Boeseman’s rainbowfish: Characteristics, habitat, reproduction and more…

Boeseman’s rainbowfish or Melanotaenia boesemani in scientific terms is one of the most beautiful freshwater species out there. The high density of the colors of its skin catches the attention of any viewer. Come with us to know everything about this amazing species.

For those who are dazzled by the chromatic arches that are drawn in heaven, this is the ideal fish for their aquariums, as it’s a species, par excellence, ornamental. 

In view of the success of its discovery, the aquariumphilia has responded positively since it was publicly released in 1955 and, later by the 1980s.

It was spread by the rest of Europe and becomes one of the most popular fish in the stores dedicated to the sale of fish.


Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Clase: Actinopterygii Order: Atheriniformes Family: Melanotaeniidae Genre: Melanotaenia Specie: M. BoesemaniBoeseman's rainbowfish. taxonomy

Atheriniformes Genre:

The Atheriniformes is an order of Actinopterygii (bony fish), with marine and river species, including silverfish and several lesser known families, including the unusual Phallostethidae.

The order is related to the Beloniforms.

Their limbs usually have two dorsal fins, the first with flexible spines, and an anal fin with a spine at the front. The sideline is typically weak or absent.

Atheriniform larvae share several characteristics: the intestine is unusually short, there is a single row of melophores along the rear and the fins are not evident until after egg hatching.

Boeseman’s Rainbowfish Discovery

The findings of the species always have protagonists. The Boeseman’s  Boeseman’s rainbowfish   goes through a similar situation as well as any other creature that has been discovered in the explorations of the different faunas and ecosystems. In 1955, Marinus Boeseman became the discoverer of this fish.

But it would not be until 25 years after it begins to investigate the morphology of the species.

That was done by a couple of scientists who worked together on the description and structuring of the Boeseman’s Boeseman’s rainbowfish ; one of them was Gerald Allen along with another specialist named Norbert Cross.

However, the fame of this species began when it became popular in the market. Two years after the specialists talked about their conditions and physiognomic features. In 1982, Heiko Bleher assesses the possibility of adapting the species to other habitats. This situation caused that the rainbow fish took field in the culture and in the ornamental breed.

Boeseman’s  Rainbowfish Main Characteristics

All fish differ from each other in a special quality. The appearance of the Boeseman’s Boeseman’s rainbowfish   is flattened with an oval shape and compressed on its sides.

It has a fairly structured physiognomy, since there isn’t any differentiation between the dorsal and ventral areas.

As time passes, the back has a small bulge that allows us to estimate the age of the fish. The appearance of this kind of bulge is linked to large fish.

It has two dorsal fins and one anal. The anal fin is the continuation of its body. It starts from the middle part and has a very important function.

Thanks to it, the fish can propel at high speed to swim while the dorsal fins are directing the displacement. The Boeseman’s rainbow fish doesn’t have a large size, but still moves very quickly.

The mouth has a very peculiar feature: it’s too narrow, although it has a voracious appetite. Such part of his anatomy has an upward inclination, which has a close relationship with his behavior at mealtime.

Rainbow fish are able to devour all kinds of food that is on the surface because given the inclination of the mouth; they are unable to eat the food that is in the substrate. We invite you to read our article the anatomy of fish to learn more about such an interesting topic


Rainbow fish have small proportions. Their size ranges between 6 centimeters and 12 centimeters approximately. This characteristic makes them one of the favorite fish for ornamental farming, since they don’t occupy large volumes and can be kept in medium aquariums.


The coloring of rainbow fish is one of the unique and distinctive characteristics of this spectacular species. Their scales are similar to the light phenomenon called rainbow which is obviously the origin of its name.

The colors of Boeseman’s rainbow fish are very variable and depend on the sex of the specimen. Males usually have scales of deep red (varnished) contrasting slightly with females whose color is a bit opaque. Similarly, the first of the male’s dorsal fins ends in a point while the females’ is rounded.

Females, on the other hand, have a wider longitudinal band and a series of dark lines that appear and disappear depending on their mood.

