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. Learn how to keep this amazing species happy, healthy and showing its best colors.
What are Boesemani Rainbowfish?
Melanotaenia boesemani is a classic rainbowfish with its pointed nose, deep-bodied profile and large, distinct scales. Males can reach 4 inches (10cm) in length and have an iridescent, blue front half and an orange back half. The females are more colorful and have a shorter body. They usually measure around 3 inches (8cm) in length. 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. They can take up to one year to develop color, so it is worth the wait.
What is the lifespan of Boesemani rainbowfish? Depending on the water temperature you keep them at, they can live for about 5-8 years on average, although some hobbyists have reportedly kept them alive for up to 13-15 years.
Male Boesemani rainbowfish with the classic blue and orange coloration
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Boesemani Rainbows
This species is found in West Papua and tributaries of West Papua in West Papua. They prefer to live in areas that have lots of vegetation. Thus, they would appreciate a densely planted tank with areas of open space for swimming. 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.
Boesemani rainbowfish are generally very resilient and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. We like to keep them at tropical temperatures between 75-82degF (24-28degC). They can go warmer, but higher temperatures tend to shorten their life span. 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 you keep together? Try to get six or more of the same species as possible when you are a schooling fish. Also, try to put together a mix of slightly more females than males because then the boys will display their best colors as they show off to the girls.
What fish can live with Boesemani rainbows? Because of their high activity level, we suggest keeping them with other fast swimmers of a comparable size. Other rainbowfish include loaches, barbs and peaceful catfish. They can also be kept with gouramis, danios and medium-sized livebearers. If they have the chance to, they will eat baby fish and cherry shrimp.
Boesemani rainbows can be active schooling fish and get along with peaceful tank mates.
What do Boesemani Rainbowfish Eating?
Omnivores don’t have to be picky and will eat almost anything in the tank. However, they prefer meatier foods when given the option. For optimal health, provide a variety of dry, frozen, and live foods to ensure they get all the essential nutrients and vitamins they need. Rainbowfish have smaller mouths in proportion to their bodies, so feed them appropriate-sized foods – such as krill flakes, Vibra Bites, frozen bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp.
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. Set up a spawning tank with slightly alkaline pH, warmer temperature, and a sponge filter that won’t suck up the babies. The adults can be placed in the tank using a homemade spawning mop. The male will develop a white stripe on his head and do a shimmying dance to attract a female. Each day they will release a small batch of eggs, and after 7-10 days, you can either remove the parents or remove the eggs to prevent the adults from predating on 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. To get rid of any food that may have been ingested, keep the water clean by making small and frequent water changes. 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 are nearly unrecognizable at first because they don’t have their full adult coloration.
To get your own Boesemani rainbows, check out our list of preferred online retailers to see what they have in stock. 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.