Top 10 Amazing Rainbowfish for your Next Freshwater Aquarium

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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 lively schooling fish will often hang out in your fish tank’s top half. To prevent them from jumping out, make sure you keep your aquarium lid tight. To ensure the brightest colors, keep more males than females.

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. To prevent predators from preying on your offspring, simply add a few spawning mops to the aquarium. The smaller blue-eyes tend to be fairly short-lived, so breeding will help keep your colony going. Larger rainbowfish often take longer to mature but are well-worth the effort because of their dazzling appearance. Let’s look at 10 popular species in the aquarium hobby. Which one would be best for you?

Nano Rainbowfish (Smaller Than 2 inches or 6cm)

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. They are a native to Papua New Guinean rainforests and can be found at temperatures of 75-80 degrees F (24-27 degrees Celsius), slightly alkaline pH levels above 7.0, and a minimum of 5deg (90 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. For more information, please refer to the complete care guide.

2. Red Neon Rainbowfish

Pseudomugil luminatus

As one of the newest nano rainbowfish introduced to the aquarium trade, the red neon blue-eye is a highly sought-after commodity. The males are bright red-orange with a line running down its back and spotting on their fins. At only 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) in length, you could keep a school of 8-10 red neons in a 10-gallon planted aquarium. Their fiery colors look truly stunning when swimming in front of a lush forest of green aquarium plants. They are native to Papua, Indonesia. Their pH range is 6.0-7.5 and their temperatures range between 68-78degF (26-26 deg C). Breeding is encouraged as a species with a short life span. It can be started as early as 6 months old.

3. Threadfin or Featherfin Rainbowfish

Iriatherina werneri

The 2-inch (5-cm) threadfin rainbowfish is one of the larger specimens in the nano rainbowfish family. The males’ long, wispy fins are what give them their common name. They also have beautiful lyretails. Their colors can vary depending on where they are found. Getting a mix of both males and females will encourage the fish to show their most vibrant hues. 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 1.25-inch (3 cm) rainbowfish has a striking appearance because of its yellowy body, bright blue eyes, and pale fins speckled with dark spots. Their natural habitats include swampy, vegetation-filled water in Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Aru islands of Indonesia. There are often lots of driftwood and fallen leaves. 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 tail with a fork and yellow and dark fins. The back half of the body is covered in a neon-blue horizontal stripe. These fast swimmers are 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 cm) in length and would love a 20-gallon tank or larger. This will allow them enough space to move around freely. They are native to Sulawesi in Indonesia and come from hard water with an alkaline pH of 7.0 and tropical temperatures between 72-82degF (22-24degC). Although they don’t have a preference for food, like many nano rainbowfishes, they do enjoy tiny foods.

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

6. Boesemani Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia boesemani

Boeseman’s rainbowfish, which are members of the Melanotaeniidae famiy, are perhaps the most popular rainbowfish. Their bodies have an almond-shaped profile compared to their torpedo shaped cousins. Males can grow up to 4 inches (10cm) in length, and they have a unique bicolored body that has a shiny blue front half and an orange back. These lively fish require a fish tank at least 4 feet in length (1.2m) with a heater set at 75-82degF (24 to 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

At 3 inches (8 cm) in length, the praecox rainbowfish is one of the smaller rainbows in the Melanotaeniidae family, which makes it an attractive option for stocking a medium-sized, 29-gallon aquarium. The males have large, iridescent blue scales and red-orange fins, whereas females have a silvery body with yellow fins. Although they are able to handle a broad range of pH and GHG, their habitat in New Guinea rainforests is more alkaline, ranging between 74-80degF (23-25degC). To increase their GH, you can douse their tank with mineral supplements such as Wonder Shell or Seachem Equilibrium. You can read the entire article about dwarf neons.

8. Turquoise Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia lacustris

The Lake Kutubu rainbowfish or blue rainbowfish displays two colors that are divided by a black horizontal line – vivid, turquoise on top and a silvery-yellow abdomen. 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. They are found in Lake Kutubu in Papua New Guinea. The water has an alkaline pH higher than 7.0 and is more hardy. Plus, they can handle tropical temperatures from 70-78degF (21-26degC) and get along with other fast-swimming, community species.

9. Red Rainbowfish

Glossolepis incisus

The New Guinea rainbowfish hails from the alkaline, hard waters of Western New Guinea, Indonesia and is famous for its bright red body and scattering of shiny scales along the lateral line. They are one of the largest rainbowfish in the hobby and can grow to almost 12 inches (12 cm) in length. To be able to care for a school of six or more, you will need a minimum of a 4 foot aquarium. Like most of the other rainbows in the second half of our list, their appetites are hearty but their mouths are relatively small, so feed them a variety of appropriate-sized, meaty foods – such as krill flakes, Vibra Bites, bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp.

10. Lake Tebera Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi

Lake Tebera is surrounded in Papua New Guinea’s mountainous jungles. The waters of Lake Tebera are alkaline, rich in minerals, tropical in temperature (68 to 79°F or 20 to 26°C), and full 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. It measures 3.5 inches (9cm), and can be kept in a 40-gallon tank with other friendly tank mates. Other rainbowfish, loaches and gouramis are also available.

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.