Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bicolor Rainbow

The Boeseman’s Rainbowfish is a relatively new addition to the hobby and has become sensationally popular due to its almost unreal coloration!

Looking at a mature male Boeseman's Rainbowfish makes it easy to see why they are called rainbowfish. Its coloration in a pet store is usually a dull steel gray and hardly seems worth purchasing. But a serious and patient aquarist can bring out unforgettable colors. The secret to good colors is to buy quality specimens, feed a varied diet, and above all keep up with frequent water changes and maintenance.

Being an endangered species, the Boeseman’s Rainbowfish deserves some special consideration. Wild populations are being decimated by over harvesting and environmental destruction. Not only are harvesting practices usually damaging to the wild populations and environment, but they also upset the ecological balance in these regions. Domestically, this unfortunate fish is being bred recklessly with other species, muddling the bloodlines of species. Nature has taken thousands of years of selective breeding to develop their beautiful colors. Please carefully consider the decision to buy wild caught fish, and consider purchasing responsibly bred rather than farmed fish.

Remember that every fish has a slightly different distribution and intensity of colors which is largely based on genetics. However, age, health, water quality, and many other factors can and will impact colors

Size - Weight:
Male Boeseman's Rainbowfish will reach 4.5 "(11.5 cm), females will be closer to 4" (10 cm).

Care and feeding:
The Boeseman's Rainbowfish are omnivores and should be given a high quality diet to encourage good coloration. A mix of live and processed foods is necessary for optimal health. Buy processed food in small amounts frequently as nutrition in these products quickly deteriorates past usefulness by this species. Boeseman’s Rainbowfish relish live food like bloodworms, tubifex worms, water fleas, brine shrimp and the like. If these are unavailable, frozen (defrosted) substitutes would be fine.

As with many fish, Rainbowfish will do best and are most effectively displayed in tanks which simulate their natural habitat. These fish are fairly adaptable but a planted tank with swimming space suits them best. Try, if possible, to plan for one or two hours of sunlight hitting the tank. This should be time when you can view the tank as the illumination will make the fish even more stunning.

Rainbowfish are not exceptionally difficult to care for provided their water is kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced weekly, especially if the tank is densely stocked. Because they are very active swimmers it is also advisable to keep these Rainbowfish in a tank at least 30 inches long and ideally 30 or more gallons. Additionally, the tank should be securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

Water Region: Top, Middle, Bottom:

Boeseman's Rainbowfish tend to gather in the open space of the aquarium, usually in the top or middle of the tank.

Acceptable Water Conditions:
Temperature: 70 - 79° F (21 - 28° C)
Hardness: 8 - 25 dGH
Ph: 6.5 - 8.5

Social Behaviors:
The Boeseman's Rainbowfish do fine in a larger fish community aquarium of similarly sized fish, but do exceptionally well in a geographical tank stocked with other rainbowfish. Although generally non-aggressive, overly aggressive or very shy tank mates will make bullies out of them. Mix them with other playful but good natured fish for best results. You may notice some chasing between rainbowfish, but this is rarely a concern unless a fish is injured, has nowhere to hide, or is constantly harassed (usually a result of one of the first two).

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are schooling fish and the ratio of males to females is very important to keep a reasonable peace among them. Although you can always keep single sex schools, you will see significantly better coloration if both genders are in the tank. Properly stocking rainbowfish is a little tricky so we include the following recommendation for stocking. Choose which type of school you want to keep and how many fish.

Sexual Differences:
Sexing is generally difficult at the young age at which the fish is usually sold, but mature males will be more colorful, have the arched back described above, and will often be the more territorial sex.

A breeding tank should be set up with a sponge filer and either many fine leaved plants or a spawning mop. A pair of healthy adult rainbowfish should be introduced. They should be conditioned with live foods and plant based foods. Remember, you are trying to emulate the bounty of the flood season so feed more and higher quality food than you normally would.

After the female has produced eggs, the males will display an amazing show of intense colors and direct the female to the spawning site, spawn, and then rest. The spawning mop or plants should be removed and replaced after the spawning or the eggs will be eaten. The fish will repeat this daily for a few days, with steadily decreasing numbers of eggs produced. The parents should be removed when egg numbers fall or if the females show signs of fatigue.

The fry will hatch after about a week and should be fed infusoria or a liquid fry food until they are able to eat small live foods. The fry are something of a challenge to raise until they are about two months old. The fry grow slowly and require clean water during the entire process.

A problem to be aware of is crossbreeding. Rainbowfish in the wild will not breed with fish of another species, even when presented the opportunity to do so. But for some reason, rainbowfish of the Melanotaeniidae family in the aquarium will interbreed, often with undesirable results. Somehow the fry of mismatched parents lose most of their coloration. Since many of these species are rare, it is desirable to keep the bloodlines distinct, or risk losing the beautiful coloration that nature has taken thousands of years.