The Odessa barb (lat. Pethia padamya) is a small, bright and active fish. Unfortunately, it is less spread than other barb species. Earlier it was considered that the fish was one of Puntius ticto coloring variations (which natural coloring doesn’t have wide red stripe along its body peculiar for this species).
This version is quite prevailing in literature on aquarium husbandry. In 2008 Pethia padamya was described as a separate species.
Habitat in the wild
The word ‘padamya’ from Burmese language means ‘ruby’. The fish is encountered in Myanmar in Irrawaddy River and its tributary Chindwin River. Also the fish was found in an artificially impounded body in one of the villages.
Typical waters where the fish can be found are backwaters and ponds of large and middle sized rivers. Their bottom is muddy as a rule and Odessa barb spends a lot of time looking for food on the bottom.
Why does the fish get this particular name? It’s hard to say. It is considered that the fish was bred and first became popular in Odessa, Ukraine.
The fish is up to 5 cm (2 inches) long. Its lifespan is up to 5 years provided with proper tank conditions and care.
The body is elongated, oval shaped and flattened from sides; lateral line isn’t complete; large scales. The fish doesn’t have barbels. The back is foliage green, sides are silvery with metal tint, abdomen is white.
There are dark spots near the tail fin and above pectoral fins. At that the front spot has elongated shape and resembles a vertical stripe.
Scales form clear reticulated pattern on the body. The male has wide bright red stripe along its body and dorsal, anal and abdominal fins are covered with black spots. As for the female, the stripe is barely seen.
Difficulties in keeping
The fish is quite undemanding and suitable even for beginning aquarists. Like all barb species this one likes clean, well aerated water and light water flow present in a tank.
Care and keeping in a tank
|Scientific Name||Pethia padamya|
|Common Name||Odessa barb, odessa fish|
|Tank size||11 gallons and more|
|Temperature||24-26 °C (75,2-78,8 °F)|
|Size||up to 5 cm (2 inches)|
|Lifespan||up to 5 years|
Aquarists consider Odessa barb as undemanding and even enduring fish. This is a peaceful schooling fish, that’s why it should be kept in the number of at least 5-6 species with the same peaceful species, except long-finned fishes.
There is a feature peculiar to all barb species – when dwelling among large number of its relatives the fish is less stressed, they form clear hierarchy and this is when the fish can be seen in all its beauty.
If you keep just a couple of the fish, it will be barely seen in a tank, you won’t be able to observe peculiarities of its behavior and what is more important – its color.
You’ll need a quite roomy (from 50 liters or 11 gallons) thickly planted tank with some free space for the fish to swim. Don’t put too many decorations into it, remember to leave some free space for swimming. It is desirable to put some long-stalked and small-leaved tank plants along the tank perimeter.
The fish actively swims in all water layers. It is undemanding in terms of tank water parameters, though the following will be the most preferable ones: 24-26 °C (75,2-78,8 °F), 5 до 19 °dH, pH 6,5—7,5.
It is critical to use a canister filter, since it creates the type of flow the barb likes and helps to reduce the level of nitrates and ammonia in the water.
Compatibility and tank mates
Odessa barb is peaceful and not aggressive fish. But like all barb species it should be kept in a school, since if the fish is alone it quickly gets stressed.
A school of barbs will look great together with its relatives — tiger barb, denison barb, cherry barb. Zebrafish, neon tetra, molly will also be perfect tank mates. The fish will successfully coexist with prawns, it doesn’t eat them.
You can’t keep the fish together with large and predatory fishes, for example, with rope fish, bichir since they will treat barb as food. Slow long-finned fishes are also unsuitable tank mates for this barb.
In the wild feeds on insects, their larvae, plant food and detritus. It’s not a problem to feed it in a tank, it doesn’t refuse from any kind of food and doesn’t require any special diet.
Sexual dimorphism of this species is expressed in the size and body shape: the females are larger and have more rounded body shape. The males are smaller, but they have brighter coloring with bright red stripe on their body.
The fish becomes reproductive at the age of 5-6 month. The female lays up to 200 eggs. The spawns in bunches of small-leaved tank plants. Egg stage lasts for about a day, 3 days later the juveniles start to swim.
The spawning tank should be spacious, since only spawning in a school is efficient for this fish. Ratio of the males and females in a tank should be 1:2.
Before spawning put the fishes in separate volumes for 1-2 weeks and get them ready for spawning. Put small-leaved plants into the spawning tank.
The water should be soft (<8 °dH), optimal water temperature is 25—27 °C. The spawning starts in the morning and lasts for 3—4 hours. Take the fishes out from the tank once the spawning is over.
Start food for the juveniles is infusorian and small microorganisms. Later you can feed them with crustacean nauplii, cyclops and small daphnia.
Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.