All About Celebes Rainbowfish

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In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Celebes Rainbowfish, including their species summary, behavior and temperament, care requirements, tank size, and water parameters, and why you should consider owning these stunning fish.

Whether you’re a seasoned fishkeeper or just getting started, this article will provide you with all the essential information you need to know about Celebes Rainbowfish.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare to dive into the enchanting world of these magnificent aquatic beauties.

Quick Facts

Species SummaryCelebes Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia nigrans) is a freshwater fish native to Sulawesi, Indonesia.
AppearanceElongated body, slightly arched back, small mouth, large eyes. Males more colorful and larger than females. Males have iridescent blue coloration; females are silver with greenish hue. Fins of males elongated. Size: 3-4 inches.
LifespanPeaceful, and suitable for community aquariums. Non-aggressive, social, should be kept in groups of at least six. Active swimmers needing open swimming space.
Behavior & TemperamentPeaceful, and suitable for community aquariums. Non-aggressive, social, should be kept in groups of at least six.
Tank SizeMinimum 20 gallons for a small group, larger for more than six individuals.
Water ParametersTemperature: 75-82°F (24-28°C), pH: 7.5-8.5, Hardness: 10-20 dGH.
Food & DietProvide a separate breeding tank or heavily planted aquarium with low lighting. Water temperature: ~82°F (28°C). Remove adults after eggs are laid to prevent them from eating the eggs. Fry feed on infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp.
Tank MatesCompatible with peaceful tetras, guppies, mollies, swordtails, and other rainbowfish. Avoid aggressive or fin-nipping species.
BreedingProvide a separate breeding tank or heavily planted aquarium with low lighting. Water temperature: ~82°F (28°C). Remove adults after eggs are laid to prevent them from eating the eggs.

Species Summary

Celebes Rainbowfish (Melanotaenia nigrans) is a freshwater fish species native to the rivers and lakes of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

These fish are known for their vibrant colors and peaceful nature.

The Celebes Rainbowfish is a hardy species, but they do require specific care and a suitable environment to thrive in captivity.


Celebes Rainbowfish have an elongated body shape with a slightly arched back.

They have a small, pointed mouth and large eyes.

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with males being more colorful and larger than females.

Males display a stunning iridescent blue coloration on their back and sides, while females are predominantly silver with a slight greenish hue.

The fins of males are also more elongated, especially the dorsal and anal fins.

On average, Celebes Rainbowfish can grow to a size of 3 to 4 inches.


The Celebes Rainbowfish has a relatively long lifespan, typically living for 5 to 8 years when provided with proper care.

To ensure a long and healthy life for these fish, it is essential to meet their specific requirements in terms of diet, water parameters, and tank conditions.

A school of Celebes Rainbowfish swimming in an aquarium
Photo Courtesy of Petexpomankato

Behavior & Temperament

Celebes Rainbowfish are known for their peaceful temperament, making them well-suited for community aquariums.

They are generally non-aggressive and can coexist peacefully with other peaceful fish species.

However, it is recommended to avoid keeping them with very small fish that they may see as prey.

These fish are also social and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals to thrive.

Celebes Rainbowfish are active swimmers and prefer open areas of the tank with plenty of space to swim freely.


Taking care of Celebes Rainbowfish requires attention to detail and meeting their specific care needs.

Proper tank size, water parameters, and diet are crucial for their well-being.

Tank Size

A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group of Celebes Rainbowfish.

This provides enough swimming space for them and allows for the addition of compatible tank mates.

A larger tank is advisable if more than six individuals are kept together.

A beuatiful Celebes Rainbowfish displaying his colors
Photo Courtesy of vancouverfishrescue 

Water Parameters

Celebes Rainbowfish require clean, well-maintained water with specific parameters to thrive.

The ideal water temperature for these fish is between 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 28 degrees Celsius).

The pH level should be slightly alkaline, ranging from 7.5 to 8.5.

Water hardness should be moderately hard to hard, with a range of 10 to 20 dGH.

What To Put Inside Their Tank

To recreate the natural habitat of Celebes Rainbowfish in a home aquarium, it is important to consider their native environment.

They originate from rivers and lakes with moderate water flow, sandy or gravel substrate, and plenty of plants for cover.

Aquatic plants like Java Fern, Amazon Swords, and Anubias are suitable choices for their tank.

A sandy or small-graded gravel substrate is recommended to mimic the natural riverbed.

Decorations such as driftwood and rock formations can also be added to provide hiding places and create a visually appealing environment.

Maintaining a gentle water flow using a filter or air stone will help mimic the natural river currents.

Food & Diet

Celebes Rainbowfish are omnivorous and have a varied diet in the wild.

In captivity, they should be fed a balanced diet consisting of high-quality flakes or pellets suitable for tropical fish.

Supplementing their diet with live or frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms, will provide them with essential nutrients.

It is important to feed them in small portions multiple times a day to prevent overeating and to maintain water quality.

Celebes Rainbowfish swimming with a Rummy Nose Tetra
Photo Courtesy aquatechbetta

Tank Mates

Celebes Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and can be kept with a variety of other community fish species.

Good tank mates include peaceful tetras, guppies, mollies, swordtails, and other rainbowfish species.

Avoid keeping them with aggressive or fin-nipping species, as they can stress and harm the Celebes Rainbowfish.


Breeding Celebes Rainbowfish can be a rewarding but challenging endeavor.

To encourage breeding, provide the fish with separate breeding tanks or a heavily planted aquarium with low lighting.

The water temperature should be slightly higher, around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius).

The females will lay their adhesive eggs among plants or on a spawning mop, and the males will fertilize them.

Once the eggs are laid, it is recommended to remove the adults to prevent them from eating the eggs.

The eggs will hatch in about a week, and the fry can be fed with infusoria or newly hatched brine shrimp until they are large enough to consume regular fish food.

Why You Should Consider This Fish

Celebes Rainbowfish is an excellent choice for aquarium enthusiasts who appreciate vibrant colors and peaceful community fish.

They add a splash of color to any tank and can coexist peacefully with a variety of other fish species.

With proper care and attention to their specific needs, these fish can provide years of enjoyment.

Group of breeding Celebes Rainbowfish
Photo Courtesy aquatechbetta

Can Celebes Rainbowfish be kept in a small tank?

While it is possible to keep these fish in a smaller tank, it is recommended to provide them with a minimum tank size of 20 gallons to ensure they have enough swimming space.

Are Celebes Rainbowfish suitable for beginners?

Celebes Rainbowfish can be suitable for beginners with some research and proper care.

They are generally hardy fish, but attention should be given to their specific water parameters and diet requirements.

Can Celebes Rainbowfish be kept with other rainbowfish species?

Yes, Celebes Rainbowfish can be kept with other rainbowfish species as long as they are of similar size and temperament.

However, it is important to provide adequate swimming space and hiding places for each species.

How many Celebes Rainbowfish should I keep together?

Celebes Rainbowfish are social fish and should be kept in groups of at least six individuals.

This will promote their natural behavior and reduce stress.

Do Celebes Rainbowfish jump out of the tank?

Celebes Rainbowfish are not known for being great jumpers, but it is still important to provide a secure lid or cover for their aquarium to prevent any accidental escapes.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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