Unfortunately, this species is endangered due to its small distribution in the wild and overfishing because of its popularity in the aquarium trade

Let’s enjoy them

Distribution and Habitat

These fish have a fairly limited range, since there are few places where they live. They are usually found in the easternmost part of Southeast Asia in three locations: Indonesia, Australia and New Guinea. The lakes where they can be found are the Ajamaru, Aintijo and Hain.

As for their habitat, they usually live in freshwater aquatic environments. Despite this, not all rivers are good habitats for these fish.

They only live in certain rivers with specific characteristics.

For example, one of the main needs for the river to be suitable is the pH.

In order for them to house rainbow fish, water must remain with a pH range between 6 and 7.

The more crystalline and clean, the development will be more favorable.

This freshwater fish doesn’t usually swim in depths since, as we have mentioned before, it’s not able to feed on the substrate food by the inclination of the mouth.

Another requirement that the habitat needs is that they have abundant aquatic plants and the water temperature is around 15-26 degrees. Occasionally, temperatures may be maintained at temperatures of 28 degrees, although their development is not ideal.

Boeseman’s  Rainbowfish in Aquariums

Boesemani is very prized in the aquarium hobby, because of its excellent colors and peaceful demeanor. For the Boeseman’s rainbowfish to feel at home, the aquarium must house enough space for them to swim.

With about 200 liters they go well. The aquarium’s length must be a minimum of one meter.

The water must be oxygenated with a good filter that provides movement 3 or 4 times per hour. It’s advisable to use a darker substrate so that their color is highlighted even more.

The breeding of Boeseman’s rainbowfish should be considered in pairs for the possibility of future reproduction.

If you have several rainbow fish, it’s important to give rise to those fish that are familiar to each other.

Placing them in their own or more private place allows the reproduction of new offspring.

Good tank mates include other rainbowfish, barbs  tetras, corydoras, snails, gouramis, danios, discus, guppies, swordtails, and loaches.

However, it’s important to point out that smaller freshwater shrimps may be viewed as prey. Ghost shrimp, vampire shrimp, amano shrimp and bamboo shrimp can live with them. Always adult shrimps are added first then baby Boeseman’s rainbowfish fish.

Care should be taken to provide hiding places for shrimp and open spaces for rainbow fish. In general, they are very resistant fish, but they are prone to columnsinaris. We invite you to read our article fish for aquariums to learn everything you need about aquariums


Although they are relatively simple fish to breed, the ideal way to succeed in their reproduction is to use a breeding aquarium.

The breeding aquarium must be equipped with alkaline water, slightly hard and with a pH around 7.5, in which the temperature is in the high range of your needs.

You have to choose a couple for the aquarium; the ideal is to choose the female that we see chubbier and the male with the most vivid colors. 

To incite spawning, it usually works very well to increase the water temperature.

Spawning begins, when the couple swims together after a small ritual of approaching the female to the male. At a certain moment, they are abruptly separated and that is when spawning occurs, which the male uses to fertilize.

When the spawning begins, it usually lasts for several weeks, in which the female spawns eggs every day joined by a small thread, which ends up attached to the plants or rocks of the aquarium.

The eggs hatch between 7 and 12 days after laying. Once the fry swim freely, it’s necessary to feed them with suitable products. They grow very slowly.


Boeseman’s rainbowfish fish show their most attractive and intense colors when they are adults. You may arrive at a pet store and feel a little disappointed by the fish you are going to find there, since they aren’t as attractive as the ones you see in this blog.

With a little patience (they are adults at 12 months) and a good diet, you will get very attractive and healthy fish.

Behavior and compatibility

We are facing very calm fish, without any problem inside a community aquarium, although they are quite active, so they could disturb other fish that are much slower.

In addition, it’s very important to point out that Boeseman’s Rainbowfish are gregarious, so it’s convenient to have several specimens of the same species in the aquarium.

It’s recommended  to have between 6 and 8, but it’s obvious that it will depend on the size of the aquarium.

Being in the company of others of the same species, they will be less scary and in addition, the males will exhibit their most striking colors.

Feeding Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

Boeseman’s rainbowfish are omnivorous creatures that can eat both small animals and aquatic plants., So they don’t represent any problem when selecting foods for your daily diet.

However, it’s worth mentioning that they need a balanced and varied nutrition.  If this is so, the brightness of its scales will be much stronger and the colors more colorful.

