya) are a freshwater fish that originates from Southeast Asia. They are found almost exclusively in the country of Myanmar, but some have reported seeing them in nearby countries as well (these reports have not been verified).

The waters from which they originate are rich in vegetation and slightly acidic. They also have a moderate current that these fish can navigate with ease.

This is a kind of sandbank that will spend most of its time in a group (we’ll look at that in more detail later). They are quite an active fish and will show curiosity and a willingness to investigate all levels of the tank.

While this species is from Myanmar, it actually got its name from the Ukraine. The city of Odessa was where these fish gained initial traction within the fishing community. Soon, this interest spread to other areas of the world.

Life expectancy

The lifespan of an Odessa Barbel is usually between 3 and 5 years. There have been reports of certain owners exceeding the top range by a year or two, but that is extremely rare.

Author’s Note: The most effective way to ensure that these fish live a long and happy life is to provide them with good care. Great water quality, ideal parameters and a good diet have a big impact!


The appearance of Barbo Odessa is what initially attracts anglers. For such a simple design and color scheme, they are actually quite unique!

Along its side runs a slightly faded reddish-orange line. It begins near its eyes and continues past its caudal peduncle. There is also a vertical black stripe about a third of the way back to its side, and another where its dorsal fin ends.

>The rest of his body color is a slightly metallic silver. They also have small black stripes that run «with the grain» on their fins.

The combination of silver and red (and the way they fade into each other) gives them a very interesting look. From a distance, these fish appear to be translucent with a bright red interior!

This pretty effect coupled with their natural activity level makes them a lot of fun to watch. A school of them moving is a fascinating site!

The Odessa Barbel’s fins are angled and designed for speed. The dorsal fin is shaped like a shallow pyramid and its anal fin is compact with a solid surface. These fish also have a long forked tail fin that generates a lot of power.

Author’s Note: Colors above describe male Odessa Barbels. The females are a very light golden brown and have none of the red that the males have.


The typical size of the Odessa barb is around 3 inches long when fully grown. This is within the normal range for barb species.

The factors that most influence their size are genetic components and quality of care. Getting your fish from a reputable seller will help ensure that they grow as large as possible.

Odessa Pick Care

Caring for Barbo Odessa should not intimidate anyone. These fish are very beginner friendly and do not have any specific requirements that present a challenge.

All you need to do if you want these fish to thrive is stick to the basics and be consistent. It’s that easy!

However, if you do not provide them with proper care, they will definitely suffer. Hardy, low-maintenance fish aren’t invincible after all!

tank size

The minimum recommended tank size for the Odessa Barbel is 30 gallons. However, we recommend keeping them in a slightly larger tank if you can handle it.

These are very active fish that will definitely appreciate the extra space. It is also worth noting that owners who have seen this species live the longest have generally kept them in tanks larger than 30 gallons.

Author’s Note: It’s important to note that the size of this tank assumes you have a group of at least five fish (which is highly recommended).

water parameters

Barbos Odessa has some pretty generous ranges of water parameters that you can work with. This makes them very low maintenance, especially if you have experience fishing.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to water conditions is to keep things as consistent as possible. Like any freshwater species, these fish can be sensitive to sudden changes in the levels listed below.

  • Water temperature: 70°F to 79°F
  • pH levels: 6 to 7
  • Water hardness: 4-10 KH

When you first set these fish up in your new tank, you should test these parameters more often. Once you are sure that everything is stable, you can reduce the frequency of these tests.

What to put in your tank

Setting up the perfect tank for Odessa Barbels requires you to keep their natural habitat in mind. Since that is the case, plants should be your number one focus when it comes to this species.

These fish use a lot of vegetation in their habitat, so plan accordingly. They will spend a lot of time swimming among the aquarium plants and using them as hiding places if they want some privacy.

You have many options when it comes to the specific plant species that you include. Hornwort and water wisteria are two common choices that aquarists seem to have success with. Feel free to experiment!

You can also include some other elements like driftwood, rocks, and caves if you like. These are very curious and active fish that will gladly see any object in their habitat.

But don’t overdo it.

Odessa Barbels need a lot of room to swim, and a tank that is too cramped will make them cranky and stressed. The priorities should be plants and space to swim!

