Common Name- Odessa Barb
Water Conditions- Temp. 70-80,
Plants are important for security, Low to moderate
light for best color,
Behavior- Peaceful, schooling, community fish.
Breeding- Adhesive egg scatterers
Size- 2.5 inches
The specifics for this fish are still just being
disseminated, and some of the information found on the web, etc.
is inconsistent. It will get no larger than 2.5 inches, and I
do not treat this as a cold water fish. The males
achieve and maintain their deepest color at 76-78 degrees, in
a well planted, dim to moderately lit tank against
a dark bottom aquarium. They will breed fairly readily when
provided with the proper conditions (see
Fish), but the parents are eager egg eaters and the young
must be raised on infusoria the first few days before
graduating to vinegar eels or microworms, then on to baby
They are a peaceful community fish. Some identifications on
the web claim this can be a slightly aggressive fish,
but that has not been my experience. A recent conversation
with an importer also confirmed that those initial
claims were mistaken.
This is a schooling fish and does best when in a small group
of at least 5. The sexual ratio does not seem to
matter, as all females or all males, or a mix all do fine
This species requires a higher level of oxygenation in their
water. Aeration generated water movement must be
provided. It does not need to be dramatic, the air put out by
1-2 standard 4" box filters in a 20 gallon tank
is ideal. When provided with some plant cover, low to
moderate light, and a dark tank bottom they will stay
active and at full color.
This species definitely prefers a tank of at least 20
gallons, evidenced by the color shown by the males when
they are comfortable. They can become nearly identical to the
females when unhappy, but when conditions improve
their full color returns almost immediately. A tank of 20
gallons or larger allows adults to hide in plants,
coming out as a group when they choose.
To Keep Them at Their
If you put a group of males in a 10 gallon
tank with few plants, open light through the tank, a bright
overhead, light tan or white gravel on the bottom, the most
impressively colored fish will be washed out and rarely
show the intense color this line has been carefully bred to
produce. Their color reflects their mood, their comfort,
and can be greatly affected by influences that are sometimes
surprising. I should mention that by "good color", I am
referring to a vibrant, deep, very bright velvety red that is
unlike anything on any other fish. I maintain a 50 gallon
tank here of just my best breeder males, as well as a 75
gallon of young males coloring out, and feel I have a fairly
good grasp of what it takes to keep them at their best color.
What I have found is:
-They need to be comfortable and unstressed. In the 50 gallon
breeder tank they generally swim out in front and their
color is usually excellent. They share the tank with a few
large plecos, and have lived with various swords and other
barbs without effect on their color. Check out the videos
Here to see what their color is capable of.
-The back of the tank is covered with black plastic, and the
tank is lit moderately from above. It is not dark- there
are many plants (Java fern and bolbitis fern primarily) and
the light is adequate for them to thrive, but the fish
always have the option to hide in the plants when they wish.
- The Odessa barbs are active fish sensitive to low
oxygenation, so two 4" box filters inside the tank provide
filtration. Other types of filtration would be fine, but an
airstone should then be provided.
-Though reported to be a cool water fish- they do thrive in
outdoor ponds where they will tolerate cooler
temperatures, I find that their color and breeding is best at
about 78 degrees.
- Their color is best when they are hungry- and stays intense
as they feed, but will settle back after they are fed.
When I have guests looking to buy them coming to visit, I
will deliberately not feed feed them before their arrival.
- A dirty filter will cause their color to fade. Their color
will also improve after a water change.
- Lastly (and customers informed me of this, and I have found
it to be true), the few days after the addition of my
Rapid Grow fertilizer causes them to color way up. I'm not
trying to sell fertilizer here, but it is true! There is
something in the fertilizer they respond to, and the change
can be dramatic.
- When breeding, their color will also intensify. When first
introduced to the females and while acclimating to the
breeding tank (the pairs are bred in a specially constructed
tank), the males will lose all their color as they
normally would when stressed. By the second day breeding will
begin, and the males with fully color out as they are
chasing the females. When the active breeding ceases, the
males will actually lose all of their color- as if to relax-
until the active chasing again begins. However, when
conditions are to their liking in their home tank, their color
will stay consistently good all of the time.
The females are also no slouches when it comes to color.
Though they do not possess the red stripe, they do sport
orange fins, with black speckling in the dorsal. The sides
are an overall bronze, darker above and lighter below,
with two black spots on their sides. By themselves they are a
very attractive fish, and some females will also show
a hint of the broad red stripe- though generally more of a
light red/ orange color along their sides just as in the
See other Care Guides