Top 10 Amazing Rainbowfish for your Next Freshwater Aquarium


Top 10 Amazing Rainbowfish for Your Next Freshwater Aquarium

Rainbowfish and blue-eyes are a unique group of colorful, community fish that can be found primarily in the freshwater habitats of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia. These schooling fish hang out in the top of the tank so keep the aquarium lid tight to stop them jumping out. While males are more vibrant than females, we recommend keeping more females than males to ensure that the boys show off their brightest colors.

You can also have fun with both sexes breeding them at home. Rainbowfish are egg scatterers that will regularly spawn if you give them plenty of good food and clean water. For a week, add a few spawning mops to your aquarium. Then either take out the eggs or place the whole mop in a separate container. This will prevent adults from predating upon their offspring. Blue-eyes smaller than 10 cm are usually very short-lived so breeding is a good idea to keep them happy. Larger rainbowfish often take longer to mature but are well-worth the effort because of their dazzling appearance. Let’s discuss 10 species that are very popular in aquarium hobby. Which one is best for you?

Nano Rainbowfish (Smaller Than 2.5 Inches or 6 Cm)

1. Forktail Rainbowfish

Pseudomugil furcatus

Furcata rainbowfish or forktailblue-eye is a 2-inch (5-cm) beauty that is known for its vivid blue eyes and yellow-tipped tail. The forktail blue-eye is a native of Papua New Guinea’s rainforests. They can be found in temperatures between 75-80F (24-27degC), slightly acidic pH above 7.0 and at least 5deg (990 ppm). GH. Their active lifestyle means that they are kept in 20-gallon tanks or larger with other peaceful community fish, such as cory catfish and tetras. Read the full care guide for more details.

2. Red Neon Rainbowfish

Pseudomugil luminatus

Red neon blue-eye is one of the newest aquarium fish introduced to the market. Males have a bright red-orange body with an iridescent blue line running along the back and spotting at the fins. With a length of 1.5 inches (3.8 cm), you can keep 8-10 red neons in your 10-gallon tank. The fiery colors of these neons are stunning when they swim in front of a lush green forest of aquarium plants. They were originally collected from Papua, Indonesia and can be kept in pH of 6.0-7.5 and temperatures between 68-78degF (20-26deg C). Breeding is encouraged as a species with a short life span. It can be started as early as 6 months old.

3. Threadfin and Featherfin rainbowfish

Iriatherina werneri

One of the deeper-bodied specimens amongst the nano rainbowfish is the 2-inch (5 cm) threadfin rainbowfish. Their common name comes the male’s long, wispy fins and lovely lyretail. Their coloration may vary depending on where they were found. They can be yellow, black or blue, depending on where they were found. Mixing males and women will allow the fish to display their brightest colors. Featherfin rainbows inhabit slow-moving waterways in New Guinea and Australia that are choked with plant life, so they will appreciate a gentle filter, pH between 6.0-7.5, and tropical temperatures of 74-80degF (23-27degC).

4. Gertrude’s Spotted blue-Eyed Rainbowfish

Pseudomugil gertrudae

This rainbowfish measures 1.25 inches (3 cm). Its yellowy body, brightly colored eyes and pale fins, which are scattered with dark spots, make it stand out. Their natural habitats consist of swampy, vegetation-filled waters of Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Aru Islands. These waters often contain lots of driftwood, fallen leaves, and other debris. They are surprisingly hardy enough to live in a wide range of parameters, including pH from 5-8, 70-82degF (21-28degC), and soft to hard water. They breed readily to compensate for their short lifespan, so add lots of yarn mops and floating plants to encourage spawning behavior.

5. Celebes Rainbowfish

Marosatherina ladigesi

Similar to the furcata rainbowfish, the celebes rainbow has a yellow fork in its tail, as well as yellow and black fins with a fringe and a neon blue, horizontal stripe down the back half of its body. At 2-2.5 inches (5-6 cm) long, these speedy swimmers would appreciate a 20-gallon long tank or larger that will give them sufficient space to zoom around. These fish are from Sulawesi (Indonesia), and they live in harder water with an alkaline pH higher than 7.0, tropical temperatures of 72-82degF (22-28degC). They aren’t picky eaters like most nano rainbowfish but prefer small foods such as nano pellets and crushed flakes.

Medium-Sized Rainbowfish (More Than 2.5 inches or 6 cm)

6. Boesemani Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia boesemani

Boeseman’s rainbowfish is probably the most well-known rainbowfish from the Melanotaeniidae Family. They have a more almond-shaped body than their smaller cousins, who are torpedo-shaped. Males can grow to 4 inches (10 cm) long and have an unusual, bicolored body with a shiny blue front and orange back half. Therefore, these lively fish need a fish tank of at least 4 feet (1.2 m) in length with a heater set to 75-82degF (24-28degC). These fish were discovered in West Papua, Indonesia. They can tolerate pH levels of 6-8 and hard water temperatures of 8-20deg (140 – 360 ppm) GH. To learn more about this beautiful species, read our complete care article.

7. Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia praecox

The praecox Rainbowfish is a smaller version of the Melanotaeniidae family’s larger rainbows. At just 3 inches (8cm), it makes a great choice for stocking a small, medium-sized aquarium with a 29-gallon capacity. The males have large, iridescent red-orange scales and fins. The females have a silvery bodies with yellow fins. They can tolerate a wide range of pH and GH. However, they prefer alkaline water in their New Guinea rainforest home. It is between 74-80degF (23 to 27 degC). If you have soft water, consider dosing their tank with mineral supplements like Wonder Shell and Seachem Equilibrium to increase the GH. See the complete article about dwarf neons.

8. Turquoise Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia lacustris

The Lake Kutubu rainbowfish, also known as the blue rainbowfish, displays two colors. It has a black horizontal line that divides them into vivid, turquoise and silvery-yellow colors. Similar to the Boesemani rainbow, they also grow to 4 inches long (10 cm) and would do well in a 4-foot (1.2 m) aquarium or larger. You may have guessed from their common name that they live in Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guinea. This lake has an alkaline pH of 7.0 and is harder than normal. They are able to withstand tropical temperatures of 70-78degF (21-26degC), and can co-exist with other community-swimming species.

9. Red Rainbowfish

Glossolepis incisus

The New Guinea Rainbowfish comes from the alkaline, hard waters in Western New Guinea, Indonesia. It’s known for its brightly colored body and scattered of shiny scales at the lateral. The New Guinea rainbowfish is one of the larger fish in the fishkeeping hobby. They can reach nearly 5 inches (12cm) in size. A 4-foot aquarium is required to house a school for 6 or more. They are similar to the rest of the rainbowfish in our second half, but have a smaller appetite. Therefore, they need a 4-foot aquarium at minimum.

10. Lake Tebera Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi

Lake Tebera is surrounded by mountainous jungles in Papua New Guinea, where the waters are alkaline, high in minerals, tropical in temperature (68-79degF or 20-26degC), and full of aquatic plants. M. herbertaxelrodi may be harder to find at pet shops but its golden yellow body and black horizontal stripe along with red-orange fins makes it worth the effort. At 3.5 inches (9 cm) in length, it can live in a 40-gallon breeder aquarium with other energetic tank mates of a similar size. These include rainbowfish, loaches (barbs), gouramis and giant danios as well as peaceful catfish.

Given their love for protein, avoid putting them with dwarf shrimp, baby fish, and anything small enough to fit in their mouths.

While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live fish, you can check out the amazing selection of rainbowfish offered by our preferred online retailers. Enjoy setting up a fun, action-packed aquarium filled with your favorite species of rainbowfish.