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RAINBOWFISH

By Rhett Butler


MELANOTAENIINAE SUB-FAMILY
The Melanotaeniinae or Rainbowfish family includes the genera Glossolepis and Melanotaenia.  Rainbowfish inhabit fresh and brackish water habitats in Australia, New Guinea, and Irian Jaya (Indonesia -- now known as Papua and West Papua).  See species descriptions for specific instructions.   
               

Salmon-red Rainbowfish, New Guinea Red Rainbowfish, Irian Jaya Rainbow
[
Glossolepis incisus
SYN : None
PD : An elongated, laterally compressed fish that develops an arched back with age.  There are two dorsal fins, the second is longer than the first.  The anal fin runs from the mid-belly to the caudal penuncle. The caudal fin is forked. The head is small as is the mouth.  Males are bright red to copper in color,occasionally have silver upper parts. The fins are also red.  Females are silver to yellow-brown in color. 
SIZE : To 6" (15 cm)
SS : None
HAB : Inhabits areas of dense vegetation near Lake Sentani, Irian Jaya (Indonesia).
S: middle, top
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a volume from 35-45 gallons (132-170 L) is sufficient for smaller fish. Full grown fish require a tank measuring at least 40" (101 cm).  The tank should be well-planted with open swimming areas.   
WATER : 6.8-8 (7.2), 12-25 dH (16), 72-77°F (22-25°C)
SB : An active, schooling fish suggested for a community tank.  Keep in groups of at least five fish,single fish do poorly. Combine with peaceful, small to large companions.   
SC : Other rainbowfish, Corydoras, Danios, Barbs, Loricarids.
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are high-backed with age and red in color.
B : Furnish the tank with Java Moss and fine-leaved plants.  Place only the pair in the tank and raise the temperature to 75-81°F (24-27°C). A small number of eggs is laid daily for several months.  The clear eggs adhere to plants with thin threads. These hatch after seven to eight days and are ignored by the parents.  The young first feed on roftiers, but later can be given egg yolk and Artemia nauplii.  The young require small, frequent water changes.
BP : 6. Breeding is not especially difficult, although the young may be troublesome to rear.
R : Only the dominant male in a tank will develop the characteristic bright red coloration.  Frequent partial water changes will intensify colors.
DC : 5. A somewhat sensitive species that can develop beautiful colors under favorable conditions.
 
Emerald Rainbowfish, Lake Wanam Rainbowfish [
Glossolepis wanamensis
SYN : None
PD : This species has the "typical" rainbowfish body shape with compressed flanks and an arched back. There are two dorsal fins, the second being much larger than the first.  The caudal fin is forked and the anal fin is large and elongated. The back is dark emerald green to forest green and the upper flanks are green.  The lower flanks are yellow-green, and the whole body has a emerald iridescence.  The rear parts have blue hues and the fins are green and blue with a violet fringe. 
SIZE : Males reach 4" (10 cm), females reach 3.2" (8 cm)
SS : G. multisquamatus
HAB : Endemic to Lake Wanam, Papua New Guinea (New Guinea)
S: middle, top
TANK : A 36" (91 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 L) tank is sufficient, although larger tanks are suggested. Follow suggestions for G. incisus .
WATER : pH 7.3-8 (7.8), 10-18 dH (12), 77-86°F (25-30°C)
SB : An active, schooling species that can be combined with other peaceful fish that tolerate slightly alkaline water. Keep in groups of four or more. 
SC : Chilatherina, Glossolepis, Melanotaenia, Corydoras, Synodontis, Aulonocara, Neolamprologus
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are larger with more elaborate finnage.
B : As for G. incisus except use water temperature between 81-86°F (27-30°C).
BP : 7. Breeding is moderately difficult.
R : This species requires frequent partial water changes and clean water to develop its elegant colors.
DC : 6. This species is somewhat sensitive to water conditions.
 

