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Choosing a Rainbow Fish

By: Dr. Amy Wolff

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The addition of rainbow fish to any community tank will reward the hobbyist with a peaceful, easy to raise fish. Native to Australia and New Zealand, they are an excellent choice for the beginning hobbyist as there are several colorful varieties from which to choose. They will get along well with almost any other community fish.

Appearance and Behavior

As their name implies, rainbows are a colorful mix of red and blue stripes on a silvery background. The males are brighter and more distinct than the females and they readily breed in the home aquarium. They are a peaceful schooling fish and do best in numbers of three to five individuals. Their activity level increases during the breeding period.

There are several species available for the hobbyist:

  • Cape York Rainbow A larger species, can grow to 6 inches and has a more silvery appearance than its cousins.

  • Dwarf Rainbow Bright red tail and pelvic fins distinguish this species that can reach 3 to 4 inches in length.

  • Australian Rainbow The most common of the species with a mix of blue yellow and red coloration. Can grow to 4 inches.

    Feeding and Tank Requirements

    Rainbows are easy to feed. They will do well on flake foods and live foods such as bloodworms, mosquito larvae and brine shrimp. They like a tank with an open swimming area and well planted corners for cover. Rainbows will breed easily, but they will eat the eggs after spawning so be sure to feed them well while the eggs are incubating, about 1 week. Maintain tank temperature between 72-79 degrees Fahrenheit, pH-6.5-7.5

    Special Concerns

    Rainbows prefer aquatic plants with fine leaves. Try hornwort, foxtail or milfoil.        

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