How to Identify a Male Odessa Barb

The Odessa barb is named from the port city where they were first imported.
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Odessa barbs come from Myanmar in southeast Asia. Their bright colors are aom the reasons they're common in home aquariums. If you want to breed them in a home aquarium, you will have to learn how to tell males from females. You can sex Odessa barbs through their body shapes, color specifics and behavior.


The quickest way to tell male and female Odessa barbs apart is their color. Males have more colorful bodies that females. While this becomes most obvious around breeding season, males are always more colorful than their female counterparts. The males always have a broad red band that runs from the head to the base of the tail fin. Additionally, males have dark margins on their abdominal scales. The edges of males' fins also have black coloration not seen in females'.

Body Shape

You can tell male and female Odessa barbs apart by their body shape. In general, females have more rounded body shapes. Females have larger bodies. Additionally, female Odessa barbs are much more rounded, particularly in their bellies, than their male counterparts. Male Odessa barbs have very slender, streamlined bodies. This difference is more pronounced in mature Odessa barbs, particularly as breeding season nears.


You can also tell male and female Odessa barbs from each other by their behavior, particularly around breeding season. As breeding season nears, males will start to "show off" for the females. This includes behaviors like chasing other males around the tank and displaying themselves in front of females. The males will do everything they can to make themselves more conspicuous for the females.

Distinguishing From Related Barbs

Odessa barbs resemble a number of related species. In fact, though Odessa barbs first entered the aquarium hobby in the early 1970s, it took until 2008 for them to get properly described as a species. If you plan on breeding them, you will need to make sure you really have Odessa barbs and not fish of a related species. Odessa barbs have tall, dark blotches near their pectoral or side fins and secondary smaller blotches at the bases of their tails. These marking distinguish them from close relatives like the ticto barb, P. ticto.

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