Red Rainbowfish

Red Rainbowfish are enchanting freshwater species closely related to other rainbowfish types. Their remarkable red hues have earned them a special place among aquarium hobbyists. These amiable fish are easy to care for, making them a superb pick for community aquarium setups.

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Care DIfficulty


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4 inches (10 cm)

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5 to 8 years

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Table of contents

Origin, Appearance, Size, and Lifespan

The Red Rainbowfish, or Glossolepis incisus, commonly known as the Salmon-Red Rainbowfish, is a well-liked freshwater species originating from the Lake Sentani region in West Papua, Indonesia. They usually inhabit the tranquil lake regions, abundant with submerged vegetation.

In their natural habitat, Red Rainbowfish often reside in placid, shallow waters with plenty of aquatic plant life. These plants provide shelter and also serve as a food source, while the dark lake bottoms enhance their vibrant colors. These sociable fish prosper in groups, ideally with six or more members, although it's not unusual to see them in schools of much larger numbers.

Their native environment boasts warm, neutral to slightly alkaline water. The typical temperature ranges between 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 30 degrees Celsius), with a pH level of 7.0 to 8.0, and water hardness between 9 to 19 dGH. To mimic a similar environment in your aquarium, maintain a steady water temperature, employ a high-grade filtration system, and include live plants and driftwood.

By replicating the Red Rainbowfish's natural habitat and ensuring the appropriate water conditions, you'll be providing your fish with a conducive environment for a healthy and vibrant life in your aquarium.

Red Rainbowfish are lauded for their stunning red coloration, which makes them a standout attraction in aquariums. Despite their small stature, typically growing up to approximately 4 inches (10 cm) in length, their bright colors and energetic demeanor make them a perfect pick for those aiming for a lively, colorful aquatic display. These charming fish are a delight to watch as they energetically dart through the tank, establishing them as a beloved favorite among aquarists of all expertise levels.

With the correct care, Red Rainbowfish can live up to 5 to 8 years. As social creatures, they thrive in groups and are best kept in schools of at least six individuals. To enhance their well-being and ensure longevity in captivity, provide a densely planted aquarium with plenty of hiding spots, along with a varied diet of quality flakes, pellets, and live foods.

Fun Facts

Having explored the appearance and lifespan of Red Rainbowfish, let's delve into some intriguing tidbits about these magnificent fish that make them a standout in the aquarium world. From their vibrant coloration to their communal behavior, Red Rainbowfish are brimming with fascinating characteristics that are bound to charm any fish enthusiast.

  • Mimicry for survival: In their natural habitat, Red Rainbowfish often coexist with other similarly sized and colored fish species. This strategy of similarity in appearance helps to swell their numbers and befuddle predators, thereby improving their survival odds.
  • Hardy Survivors: Red Rainbowfish are known for their adaptability, capable of surviving in a range of water conditions. This trait increases their resilience and extends their range of potential habitats.
  • Rainbowfish Relatives: Despite their striking hues, Red Rainbowfish share a family (Melanotaeniidae) with other Rainbowfish species, which can display a wide spectrum of colors. Red Rainbowfish, however, have developed a distinct red coloration for communication and camouflage in their unique environment.
  • Color Adaptability: Red Rainbowfish can alter the intensity of their coloration based on various factors, such as their environment, mood, or health status. Their colors may seem duller in dimly lit conditions or when they are stressed. In contrast, when they feel secure and healthy, their colors become brighter and more vivid, enhancing their attractiveness in an aquarium.
  • Schooling Behavior: Red Rainbowfish are schooling fish, indicating they enjoy swimming in groups. This behavior not only provides them with a sense of security but also generates a breathtaking visual spectacle in an aquarium. Their synchronized swimming and dazzling colorations can morph a home aquarium into a stunning aquatic panorama.

Now that you've unearthed some intriguing facts about Red Rainbowfish, you'll be better prepared to appreciate their charm and intricacies in your aquarium. In the subsequent section, we'll provide guidelines on tank setups, ensuring your Red Rainbowfish have the ideal environment to flourish and exhibit their striking features.

