Melanotaeniidae Rainbowfish

Commonly called rainbowfish, they come form the rivers and swamps of Australia and New Guinea. They thrive best in hard water with a pH above 7. Coloration varies according to mood, breeding condition, and hierarchical position. Water quality is not too important.


Several closely-related species are marketed under the name of McCulloch's rainbowfish or dwarf Australian rainbowfish. All are robust, demanding a large, uncluttered tank where they can swim in peace - but make sure there is a planted area. The eggs - quite large and hatching in 7-10 days - are fixed to plants by fine filaments: an unusual feature in aquarium fish. The fry remain clinging to a surface (the aquarium wall or a plant) until free-swimming; their initial growth is quite slow. Size: 10-12 cm.


Boeseman's rainbowfish is one of the most colorful of this family, and another which prefers hard water. Breeding is straightforward, though the fry accept only tiny prey. Another gorgeously colored species, M. herbertaxelrodi (Lake Tebera rainbowfish), is sometimes available commercially.


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