Your fish tank isn’t complete without some favorite colorful rainbow fish species swimming around in it! Whether you’re looking to add that little splash of color or you want to create a mini ecosystem, these beautiful rainbow fish species will surely do the trick!
With so many types of fish species out there, it can be difficult to figure out which type will work best in your aquarium.
Although an enormous number of species are on the market today, some are better suited than others to survive and thrive in tank conditions, both temperature-wise and size-wise.
The good news? There are plenty of beautiful rainbow fish species out there that won’t cost you a fortune, take up too much space in your tank, or require an expensive filtration system to keep them healthy and thriving!
Rainbow fish has become one of the most popular types of aquarium fish over the last few decades, and with good reason, the vibrant colors, graceful movements, and relatively peaceful nature of these species make them extremely enjoyable to watch and care for.
If you’re thinking about getting some color to your tank, here are 20 beautiful rainbow fish types that would be ideal for your tank.
Rainbow fish species
Boesemani Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani)
Also known as Boesemani rainbowfish, the Boesemani Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia boesemani) is a species of rainbow fish that is endemic to Lake Kutubu in Papua New Guinea. It lives in areas of slow-moving water with clay bottoms, and can often be found around weed beds or other submerged vegetation.
They are usually solitary but may form small groups during the spawning season. Females lay their eggs among weeds on the bottom of the lake.
After fertilization by males, they will swim off together to protect the eggs until they hatch. These little beauties like a tank temperature between 24-28° C (75-82° F).
Axelrods rainbowfish (Chilatherina axelrodi)
Axelrods rainbowfish are a schooling species of freshwater fish native to the Northern Territory and Western Australia in Australia. They belong to the Melanotaeniidae family, which is endemic to Australia.
The scientific name for this fish is Chilatherina axelrodi, and they are also commonly known as Axelrod’s rainbowfish.
Axelrod’s rainbowfish is typically dark blue or purple with bright orange fins and a white belly. Some subspecies have an iridescent silver-green sheen on their sides and can grow up to 7 inches long. These fish are social and need at least four companions in order to thrive.
Desert rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida tatei)
The Desert Rainbowfish is a freshwater, egg-laying fish native to the Kakadu region of northern Australia. They are found in the slow-flowing sections of rivers and streams, as well as still waterholes.
The fish were once abundant but are now threatened due to habitat loss and predation from introduced species. You can help by not catching them and preventing their introduction into other waters.
These beautiful fishes have an orange or yellow band at the front of their bodies with black stripes on either side. There is also a broad blue stripe running along the length of their back, which extends up to their dorsal fin.
When breeding, they produce clear eggs that float in clusters just below the surface tension of the water.
Madagascar rainbowfish (Bedotia geayi)
The Madagascar rainbowfish is a primarily peaceful fish that can be added to most tanks without fear of aggression. This fish is primarily herbivorous and will feed on algae, plants, and small invertebrates.
The Madagascar rainbowfish has been bred in captivity for many years and is also available in vibrant colors such as red, orange, yellow, blue, green, purple, and white.
Some of these species have patterns that include stripes, dots, or spots. They are not schooling fish but tend to live solitary lives. To keep this fish well-fed, offer foods with plant matter such as spinach or zucchini slices.
Other tank mates should be chosen with care because the Madagascar rainbowfish does not react well to overcrowding.
Melanotaenia trifasciata (Banded Rainbowfish)
If you’re looking for a beautiful and hardy rainbow fish that can thrive in a number of different water conditions, Melanotaenia trifasciata (Banded Rainbowfish) is a perfect choice.
These fish are native to southern New Guinea and will do well in temperatures between 25°C to 32°C. They prefer a pH of 6-7 and a hardness of 8-14 dH.
Female Banded Rainbowfish grow to be approximately 1.8 inches long, while males only reach about 1 inch in length. Their lifespan ranges from 4-6 years on average. One thing to keep in mind with this species is they don’t like bright light; a dimmer tank would be best for these fish!
Iriatherina werneri (Threadfin Rainbowfish)
The threadfin rainbowfish can grow up to 6 inches long and are a great addition to any home aquarium. They are easy to care for and have beautiful colors. The threadfin rainbowfish should not be kept in a community tank with other larger fish because they may be eaten.
In order to keep the water quality high and keep your pet healthy you will need to regularly change 20% of the water every week. These fish will eat flake food as well as vegetables such as cucumber, peas, or lettuce.
