Boeseman's Rainbowfish

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are captivating freshwater fish closely related to other rainbowfish species. With their unique color gradient, they have become a prized addition among aquarium enthusiasts. These affable fish require moderate care, making them a wonderful selection for community aquariums.

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Care DIfficulty


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4.5 inches (11 cm)

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5 to 8 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

Boeseman's Rainbowfish, scientifically known as Melanotaenia boesemani, originate from the Ayamaru Lakes and their tributaries in West Papua, Indonesia. These waters provide an environment abundant with plant life, offering not only hiding spots but also food sources. These fish are typically found in tranquil, slightly murky waters, which contribute to the vibrant display of their hues.

In their natural habitat, Boeseman's Rainbowfish enjoy temperate, slightly alkaline waters. The temperature generally ranges between 77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 30 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 7.0 to 8.0, and water hardness between 9 to 19 dGH. Recreate a similar environment in your aquarium by maintaining consistent water temperature, utilizing a high-quality filtration system, and incorporating live plants and rocks.

By closely replicating the Boeseman's Rainbowfish's natural habitat and ensuring the appropriate water conditions, you will establish a healthy and content living space for your fish.

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are admired for their unique two-tone coloration that graces their bodies. The front half typically exhibits a vibrant bluish purple hue, which gradually transitions into a fiery orange towards the tail. These radiant colors make them a striking and visually appealing addition to aquariums. Although they are relatively sizable, reaching up to approximately 4.5 inches (11 cm) in size, their striking coloration and lively demeanor make them an excellent choice for those desiring a dynamic, colorful aquatic display. These delightful fish bring delight to observers as they energetically dart through the water, making them a cherished favorite among hobbyists of all experience levels.

With appropriate care, Boeseman's Rainbowfish can enjoy a lifespan of up to 5 to 8 years. As sociable creatures, they thrive in groups and are best kept in schools of a minimum of six individuals. To support their well-being and ensure a lengthy life in captivity, it's vital to provide an aquarium replete with plants and rocks for hiding, as well as a diverse diet consisting of quality flakes, pellets, and frozen or live foods.

Fun Facts

Having acquainted ourselves with the appearance and lifespan of Boeseman's Rainbowfish, let's delve into some intriguing facts about these stunning fish that make them a focal point in the aquarium hobby. From their distinct coloration to their social tendencies, Boeseman's Rainbowfish are rife with engaging characteristics that will undoubtedly enthral any aquarist.

  • Color transformation: In the wild, Boeseman's Rainbowfish exhibit an intriguing survival tactic. They change their body color to blend in with their surroundings, increasing their chances of evading predators. This adaptability makes them fascinating aquarium inhabitants.
  • Thermally adaptive: Boeseman's Rainbowfish display an impressive thermal adaptability, surviving in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Celsius and as high as 30 degrees Celsius. This adaptability is a testament to their resilience, originating from the varied temperatures of their natural habitat.
  • Part of a family: Despite their vibrant appearance, Boeseman's Rainbowfish belong to the Melanotaeniidae family, which is renowned for its diversity in size and color among its species. The vibrant colors of Boeseman's Rainbowfish have evolved as a form of communication and allure in their native habitats.
  • Color intensity shift: Much like Cardinal Tetras, Boeseman's Rainbowfish have the ability to change the intensity of their colors. Environmental factors, mood, and health can influence their coloration. Their colors may appear less intense in low light or stressful conditions, while in a safe and healthy environment, their hues become more radiant, creating a spectacle in any aquarium.
  • Schooling tendencies: Boeseman's Rainbowfish are schooling fish, preferring to swim in groups. This collective behavior provides a sense of security and presents a captivating display in an aquarium. Their synchronized movements coupled with their dazzling colors can transform your home aquarium into an enthralling aquatic tableau.

Now that you have uncovered some intriguing facts about Boeseman's Rainbowfish, you'll be well-prepared to appreciate their splendor and peculiarities in your aquarium. In the subsequent section, we'll provide advice on tank setups, ensuring your Boeseman's Rainbowfish have the optimal environment to flourish and flaunt their vibrant features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each configuration contains the fundamental components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—ensuring that you can establish a suitable habitat for Boeseman's Rainbowfish and other compatible freshwater fish species in your aquarium. As you graduate from economical to high-end setups, you will also enjoy increased options for customization, aesthetics, and sophisticated features. Boeseman's Rainbowfish are schooling fish and need to be housed in groups of at least six to mitigate stress and promote their wellness. Generally, Boeseman's Rainbowfish cost between $6 and $12 per fish, although prices can fluctuate based on variables like size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $200):‍

