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Maximum size : 13 cm

Banded Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia trifasciata : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The stunning Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata) is an incredibly versatile fish that thrives in a community aquarium with larger fish or in a biotope aquarium with other Rainbowfish. These fish should not be housed with aggressive species but instead should be kept with good-natured and playful fish. There may be sparring between mature males, but this is usually harmless unless a fish is constantly harassed or injured, or has nowhere to hide. With their naturally hardy nature and high tolerance for changes in water conditions, Banded Rainbowfish are perfect for beginner aquarists. However, it is essential to keep their water clean by replacing at least 25 - 50% of the tank water weekly, especially if the tank is heavily stocked. These active swimmers are also known for their tendency to jump, so it is important to ensure that the tank has a secure cover. Banded Rainbowfish are available in a wide variety of colours, including blue, green, red, yellow, and purple. Their anal, dorsal, and caudal fins are typically red or yellow, and their lateral stripes are often dark blue to black. Every river system has its unique colour pattern, and there are estimated to be over thirty different variants of Banded Rainbowfish. With their stunning colours and lively personalities, these fish make an excellent addition to any aquarium.

Banded Rainbowfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Male Banded Rainbowfish can be distinguished from females through several physical characteristics. Males typically have a larger and more robust body structure, with a prominent arched back, longer dorsal and anal fins, and more vibrant colors, especially when they are sparring or breeding. Conversely, females tend to be slimmer, smaller, and less colorful than males.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMelanotaenia trifasciata
Year Described1922
Other NamesJewel Rainbowfish, Goyder River Rainbowfish, Three-striped Sunfish, Regal Rainbowfish, Three stripe Rainbow
Max Size13 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
Best kept asGroups 5+
Lifespan3 - 5 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.5
GH8 - 25
70 - 79
21.1 - 26

Natural Habitat

The Banded Rainbowfish is a fascinating and hardy fish that calls the Northern region of Australia its home. These fish have adapted to survive in a variety of environments, from slow-flowing streams and clear waterholes to swamps, lagoons, and even stagnant puddles during the dry season. The Banded Rainbowfish is a true survivor and can also thrive in areas with strong water flow. Their natural habitat is characterized by well-vegetated streams and rivers, with a substrate that includes rocks, small stones, and dead leaf litter. They can usually be found hiding beneath floating plants or submerged branches, driftwood, and bogwood. If you're interested in keeping these beautiful fish, it's essential to replicate their natural environment as much as possible in your aquarium.


To establish a successful breeding tank for Banded Rainbowfish, one should use a sponge filter and incorporate fine-leaved plants or spawning mops. The introduction of a pair of healthy adult fish, which have been conditioned with high-quality live and plant-based foods, is also essential. It is important to note that emulating the abundance of the flood season requires higher quality and quantity of food than regular feeding schedules. After the female produces eggs, the male will display a breathtaking exhibition of vivid colors and direct the female to the spawning site. Spawning will occur, followed by rest. To ensure the survival of the eggs, the spawning mop or plants should be removed and replaced after each spawning event. The process will repeat for several days, with diminishing egg production. Once the egg numbers fall or the female shows signs of fatigue, the parents should be removed. Upon hatching, the fry will require infusoria or liquid fry food until they are able to consume small live foods. Raising the fry can be challenging, particularly during the first two months, and maintaining clean water conditions is critical throughout the process. One issue to be aware of is the potential for crossbreeding. Although Rainbowfish in the wild do not mate with fish from other species, aquarium-bred Rainbowfish of the Melanotaeniidae family are known to interbreed, often with unfavorable results. Mismatched parents' fry tend to lose most of their coloration, which could result in the loss of the breathtaking hues developed by nature over thousands of years. It is essential to keep the bloodlines distinct and preserve the integrity of these species, particularly those that are rare.

Diet & feeding

Banded Rainbowfish are a diverse species that exhibit an omnivorous feeding behavior in their natural habitat, consuming aquatic insects, algae, and plant material, as well as small amounts of terrestrial insects that fall into the water. To keep these fish in optimal health in captivity, it is crucial to provide them with a varied and nutritious diet. To achieve this, high-quality flake or pellet food should be provided in small quantities, as the nutrients in these products can rapidly degrade past their usefulness. In addition to processed foods, Banded Rainbowfish require a live food component in their diet. Bloodworms, tubifex worms, water fleas, brine shrimp, and white worms are all healthy additions to their diet. If live food is unavailable, frozen substitutes that have been properly defrosted are acceptable. To ensure proper feeding habits, Banded Rainbowfish should be fed 2-3 times a day, only in quantities they can consume in less than five minutes. By maintaining a diverse and nutritious diet, these beautiful fish can thrive in captivity and exhibit their most vibrant colours.

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