Boeseman's Rainbowfish, Bicolor Rainbow, Boesemani
[
Melanotaenia boesemani
SYN : None
PD : An elongated species with lateral compression.  The rear edge of the caudal fin is concave and there are two dorsal fins. Fish begin to develop their colors at 2.4" (6 cm) which intensifies with age.  The front half of the body of the male is bluish with three transverse blue stripes.  A lateral, blue stripe runs from the mouth, through the eye, before fading near the caudal peduncle.  The rear half of the body is orange-yellow.  Females are less colorful. The first dorsal is blue-green while the second is yellow-orange with a blue and white border. The caudal fin is yellow-orange as is the anal fin which may have a violet border.
SIZE : Males to 4.3" (11 cm), females to 3.2" (8 cm)
SS : None
HAB : Inhabits shallow regions of dense vegetation in the Ajamaru Lakes in Irian Jaya (Indonesia).
S:middle, top
TANK : A 36" (91 cm) or 35-45 gallon (132-170 L) tank is sufficient.  Use dense plating along the sides and back of the tank, and leave an open swimming area in the center. 
WATER : pH 7-9 (7.2), 6-20 dH (8), 77-86°F (25-30°C)
SB : An active, schooling species suitable for a community tank. 
SC : Barbs, tetras, danios, Gouramis, other Rainbows, Livebearers
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are larger, higher backed, and more colorful with age. 
B : Similar to Glossolepis.  The young are very small and grow slowly.  Start feeding with infusoria for the first week, followed by fine-grade dry food. After two weeks feed Artemia nauplii.
BP : 7. Breeding is moderately difficult due to the problematic feeding of the fry.
R : Boeseman's Rainbowfish was first introduced into the hobby in 1982. 
DC : 5. This active species requires frequent partial water changes to develop its splendid color. 
 
Australian Rainbowfish [
Melanotaenia fluviatilis
SYN : Aristeus fluviatilis, Melanotaenia splendida fluviatilis, Nematocentris fluviatilis
PD : An elongated species have lateral compression.  This species lacks the tall body height characteristic of its genus. The head is small while the eye is large.  There are two dorsal fins and the caudal fin is slightly forked. The anal fin has a long base and is pointed at the end.  The back is yellow-brown while the flanks are silver-brown with a silver to green iridescence. A broad blue band runs from the snout to the caudal fin.  This may often be fain in some places. The rear half of the body is marked with several orange-red lateral stripes.  The fins, except for the caudal fin, are yellowish with orange-red markings and a dark edge.  The caudal fin does not have a dark border. The rear part of the iris of the eye is orange-red as is a marking on the gill cover.  Females are less colorful, lacking the orange-red stripes.
SIZE : To 4" (10 cm)
SS : Melanotaenia maccullochi, M. nigrans, M. splendida
HAB : Australia; New South Wales and Queensland
S: middle
TANK : A tank measuring 32" (81 cm) with a volume of 30 gallons (114 L) is suggested.  The tank should be well planted along the back and edges and have open swimming areas.  A fine gravel substrate is preferred and the lighting can be bright. Use good aeration.
WATER : pH 7-8 (7.2), 5-12 dH (8), 72-79°F (22-26°C)
SB : A peaceful, schooling fish recommended for a community tank.  Should be kept in groups. 
SC : Other Rainbowfish, livebearers, tetras that can tolerate harder, more alkaline water.
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are more colorful
B : Use a well-planted, roomy tank with a temperature from 75-81°F (24-27°C).  Pairing is preceded by vigorous chasing. Spawning usually takes place at dawn and continues for several days.  The first day results in 100-200 eggs,with decreasing numbers each day. The dark eggs are attached to plants by fine threads.  These hatch after 7-8 days.  The parents may eat the eggs, especially if not fed adequately.  The young can first be fed paramecia and later Artemia nauplii. The fry grow slowly until reaching 0.4" (1 cm), when growth rate increases.
BP : 6. Breeding is moderately easy.
R : The the validity of this species is in question; some feel that it is a sub-species or a cross.
DC : 4. A hardy fish suggested for a community tank.  Preform frequent partial water changes.
 
