Odessa Barb

From Microcosm Aquarium Explorer

Jump to: navigation , search
Puntius padamya - Kullander & Britz, 2008
Odessa Barb

Odessa Barb pair, male with red band on side. JJPhoto.dk


At one time, Moscow street vendors sold the Odessa Barb from flasks carried under their shirts to keep them warm. The lovely barb never really had a good scientific name, but it was just recently legitimized with a species name that is the Burmese word for ruby because of the rich red of the males.

Although known to the aquarium world since the 1970s, this species was never collected by ichthyologists in the wild until recently. It was described by Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History and Ralf Britz of The Natural History Museum, London, in 2008, based on specimens collected in the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River drainage, Mandalay Division, Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Male with bright red band.
Female Odessa Barb.

First popularized by hobbyists in Odessa, Ukraine, it has long been called the Odessa Barb and believed to be a subspecies of Ticto Barb Puntius ticto and part of the Rosy Barb (Puntius conchonius) Group.

Best kept in groups of five or more, it is an active schooling fish and not as aggressive as the Tiger Barb. Rowdy cichlids and lone Tiger Barbs may harass them.

Both males and females have a vertically elongate dark shoulder (humeral) blotch and a small, inconspicuous dark blotch on the fore part of the caudal peduncle. Males sport dark-edged scales and a brilliant red band from eye to tail when in good condition and in reproductive mode.

Family: Cyprinidae

Other common name(s):

  • Scarlet Barb

Native range:

Habitat: As with most of the Barbs, decor is strictly for the aquarist, as are plants, which can be restricted to the sides and back of the tank. They need lots of open swimming space, which is easier to provide in a longer, rather than tall, aquarium. Because the Odessa Barb may root around in the gravel, a fine-grade substrate is best. Darker colors (substrate and background) well help show off the fish’s colors and make them feel more secure.

Maximum length: 10 cm (4 in)

Minimum aquarium size: 95 L (25 gal)

Water: Freshwater 22 °C (72 °F) - 26 °C (79 °F)

General swimming level: Midwater.


Omnivore. The Odessa Barb is a greedy eater and will accept most commercial meaty and vegetable-based aquarium fare, including good-quality Spirulina flakes, algae wafers, and color-enhancing rations.

Aquarium Compatibility

Active schooling fish that is a good citizen in the community though they may get a little rough with their own kind. They like a long tank with plenty of open space and plants at the back and sides. Use a dark substrate and background.

Special Care

pH: 6.5-7.5; hardness: 10°dGH.


This is a great species for beginning breeders. If a group of Odessa Barbs is well fed and kept with clumps of bushy plants, spawning events are almost inevitable. They are typical egg-scatterers with high fertility. Use separate spawning tank and remove the parents after the eggs are laid.


Description of PUNTIUS PADAMYA, A NEW SPECIES OF CYPRINID FISH FROM MYANMAR, Electronic Journal of Ichthyology, October 2008 2: 56-66. Download Article.

Reference: A PocketExpert Guide Tropical Fishes
Image credit: JJ
Text credit: JL