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September 01, 2011

This week The Wet Spot Tropical Fish is bringing you to the land down under…

Well actually, both Australia and the small islands to the east that make up Indonesia. This week I had a special request to write about Rainbowfish. These colorful and often small fishes have become very popular among hobbyists. They have become easy to breed, are mostly peaceful, and jammed packed with impressive colors that will make any saltwater fan ever doubt that a freshwater fish would have. These and their “blue eye” cousins can make remarkable pets in a home. So let us begin with what will be needed to ensure long living specimens.

Most Rainbowfish come from neutral pH to alkaline waters (including values up to 9!). You’ll find them living among densely planted areas to fast flowing streams filled with rocky habitats. This week I will be giving ideas on how to build a 90 gallon biotope based around these beautiful fishes. So to begin we once again lay down some ADA Amazonia substrate and mix it with some Tahitian Moon sand to provide a nice dark substrate. This should allow for some excellent colors to emerge from the fish. You can decorate with both rocks and root woods however you please and by adding Java Ferns (Microsorum pteropus) you can add a little bit of greenery to the landscape. Various stem plants such as Cabomba, Ludwigia, and Hygrophilia species will all be fine choices for this aquarium. There is an abundance of of water lilies and these would also make great plants to add to the aquarium. Like always, I’m recommending the Aquaticlife 48” T-5 HO fixture to keep the plants thriving and growing well. Everything is in place and the water tests have checked out. Time to begin adding fish!

Of course there is the ever-so-popular Melanotaenia boesemani “Boeseman’s Rainbow”. Males of these rainbows grow to nearly 4.5”. The boys of M. boesemani are colored with silver to blue body in the front half and a striking orange color on the back half. Females are typically the silver to blue color and smaller than the males. Feeding a variety of flakes and frozen foods will ensure the best coloration of these energetic fish. M. boesemani can be a skittish fish and is best kept in groups of itself to keep them happy and active. In nature, these fish have become rare to find in the three lakes that they occur in and has been added to the IUCN red list of endangered animals. When you are lucky enough to come across them in Lake Ajamaru, Hain, and Aitinjo you find them swimming in densely planted shorelines that are clear water. See why every Rainbowfish hobbyist keeps these in their tanks!

Melanotaenia boesemani

First discovered between 1954 and 1955 by Marinus Boeseman in an oxbow lake of the Tami River, Glossolepis pseudoincisus “Millennium Rainbowfish” was lost for another 50 years until a second unknown location was found in Lake Ifaten, an isolated crater lake near Lake Sentani in West Papua. The common name Millennium Rainbow only seemed fitting for the 2001 discovery of the species once again. Males are very similar colored to its cousin, Glossolepis incisus “Irian Red Rainbow”, with a red body that is speckled with silver and gold markings on the body. Females however of G. pseudoincisus are differently colored however. They have a zigzagging yellow stripe color across the body. They are also a lot smaller than the males and only grow to around 2.5” well males can reach up to 3.5”. Feeding is typical of flakes and frozen foods. A small school of these will keep the activity up in the tank for sure!

Glossolepis pseudoincisus

After being formed by debris blocked off a valley, Lake Kutubu in Papua New Guinea became home to Melanotaenia lacustris “Turquoise Rainbowfish” and was first discovered in 1955, but it wasn’t collected again until 1983 when Allen, Crockford, and Paska would make another trip back to the lake. The water is very clear and full of aquatic plants. There is a phenomenon occurring every couple of years known as “the turning of the water” where dark water from the bottom rises. This water is oxygen-deficient and often causes massive fish death in the few days. Males are much more intensely colored than females. Dominant males will often display a yellow line from the face to the middle of the back. A blue to green top half of the body is separated by silver to white underbody. Like the other two rainbows, feeding is the same. Males of M. lacustris can reach up to 5” well females are generally smaller. Grab some of these up to add some real color to the tank!

Melanotaenia lacustris

Needing a little bit of red in the tank? Melanotaenia trifasciata “Goyder River” would be a prefect specimen. Goyder River is found in Northern Australia and because it flows into the Timor Sea, can often be filled with the Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) where the baby crocs will feed on M. trifasciata. These beautiful rainbows can have vibrant red with black borders on the fins. The body has red lines that are accented by silver to blue stripes. There is a black stripe that runs down the horizontal line. Females are typically less colorful than the males. These amazing rainbows could just the highlight of the tank!

Melanotaenia trifasciata

Lastly I’d like to recommend Stiphodon elegans “Elegant Algae Eating Goby”. These fish occur in South East Asia and make excellent tank mates for Rainbowfish. They are a bottom dwelling fish that in nature feeds on Aufwuchs (biofilm comprised of algae and microorganisms) and insects. Growing to around 2”, these fish are very peaceful and enjoy being in groups. Males are colored with red fins and speckled with brown on the body. The front dorsal comes to a point that can be colored black. Blue to green is found on the cheeks. Females are more of a drab grey color with two lines that run horizontally down the sides of the body. Just adding these is sure to bring some attention to your tank!

Stiphodon elegans

That concludes this week’s notes. Next week I’ll cover the “Blue Eye” rainbows for those of you who like the dwarf species. As always be sure to check out the products link for our current price and availability list. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me. Until next week!

Anthony Perry
Sales Manager