Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata) Aquarium Fish

The Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata) is the most colorful of the aquarium fish belonging to the Iridescent (Melanotaenia) family. The active life of the fish begins in the early morning, with sunrise. That is why in their natural environment in the northern part of Australia these fish are known as the “three-striped sunfish“.

melanotaenia trifasciata banded rainbowfish aquairum fish
  • Fish size: 10-15 cm.
  • Temperature: 21-26 °C
  • pH of water 7-8
  • Behavior: Peaceful
  • Habitat layer: Top and middle
  • Stability: Stable
  • Water type: Fresh
  • Keeping in Aquairum: Easily

Melanotaenia Trifasciata (Banded Rainbowfish) Habitat

The historical homeland of the Banded Rainbowfish is Australia, but this vibrant freshwater fish is also found in Indonesia, New Guinea, and other archipelagos/islands that separate the Pacific and Indian oceans.

It lives in almost all reservoirs with fresh water, from fast rivers to swamps, but most often in biotopes with a sandy substrate, which is covered with leaves, silt, and all sorts of plant organic matter. They keep mainly near snags and thickets of plants, at a depth of up to 2 m.

In the middle of the last century, rainbows began to be kept in aquariums, due to the massive catch for the purpose of selling, the number of natural populations has noticeably decreased.  But today, special farms are engaged in breeding these fish, due to which the threat of extinction has decreased.

Banded Rainbowfish appearance

A distinctive feature of irian is a very bright color, as well as unusual (sometimes even bizarre) shapes. A bifurcated dorsal fin is found in most species. The body is elongated, tapering from tail to head, as if slightly compressed from the sides, a characteristic “hump” is noticeable in the middle. From the middle there are fins (dorsal and anal), shifting to the caudal.

In some species, such as Iriatherina werneri, the fins are particularly bizarre. As for the pectoral/pelvic fins, they are usually transparent and small.

In an aquarium, body sizes can vary from 4 cm to 15 cm, but in the natural environment, Banded Rainbowfish can grow up to 18 cm. They live up to 5 years, but only if they are kept in good conditions.

  • The color is varied, but often it is a combination of several colors that cast a rainbow. The brightest color is observed in the morning, and by the evening it gradually fades. Although the cause of the color fading can also be stress, and for various reasons, from enmity with neighbors to low-quality water.
  • Regardless of the specific colors, fish always have a dark, wide stripe from tail to head and red fins. Males have a more intense color palette than females, they are even more massive and larger.

They can become aggressive and get into fights over the right to possess a female; such collisions look breathtaking; they are the ultimate display of beauty and strength. Therefore, at such moments, it is advisable to have a camera at hand.

Banded Rainbowfish aquarium fish care

Melanotaenia trifasciata is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful species of rainbows; this fish is well known. Best of all, beauty is manifested if you keep the fish in small flocks (7-8 individuals, sex ratio – 1: 1), using a fairly spacious aquarium for this.

banded rainbowfish aquarium fish care

decoratie aquarium for banded rainbowfish

Let’s get acquainted with the minimum requirements for an aquarium:

  • the required volume is at least 50 liters, for a group of irian, especially with neighbors – from 100-150 liters;
  • the water must have a temperature of 24 ° C to 26 ° C, it must be clean and stable;
  • water change – every week up to 30%;
  • the presence of lighting, plants, soil, a compressor, a thermostat and a filter is required;
  • filter maintenance should be done regularly, as should fish feeding.


In addition to temperature, the water in the aquarium must meet other requirements. So, its acidity should be approximately 7-8 pH, and its hardness should be in the range of 2-15dH.

Banded Rainbowfish perfectly adapt to a wide variety of water parameters, but they will not be able to live in a neglected aquarium.

Even fish, as noted above, need aquarium plants for comfort, behind which they can hide from overly aggressive or annoying individuals.

Banded Rainbowfish love to eat plants, and therefore it is better to give preference to hard aquatic plants, such as, for example:

  • crinums
  • anubias
  • hygrophils
  • valisneria, etc.

As for the soil, it should be fine-grained, preferably dark. The fact is that such fish rarely sink to the bottom, but their attractive color may deteriorate somewhat against the background of large and light stones.

Both plants and soil must be disinfected with a solution of potassium permanganate before being placed in the aquarium.

Decorations for the Banded Rainbowfish (three-strip sunfish) play almost no role. However, you can equip a few grottoes and other shelters without sharp edges.

The sun’s rays periodically entering the aquarium will be beneficial for the fish, because they like bright light. You can equip additional lighting with special lamps.


Banded Rainbowfish are omnivorous. Frozen or live foods can be used as the basis of the diet, with artificial substitutes added from time to time. It is imperative to make plant feeding. If the Banded Rainbowfish are well-nourished, their color will be bright and rich, and young people will ripen faster.

Live food can be:

  • koretra
  • bloodworm
  • daphnia
  • pipe maker

Experienced aquarists use special balanced foods that are designed for fish of different ages:

  • for fry – dry food;
  • for young animals – small granules.
  • for pregnant females – flakes.

The Banded Rainbowfish should be fed 2 times a day, at about the same time. It is important to alternate dry and live food, otherwise, digestive problems may arise.

The approximate weight of a portion of feed per fish is 5% of its total weight.

Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia Trifasciata) Breeding

Melanotaenia trifasciata is a very productive fish. She can spawn for a long time, even living in an aquarium. It is only necessary that the conditions are comfortable for her – without worries and stress.