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy‍ ($50 - $80)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 30 gallons ($25 - $45)
  • Heater: 75-100 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($20 - $35)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($25 - $55)
  • Substrate: Budget-friendly aquarium sand or small gravel ($15 - $25)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, complemented by cost-effective live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($25 - $45)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 10 Boeseman's Rainbowfish ($30 - $60)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $8 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $8 - $22
  • Water Conditioner: $8 - $18

Mid-range setup (around $400 - $650):‍

  • Tank: 40-50 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($80 - $140)
  • Filter: Canister filter or top-notch HOB filter rated for the tank size ($80 - $170)
  • Heater: 100-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($30 - $60)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($60 - $160)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($30 - $50)
  • Decor: An assortment of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($50 - $90)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 15 Boeseman's Rainbowfish ($30 - $60)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $8 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $8 - $22
  • Water Conditioner: $8 - $18

High-end setup (above $800):‍

  • Tank: 50-60 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($140 - $280)
  • Filter: Top-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($120 - $280)
  • Heater: 200-300 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($50 - $90)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($170 - $320)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($40 - $70)
  • Decor: A mixture of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to forge a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($70 - $160)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 20 Boeseman's Rainbowfish ($30 - $80)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $8 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $55
  • Fish Food: $8 - $22
  • Water Conditioner: $8 - $18

Please be aware that these figures are simply recommendations, and other considerations such as tank mates and individual fish behaviors should be factored in when deciding how many Boeseman's Rainbowfish to keep in your aquarium. Prices may vary depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

We've previously reviewed the ideal tank configurations for Boeseman's Rainbowfish and potential tank mates. Armed with this knowledge, we'll now embark on the sequential procedure for assembling your aquarium. The steps provided will guide you from selecting the optimal location for your tank to cleaning and preparing it, installing necessary equipment, and cycling the water to create a safe and healthy environment for your aquatic inhabitants. Furthermore, we'll delve into the appropriate acclimation process, ensuring a seamless integration of your Boeseman's Rainbowfish and other species into their new surroundings. By adhering to these guidelines, you'll be on the fast track to creating a vibrant and thriving underwater ecosystem.

  • Step #1: Identify an ideal location for your aquarium that is shielded from direct sunlight, extreme temperature variations, and drafts. Ensure the surface is flat and capable of sustaining the weight of your fully filled tank. If you need an aquarium stand, assemble it as per the manufacturer's guidance and position your empty tank on top of it.
  • Step #2: Initiate the cleaning process for the tank by rinsing it with pure water (avoid detergents or cleaning agents) to get rid of any dust or debris. Wipe the interior with a clean cloth or disposable towel. Thoroughly rinse the substrate (be it sand or gravel) in a bucket until the water runs clear. Subsequently, distribute it evenly across the tank floor, considering a mild slope towards the rear for an impression of depth.
  • Step #3: Before adding water to the tank, preplan your aquarium layout, including the placement of equipment such as heaters and filters. This prior planning simplifies the setup process and facilitates future maintenance. Install the heater and filter according to the instructions given by the manufacturer. In case you're using a sponge or under-gravel filter, position it under the substrate before the water is added.
  • Step #4: Enhance your tank's aesthetics by decorating it with driftwood, rocks, and plants, providing hiding spots for your fish. However, remember to maintain ample open swimming areas for your Boeseman's Rainbowfish. While adorning the tank, ensure that the equipment is not obstructed or at risk of damage. Attaching plants to driftwood or rocks can aid in keeping them secure.
  • Step #5: Gradually fill the tank with water that's been treated with a water conditioner to neutralize chlorine or chloramines present in your tap water. To prevent disrupting the substrate while pouring, place a clean plate or plastic bag on top of it. When the tank is approximately 2/3 full, install the aquarium light on the hood or canopy, following the manufacturer's guidelines. Consider employing a timer to ensure a consistent day-night cycle crucial for the wellbeing of both fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment (like an air pump or CO2 system) to the power supply. Place the thermometer in an easily noticeable location.
  • Step #6: Complete filling the tank with water, leaving some space at the top for oxygen exchange. Activate the filter, heater, and any other equipment. Keep a check on the water temperature and make necessary adjustments using the heater. Allow the tank to cycle for about 4 to 6 weeks to cultivate beneficial bacteria and stabilize the water parameters. During this phase, consider adding a bacterial starter culture to expedite the development of beneficial bacteria. Use an aquarium test kit to track the levels of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
  • Step #7: Once the tank has cycled and the water parameters are stable, it's time to introduce your Boeseman's Rainbowfish and other species. Start the acclimation process by floating the sealed fish bag in the tank for about 15-20 minutes to equalize the temperature. Then, open the bag and add a small quantity of tank water to it. Repeat this step every 5-10 minutes for a minimum of 30-60 minutes to let the fish adapt gradually to the new water chemistry. Use a net to softly transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding any undue stress or exposure to the bag's water.
  • Step #8: After all the fish have been introduced, stick to a consistent feeding schedule, providing quality food suitable for your fish species. Regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and constant monitoring of water parameters using a test kit are crucial for maintaining a healthy environment for your fish. Keep a close watch on your fish for signs of stress or disease, especially during the initial weeks after introduction. Be ready to intervene if required, such as by adjusting water parameters or seeking professional advice from a seasoned aquarist.

