By Anandarajkumar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Odessa Barbs: The Ultimate Care Guide


Do you want a beautiful, medium-sized, freshwater fish? Perhaps the Odessa Barb is for you.

These fish are not only beautiful, but also easy to care for. It’s no wonder why these fish have grown in popularity.

In this care guide, you will learn about their average lifespan, suitable tank mates, and so much more.


A beautiful dark gray and red fish (an Odessa barb)
By Anandarajkumar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

These fish are just stunning.

The males are dark gray with a thick red stripe running from their head to their caudal (tail) fin.

Females, on the other hand, are generally less colorful. They are also dark gray, but have a slight pink hue and lack the red stripe.

Usual behavior

The Odessa barb is a schooling fish, so you you should keep these fish in groups of at least 5-6.

These fish are typically peaceful, but males, trying to establish dominance, may get a bit aggressive for a short period of time.

If the aggression continues, remove the slow and weak fish so they don’t get injured.

Odessa barbs are also very active, so you’re going to need a decently sized aquarium. They will appreciate the space.

Tank Setup

When it comes to setting up their aquarium, plants are a necessity. You can also add driftwood and rocks to make the aquarium a little more interesting.

You don’t want to go overboard, as they still need room to swim, but you should add some live plants (i.e hornwort or water wisteria). Live plants are great for most aquariums.


These fish generally live for around 3-5 years, which is pretty typical for most barb species.

Providing your Odessa barbs with proper care is essential if you want them to live a long, happy life.


Expect your Odessa barbs to grow to around 3 inches in length. Note that males will be typically smaller than the females.

Odessa Barb Care

5 gray and red fish in an aquarium
By Anandarajkumar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

These fish are pretty easy to care for and don’t require extremely large aquariums or constant attention.

Just remember, if you neglect these fish, they will suffer. Check the water parameters frequently and make sure your fish are always healthy and thriving.

Tank Size

Considering that these fish get around 3 inches in length, the minimum recommended tank size is around 29 gallons for these fish.

It is recommended to get a larger aquarium if you can, as these fish are quite active and will enjoy the extra space. However, it isn’t necessary.

Tank Mates

It is said that these fish are relatively peaceful (note that males can still get aggressive, as stated earlier), so there are a relatively large number of suitable tank mates.

  • Bolivian rams
  • Bristlenose plecos
  • Apistogrammas
  • Neon tetras
  • Harlequin rasboras
  • Cherry barbs


These fish are not hard to feed. They will even survive completely on commercial food, although it is not recommended.

Foods such as the following will be accepted by Odessa barbs.

  • Pellets and flakes
  • Baby brine shrimp:
  • Daphnia
  • Bloodworms
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce

Water Parameters

Odessa barbs can tolerate a range of water parameters, but the parameters need to be stable.

Here are the water parameters these fish thrive in. Always make sure that the parameters are in the ideal range, or else your fish could get stressed and sick.

  • Temperature: 70 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 26 degrees Celsius).
  • pH: 6-7
  • Hardness: 4-10 KH

Common Diseases

There are no specific diseases that only Odessa barbs can contract, but that doesn’t mean they cannot get sick.

As you may know, fish get sick a lot, so it’s important to make sure your fish are healthy.

Illnesses that Odessa barbs can get include Ich (aka white spot disease or Ick) and mycobacteriosis (a generic term for diseases caused by a group of bacteria known as mycobacteria).

Typical Price

A single Odessa barb can cost between $6 and $10. No, these fish are not cheap, but many believe they’re worth it.

Note that it depends on the seller and where you live. Some sellers may sell their Odessa barbs for less, while others may sell theirs for more.


Here are some frequently asked questions about Odessa barbs.

Are the Odessa Barbs aggressive?

Males trying to establish dominance may get aggressive, but this behavior shouldn’t last very long. Most Odessa barbs are relatively peaceful.

Are the Odessa Barbs Fin Nippers?

Yes, Odessa Barbs are fin nippers. Although they aren’t very aggressive, they can and will nip at slow-moving aquarium fish.

Breeding the Odessa Barbs

Fortunately, breeding Odessa barbs is not that hard.

To breed these fish, you’re going to want a breeding tank. Make sure there are at least 2 females for every male. There should also be some plants in the tank.

The water should be soft (less than 8°dH) and warm (77-80°F/25-26.6°C).

Odessa barbs can reproduce when they’re around 5–6 months old, and the female can lay up to 200 eggs!

The eggs should hatch within the next 3 days. Feed the fry baby brine shrimp or small daphnia.

Are Odessa Barbs Suitable for Me?

If you want a medium-sized, beautiful fish that is easy to care for, then perhaps the Odessa barb is for you!

These fish are usually not very aggressive (except for males who are trying to establish dominance) and live with a variety of peaceful fish.

These fish only need a 30-gallon aquarium and can thrive in a fairly wide variety of water parameters.

If you like this fish, you may also like the tiger barb! Feel free to check out my tiger barb care guide!


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