Reproduction can be stimulated by simulating the rainy season. By raising the temperature slightly, using abundant high quality live food, and regularly changing the water, you will encourage the Banded Rainbowfish to reproduce.

Puberty can occur at the age of six months to a year. If other species live in the aquarium, in addition to rainbows, then it is advisable to use a separate spawning ground. The water in it must have the following parameters:

  • the water level should not exceed 35 cm (fish spawn only in shallow water);
  • the temperature should be within 25-28 ° С;
  • acidity level – from 6.0 to 7.8 pH;
  • the rigidity is the same – in the range of 2-15dH.

It is important that the parents are bright and healthy. For about a week, they should be fed with the above-mentioned live foods, keeping the female and male separately, and then combine for 2-3 days.

Even in the spawning grounds, there must be plants – the female will lay eggs on them. The latter, by the way, it is advisable to move to an incubator container. The water in it should be the same as the spawning ground, but about 15 cm high.

After about a week, the larvae will appear, after 3-4 days they will turn into fry.

What can you feed the offspring that has appeared:

  • crushed tubule;
  • brine shrimp;
  • egg yolk;
  • ciliate;
  • special combined feed for fry;
  • microworms;
  • crustaceans.

The Banded Rainbowfish is a great option for the novice aquarist, since there are no particular difficulties in keeping these fish. It is only necessary that the “home” be comfortable and clean, and the food – balanced.

Banded Rainbowfish Diseases and preventions

  • If the irian or rainbow fish eat poor-quality food, be attacked by neighbors or live in inadequate conditions, this will greatly increase the risk of disease. Most often, fish are exposed to skin diseases in the form of innovations of parasites, infections of a bacterial nature.
  • Also, skin parasites can be introduced with new neighbors (if they have not passed quarantine) or live food. Moreover, it is not worth excluding the latter completely, otherwise the immunity of the banded rainbowfish will not be strong enough to resist fungal diseases.

For prevention, maintain the required water parameters, regularly clean the aquarium, and provide constant filtration and aeration.

Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia Trifasciata) Aquarium mates

Banded Rainbowfish is very peaceful, she rarely conflicts with neighbors. But it is desirable that her cohabitants were the same mobile fish with similar sizes. If the neighbors are smaller, the Banded Rainbowfish will perceive them only as food, the larger ones can hunt for it themselves.

Best neighbors for a Banded Rainbowfish:

  • scalar
  • barbus
  • cocks
  • gourami
  • discus

There are also species whose neighborhood is undesirable for the Banded Rainbowfish:

  • thorns
  • astronotuses
  • koi carps
  • cichlids

Banded Rainbowfish types and similar species

In addition to Melanotaenia trifasciata, there are other members of the family that look no less attractive. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Neon Rainbowfish

Lives in Indonesia, mainly in bodies of water with abundant vegetation. It has a bluish color with a characteristic neon effect, which manifests itself best in diffused lighting (for this reason, it is advisable to take care of floating plants). Red fins, body length up to 8 cm. Weak sex differences: males are somewhat larger, with brighter fins.

Boeseman’s Rainbowfish

Native to western New Guinea lives in shallow bodies of water with abundant vegetation. It has an unusual color: the front half of the body is bright blue, but towards the back the color gradually turns into yellow-orange. In aquarium conditions, they grow up to 8-11 cm. Males have a larger body and brighter color than females.

Turquoise Rainbowfish

The calmest species, whose representatives live in Papua New Guinea.
It is worth mentioning that the number of populations has significantly decreased due to human activity, and therefore this species needs protection.
The body is two-colored: above it is turquoise, below it is silvery or green. The body length can reach 12 cm.

banded rainbowfish tips and tricks

Experienced aquarists have their own secrets regarding the maintenance and care of the Banded Rainbowfish.

  • Fish are very mobile and jumping. It is better to cover the aquarium with something, otherwise they may fly out of it. Use plastic or glass to cover the container (the material must be transparent). Plexiglass is also quite suitable.
  • If they eat aquarium plants, then there is not enough plant food in the diet.
  • Some aquarists use duckweed for feeding. It can be grown in the same aquarium with fish – they will periodically eat it. But remember that the duckweed will hold out there exactly until the Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia Trifasciata) taste it and understand how tasty it is. After that, the duckweed will begin to disappear rapidly. Alternatively, for feeding, you can use lettuce / nettle leaves, pre-scalded and cut into pieces. Finally, the fish can be fed with oatmeal and semolina balls.
  • How to move eggs correctly? Experts advise to avoid contact of caviar with air, as it can be damaged due to this. It is necessary to remove the caviar together with water, using a glass jar or other suitable container.
  • If during the spawning period the females’ productivity has deteriorated, place the pair back in the aquarium – there the fish will rest, restore strength. Rest time can be short – from 15 to 20 days.
  • Do not cross fish from different populations. Especially – different geographic races and species. The result of such an experiment will disappoint: the offspring will turn out to be weak and unattractive, the color will be bad and pale.
  • Fasting day. It is advisable to arrange it every week – this way the obesity of the internal organs will not begin in the fish.

As a result, we note that if the aquarium is spacious enough, then even a beginner can quite cope with the cultivation of a Banded Rainbowfish. It is only important to provide suitable conditions for life, to use good food in the correct dosages.

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