Common Potential Illnesses

There are no specific diseases that affect Barbo Odessa. While this is good, it doesn’t mean they can’t get sick in other ways.

Any of the common freshwater diseases can occur if care is not taken. The most common is Ich which can be particularly unsightly if not taken care of quickly (this will show up as white spots on your fish).

It is part of your job as an aquarist to monitor your fish for signs of illness or disease. Strange behavior, lack of energy, refusal to eat, and visible wounds or stains are things to watch out for.

If you see something that worries you, the best thing you can do is act quickly. Talk to your vet, isolate infected fish if possible, and take action with recommended treatment.

Author’s Note: The best way to ensure you don’t have to worry about illness is simply to provide excellent care (although obviously nothing is guaranteed). Fish that live in a tank with stellar water quality and eat a healthy diet are significantly less likely to get sick.

Food and Diet

Diet is one area where many people are surprised by the Odessa Barbel. These fish are so passive and easy to care for that many aquarists assume that feeding them will be a no-brainer.

But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

While their recommended diet isn’t very complex, Odessa Beards require a bit of variety. These fish have quite an appetite (probably due to their activity level), which means you can’t get away with a few flakes here and there.

Instead, give them a nice flake meal as a base and add on top. This will serve as a good nutritional foundation and give you the flexibility to vary the rest of your diet.

Apart from that, we recommend some meaty foods and vegetables. Brine shrimp, bloodworms, and daphnia are great high-protein options. When it comes to vegetables, we like cucumbers and lettuce (although you can be flexible with these).

To avoid overfeeding them, it’s a good idea to have a consistent schedule and monitor the amount of food you’re putting in the tank. Many Odessa Barbel owners opt for a twice daily feeding schedule.

Also, only feed them as much food as they can eat in a few minutes.

behavior and temperament

Odessa Barbels are peaceful and active fish, the dream combination!

There are very few situations where these fish show aggression. The first is if you don’t keep them in a group of at least five, as this will make them constantly nervous. The other is during the playback process (although this is quite rare).

>For the most part, these fish prefer to mind their own business and cruise around the tank. They do a great job of entertaining themselves!

His activity level is also quite impressive. Unlike many other freshwater fish, this species will roam all areas of the aquarium. They will often be on a sandbar so this behavior will usually occur in a group.

tank mates

There are many options for Odessa Barbel tankmates due to their peaceful nature. These fish can get along with almost any non-aggressive fish that doesn’t mistake them for food.

Below is a list of some of the best tank mates for this species. Feel free to experiment with other fish that fit the criteria listed above.

  • bristlenose pleco
  • cherry pick
  • neon tetra
  • rasbora chili
  • Harlequin Rasbora
  • Ember Tetra
  • Bolivian ram cichlid
  • Apistogramma

Be careful if you plan to keep Odessa Barbels with any of the common freshwater aquarium snails. While some aquarists have gotten this to work, they have done it in a large tank (and even then success is not guaranteed).

Odessa Barb Breeding

The Odessa Barbel breeding process is fairly simple once you know what to do. Due to its sexual dimorphism, it is very easy to identify males and females (something you cannot afford to do with other species).

You will want to first have these fish in a breeding tank. Make sure there are twice as many females in the tank as there are males and don’t forget to include some plants!

It won’t take long for mating pairs to develop. This is easy to notice as it will differ drastically from your shoal behavior.

These fish scatter their eggs, which means that the female will lay the eggs while the male follows and fertilizes them. Once this process is done, the parents will no longer be involved and may even eat the eggs. Because of this, remove the adults from the breeding tank to play it safe.

Author’s Note: Some aquarists are fine keeping the adults in and relying on a heavily planted tank to protect the eggs from their parents. In our opinion, that approach is unnecessarily risky.

The eggs will not take long to hatch (usually just a few days). Once this happens, get ready to feed the baby brine shrimp so they can grow big and strong!


Odessa Barbel care is as easy as it sounds. These fish are incredibly low maintenance and are perfect for aquarists of all experience levels.

The combination of their beauty and activity level makes them one of the most enjoyable species to watch. If you are someone who wants as much of a pretty sight in their tank as possible, the Odessa Barbel is a great choice for you.

We’d love to hear from current owners who have tips or feedback on their time with these fish. If you have something you’d like to share, please reach out to us through our contact page or send us a message on Facebook.

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