Background: Odessa Barbs are native to central Myanmar where they are found in ponds and streams at an altitude of 3000’. The fish first appeared in the hobby in the early 1970’s in Odessa, Ukraine from which it takes its common name. The species was formally described in 2008 by Kullander and Britz in the Bulletin of the European Ichthyology Society 2: 56-66.
Colony: I purchased an initial colony of 10 fish from Invertebrates by MsJinkzd on 12/3/2017. As they grew out, it became apparent that the fish were all males. Rachel O’Leary confirmed that the entire shipment seemed to be males. I purchased an additional 6 fish from The Wet Spot on 3/1/2018 requesting all females but knowing that it’s virtually impossible to sex juveniles. As the fish grew to adulthood, 3 of the 6 proved to be females. The entire group was raised to adulthood in a 55g tank, and then moved into a community barb tank which they share with 6 Dawkinsia assimilis (Mascara Barbs) and 10 Barbodes dunkeri (Clown Barbs). It is a very active, inquisitive, and peaceful community.
Tank Set-Up: The community of large barbs lives in a 180 g, unheated tank aquascaped with manzanita wood and stones. The substrate is CaribSea Peace River gravel. The only plants that can be grown with these fish are crinums, aponogeton, and Anubias. All others are devoured, but I’m not sure how much of this is the fault of the Odessa Barbs versus the other two species. Odessa Barbs do best within a subtropical temperature range of 68oF – 74oF. The water is relatively soft and neutral. Nitrates are generally kept in the range of 2.5 – 10 ppm. Running a surface skimmer is required as the barbs constantly graze on the abundant biofilm growing on the driftwood resulting in a very thick slick of biofilm on the water’s surface in the absence of a skimmer. Filtration is provided by a Fluval FX6, and extra current is provided by a powerhead placed at the opposite end of the tank to send water back toward the filter intake.
Spawning: Catching fish in this heavily aquascaped setup would be nigh impossible, so spawning in situ is de rigueur. From time-to-time Odessa fry have appeared but to date only one has survived to become a subadult. The others are snacked on by the Clown Barbs which easily slurp up juveniles. So, for spawning and raising fry in numbers to be successful, capture and removal of the eggs are a must. After deep gravel siphoning and tank cleaning, accompanied by thoroughly rinsing filter media and a series of increasingly large water changes, two spawning baskets were prepared (the usual Ikea shoebox filled with marbles 2-3 layers deep, overlaid with plastic egg crate, overlaid by needlepoint canvas, overlaid by green synthetic spawning mops) and placed in the center of the tank. Odessa Barbs spawn after lights on under bright light.
In good tank conditions, fully adult males are colored up black and crimson red virtually all the time. When spawning, the males chase each other in whirling displays of prowess. No one seems to get injured apart from the occasional scrape from bumping into driftwood. Then they try to lure the females into the spawning basket. Spawning is the typical side-by-side clutch of barbs without inversion. Because there is a surplus of males relative to females, it can be hard for a pair to settle long enough to successfully spawn in the baskets. There have been many failed attempts to collect the eggs.
On 10/25-26/2019, there was success at last. The trick seemed to be leaving the spawning baskets in for 48 hours giving the barbs two full days to settle down enough for pairs to sneak in and drop eggs. On 10/26/2019, I pulled >100 eggs from the two baskets and placed them in a large, unheated Kritter Keeper with small box filter. The entire volume of this hatching box was filled with loose java moss and placed on a dark brown towel which was then wrapped around the bottom of the tank so that the bottom of the tank would be relatively dark and the top would have subdued, ambient lighting. The water temperature is 70oF.
Raising Fry: The fry began to hatch about 3 days later. By October 29 two larval fish were spotted. By November 3 at least six, and by November 5 at least fifteen were free-swimming. During the first week after they became free-swimming, the fry were fed twice a day, once with a mixture of rotifers and euglena, and once with a slurry of vinegar eels, microworms, and both 5-50 and 50-100 micron Golden Pearls. Week 2 the above diet was supplemented with paramecium.
Two spawning boxes placed in the 180g community tank
Hatching tank is large Kritter Keeper
Free-swimming fry 10 days after eggs were pulled, perhaps 7 days after hatching with Christmas moss for scale