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Australian rainbowfish - Melanotaenia fluviatilis

Australian rainbowfish - Melanotaenia fluviatilis

Scientific name: Melanotaenia fluviatilis

Common name: Australian rainbowfish

Family: Melanotaeniidae

Usual size in fish tanks: 9 - 11 cm (3.54 - 4.33 inch)


Recommended pH range for the species: 6.5 - 7.5

Recommended water hardness (dGH): 4 - 14°N (71.43 - 250ppm)

0°C 32°F30°C 86°F

Recommended temperature: 22 - 26 °C (71.6 - 78.8°F)

The way how these fish reproduce: Spawning

Where the species comes from: Oceania

Temperament to its own species: peaceful

Temperament toward other fish species: peaceful

Usual place in the tank: Middle levels


Australia; Australian rainbowfish are to be found in New South Wales and Queensland.


The expected life span for Melanotaenia fluviatilis is 5-8 years.

Short description

Melanotaenia fluviatilis are classed as hardy and make a good addition to a community tank. Always use a tight fitting lid as they are good jumpers. They are a schooling species so a group of these should be housed together, they also love planted aquariums but they also require a lot of swimming space. Planting should be restricted to the sides and rear of the aquarium to keep the front clear purely for this purpose. One tip to get the fish to display a brighter colouration is to use a darker substrate and add some floating plants to dim the lighting. The water quality needs to be kept high so always perform regular water changes.

The Rainbowfish species are generally peaceful so should be housed with other peaceful tank mates if you wish to set up a community aquarium.

Food and feeding

Quality flake can be used for the staple diet; Australian rainbowfish should also be given treats of blood worms and brine shrimp. Always make sure that any food given is broken down into small pieces as Rainbowfish may appear to have large mouths but the throat area is relatively small and food can get stuck in there if too large thus choking the fish.


Males will be slightly larger and more colourful.


A well planted tank should be used for breeding purposes. The water should be alkaline and use an air driven sponge filter for greater control of the water flow. The fish will pair after a lot of chasing about and spawning will take place at day break. The spawning may take a few days for all of the eggs to be laid, but once complete the parent should be removed. The eggs will be attached to the plants by fine threads and should hatch after 7-8 days. Raising the fry can be tricky and you may experience a high mortality rate, raising the fry in a separate tank should help, performing daily water changes and strict cleaning regimes. Initially, the fry should be fed on Infusoria, as they grow newly hatched brine shrimp can be given. The growth rate of the fry will be slow.

Always check the breeding tank for new batches of eggs as spawning will be repeated over several weeks.


Thanks to Sayer who has allowed us to use his picture!

Australian Rainbowfish

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