Dwarf Rainbowfish, Black-lined Rainbowfish [
Melanotaenia maccullochi
SYN : Nematocentris maccullochi
PD : An elongated and laterally compressed fish with a small head and a large eye.  There are two dorsal fins, and the anal fin has a long base. The male is silver with a blue iridescence.  The flanks are marked with seven lateral stripes. These are yellow becoming red near at the caudal peduncle.  The gill cover is marked with an orange-red spot. The fins have a greenish base with blood red outer parts.  The colors of the females are less intense. 
SIZE : To 2.8" (7 cm)
SS : Melanotaenia fluviatilis, M. nigrans
HAB : Northern Australia.
S: middle, top
TANK : A tank measuring 28" (71 cm) with a capacity from 20-25 gallons (76-95 L) is sufficient.  Follow suggestions for M. fluviatilis.
WATER : pH 7-8 (7.0), 8-15 dH (10), 68-77°F (20-25°C)
SB : A peaceful schooling species recommended for a community tank. 
SC : Rainbowfish, Barbs, Danios, tetras, Gouramis, Corydoras , Livebearers
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males more colorful with a pointed first dorsal fins.
B : As for M. fluviatilis.   The parents will ignore the eggs.
BP : 5. Breeding is easy. 
R : The Dwarf Rainbow requires frequent partial water changes to fully develop its colors.
DC : 3. This robust fish is suitable for a community tank.
 
Dark Rainbowfish [
Melanotaenia nigrans
SYN : Atherina nigrans, Atherinichthys nigrans, Nematocentris nigra, Rhombatractus archboldi
PD : An elongated, laterally compressed species with a large eye.  There are two dorsal fins, an anal fin with a long base, and a slightly forked caudal fin. The back is yellow-gray and the belly is beige-white.  The flanks are marked with a violet to green iridescence. A dark, black band runs from the snout through the eye and to the caudal fin.  Bordering this marking are regions of whitish-yellow. The fins, except for the caudal, are violet in color with dark borders.  The caudal fin may be reddish-yellow.
SIZE : Males to 2.8" (7 cm), females to 2.4" (6 cm)
SS : Melanotaenia fluviatilis, M. maccullochi
HAB : Inhabits freshwater rivers and occasionally visits brackish water estuaries.  Eastern Australia; from Sydney to the Cape York Peninsula; and Papua New Guinea.
S: middle, top
TANK : A tank measuring 32" (81 cm) with a capacity of 30 gallons (114 L) is sufficient.  Plant along the edges of the tank and leave an open swimming area.  The lighting should be bright and a sandy or fine gravel substrate can be used. 
WATER : pH 6.7-7.8 (7.2), 8-15 dH (10), 64-77°F (18-25°C).  Salt can be added, anywhere from a 0.5-1.5%addition is acceptable.
SB : An active, but peaceful schooling species that should be kept in groups of five or more.
SC : other Rainbowfish, Barbs, Danios, tetras, Gouramis, Corydoras , Livebearers
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are larger and more colorful with pointed first dorsal fin.  Females lack the black edging to the fins.
B : As for M. fluviatilis.   The parents will ignore the eggs.
BP : 5. An easily bred fish.
R : In tanks without males, a female may lay mature eggs which will not hatch.
DC : 4. This robust species is suitable for a community tank.
 
