Profile Photo

Maximum size : 5.5 cm

Sahul Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia sahulensis : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


Sahul Rainbowfish are stunning, peaceful, and active. They are generally hardy and easy to look after, making them suitable for a beginner aquarist and perfect for a community aquarium with other temperate species. It would be best to maintain Sahul Rainbowfish in groups of 6 or more individuals as they are a shoaling species in nature. Ideal tankmates for Sahul Rainbowfish could include other Rainbowfish, Dwarf Barbs, larger Tetras, Rasboras and peaceful Cichlids. These fish will also do well with Catfish, Loaches, Gudgeons and Garras. Sahul Rainbowfish will need a reasonably spacious aquarium as they are an active species that need space to swim around. These Rainbowfish are also excellent jumpers, so you will need to have a tight-fitting lid on your aquarium. Sahul Rainbowfish have small silvery-white to greyish-brown bodies contrasted by 7 or 8 black stripes along the white bottom half of the body. These fish also have a greyish-brown head, greyish lips, a small reddish to orange spot on the upper gill cover, and a silver eye. In addition, their dorsal and anal fins are tricoloured, with a wide dark band dividing a narrow white to orangy-red margin and an area of yellowish-orange below the dark band.

Sahul Rainbowfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It is simple to differentiate between male and female Sahul Rainbowfish. Males are somewhat slimmer and have more prominent body stripes and brighter fin colouration than females. In contrast, females have rounder bodies, especially when gravid and are duller than males.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameMelanotaenia sahulensis
Year Described2019
Other NamesSkull Creek Rainbowfish
Max Size5.5 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
Lifespan5 - 8 years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH5.5 - 8.0
GH5 - 20
KH8 -12
72 - 82
22.2 - 27.8

Natural habitat

Sahul Rainbowfish are endemic to the Jardine, Bensbach and Pahoturi River Systems in northeast Cape York Peninsula, Australia and southern central New Guinea in Oceania. You can find these Rainbowfish in various habitats, including floodplains, small swampy creeks, dune lakes, Lilly lagoons and small streams. Their waters are usually clear and acidic, and the substrate is generally covered with aquatic vegetation and logs.

How to breed the Sahul Rainbowfish

It is quite simple to breed Sahul Rainbowfish; however, their fry can prove somewhat challenging to raise. Therefore, it would be better to set up a separate breeding tank containing soft acidic water, a sponge filter, and a few fine-leaved plants; spawning mops will also work just as well. You will then need to add several fish into the breeding tank; a ratio of two females to three males is ideal. It would be best to condition the group with live and frozen foods. Remember, you are trying to imitate the flood season's bounty so feed more and higher quality food than you usually would. Once the females are full of eggs, the males will display a remarkable show of intense colours and then lead the female to the spawning site, fertilise her eggs, and rest. You should then remove and replace the spawning mop or plants after spawning has occurred, or the parents may eat the eggs if given a chance. The fish will repeat this process daily for several days, with regularly decreasing numbers of eggs produced. It would be better to remove the parents when egg numbers drop or if the females start to show signs of fatigue. Around 7 to 14 days later, depending on the temperature of the water, the eggs will hatch into fry. You will need to initially give the fry infusoria or liquid fry food until they are big enough to accept small live foods like microworm or baby brine shrimp.

Diet & feeding

Sahul Rainbowfish are not fussy about what they eat and will accept most foods offered to them. However, it would be best to feed these Rainbowfish a varied diet of high quality dried food such as pellets, granules or flakes alongside frozen and live foods such as bloodworm, brine shrimp and Tubifex. Frequent feedings of both will help your fish exhibit their best condition and colours. However, it would be more beneficial to feed your fish 2 to 3 times a day, remembering only to provide them with what they can consume in 5 minutes or less.

Other Rainbowfish you maybe interested in