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Boeseman Rainbowfish

Scientific Name: Melanotaenia boesemani
Family: Melanotaeniidae

About the Boeseman Rainbowfish

Species Type: Freshwater Fish
Category: Atherinids

Care Level: Easy. Does well in a slightly more narrow range of water parameters and shouldn't be used to cycle an aquarium. Will eat most prepared foods. May have some specific care requirements in terms of particular water parameters, social behaviors, food items etc.

Origin: SE Asia: Indonesia. Inhabits shallow areas with dense vegetation in the Ajamaru Lakes. The pH is between 8 and 9. The fish have also been seen in surrounding tributaries having a lower pH.

Compatibility/Temperament: Peaceful, but due to its level of activity should not be kept with slow, sedate or small fish. Provided they suit the water parameters, similarly-sized peaceful characins, barbs, danios, other rainbowfish, livebearers and catfish are good tankmates. Must be kept in a group of at least 6 to avoid being skittish, but males will be more colourful in larger groups.


When seen in store tanks, this fish will often be juveniles that lack the intense colouration of mature fish. It can take a year for this colouration to develop. Its lifespan is around 4 years.

Boeseman's Rainbowfish is easily distinguished from other rainbowfish by the half yellow, half purple color pattern. Males are high-backed and display brighter colors in comparison to the females. Relatively easy to spawn, they are egg scatters, depositing the eggs in fine plants such as moss. Spawning is best in a separate tank, and although the adults are not avid egg and fry eaters, the parents can be removed for easier raising of the fry. The spawning tank should provide some retreat for the female, as the male can be aggressive during spawning.

Some sources suggest smaller aquaria than what we list, but this fish is a very active swimmer, and should always be in groups of no less than 6 and preferably 8 or more, and this means a spacious tank. An aquascape representing its habitat could consist of gravel or sand, with thick planting around the sides and back with an open area for swimming. Floating plants will shade the light. A moderate filter current will be beneficial to keep the water clear and clean; this fish is intolerant of poor water conditions, and it is reported to be prone to parasites and bacterial infections. Regular partial water changes of at least 50% will help maintain healthy fish, and increase the males' colour.

Most fish offered today are commercially raised in Asia. This species is rare in its natural habitat, and is on the IUCN red list of endangered species. This has sadly come about due to former extreme overfishing for the hobby.

The species was described in 1980 by G.R. Allen and N.J. Cross. Heiko Bleher introduced this beautiful fish to the hobby in 1983.

Boeseman Rainbowfish Diet

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are omnivorous and therefore should be able to accept almost all food given to them. Frozen and live foods in addition to prepared dried foods will maintain brighter colouration. They have a large appetite and care must be taken not to overfeed.


Males can attain 4.3 inches, females 3.2 inches.

Minimum Tank Suggestion

48 inches in length.

Ideal water parameters for Boeseman Rainbowfish

Medium hard to hard (10-20 dGH), basic (pH 7-9), temperature 27-30C/80-86F. Reported to not do well long-term in soft, acidic water.

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Boeseman Rainbowfish 1
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Boeseman Rainbowfish 2

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