Aquariums, Freshwater fish, Information, Rainbowfish, Species

Banded Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata)

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by Jason Matthews



Banded rainbowfish are a beautiful and unique species of freshwater fish that are popular among pet owners for their vibrant colors and peaceful behavior. Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate pet fish owner, learning about banded rainbowfish can be a rewarding experience. 

This article will explore all aspects of this fascinating species, from their origin and appearance to their behavior, tank conditions, and diet. So, immerse yourself in the world of banded rainbowfish and discover everything you need to know about this colorful and captivating species.


Scientific Name: Melanotaenia trifasciata
Common Names: Jewel rainbowfish, Goyder River rainbowfish, three-striped sunfish or regal rainbowfish, 
Life Expectancy: 3-5 years
Adult Size: 13 cm


HabitatRivers, streams, and freshwater lakes
Care LevelModerate
DietOmnivorous – flakes, pellets, live or frozen foods
Tank LevelMiddle to top
Minimum Tank Size20 gallons
Water pH6.0 to 7.5
Water Temperature72°F to 82°F (22°C to 28°C)
Water HardnessSoft to moderately hard
LightingModerate to bright
Tank MatesPeaceful community fish (avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species)

Fun Fact Corner

Did you know that the Banded Rainbowfish is known for its incredible coloration and striking appearance? They’re also known for their playful and energetic personalities. In the wild, they can often be seen schooling and swimming in tight groups, displaying their vibrant colors and having a good time. 


The origins of banded rainbowfish can be traced back to Australia and New Guinea’s freshwater rivers and streams. They are a native species to these areas and have been shown to thrive in the warm, tropical climate.

Appearance & Size

Banded rainbowfish are distinguished by their vivid colors, which range from iridescent blue to vibrant red. These colors are complemented by the fish’s distinctive band-like markings, which can be black, blue, or silver and run the length of its body. Their fins are frequently brightly colored, adding to their overall visual appeal.

Banded rainbowfish have a streamlined body shape well suited to their natural habitats and their colors. They have a rounded body, a small head, and a narrow tail. They have a slightly compressed body shape that allows them to maneuver easily in the water. Their smooth and reflective scales give them a shimmering appearance and aid in their blend-in.

The size of banded rainbowfish varies according to species. When fully grown, most individuals measure 13 cm long. It is also worth noting that banded rainbowfish’s diet and living conditions can influence their size. Proper nutrition and tank conditions can help them reach their full potential.


Banded rainbowfish are sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females have distinct physical differences. Males are typically brighter in color and have more elaborate fin extensions than females. Males, for example, may have longer dorsal fins and more colorful anal fins, whereas females have more subdued coloring.

It is important to note that the distinctions between male and female banded rainbowfish are not always obvious, and a close examination may be required to determine the fish’s gender. Males in some species may also be aggressive to one another, especially during breeding season.


Banded rainbowfish are known for their active and lively behavior, which makes them a popular choice for pet owners. In the wild, these fish are found in large schools, and they are known for their energetic swimming and quick movements. In an aquarium setting, they will often swim back and forth or in circles, exploring their surroundings and playing with their tank mates.

Banded rainbowfish are also known for their friendly nature, and they are generally peaceful towards other fish species. They can make good tank mates with a variety of other fish species that have similar size and water requirements. However, it is important to note that in some cases, males may display aggressive behavior towards one another, especially during breeding season.


When choosing tankmates for banded rainbowfish, it is important to select species with similar water and temperature requirements and peaceful and non-aggressive temperaments. Banded rainbowfish are active and lively fish that thrive in groups, but it is critical to avoid tankmates who are aggressive or compete for food or space.

The following are some suitable tankmates for banded rainbowfish:

Tank conditions

When setting up a tank for banded rainbowfish, it is important to provide a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat. These fish come from freshwater rivers and streams in Australia and Papua New Guinea and are used to flowing water and well-oxygenated environments.

In terms of tank size, it is recommended to have a minimum of 30 gallons of water for a small school of banded rainbowfish. Larger tanks are also recommended, as these fish have a lot of energy and need plenty of room to swim and play. Additionally, a high-quality filtration system should be in place to help maintain water quality and provide adequate oxygen levels for the fish.

Decorating the tank with plenty of live plants, rocks, and other hiding places is also important to provide visual interest and offer refuge for the fish. The water temperature for banded rainbowfish should be kept between 72°F to 82°F, and the pH should be between 6.5 to 7.5.


The diet of banded rainbowfish is simple, as they are omnivores and will accept various food items. They eat small insects, crustaceans, and plant material in their natural habitat. A balanced diet in an aquarium can be achieved by combining commercial dry foods with live or frozen foods.

Commercial dry foods, such as flakes or pellets, are the mainstay of the diet, which can be supplemented with frozen or live foods like brine shrimp, daphnia, or bloodworms. They can also consume vegetables such as blanched spinach or lettuce.

It is recommended to feed banded rainbowfish in small portions two to three times per day and to remove any uneaten food promptly to avoid water quality issues. Also, do not overfeed, as this can lead to health and water quality problems.


Breeding banded rainbowfish in the home aquarium can be a rewarding experience for fish hobbyists. With proper care and conditions, banded rainbowfish can produce relatively easily.

Banded rainbowfish breed in the wild during the rainy season, when water levels are high and food is abundant. Replicating these conditions in an aquarium can trigger breeding behavior. To encourage breeding, provide a spacious tank with good water quality, temperature, and plenty of hiding places for the fish.

When breeding, it is important to pay attention to the behavior of the fish. Male banded rainbowfish often display courtship behaviors, such as swimming in circles around the female, to entice her to lay eggs. After the female lays eggs, the male will fertilize them, and both parents will work together to protect and care for the eggs until they hatch.


The Banded Rainbowfish are susceptible to certain diseases if their environment is not well-maintained. The most common conditions to watch out for include bacterial infections, parasites, and fungal infections. It is important to keep the tank water clean and properly maintained and to monitor the fish for signs of stress or disease. Some common disease symptoms in fish include lethargy, loss of appetite, and abnormal swimming behavior.

It’s important to correctly identify the illness’s cause and follow the appropriate treatment protocol to treat fish diseases. In some cases, this may involve a complete water change and adding a bacterial or fungal treatment. In more severe cases, it may be necessary to separate the infected fish from the rest of the tank and to treat them in a separate quarantine tank.

It’s always best to seek advice from a veterinarian or aquarium specialist if you suspect your Banded Rainbowfish is suffering from a disease, as they can diagnose the issue and recommend the most appropriate treatment.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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