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Maximum size : 10 cm

Desert Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia splendida tatei : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Desert Rainbowfish, a remarkable medium-sized species renowned for its peaceful nature and exceptional hardiness, is an ideal choice for planted community aquariums. However, to truly appreciate the splendour of these aquatic gems, it is recommended to keep Desert Rainbowfish in small groups of at least six individuals, as their inherent social nature thrives in the presence of their companions. 

Given their sociability, a larger aquarium, approximately 4 feet long and at least 18 inches wide, is advised to provide ample space for their energetic behaviour. Furthermore, employing a secure, tight-fitting lid is crucial, as these agile creatures have a propensity for jumping, ensuring their safety within the aquatic sanctuary.

Creating an optimal environment for the Desert Rainbowfish entails ensuring well-oxygenated water. This can be achieved by strategically positioning the filter outlet nozzles towards the water surface, enhancing gaseous exchange. Opting for small, well-rounded gravel as the substrate sets the stage for an ideal habitat while adding live aquatic plants provides a sense of security for these magnificent fish. However, it is essential to maintain open swimming spaces, confining the planting to the rear and sides of the aquarium, thus allowing the Desert Rainbowfish to explore their aquatic domain freely.

Aesthetically captivating, the Desert Rainbowfish showcases distinct features. Notably, their large, upwardly positioned eyes add a touch of intrigue, while the moderately large, oblique, and upturned mouth reflects their unique character. 

The presence of two dorsal fins, separated by a small gap, further enhances their visual appeal, with the first fin being short-based and the second boasting a long-based structure. A long-based anal fin complements their striking physique, while the moderately forked tail completes their captivating silhouette. 

Two colour variations exist within the species, each presenting its own allure. In one form, males display a compelling purple body adorned with yellow-green fins accentuated by dark flecks and a dark border. The alternate form showcases a mesmerizing blue-green body complemented by similar colouration on their fins. 

During the spawning process, the male's belly undergoes a dramatic transformation, radiantly turning a vibrant pink. Furthermore, their colouration can vary depending on factors such as mood, water conditions, and diet, making each Desert Rainbowfish a living work of art, ever-evolving in its visual splendour.

Desert Rainbowfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Desert Rainbowfish exhibit distinct sexual dimorphism, with noticeable differences between males and females. Males tend to be larger in size and boast brighter and more vibrant colouration. During the spawning period, an eye-catching transformation occurs, as the ventral region of the male acquires a striking pink hue, adding to their allure. In contrast, females and juveniles possess a simpler aesthetic, featuring plain silvery bodies and transparent fins. These subtle yet significant contrasts contribute to the natural balance and visual diversity within the Desert Rainbowfish community.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMelanotaenia splendida tatei
Year Described1896
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH6.5 - 8.0
GH5 - 15
75 - 82
24 - 28

Natural habitat

Prepare to explore the diverse and captivating habitats the Desert Rainbowfish calls home. These remarkable fish are widely distributed and abundant within the larger rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin and the Western Plateau of the Northern Territory. However, their presence within the Murray-Darling Basin has only recently come to light, specifically in the arid rivers of the northwestern region. They have been documented in the Paroo, Finke, and Warrego Rivers within this basin, showcasing their adaptability to different environments.

Embrace the enchanting settings where Desert Rainbowfish flourish as they grace semi-permanent streams, springs, artesian bores, and lagoons. These resilient creatures navigate their surroundings with finesse, thriving even during prolonged droughts, where they seek refuge in isolated pools. 

Their natural habitat is subject to seasonal variations, with water temperatures ranging from 24°C during the dry season to as high as 33°C during the wet season. The water quality generally tends to be alkaline, yet occasional encounters in acidic conditions highlight the species' ability to adapt to varying pH levels. Look for these captivating fish around sub-surface vegetation, submerged logs, and branches as they find solace and shelter within these habitats.

As inhabitants of a hot and arid environment, the Desert Rainbowfish has developed remarkable physiological tolerances, embodying nature's resilience and adaptability. Prepare to witness the captivating interplay between these fish and their dynamic surroundings, a testament to their ability to thrive in diverse aquatic ecosystems.

How to breed the Desert Rainbowfish

Achieving successful breeding outcomes with Desert Rainbowfish presents challenges primarily tied to specific environmental conditions. Typically, spawning in these exquisite fish occurs during the warmer months when temperatures surpass 20°C or when generous rainfall blesses their habitat. 

During this favourable period, females exhibit remarkable reproductive capabilities, producing a considerable quantity of small eggs, ranging between 100 and 200 in number, with a diameter measuring approximately 0.8-0.95 mm. This prolific egg production unfolds over several days, with multiple daily spawning events.

Intriguingly, the eggs possess a natural affinity for aquatic plants, adhering to their surfaces for incubation. Following an incubation period of 6-7 days, the miracle of life unfolds as the eggs hatch, giving rise to tiny larvae measuring around 4-5 mm in length. As the morning sun gently caresses the aquatic realm, the spawning activity peaks, with eggs scattered over vegetation or nestled among aquatic debris, bestowing a picturesque scene upon their breeding grounds.

Embark on the fascinating journey of breeding Desert Rainbowfish, where each delicate stage of the reproductive process unfolds with meticulous precision, showcasing nature's timeless rituals and the eternal cycle of life within their aquatic sanctuary.

Diet & feeding

Providing a well-rounded and nourishing diet for Desert Rainbowfish in the aquarium is key to their overall well-being. Once acclimated to their new environment, these fish are relatively uncomplicated regarding feeding. However, ensuring a balanced and diverse diet to support optimal health is essential.

A high-quality commercial flake or small pellet food serves as an excellent staple diet for Desert Rainbowfish. This forms the foundation of their nutritional intake. However, to mimic their natural feeding habits and promote dietary variety, it is crucial to supplement their meals with meaty foods and additional vegetable matter.

Incorporating meaty foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms proves beneficial to meet their protein requirements. These animal protein sources offer essential nutrients and contribute to the overall nutritional diversity of their diet. Additionally, integrating spirulina or algae wafers into their feeding regimen fulfils their vegetable matter needs, providing essential plant-based nutrients.

By offering a balanced combination of high-quality commercial flakes or pellets, meaty foods, and vegetable matter, aquarists can ensure that their Desert Rainbowfish receive the essential nutrients they require for vibrant health and vitality. Embrace the opportunity to curate a diverse and nourishing diet, unlocking these fascinating aquatic inhabitants' full splendour and well-being.

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