For feeding in the aquarium, you have to select well the food that is going to be given. They must be varied and it doesn’t matter if they are frozen or industrialized products.

Both products provide and meet the needs of rainbow fish well. Even if you wish, you can mix the food in the form of scales or granules.

You can also give them fish meat or small shrimp.

The frequency with which they should be fed is several times a day. The most advisable is three times.

It’s essential that the food can remain suspended in the water, since they can’t eat food from the substrate due to the inclination of their mouth.

Therefore, all food that falls to the bottom will be unusable and the only thing it will do is to dirty the aquarium. To avoid these mishaps, small amounts of food must be provided and thus prevented from descending to the bottom.

The issue of food can be a problem if we mix it with other fish. Although they are quite sociable fish, they are intimidated by the agility of other fish at mealtime. They may be buried in the aquarium and not directed to the surface.

Let’s watch them again

Other Species of Rainbow Fish

Let’s know more about this interesting family

Bedotia Geayi:  Red-Tailed Silverside, Madagascan Rainbow Fish

This species is endemic of Madagascar, in the eastern part of the island. It prefers streams, rivers and puddles, with clear to moderately cloudy water, with rocky or gravel bottoms, or in areas of high vegetation.

With an elongated and laterally compressed body, Madagascan Rainbow Fish have a small head and relatively large eyes; another of their distinctive features are their two dorsal fins.

In nature it reaches 11 cm, but in the aquarium it does not usually exceed 7.5 cm.

Its livery has a dark line of one color, from black to bluish, at the height of the lateral line and that runs from the mouth corners to the base of the caudal peduncle. The dorsal, anal and caudal fins are red to yellow. There are different varieties of color belonging to different geographical regions.

Sex differences:

Sex differences are not very apparent in this secies, but males have the first dorsal fin longest than Females.

This species is not very demanding with hardness and pH. Hardness of 0ºd to 16ºdGH and a pH of 5.2 to 7.2 will be the more suitable for them.

It’s essential to make frequent partial water changes. ,

Madagascan Rainbow Fish Withstand temperatures between 22ºC to 28ºC and thrive better in oxygenated water, with slight movement on the surface.

This peaceful fish can live in a community aquarium or in small groups. A 150-liter aquarium will be enough to house two or three males and four or six females.

The aquarium can be decorated with plants and logs, and it’s very important to point out that a high density of plants next to a dark substrate highlights its colors even more, but it’s necessary to reserve a clear space so that the fish can swim at ease.

In terms of diet it’s important to mention that Madagascan Rainbow Fish are Omnivore creatures.

They are not demanding in their diet, but the ideal is the variation to get healthy individuals. Adults consume all kinds of live prey and flake food.

In their original biotope they contribute to eradicate mosquitoes. Their natural diet is made-up by terrestrial insects, small aquatic crustaceans and insect larvae. Red-Tailed Silverside (as they are also known) also consume algae, sprouts and plant seeds.

They are quite easy to care for and reproduce and spwan beautifully in Java moss. The male usually woo the female with erratic movements and tremors, the latter becoming especially evident when the spawning time approaches.

The male tries to lead the female to the place chosen for laying by swimming next to her back and forth, as if she wanted to show him the way.

Once in the right place, the male is placed in an oblique position (head down) and begins to vibrate. The female could place herself in the place she prefers and wait there until the male approaches her.

Then they squeeze each other by the flanks, begin to vibrate and the female ejects the eggs as if they were bunches of grapes.

They immediately separate abruptly and violently causing their impulse to spread the eggs. These are hooked between the plants and some fall to the bottom. They are adhesive (with several filaments) and can reach up to 200.

let’s enjoy them

Australian Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis)

Other names

«Crimson-spotted rainbowfish»,

«Pink ear»

«Murray-Darling sunfish.»

Main Characteristics

Australian Rainbowfish has an elongated and laterally compressed body although not as tall as other species of its genus.

They have a small head, relatively large eyes and two dorsal fins.

Body Color

The flanks have a silver-brown coloration with green glitters, with a bluish band that runs along both flanks. The back is yellowish-brown, the opercles pink and the back of the body has red-orange stripes.

All fins except the caudal one are yellow with reddish-orange markings and dark edges. The caudal fin lacks this black border.