Western Splendid Rainbowfish [
Melanotaenia splendida australis
SYN : Melanotaenia solata, Nevatherina australis
PD : An elongated species with lateral compression.  There are two dorsal fins, the caudal fin is forked, and the anal fin has a long base. The eye is large, but the head is small.  The back is brownish red and the lower parts are bluish gray. A broad, dark blue band runs from the eye to the fork of the caudal fin.  The upper flanks have a reddish iridescence,while the lower have a blue iridescence. The rear two-thirds of the body is marked with several red to black lateral stripes that run to the caudal fin. The fins are bluish, marked with red spots, and bordered with black.
SIZE : Males to 4.3" (11 cm), females to 3.2" (8 cm)
SS : Other sub-species of Melanotaenia splendida, other Melanotaenia, Chilatheria
HAB : Western Australia (Swan River) and in the Northern Territory.
S: middle, top
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a capacity of 35 gallons (132 L) is suggested.  Use plants as a backdrop and leave open swimming areas in the front.  Place the aquarium where it receives morning sun light. Use a tight-fitting cover as this species may jump.  The tank should have an efficient filter and frequent water changes should be made. Suggest a dark substrate to bring out the colors of this species.
WATER : pH 6.5-8 (7.0), 8-18 dH (12), 73-82°F (23-28°C)
SB : An active, schooling species that is peaceful enough to be kept in a community tank.  This rainbow should be kept in groups of five or more.  
SC : other Rainbows, Gouramis, Tetras, Corydoras
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are larger, more colorful, and higher backed with age.
B : Provide a large tank furnish with Java Moss and bunches of fine-leafed plants.  The water should be clean-with regular partial water changes- and have a temperature from 75-82°F (24-28°C).  A pair forms following much chasing. This pair should be conditioned in the breeding tank with Artemia and insect larvae.  During spawning the colors of both fish are enhanced. Spawning usually occurs at dawn and 10-20 large eggs are scattered among plants. The eggs adhere to plants with sticky filaments.  This process continues for about two weeks.  The eggs hatch after 7-8 days and the parents should be removed.  The young should be first fed liquid and powdered dry foods. The fry are easy to raise and grow quickly. 
BP : 6.  Breeding is not difficult provided the proper tank set up.
R : There are six described sub-species of M. splendida , although only four are commonly seen in the hobby: M. splendida australis, M. splendida inornata, M. splendida rubrostriata, and M. splendida splendida.   The colors of this species only develop after the fish is over a year old.
DC : 5. This peaceful species requires frequent partial water changes.
 
Splendid Rainbowfish, Cape York Rainbowfish, Pink-tailed Rainbowfish [
Melanotaenia splendida splendida
SYN : Aristeus fitzroyensis, A. rufescens, Nematocentris splendida, Strabo nigrofasciatus
PD : Similar to M. splendida australis except in size and coloration.  The coloration of fins and the body are highly variable within this sub-species.  The back is gray brown to silver blue,while the belly is yellow-gray. The flanks are generally bluish-silver with a violet iridescence.  A faint, dark blue band runs from the eye to the caudal fin. Some fish may have several orange lateral stripes also marking the flanks.  The base of the fins is light blue with an orange and black border.  The caudal fin is marked with red spots.  The gill cover is marked with an orange spot. Females have more subdued colors. 
SIZE : To 6" (15 cm)
SS : See M. splendida australis.
HAB : Australia; from Queensland to the Cape York Peninsula.  Occurs in a wide range of habitats.
S: middle
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) is sufficient.  Follow recommendations under M. splendida australis.
WATER : pH 6.5-8 (7.0), 8-18 dH (12), 68-77°F (20-25°C)
SB : As for M. splendida australis
SC : As for M. splendida australis
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males have pointed anal and dorsal fins, are higher backed with age, and are more colorful.
B : As for M. splendida australis
BP : 6. Breeding is not difficult.
R : Fish are sexually mature from 2.4" (6 cm).
DC : 5. This species requires frequent partial water changes to prosper.
 
Jewel Rainbowfish, Three-stripe Rainbowfish, Banded Rainbow [
Melanotaenia trifasciata
SYN : Rhombosoma trifasciata
PD : The coloration, pattern, and body shape is variable in this species depending on its origin. Generally the body is elongated and laterally compressed with an arched back.  There are two dorsal fins, and the anal fin has a long base. A conspicuous blue-black stripe runs from the snout, through the eye, and to the caudal fin.  Another similar stripe may be present near the belly.
SIZE : To 4.7" (12 cm)
SS : Melanotaenia goldiei, M. herbertaxelrodi
HAB : Australia; inhabits rivers in Queensland (Cape York Peninsula) and the Northern Territory.
S: middle
TANK : A tank measuring 36" (91 cm) with a capacity from 35 gallons (132 L) is sufficient.  Follow suggestions under M. splendida australis .
WATER : pH 7-8 (7.5), 8-20 dH (12), 75-86°F (24-30°C)
SB : An active, but peaceful species that should be maintained in a school.
SC : Rainbowfish
FOOD : Live; insect larvae, crustaceans, worms, insects; flakes
SEX: Males are more colorful and has pointed anal and dorsal fins.
B : Similar to M. splendida australis .
BP : 5. Breeding is fairly easy in the right tank.
R : Due to the wide variation of coloration, pattern, and body shape, more than one species may make up M. trifasciata .
DC : 4. This species requires frequent partial water changes.


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