Recommended Tank Setups

Each setup comprises essential components—tank, filter, heater, lighting, substrate, and more—providing a suitable environment for Red Rainbowfish and other compatible freshwater species in your aquarium. As you progress from cost-effective to luxurious setups, you'll gain more options for personalization, aesthetics, and advanced functionalities. Red Rainbowfish are schooling fish and should be kept in groups of at least six to mitigate stress and foster their well-being. Typically, Red Rainbowfish are priced between $5 and $8 per fish, though prices can fluctuate based on variables such as size, quality, and availability.

Budget-friendly setup (around $250):

  • Tank: 30-gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($50 - $90)
  • Filter: Hang-on-back (HOB) or sponge filter rated for 30 gallons ($25 - $50)
  • Heater: 100-150 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($20 - $40)
  • Lighting: Basic LED aquarium light ($30 - $60)
  • Substrate: Cost-effective aquarium sand or small gravel ($15 - $30)
  • Decor: A few pieces of driftwood and rocks, along with affordable live plants like Java Fern and Anubias ($30 - $50)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 10 Red Rainbowfish ($30 - $40)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $60
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

Mid-range setup (around $500 - $800):

  • Tank: 40-50 gallon aquarium with a hood or glass canopy ($80 - $150)
  • Filter: Canister filter or high-quality HOB filter rated for the tank size ($70 - $180)
  • Heater: 150-200 watt adjustable aquarium heater ($35 - $65)
  • Lighting: LED aquarium light with adjustable settings for plant growth and color enhancement ($70 - $180)
  • Substrate: Nutrient-rich aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks ($30 - $60)
  • Decor: A mix of driftwood, rocks, and live plants such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, and Cryptocoryne species ($50 - $100)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 15 Red Rainbowfish ($30 - $60)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $60
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

High-end setup (above $1000):

  • Tank: 50-60 gallon rimless aquarium with a glass canopy ($150 - $300)
  • Filter: High-quality canister filter rated for the tank size ($120 - $300)
  • Heater: 200-250 watt adjustable aquarium heater with an external temperature controller ($50 - $100)
  • Lighting: Advanced LED lighting system with customizable settings for plant growth, color enhancement, and day/night cycles ($200 - $350)
  • Substrate: Premium aquarium substrate designed for planted tanks, with added root tabs for extra plant nutrition ($40 - $80)
  • Decor: A combination of driftwood, rocks, and live plants to create a natural aquascape, featuring plant species such as Amazon Swords, Java Fern, Anubias, Cryptocoryne species, and carpeting plants like Dwarf Hairgrass or Monte Carlo ($80 - $200)
  • Fish: Minimum 6, maximum 20 Red Rainbowfish ($30 - $80)
  • Thermometer: $5 - $15
  • Substrate Vacuum: $15 - $30
  • Fish Net: $3 - $12
  • Algae Scraper or Magnetic Cleaner: $7 - $25
  • Siphon and Bucket: $20 - $35
  • Test Kit: $20 - $60
  • Fish Food: $7 - $25
  • Water Conditioner: $7 - $20

Keep in mind that these numbers are just suggestions, and other factors such as tank mates and individual fish behaviors should be considered when determining the number of Red Rainbowfish to house in your aquarium. Prices may fluctuate depending on location, brand, and availability.

Set Up Your Tank

The preceding segment laid out various tank setups that could be ideal for your Red Rainbowfish and other aquatic companions. With that knowledge under your belt, we can proceed to the detailed process of setting up your aquarium. This guide will walk you through the selection of an optimal location for your tank, cleaning and preparing the tank, installing crucial equipment, and conditioning the water to create a safe habitat for your fish. Additionally, we'll discuss the correct procedure for acclimating your Red Rainbowfish and their tank mates to their new environment. By adhering to these guidelines, you'll pave the way to a vibrant aquatic habitat where your fish can thrive.