The color of these fish varies depending on their environment. Keeping this fish at 68 to 82 degrees is best, so make sure to invest in a heater if needed. Lastly, these creatures are susceptible to ich but there are medications that work against it if caught early enough.
Marosatherina ladigesi (Celebes Rainbowfish)
The first fish on our list is the Marosatherina ladigesi, also known as the Celebes rainbowfish. This fish is native to Indonesia and it has a lifespan of about 7 years.
It’s one of the most popular rainbows in captivity, but this one is not ideal for beginners because it can be aggressive. On the other hand, if you provide them with an aquarium that has plenty of plants and caves they will do great.
They are tolerant of water temperature variation so you won’t need to worry about extreme temperature changes. They eat both plant and animal matter so make sure you feed them both!
Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox)
The Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia praecox) is a small, slender fish, typically measuring around 3.5 inches in length. The males are more brightly colored than the females and have red and yellow stripes on the head with purple to blue-green body coloration.
Females have a lavender or pinkish hue over their entire bodies. The Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish originates from Papua New Guinea. They live in habitats that consist of clear, clean water with dense vegetation at the bottom.
These fish spend most of their time near or at the surface level of these waters, making them popular choices for community aquariums.
The fish has a lifespan of three to five years, which makes them one of the longest-living species of rainbowfish. They prefer a diet consisting mostly of meaty foods such as shrimp and worms, but they can also be fed flakes and pellets if necessary.
Melanotaenia lacustris (Lake Kutubu Rainbowfish)
The Melanotaenia lacustris (Lake Kutubu rainbowfish) is a freshwater fish native to Papua New Guinea and the surrounding area. It grows to a size of 4 inches long and is available in a variety of different colors such as black, gold, blue, brown, purple, and green.
The males are generally more colorful than the females. These fish are peaceful but should not be kept with aggressive species like cichlids or barbs. They also require a high-quality aquarium filter to keep their water clean and clear.
A good rule of thumb for determining whether your tank needs a new filter is that you need to change it every three months for every inch of aquarium depth. If you have an eight-inch deep tank, you would need to change your filters twice per year.
The Melanotaenia lacustris requires a lot of hiding places and driftwood branches for it can live among them so that it can feel safe from predators.
Red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus)
The Red rainbowfish (Glossolepis incisus) is a freshwater fish native to the Rio Negro basin in South America. It has a deep red stripe that runs from the eye to the tail. The Red rainbow fish has an elongated body and a compressed head.
Females are generally smaller than males and can grow up to 3 inches long. They typically feed on algae, plankton, insects, small crustaceans, and worms. A diet high in protein may cause them to suffer from liver diseases. Red rainbow fish prefer water with a pH of 5.0 to 6.8 and temperatures between 72 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lake Wanam Rainbowfish (Glossolepis wanamensis)
The Lake Wanam Rainbowfish (Glossolepis wanamensis) is a relatively new species of rainbowfish that was only discovered in 1989. They are fairly hardy fish and can be kept in small groups of about five or six if the tank has plenty of hiding places.
Their lifespan is about five years. In captivity, they prefer to eat live food such as daphnia, but will also eat dried foods when necessary. Females are larger than males and have an iridescent blue coloration on their sides which is not seen in males.
These colors become more vivid during the breeding season. They do best at room temperature water between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius with low nitrates levels and a pH of 7.5 to 8.5, with high oxygen levels; it should not exceed 25% hardness and 10 degrees Celsius difference between day and night temperatures.
Forktail Rainbowfish (Pseudomugil furcatus)
The Forktail Rainbowfish is a highly sought-after species due to its ease of breeding and extreme coloration. This fish has an oval-shaped body with an orange tail, two black spots behind its eyes, and a blue stripe on its dorsal fin.
This species is mostly found in the streams of North Queensland, Australia; however, it can also be found in Papua New Guinea. The Forktail Rainbowfish is relatively easy to breed as long as you have plenty of plants for them to hide in.
They should not be put in tanks that are too small or else they will become stressed. If possible, this species should only be bred by experienced aquarists because it requires specific water conditions.
Crimson Spotted Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia duboulayi)
The Crimson Spotted Rainbowfish is a species of fish in the Melanotaeniidae family. The fish can be found in New Guinea, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. It is an orange-red color with black stripes and spots.