Sexual Dimorphism

The sexes are relatively easy to differentiate. The males have a more intense coloration and their dorsal and anal fins are pointed.

As for females, the dorsal and anal fins are small and rounded and lack the black margin.

Moreover, they are less colorful and don’t  have red-orange stripes. The coloring becomes more intense as the breeding season approaches (Australian summer).


Australian Rainbowfish lives in rivers, streams, ponds, (both natural and artificial) swamps and lands flooded by the overflow of rivers that normally do not have much water movement, although they can also inhabit waters with greater current.

Normally in these habitats the presence of aquatic vegetation is remarkable. It should also be noted that there is a notable seasonal variation in water parameters such as temperature, hardness and pH in those areas.

Its distribution ranges from New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria to other points in South Australia. It’ s found in much of the country, mainly in the north, and in some of its southern ecosystems.

Murray-Darling sunfish. withstand winter temperatures close to 10 ° C.

Rivers such as those belonging to the Murray Basin, the Darling Basin or those of the Murrumbidgee Basin have their presence.


It reaches a size of up to 9 cm.


Omnivore. Adults consume all kinds of live prey and flake food. In their original biotope they contribute to eradicate mosquitoes.

Their natural diet is terrestrial insects, small aquatic crustaceans and insect larvae. They also consume algae, sprouts and plant seeds.They are not demanding in their diet, but the ideal is the variation to get healthy individuals.

Let’s enjoy them

Red Rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus)

This species is native to the western part of Indonesia, specifically in the northeast of Papua or the old Irian Jaya. Their natural habitat is the great Sentani lake, where it lives in sheltered banks among the aquatic vegetation.

Red Rainbowfish can also be found in the Tami and Jafuri rivers, which leave the lake and flow into the Pacific.

Physical features:

The red rainbow fish has a peculiar appearance. Its head is very small in proportion to its body, ovoid and compressed on the sides.

The red rainbow fish has large scales and well-shaped fins, a double dorsal fin and an anal one… Regarding its size, the male can reach a maximum of 12 cm. and the female, smaller, doesn’t exceed 10 cm.

There are clear differences in the color of both sexes. Although both have silver reflections on their body, in the male they are located in the center of the flanks while in the female they are on the sides and head.

The females, like the younger specimens, are pale in color that can range from brown to olive green. The adult male stands out for its striking and bright red color, which intensifies when in presence of females.

At the time of reproduction, it can blink the tone of the neck that, at this moment, turns orange or golden.


This fish is, by nature, a fast open water swimmer. Sociable and, accustomed to being in a group, must live in community.

Although he is peaceful and usually leaves the rest of his teammates alone, he is very active and restless. In addition, Red Rainbowfish is a fairly voracious species so it’s convenient to house them with fish of similar activity, since calm fish could stress them and leave them without food.

A good option is to accompany Red Rainbowfish with species such as cyclids or barbs.


This is an omnivorous fish that needs a varied diet. The adult fish will need a combination of dried food on scales or granules with small live or frozen invertebrates such as red mosquito larvae, artemias or daphnia.

Newborn artemias are a good natural option for growing fry. In addition, you can buy specialized products to keep their color alive.

The food that is administered must be light and in the right amount so that it sinks slowly in the water since red rainbowfish eats only on the aquarium’s surface and not at the bottom.

A fast day a week is convenient. Proper food and care will make your red rainbow fish keep its color alive and that it can live up to 5 years.


To live in captivity, red rainbow fish needs a spacious community aquarium, at least one meter in length and 200 liters in volume, so that it can move and swim freely. It’s important that you have a powerful filter so that the water circulates well and is oxygenated, creating light waves on the surface.

The optimal water conditions are a medium-high hardness (GH = 8º-10º), a pH of 7.2 and a temperature of 22-27º. Red rainbowfish accepts slightly more alkaline waters but doesn’t tolerate high levels of nitrite and nitrates.

It’s advisable to decorate the aquarium with aquatic plants so that the fish has a place of refuge, especially if you want to encourage reproduction.

In this case, placing Java moss, thin-leaf plants or some special synthetic mop is a good option for females to lay their eggs. Along with the vegetation, a dark colored substrate will make our little pet’s colors stand out even more.

let’s enjoy them


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