  • Step #1: Find an ideal location for your aquarium, ensuring it is protected from direct sunlight, heat sources, and cold drafts. The chosen surface should be level and robust enough to bear the weight of your filled tank. If your aquarium necessitates a stand, put it together as per the manufacturer's guide and position the empty tank on it.
  • Step #2: Now, clean the tank by rinsing it with fresh water (avoid any soap or chemicals) to eliminate any dust or dirt particles. Dry the inside with a spotless cloth or paper towel. Rinse the substrate (sand or gravel) rigorously in a bucket until the runoff is clear, and then distribute it uniformly at the bottom of the tank, creating a subtle incline towards the back for visual depth.
  • Step #3: Before adding water to the tank, plan your aquarium's layout, including the placement of equipment like heaters and filters. This planning stage will facilitate easier setup and maintenance of the tank over time. Fix the heater and filter as per the manufacturer's directions. If you're using a sponge or under-gravel filter, it should be positioned beneath the substrate before water addition.
  • Step #4: Embellish the tank with items such as driftwood, rocks, and plants to provide hiding spaces and a visually pleasing environment while ensuring there are sufficient open swimming areas for your fish. When setting up the tank, arrange your driftwood, rocks, and plants carefully to avoid damaging or impeding the equipment. You might want to anchor plants to the driftwood or rocks to help them stay put.
  • Step #5: Fill the tank with water, preferably treated with a water conditioner if your tap water contains chlorine or chloramines. A clean plate or plastic bag placed on the substrate can help prevent disturbance while adding water. Fill the tank until it's approximately 2/3 full. Attach the aquarium light to the hood or canopy, adhering to the manufacturer's instructions. Consider integrating a timer for your aquarium light to maintain a consistent day/night cycle, beneficial for both fish and plants. Connect the heater, filter, and any additional equipment (like air pump, CO2 system) to power sources, and position the thermometer where it can be easily seen.
  • Step #6: Top off the water, ensuring to leave some space between the water surface and the top of the tank for oxygen exchange. Power on the filter, heater, and other equipment. Monitor the water temperature and make heater adjustments if necessary. Leave the tank to cycle for 4-6 weeks to allow beneficial bacteria to develop and stabilize the water parameters. During the cycling process, adding a bacterial starter culture can hasten the establishment of beneficial bacteria. Use an aquarium test kit to keep track of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Step #7: After the tank has cycled and water parameters have stabilized, begin the process of acclimating your Red Rainbowfish and other fish to the new tank conditions. Start by floating the still-sealed fish bag in the tank for 15-20 minutes to equalize the temperature. Then, open the bag and slowly introduce a small volume of tank water into it. Continue this process of adding small amounts of tank water to the bag every 5-10 minutes for a minimum of 30-60 minutes, enabling the fish to gradually adapt to the new water chemistry. Utilize a net to carefully transfer the fish from the bag to the tank, avoiding unnecessary stress or exposure to the water from the bag.
  • Step #8: Once all the fish have been added, create a consistent feeding routine, providing quality food in suitable quantities for your specific fish species. Conduct regular water changes (20-30% every 1-2 weeks) and continue monitoring water parameters using a test kit to maintain a healthy environment for your fish. Keep a close watch on your fish for any signs of stress or illness, particularly in the first few weeks after their introduction. Be ready to take necessary action if required, such as adjusting water parameters or consulting an experienced aquarist.

By carefully following this step-by-step guide and incorporating the supplementary setup tips, you can create a vibrant aquatic environment that will encourage your Red Rainbowfish and other fish to thrive in their new habitat.

Recommended Water Parameters

Keeping Red Rainbowfish in optimal health necessitates a keen focus on maintaining the correct water parameters in your tank. Here are the optimal conditions for these fish:

  • Temperature: The water should be kept between 72°F and 79°F (22°C and 26°C) for their comfort.
  • pH: The pH should be slightly alkaline, between 7.0 and 8.0, but a slight shift outside this range may be tolerated if done gradually.
  • Hardness: Moderately hard water (8-15 dGH) is ideal for these fish.
  • Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate: Keep ammonia and nitrite levels at 0 ppm, and maintain nitrate levels below 20 ppm.
  • Lighting: Moderate to high lighting will help display the Rainbowfish's vibrant colors.
  • Water movement: Red Rainbowfish are used to flowing water, so moderate water movement will mimic their natural environment.