This fish has been known to grow up to 5 inches long. These fish are social animals who enjoy eating zooplankton and small invertebrates. They live for around five years. When breeding this species of fish, it is recommended that you have at least one male and two females.
If you want your eggs to survive then provide them with as much light as possible as well as clean water that contains fresh vegetation. You will need a relatively large tank to keep these fish because they prefer open spaces and may not do well in tanks where there are less than 20 gallons of water per square foot.
Australian Rainbow Fish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis)
Also known as Murray River Rainbowfish, The Australian rainbow fish (Melanotaenia fluviatilis) is a beautiful species that prefer to live in warm waters, but can also survive in cooler temperatures.
It is typically found in the Northern Territory of Australia and Tasmania, where it inhabits various water systems, including slow-flowing streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes. It feeds on aquatic insects and their larvae, as well as small crustaceans.
It is threatened by the introduction of new predatory fishes, such as mosquitofish, which eat its eggs and young. To avoid this threat, keep them away from any predatory fish. The Australian rainbow fish has a lifespan of 3 to 4 years in captivity.
Melanotaenia maccullochi (Redfin Rainbow Fish)
Melanotaenia maccullochi is a fish native to Australian waterways. It has a red, iridescent body with many thin black stripes and a greenish-yellow tail. They live at the bottom of slow-flowing creeks and rivers that are covered in leaf litter.
You can find Melanotaenia maccullochi from the Logan River in Queensland all the way to the Burnett River in southern Queensland. They do not grow as large as most rainbowfish and only reach about three inches in length. Males have a brighter, more colorful appearance than females.
Parkinson’s Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia parkinsoni)
If you’re looking for a unique addition to your tank, Parkinson’s rainbowfish, also called Parkinsoni Rainbowfish, is an excellent choice. This freshwater species is native to the Northern Territory of Australia and a part of the Melanotaeniidae family.
Their scales are iridescent blue with purple-pink stripes and they have black edges. They eat small live prey like brine shrimp, tubifex worms, cyclops, and bloodworms. These fish prefer temperatures between 24°C (75°F) and 28°C (82°F) but can tolerate slightly cooler conditions as long as it doesn’t dip below 22°C (72°F).
Gertrude’s Spotted Blue Eye Rainbowfish (Pseudomugil gertrudae)
The Gertrude’s spotted blue eye rainbowfish (Pseudomugil gertrudae) is found in northern New South Wales, Australia. They are most commonly found living in freshwater lakes and swamps.
These fish are omnivorous and their diet consists of small aquatic invertebrates and algae. Adults can reach a size of 3 inches long.
As they age, the males will develop yellow lines on the sides of their bodies that run from the head to the tail fin as well as a yellowish coloration on their anal fin lobes. Females will not exhibit these markings until they are at least 5 years old.
Lake Tebera Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)
Lake Tebera rainbowfish are endemic to Lake Tebera in Papua New Guinea. They are typically found at the bottom of the lake where they feed on insects, small crustaceans, and detritus.
It is thought that these fish have evolved from another related species of rainbowfish, Melanotaenia boesemanii. This color pattern is a result of the hybridization between these two species.
The Lake Tebera rainbows can grow up to 12 cm (5 inches) in length. Males will develop an orange-colored cheek during the breeding season while females will turn pinkish-brown with reddish fins.
Sentani rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis)
The Sentani rainbowfish (Chilatherina sentaniensis) is a small, colorful freshwater fish found in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. They are unusual because they have black spots on their bodies instead of stripes like most other rainbows.
The Sentani rainbowfish is usually orange with a few blue and red scales on its dorsal fin, but the colors can vary depending on the mood of the fish. When stressed or threatened, the Sentani rainbowfish will turn almost completely black.
It is one of only four species of rainbowfish that has been observed to change color when it becomes stressed or distressed.
Eastern Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia splendida splendida)
The Eastern rainbowfish is a beautiful, brilliantly-colored freshwater fish that lives in Australia and Indonesia. It’s relatively small, with an average size of about two inches, and has a lifespan of up to five years.
It thrives in water that ranges from neutral to alkaline, with a pH between 7.0 and 8.5, so it’s important to monitor these levels when you’re setting up your tank.
However, this fish doesn’t like high ammonia levels, so it may not be the best choice for people who have live plants or messy feeders. Overall, the Eastern rainbowfish is one of the most colorful species on our list!