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Maximum size : 12 cm

Sentani Rainbowfish - Chilatherina sentaniensis : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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The Sentani Rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis) is a stunning freshwater fish species renowned for its vibrant colours, graceful movements, and captivating behaviour. This species has become a prized gem among aquarists and a symbol of the incredible diversity found in nature.

In their natural habitat, Sentani Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and social creatures. They form small schools and are often found darting through the water column, navigating the submerged vegetation with grace and agility. Their harmonious interactions within the school create a sense of unity and security, contributing to their overall well-being.

The stunning Sentani Rainbowfish possesses a range of striking physical characteristics. However, as these fish mature, their bodies undergo a noticeable transformation, becoming deep and laterally compressed, particularly among the males. It is during this development that their true beauty unfolds.

The Sentani Rainbowfish showcases a mesmerizing interplay of colours across its body. The upper back shimmers with silvery-blue or greenish hues, which gracefully fade laterally, giving way to vibrant shades of orange or red. Along the mid-lateral region, a diffuse band of blue or green adds depth to their already enchanting appearance. Each horizontal scale row is accentuated by narrow silver or light blue stripes, enhancing the intricate tapestry of colours that adorn their bodies.

In the case of male Sentani Rainbowfish, a captivating display of reddish-brown bars emerges on the lower sides of their bodies, extending from the base of the pectoral fin to the level of the middle anal rays. These bars, numbering between 6 to 8 in most cases, add a touch of warmth and complexity to their overall colouration. However, it's important to note that the specific colours of these fish can exhibit some variation based on their captive conditions, adding an element of individuality to each specimen.

Sentani Rainbowfish Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Sentani Rainbowfish is a straightforward task. Males exhibit distinct characteristics, including brighter colouration, larger body size, and a deeper body shape compared to females. In addition, while males can reach a maximum size of 12 cm, females generally measure less than 10 cm in length. These discernible physical traits enable clear differentiation between the sexes of Sentani Rainbowfish.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameChilatherina sentaniensis
Year Described1907
Max Size12 cm
Aquarium LevelMiddle - Top
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 6+
LifespanUp to 10 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
PH7.0 - 8.0
GH5 - 20
75 - 84
24 - 29

Natural habitat

The Sentani Rainbowfish, an exclusive resident of the captivating West Papua region in Indonesia, finds its home in the pristine waters of Lake Sentani, located approximately 10 km west of the vibrant city of Jayapura.

With its intriguing irregular shape, this remarkable lake showcases mesmerizing blue-green hues that enthral all who gaze upon it. Dotted amidst the water's expanse are no less than 16 picturesque islands, while the southern hillsides and the majestic Cyclops Mountains in the north provide a breathtaking backdrop, effectively isolating the lake from the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

Regrettably, the presence of Sentani Rainbowfish within their native lake has become a matter of concern. Human activities in the surrounding areas have taken their toll on the delicate ecosystem, resulting in the disappearance of this once abundant species. 

The detrimental impacts of deforestation, marked by noticeable habitat loss, have greatly affected the region's natural balance. Additionally, water pollution stemming from various sources has further compounded the challenges faced by the Sentani Rainbowfish. Furthermore, introducing non-native species into the lake has disrupted the intricate web of life that previously flourished, further exacerbating the decline of this unique fish population.

How to breed the Sentani Rainbowfish

Regrettably, specific information regarding the breeding habits of Sentani Rainbowfish is currently unavailable. However, based on the behaviour of other rainbowfish species within the Genus Chilatherina, it is reasonable to infer that they may exhibit similar reproductive patterns.

To facilitate successful breeding, it is essential to establish a dedicated breeding aquarium of appropriate size equipped with the necessary elements. This includes incorporating a gentle air-driven sponge filter, which provides suitable water circulation and filtration, creating optimal breeding conditions. In addition, when introducing Sentani Rainbowfish to the breeding aquarium, it is advisable to carefully select a balanced population consisting of three females and two males.

Creating a suitable environment is crucial for breeding. Therefore, the aquarium should be adorned with fine-leaved plants or clusters of Java moss, providing suitable surfaces for egg attachment. These features play a vital role in establishing an environment conducive to successful reproduction.

Once acclimated to the breeding aquarium, the captivating courtship behaviour of male Sentani Rainbowfish unfolds. Engaging in an intricate dance, the male entices the female by swimming in front of her, guiding her over the lush vegetation within the tank. During this courtship ritual, the female deposits a few relatively large eggs at a time, securely attaching them to the plants.

It is important to note that Sentani Rainbowfish are known as "continual spawners," displaying spawning activity over an extended period, ranging from several days to weeks. This characteristic poses a challenge, as some adult fish may exhibit cannibalistic tendencies towards the scattered eggs. However, ensuring the adults receive ample food can help mitigate this behaviour.

Experienced fishkeepers have employed various techniques to manage Sentani Rainbowfish eggs. Some have successfully transferred the eggs to a separate aquarium using siphoning techniques, while others utilize spawning mops to collect clusters of eggs. By carefully collecting a cluster of eggs on the mop, it can be moved to a different tank, facilitating the subsequent collection of new batches of eggs.

Under optimal conditions, Sentani Rainbowfish eggs typically hatch within 6 to 9 days, with the precise timing influenced by water temperature. Once the fry reaches the free-swimming stage, their diet can consist of nourishment such as infusoria, providing them with their initial sustenance. As the fry matures, their diet can gradually transition to accommodate larger food sources.

By meticulously attending to breeding details and providing a nurturing environment, the remarkable life cycle of Sentani Rainbowfish can unfold, bringing a profound sense of fulfilment and awe to dedicated aquarists. While specific information on this species is limited, drawing from the knowledge and experience gained from related rainbowfish species can guide successful breeding endeavours.

Diet & feeding

As an omnivorous species, the Sentani Rainbowfish has a diverse diet. In the wild, it feeds on algae, aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and plant matter. In an aquarium setting, a balanced diet can be achieved by combining high-quality flakes, pellets, and live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and daphnia. Providing a varied diet ensures optimal health and colouration for these magnificent fish.

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