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Although the title is Rainbow fish the information here will generally apply to four different families, except for their distribution they all have so much in common that they will be described together. Rainbow fish belong to the family Melanotaenia, the blue eyed rainbows to the family Pseudomuglidae, the Rice fish to the family Orziatidae and the Silversides to the family Atherinidae. These four families are found mostly in the Indo Pacific area mainly in Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia. Sporadic examples can be found in the far east.
All members of these families have elongated bodies with mostly flattened sides. They can have magnificent colors that rival many Marine fish, but generally only show when fully mature or in breeding. Older Rainbow males tend to develop a hump or high backed bodies.
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All of these fish are schooling and do not well or show off their best colors if kept singly. Your tank should include at least six individuals from the species. The tank can be well planted along the back and sides, but leave plenty of open area as these fish are lively swimmers and require lots of swimming room. Use drift wood and bog roots only sparingly as they tend to Acidify the water. A good plant to use is the Java moss as it is native to the region and can also serve as a spawning medium.
With a few exceptions all these fish like medium hard to hard water and the pH on the Alkaline side of neutral. Good water quality is a must and as the quality decreases the coloration on the fish tend to fade and get washed out.
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Behavior:Members of these families are always interesting to watch. Their "busy" habit means they are always on the move and can provide hours of enjoyment. They are sometimes called "children of the morning sun" because the males prefer to perform their courtship displays in the mornings.
Communities: All members are peaceful and can be kept other similar species of Livebearers, Catfish, Gobies and even the more peaceful Cichlids from lake Tanganyika. Just remember they like their water hard and so you should try to keep them with fish of similar needs.
The fish from the four families are long term spawners which mean they will lay their eggs over a period of time. Depositing a few eggs every day during their courtship cycle. The Java moss acts as a repository for the eggs or you can use what's known as spawning mops that can easily be removed for hatching away from the parents. Once the eggs are laid it is best to remove them from the tank and place them in their own tank, making sure the water has the same parameters as the first. The eggs will hatch after one to two weeks . The fry are very small and usually will swim just below the waters surface. Due to their small size you should feed them smallest of live food or finely crushed flakes. The young fish grow very slowly and should be transfered to a rearing tank to allow room for optimum growth.