Pethia padamya

The Pethia padamya, commonly known as the Ruby Barb or Odessa Barb, is a stunning freshwater fish species that has captivated fish enthusiasts with its vibrant colors and energetic behavior. Native to the pristine rivers of Myanmar (Burma) in Southeast Asia, this small-sized tropical fish is a popular choice for aquarium enthusiasts. In this article, we will delve into various aspects of the Pethia padamya, including its size and appearance, region of origin, behavior, dietary preferences, and how to successfully keep them at home in your own aquarium.


The Pethia padamya typically reaches an adult size of around 4.5 cm (1.7 inches) in length. Its slender and elongated body is complemented by vibrant hues that vary from deep ruby red to orange and gold. These colors intensify during breeding season, making the Ruby Barb a truly mesmerizing addition to any aquarium. Additionally, the males exhibit a darker red coloration than the females. The females are more yellowish/orange with two recognizable black dots/stripes on the side of the body.


Indigenous to the rivers and streams of Myanmar, the Pethia padamya is specifically found in the Irrawaddy and Sittaung river basins. These rivers provide the ideal conditions for their survival, featuring clear waters with moderate to strong currents, abundant vegetation, and ample hiding places among submerged rocks and driftwood. This species was first found in an artificial lake near Toe Gyi village.


Ruby Barbs are known for their active and lively nature. They thrive in schools and display playful behavior, often engaging in energetic chasing and fin displays. Keep 10 at a minimum to subdue aggression, with 20 or 30 you will get the best behavior and a lot of viewing action. Their active nature makes them ideal for community aquariums, as they coexist peacefully with other peaceful fish species. Although keep in mind they are aggressive food eaters, meaning if you keep them with more docile fish such as Guppies that when feeding times comes, the Guppies get outcompeted by these barbs.


In their natural habitat, the Pethia padamya is an omnivorous fish, consuming a variety of food sources. In an aquarium environment, they readily accept high-quality dry flakes, granules, and pellets designed for tropical fish. To maintain their vibrant colors and overall health, it is essential to supplement their diet with regular feedings of live or frozen foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia. A well-balanced diet will help ensure their optimal growth and vitality.

Keeping Pethia padamya at home

Creating a suitable environment is crucial for the well-being of Pethia padamya in a home aquarium. Here are some key factors to consider:

Tank size: A spacious tank is essential, preferably at least 120 cm wide by 50 cm deep – 300 liters) (47 inch wide tank by 20 inch deep – 79 USG), , to accommodate a school of Ruby Barbs comfortably. You can go smaller but a tank with this length will be fully used by a school of 20 to 30 Odessa barbs. A longer tank with ample swimming space is preferred due to their active nature.
Water parameters: They can handle very wide water parameter ranges and temperatures from 16-28 °C / 61-82 °F and pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 8.5. Some people even keep them outside. Regular water changes, filtration, and testing are crucial to maintaining optimal water quality.
Substrate and decor: Use a fine-grained substrate like sand or small pebbles. Provide plenty of hiding spots using rocks, driftwood, and live plants, which simulate their natural habitat and also provide visual barriers to reduce stress. They look spectacular in a planted tank with their colors set to a nice green background.
Tankmates: Choose peaceful and compatible tankmates, such as other small-sized community fish like tetras, rasboras, or dwarf gouramis. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species that may cause harm or stress.
Feeding: Offer a varied diet of high-quality flakes, pellets, and regular servings of live or frozen foods to replicate their natural feeding habits. Feed them small amounts multiple times a day, ensuring they consume their food within a few minutes to prevent overfeeding and water pollution.

Originating from Myanmar, these small-sized tropical fish thrive in a well-maintained tank with a wide range of water parameters and compatible tankmates and are therefore suitable for beginners. By providing a balanced diet and a stimulating environment, you can enjoy the delightful presence of these Ruby Barbs while observing their playful behavior and stunning colors. Remember to research and consult with experts to ensure the optimal care and well-being of your Pethia padamya.

Scientific namePethia padamya
Type of aquariumFreshwater aquarium
Size4.5 centimeters / 1.7 inches
RegionMyanmar (Burma)
Ideal tank size300 liters / 79 gallons
Ideal water temperature16-28 °C / 61-82 °F
pH6.5 – 8.5
DietOmnivorous: flakes, pellets, live/frozen foods
ReproductionEgg layers
Life spanVaries, typically 3-5 years
SchoolingThrives in schools of at least ten individuals

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