Boeseman's Rainbowfish Melanotaenia boesemani

Boeseman's Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani) belongs to the Melanotaeniidae (Rainbowfishes) family confined to northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea and surrounding islands, Magadascar, Southeast Asia and Tailand. At least 68 species are currently recognized. Melanotaeniidae are closely related to Pseudomugilidae (blue-eyes) and Atherenidae (hardyheads).

Native to Indonesia (Ayamaru Lakes in the central Vogelkop Penninsula, Irian Jaya), the current Boeseman's Rainbowfish's habitat consists of three lakes, the largest of which is 7 km long and 2 km wide. It is a lively, peaceful, school-forming freshwater fish. Males are up to 4 inches, females up to 3 inches. It is most active in the morning and likes to spawn on Java moss. This species is omnivore. Boeseman's Rainbowfish should be provided with a long aquarium that has plenty plants and room for these active swimmers to move about. They are also well known jumpers, so the aquarium should be well covered. At least 6 individuals should be kept in a group.

Boeseman's Rainbowfish Melanotaenia boesemani
Boeseman's Rainbowfish Melanotaenia boesemani

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According to the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals Boeseman's Rainbowfish is an endangered species. The habitat of this species is subject to broad fluctuations in water levels. It is thought that these fluctuations have become more severe in recent years. However, the main threat to the species is harvesting of individuals (mainly males) for the international aquarium fish trade. It has been estimated that up to 1 million fish per annum have been captured.3

Photography by Larysa Johnston


  1. Tropical Fish: Setting Up and Taking Care of Aquariums Made Easy: Expert Advice for New Aquarists. Peter Stadelmann, Lee Finley
  2. Tropical Fish Species Guide. Kevin Wilson
  3. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

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