Regularly test your tank's water and perform needed water changes to keep the habitat stable.

Routine Water Maintenance

Regular water changes are vital to maintaining a healthy Red Rainbowfish tank. They help to remove excess nutrients, waste, and harmful substances. Here's an ideal routine:

  • Weekly water changes: Replace about 20-30% of the tank water each week.
  • Test water parameters: Regularly test pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and hardness.
  • Use a gravel vacuum: Ensure the substrate is clean during water changes.
  • Dechlorinate the water: Always treat tap water with a water conditioner before introducing it to the aquarium.
  • Match temperature and pH: Make sure the new water is similar to the tank water in terms of temperature and pH.
  • Acclimate the fish: Give your Red Rainbowfish time to adjust to new conditions after water changes.Additional maintenance tips for your Red Rainbowfish tank include:
  • Monitor lighting duration: Keep a consistent photoperiod of about 10-12 hours daily. Extended periods of light can encourage unwanted algae growth.
  • Plant maintenance: Regularly prune live plants to maintain their health and aesthetic. Remove any dead leaves or plant matter promptly.
  • Filter maintenance: Clean or change the filter media as suggested by the manufacturer, usually every 4-6 weeks. Do not replace all filter media at once, as this can disrupt the beneficial bacteria and impact water quality.

Diet and Feeding Schedule

Red Rainbowfish are omnivorous, enjoying a mixed diet. Here's what to feed them:

  • Flakes and pellets: Use high-quality flakes or pellets formulated for omnivorous fish.
  • Frozen and live foods: Include treats like brine shrimp, bloodworms, daphnia, or mosquito larvae.
  • Vegetable matter: Provide blanched spinach, peas, or zucchini for added nutrition.
  • Feeding frequency: Feed them small portions twice daily, taking care not to overfeed.

Stress and Diseases

Red Rainbowfish can be susceptible to stress and diseases caused by various factors, such as poor water quality, aggression, or unsuitable tank conditions. Identifying and resolving these issues is crucial:

  • Watch for stress signs: Look out for any unusual behavior like hiding, lethargy, color loss, or rapid breathing, which may signal stress.
  • Check water quality: Regularly test your tank water to ensure it meets the ideal parameters and carry out necessary water changes.
  • Monitor tank mates: Ensure your Red Rainbowfish aren't harassed by other fish and remove any problematic tank mates if required.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Provide a spacious tank, ample hiding spots, and the right tank conditions.

While Red Rainbowfish are relatively hardy, they can be vulnerable to certain common fish diseases, such as:

  • Ich (white spot disease): This common parasitic infection causes white spots on the body and fins, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Treat Ich with aquarium salt or anti-parasitic medication and consider slightly raising the water temperature.
  • Fin rot: This bacterial infection causes frayed or discolored fins. Treat fin rot with a partial water change, aquarium salt, and antibacterial medication.
  • Velvet disease: This parasitic infection causes a velvety coating on the fish's body. Treat velvet disease with anti-parasitic medication.
  • Swim bladder disease: This condition causes difficulty swimming. Fasting the fish, providing them with blanched peas, and potentially using antibacterial medication can be effective treatments.

To prevent disease in Red Rainbowfish, maintain excellent water quality, don't overfeed, and provide a balanced diet. Quarantine new fish before introducing them to the main tank and address any signs of illness immediately.


Breeding Red Rainbowfish can be a rewarding experience. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Step #1: Prepare a suitable breeding environment in a separate 10-20 gallon tank with a pH of about 7.0 to 7.5, and a temperature of around 77°F (25°C). Maintain moderately hard water (8-15 dGH) and provide hiding places with fine-leaved plants or spawning mops.
  • Step #2: Choose healthy, mature male and female Red Rainbowfish for breeding. A ratio of two females to one male can help prevent conflict.
  • Step #3: Feed the breeding pair a high-quality diet including live or frozen foods for several weeks to build their strength and energy.
  • Step #4: Encourage spawning by introducing the pair to the breeding tank, slightly raising the water temperature, and using subdued lighting. Implement a natural day-night cycle by slowly altering the light duration. Include a spawning mop or fine-leaved plants for egg deposit.
  • Step #5: Care for the eggs and fry by removing the breeding pair post-spawning. As the eggs and fry are light-sensitive, maintain the breeding tank in a low-lit area. Eggs will typically hatch within 7-10 days, and the fry will start swimming freely soon after. Initially feed them infusoria or liquid fry food, gradually introducing finely crushed flake food.
  • Step #6: Keep an eye on the growth and development of the fry, and separate them by size if necessary to prevent larger fry from preying on smaller ones.Breeding Red Rainbowfish requires patience and careful attention to conditions, but the effort can be immensely rewarding for dedicated aquarists.