By adhering to this detailed guide and incorporating the additional setup advice, you'll be well-equipped to establish a thriving aquatic habitat conducive to the growth and wellbeing of your Boeseman's Rainbowfish and their tank mates.

Recommended Water Parameters

To keep your Boeseman's Rainbowfish flourishing, it's crucial to ensure that specific water parameters are adhered to in your aquarium. Here are the appropriate conditions to aim for:

  • Temperature: An optimal temperature range for Boeseman's Rainbowfish is between 77°F and 82°F (25°C and 28°C).
  • pH: Boeseman's Rainbowfish prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH level, between 6.5 and 7.5.
  • Hardness: Moderate to hard water is best suited for this species, with a hardness of 10-20 dGH.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Maintain zero levels of ammonia and nitrite. Nitrate levels should ideally be kept below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate to bright lighting is best for showcasing the vivid colors of Boeseman's Rainbowfish.
  • Water movement: These fish thrive in a moderate water current, mimicking their natural riverine habitats.Frequent water testing and necessary water changes should be performed to maintain these parameters.

Routine Water Maintenance

Proper water maintenance is vital for a healthy environment in your Boeseman's Rainbowfish tank. Here are some recommended practices:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace about 20-25% of the tank water each week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly test the water for pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness levels.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Clean the substrate during your weekly water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Always treat tap water with a dechlorinator before adding it to your aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Make sure that the new water closely matches the tank's existing temperature and pH level.
  • Acclimate the fish: Allow the fish sufficient time to adjust to the new water conditions post water changes.Additionally, there are a few more pointers to keep in mind:
  • Monitor lighting duration: Aim for a consistent 10-12 hour lighting period daily. Excessive light can lead to unwanted algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Trim plants as required, and remove any dead foliage to prevent potential water quality issues.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or replace your filter media as per the manufacturer's instructions, typically every 4-6 weeks.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are omnivores and require a varied diet. Here are some feeding recommendations:

  • Flakes and pellets: Offer good quality flake food or pellets suitable for medium-sized tropical fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Supplement their diet with brine shrimp, bloodworms, or daphnia.
  • Vegetable matter: Occasionally provide boiled peas or spinach for added nutrition.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed them moderate portions once or twice a day, being careful not to overfeed.

Stress and Diseases

Boeseman's Rainbowfish can experience stress from unsuitable tank conditions, poor water quality, or aggressive tank mates. Keeping an eye on these factors is vital:

  • Watch for stress signs: Look out for abnormal behaviors like hiding, lethargy, or color loss, which could indicate stress.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test the water conditions and ensure they meet the required parameters.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Boeseman's Rainbowfish are not bullied by other fish. Remove any aggressive fish if needed.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Ensure there are enough hiding spots, appropriate lighting, and adequate tank space.

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are relatively hardy, but they can be susceptible to some common fish ailments such as:

  • Ich (white spotdisease): This is a common parasitic disease that can cause white spots on the fish's body and fins, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Treatment typically includes anti-parasitic medications and raising the water temperature to about 86°F (30°C).
  • Fin rot: This bacterial disease leads to discolored and frayed fins. Fin rot can be treated with water changes, adding aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication like erythromycin or tetracycline.
  • Velvet disease: This disease can cause a velvet-like coating on the fish's body. It can be treated with specific anti-parasitic medications containing copper sulfate or formalin.
  • Swim bladder disease: This condition can affect the fish's ability to swim properly. Fasting the fish and offering them boiled peas may help, along with antibacterial medications if needed.

Prevention is always the best cure. Maintaining optimal water quality, providing a balanced diet, and quarantining new arrivals can help keep your fish healthy and disease-free.


