Types Of Rainbowfish – Explanation + Visual Guide

There are more than 50 types of rainbowfish, including the neon dwarf rainbowfish, threadfin rainbowfish, Madagascar rainbowfish, and red rainbowfish.

Rainbowfish are an omnivorous freshwater fish and, like the different types of guppies, their scales exhibit vivid ‘rainbow’ colors which makes them attractive and a sort after pet fish for aquariums.

Rainbowfish are schooling fish and they prefer to be in groups of six or more fish of the same species. Their diet is made up of algae, insect larvae, and even small crustaceans.

Rainbowfish have a peaceful temperament but having more than one male in a single tank can lead to aggression during mating season. You can shop for these beautiful fish online too.

Australian Rainbowfish

Melanotaenia fluviatilis known commonly as the Australian rainbowfish, crimson-spotted rainbowfish, or Murray River rainbowfish is a freshwater rainbowfish native to Australia.

Melanotaenia fluviatilis known commonly as the Australian rainbowfish, crimson-spotted rainbowfish, or Murray River rainbowfish
Australian Rainbow Fish.

These types of rainbowfish do well in a larger tank and have a peaceful nature so they get along well with their tankmates. They are adept at surviving in a variety of water conditions which make them good pet fish for beginner fish keepers.

The Australian rainbowfish varies in color (depending on the river they live in, in the wild) but typically it is an olive green or bluish brown, sometimes with a dark horizontal stripe mid body.

Melanotaenia fluviatilis known commonly as the Australian rainbowfish, crimson-spotted rainbowfish, or Murray River rainbowfish.
Crimson-spotted rainbowfish.

The belly is rose-pink. There are rows of scales that look turquoise and green, and between the scales, a thin reddish line can sometimes be seen. 

Everything you need to know about the Australian rainbowfish.

Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

Boeseman’s rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani), also known as the Boesemani rainbowfish have varying colors from blue or orange which is normally a bluish-purple head and an orangish-yellow posterior.

Boeseman's rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani), also known as the Boesemani rainbowfish.
Boeseman’s rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani).

Like most other lower classifications of rainbowfish in the melanotaenia genus, these little fish have a calm temperament and thrive in larger fish tanks as they need ample space to swim around.

Learn about the Boesemani Rainbowfish.

Neon Rainbowfish

The dwarf rainbowfish species (Melanotaenia praecox) are also known as the neon rainbowfish is native to Indonesia. It is one of the smallest rainbowfish species growing to  2 – 2 1/2 inches.

They actually go by a lot of names because of the different shades of color that they can have. For example, some exhibit peacock-like colors and are called Peacock Rainbowfish.

Dwarf rainbowfish species (Melanotaenia praecox).
Neon/Dwarf rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox).

Other names include the Praecox Rainbowfish, Diamond Rainbowfish, or the Dwarf Blue Rainbowfish. These types of rainbowfish species are quite active and are known to jump out of the water so a tightly covered tank is advisable. They do best in a large aquarium which gives them enough space to swim around.

Threadfin Rainbowfish

The threadfin rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri) is a tropical rainbowfish species that is known for its long beautiful fins. It’s also known as the featherfin rainbowfish.

Threadfin rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri).
Threadfin rainbowfish (Iriatherina werneri).

These rainbowfish types are schooling fish and do well with groups of 6 or more. Most of the times, they are usually peaceful unless there is more than one male in the tank with too few females.

Threadfin rainbowfish are best kept in tanks by themselves. They breed best when no other type of animal (fish, large crustaceans, etc.) is present in the tank. A few freshwater snails to keep the tank clean won’t hurt though.

Also, lots of vegetation is recommended as they inhabit swampy terrain that has lots of plants when in the wild.

Learn more about the Threadfin rainbowfish.

Axelrod’s Rainbowfish

Axelrod’s rainbowfish (Chilatherina axelrodi) is a bluish-grey and silvery-white fish that inhabits the north-western part of Papua New Guinea. In the wild, they prefer to live in narrow flowing streams with muddy/cloudy water that’s surrounded by rainforest.

Axelrod's rainbowfish (Chilatherina axelrodi).
Axelrod’s rainbowfish (Chilatherina axelrodi).

They grow to around four inches long making them one of the largest rainbowfish in term of size alone. To keep these types of rainbowfish in aquariums requires minimum effort.

They get along fine with other fish of the same size and only require lots of plants to provide adequate hiding places. Also, it’s best to provide Axelrod’s rainbowfish with a varied diet that includes algae and live food.

Celebes Rainbowfish

The Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi) (previously Telmatherina ladigesi) is an extremely attractive and active fish. These fish are endemic to Indonesia and they are best kept in a shoal of at least 6-8 fish with 1 male to 4 female ratios.

Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi).
Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladigesi).

These types of rainbowfish show off their colors better when there are competing males of the same species in a tank. As they are highly active, larger tanks are preferable.

Learn more about the Celebes rainbowfish.

Bleher’s Rainbowfish

Bleher’s rainbowfish (Chilatherina bleheri) are beautifully colored fish with a silvery or bluish-green body color (upper side) that often times fades to yellow or red (lower side).

Bleher's rainbowfish (Chilatherina bleheri)
Bleher’s rainbowfish (Chilatherina bleheri)

Red Rainbowfish

The red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus) is one of the largest species of rainbowfish growing up to 6 inches. It also goes by the names Salmon Red Rainbowfish, Red Irian Rainbowfish, and New Guinea Red Rainbowfish. 

Despite its large size, the red rainbowfish is quite peaceful and do well in schools of 6 or more other red rainbowfish. Given its size and need for schooling, these types of rainbowfish require large tanks.

red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus).
red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus).

When the Salmon Red Rainbowfish is kept in a mixed school of male and female fish, you will see a constantly changing show of crimson and silver in the male. The color of the female is less inspiring, but without a female to display to the males will be a dull dusty brown.


Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish

The Lake Kutubu rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris) is also known as the turquoise rainbowfish. They are native to Lake Kutubu in Papua New Guinea and grow up to 5 inches in length.

These types of rainbowfish have cobalt blue to teal color on their top that fades through to green to silver or yellow on the bottom. These fish are able to change their colors and will do so throughout the day.

Lake Kutubu rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris).
Lake Kutubu rainbowfish (Melanotaenia lacustris).

The Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish can adapt to life in a larger fish community aquarium, but it does exceptionally well in a tank stocked with other rainbow fish. These fish are by nature playful and boisterous and should be kept with other fish of a peaceful temperament to avoid conflict.

Madagascar Rainbowfish

The red-tailed silverside or zona is also known as the Madagascar rainbowfish (Bedotia geayi) and they grow up to 6 inches in length. As the name suggests, these fish are native to Madagascar.

These rainbowfish are pale yellowish brown with a slight blue finish in color. Madagascar Rainbowfish are schooling fish and require at least six other fish of the same species to thrive in a tank environment.

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