Recommended Tank Mates

Here are the top 10 recommended tank mates for Red Rainbowfish:

  1. Dwarf Corydoras
  2. Neon Tetras
  3. Ember Tetras
  4. Guppies
  5. Bristlenose Plecos
  6. Pygmy Corydoras
  7. Cherry Shrimp
  8. Nerite Snails
  9. Rasboras
  10. Otocinclus Catfish

Remember to avoid large, aggressive fish like cichlids, angelfish, and predatory species, as they may harm or eat the Red Rainbowfish. Always observe the behavior of new fish and ensure they don't cause stress or aggression towards the Red Rainbowfish.


To summarize, Red Rainbowfish are captivating freshwater fish known for their vibrant colors and ease of care. These fish have specific water parameter requirements, need a well-balanced diet, and thrive in a suitable environment. With the right conditions, Red Rainbowfish can live up to five years and make a stunning addition to any aquarium. When selecting tank mates, it's crucial to choose peaceful and non-aggressive species to ensure a harmonious community. Breeding Red Rainbowfish can be a challenging but rewarding experience for experienced hobbyists, with patience and ideal conditions playing key roles in successful breeding. Overall, Red Rainbowfish are lively and striking species that can enhance any aquatic display with their vibrant hues and active behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal tank size for Red Rainbowfish?

When housing Red Rainbowfish, a 20-gallon tank is the recommended minimum size for a small group. Opting for a larger tank is even better as it helps maintain stable water conditions and provides ample swimming space.

How many Red Rainbowfish should be kept together?

Red Rainbowfish are schooling fish, and they thrive in groups of at least 6-8 individuals. Keeping a larger group not only helps them feel safer but also encourages the display of their fascinating natural behaviors.

What water parameters do Red Rainbowfish require?

Red Rainbowfish thrive in water temperatures between 72°F and 79°F (22°C and 26°C), a pH between 7.0 and 8.0, and moderately hard water with a hardness of 8-15 dGH.

What do Red Rainbowfish eat?

Red Rainbowfish are omnivorous and require a varied diet. Feed them high-quality flake or pellet food as the main diet, supplemented with live or frozen foods such as daphnia, brine shrimp, and bloodworms.

Are Red Rainbowfish compatible with other fish?

Yes, Red Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and can coexist with similarly sized, non-aggressive fish species. Suitable tank mates include small tetras, rasboras, corydoras catfish, and small plecos.

How can I differentiate between Red Rainbowfish and Neon Tetras?

Red Rainbowfish have a red stripe that extends the entire length of their body, while Neon Tetras have a shorter red stripe that covers only half of their body length.

How long do Red Rainbowfish live?

With proper care and optimal tank conditions, Red Rainbowfish can live for 4 to 5 years.

How do I breed Red Rainbowfish?

Breeding Red Rainbowfish can be challenging, as they require specific water conditions such as very soft, acidic water and a dimly lit environment. Use a separate breeding tank and separate males and females before introducing them for spawning.

Do Red Rainbowfish require a planted tank?

While not strictly necessary, a planted tank is highly recommended for Red Rainbowfish. Live plants provide hiding spots, improve water quality, and create a natural environment that closely resembles their native habitat.

Can Red Rainbowfish change color?

Yes, Red Rainbowfish can undergo color changes due to factors such as stress, illness, or changes in water conditions. If you notice a loss of color in your Red Rainbowfish, it's important to check the water parameters and monitor their health closely.