Breeding Boeseman's Rainbowfish can be a rewarding experience, though a bit challenging. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  • Step #1: Set up a separate breeding tank of at least 20 gallons with a pH of about 7.0 and a temperature around 79°F (26°C). Ensure the water hardness is between 10-20 dGH. The tank should have plenty of plants for the fish to spawn on.
  • Step #2: Select mature males and females for breeding. Males are typically more brightly colored than females. Maintain a ratio of one male to two females to prevent any potential aggression.
  • Step #3: Prepare the chosen fish with a high-quality, high-protein diet, including live or frozen foods for a couple of weeks.
  • Step #4: Encourage spawning by placing the fish in the breeding tank. Simulate a day-night cycle to trigger spawning. The fish will scatter their eggs among the plants.
  • Step #5: Once eggs are laid, remove the parent fish to prevent them from eating the eggs. Eggs usually hatch within 7-10 days. Once the fry start swimming, feed them infusoria or liquid fry food, gradually introducing crushed flake food.
  • Step #6: Monitor the growth of the fry. As they mature, you may need to segregate them by size to prevent larger ones from preying on smaller ones.Patience and the right conditions can lead to successful breeding of Boeseman's Rainbowfish in your home aquarium.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Boeseman's Rainbowfish:

  1. Celebes Rainbows
  2. Harlequin Rasboras
  3. Kuhli Loaches
  4. Neon Tetras
  5. Bristlenose Plecos
  6. Corydoras Catfish
  7. Ghost Shrimp
  8. Zebra Snails
  9. Danios
  10. Siamese Algae Eaters

Always avoid aggressive or much larger fish such as cichlids and predatory species, as they may intimidate or cause harm to the Boeseman's Rainbowfish. Continually observe the behavior of new additions to make sure they coexist peacefully with the Boeseman's Rainbowfish.


In conclusion, Boeseman's Rainbowfish are vibrant and lively freshwater fish cherished for their dazzling colors and engaging behaviors. These fish require particular water conditions, a balanced diet, and an appropriate environment to prosper in captivity. But with the right care, they can live up to 5 to 7 years and be a delightful centerpiece in any aquarium. When choosing tank companions, ensure to select calm, non-aggressive species for a harmonious community. Breeding Boeseman's Rainbowfish can be somewhat tricky but rewarding for more advanced aquarium enthusiasts; patience and perfect conditions are essential to success. In a nutshell, Boeseman's Rainbowfish are a dazzling and dynamic species that can enhance any aquatic exhibition with their striking colors and lively demeanor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Boeseman's Rainbowfish?

When setting up a tank for Boeseman's Rainbowfish, a 30-gallon tank is the minimum suggested size for a small school. Larger tanks are even more beneficial as they provide stable water conditions and ample swimming space.

How many Boeseman's Rainbowfish should be kept together?

Remember, Boeseman's Rainbowfish are schooling fish; they thrive in groups of at least 6 individuals. Keeping them in larger groups promotes their wellbeing and encourages them to exhibit interesting natural behaviors.

What water parameters do Boeseman's Rainbowfish require?

Boeseman's Rainbowfish prefer water temperatures between 77°F and 82°F (25°C and 28°C), a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5, and moderately hard water with a hardness of 10-20 dGH.

What do Boeseman's Rainbowfish eat?

Boeseman's Rainbowfish are omnivores and appreciate a diverse diet. A mix of high-quality flake or pellet food along with live or frozen foods such as brine shrimp and bloodworms make a suitable diet.

Are Boeseman's Rainbowfish compatible with other fish?

Yes, Boeseman's Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and can live harmoniously with other similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Ideal tank mates include other small rainbowfish, rasboras, corydoras catfish, and small plecos.

Can Boeseman's Rainbowfish change color?

Indeed, Boeseman's Rainbowfish can exhibit color changes in response to a variety of factors, such as stress, illness, or shifts in water conditions. If you notice your Boeseman's Rainbowfish losing their color, it's vital to check the water parameters and closely monitor their health.

How long do Boeseman's Rainbowfish live?

With appropriate care and optimal tank conditions, Boeseman's Rainbowfish can live for around 5 to 7 years.

How do I breed Boeseman's Rainbowfish?

Breeding Boeseman's Rainbowfish can be somewhat challenging. They require specific water conditions and a separate breeding tank. Feeding them a high-protein diet and maintaining a male to female ratio of 1:2 can encourage spawning.

Do Boeseman's Rainbowfish require a planted tank?

While not a strict requirement, a planted tank is highly beneficial for Boeseman's Rainbowfish. Live plants provide cover, contribute to water quality, and create a natural environment that mirrors their native habitat.