Care Guide for Boesemani Rainbowfish – Tank Setup, Breeding, And More


Care Guide for Boesemani Rainbowfish – Tank Setup, Breeding, and More

Boesemani rainbows are one of the most recognizable and striking rainbowfish. This schooling fish is prized for its unique-looking, bicolored body and is the perfect statement piece for a medium-sized community aquarium. Find out what it takes to keep this stunning species happy, healthy, and showing off the best colors possible.


What are Boesemani Rainbowfish?

Melanotaenia boesemani is a classic rainbowfish with its pointed nose, deep-bodied profile and large, distinct scales. The males reach 4 inches (10 cm) and have an iridescent front and back. Females are smaller, less colorful, and typically grow to 3 inches (8 cm). They are currently endangered in the wild, so the Boeseman’s rainbowfish sold in the aquarium hobby are all captive-bred. Rainbowfish found at pet shops are typically 5-inch (5-cm) juveniles. These fish look quite different to their adult counterparts. Although it can take upto a year for rainbowfish to turn color, the rewards are well worth the effort.

How long does a Boesemani rainbowfish live? It depends on how warm they are kept. However, some hobbyists claim that they can last up to 13-15years.

Male Boesemani rainbowfish in classic blue and orange colors

How to Set Up an Aquarium for Boesemani Rainbows

This species is found in mountain lakes and tributaries in West Papua, Indonesia and usually dwells in the shallower areas where lots of vegetation grows. This species would enjoy a tank that is densely planted and has plenty of space to swim. In fact, one of their favorite pastimes is traversing back and forth along the entire length of the aquarium, so we recommend getting a fish tank at least 4 feet (1.2 m) in length once they are fully grown. They tend to hang around the middle to top half of the water column, so keep a tight lid on the tank to prevent fish from escaping.

In general, Boesemani rainbow fish are very hardy and can tolerate a broad spectrum of water parameters. They prefer tropical temperatures between 75-82degF (24 to 28 degC). Although they can live longer, they will not tolerate higher temperatures. They are able to handle pH 6-8. However, they will also tolerate hard water with 8-20dGH. Seachem Equilibrium and Wonder Shell are good options if your tap water is soft.

How many Boesemani rainbow fish should be kept together? As a schooling fish, aim to get six or more rainbows of the same species if possible. You should also try to get a mixture of males and females, as this will allow the boys to show their best colors to the girls.

What types of fish are compatible with Boesemani rainbows and why? Due to their high activity, we recommend keeping them in a group with other fast swimmers of similar size. This includes other rainbowfish, loaches, barbs, peaceful catfish, gouramis, danios, and medium-sized livebearers. They will eat baby fish, cherry shrimp and any other food that is available if given the opportunity.

Boesemani Rainbows are active schooling and peaceful fish that get along with their tank mates.

What does the Boesemani Rainbowfish eat?

Omnivores don’t have to be picky and will eat almost anything in the tank. However, they prefer meatier foods when given the option. To ensure optimal health, give them a variety of live, frozen, and dry foods. Rainbowfish have smaller mouths than their bodies so make sure they are fed appropriate-sized food such as Vibra Bites and Krill Flakes, frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia and Vibra Bites.

How to Breed Boesemani rainbows

Boesemanis is one of the easiest rainbowfish to spawn. However, raising tiny fry can prove difficult. Start by making sure you have both males and females, and condition them for breeding with heavier feedings. A spawning tank should be set up with a mildly alkaline pH, warmer temperatures, and a sponge filter to prevent the babies from getting too much. Place the adults in the prepared tank with a DIY spawning mop. To attract a female, the male will grow a white stripe around his head. You can remove the parents each day or the eggs after 7-10 days. This will prevent the adults predating upon the fry.

The newborns should be fed three to five times daily with a diet consisting of vinegar eels (infusoria), powdered fry food and other small foods. Make sure to change the water frequently and keep it clean. Gradually introduce them to baby brine shrimp to help them grow quickly and stay healthy. Boesemani rainbowfish have a longer grow-out time compared to many other fish, but they are a lot of fun to breed and will one day grow into beautiful adults.

Juveniles Boesemani rainbows can be difficult to identify at first due to not having their full adult colors.

You can find Boesemani Rainbows in stock at our recommended online retailers. Also, if you’re looking for a slightly smaller species that fits in a 20-gallon long or 29-gallon aquarium, read about the dwarf neon rainbowfish.