Irian Jaya Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia irianjaya
Irian Jaya Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia irianjaya

Irian Jaya Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia irianjaya

The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish was scientifically described by Allen in 1985. Its scientific name is Melanotaenia irianjaya.

In the UK, Melanotaenia irianjaya is sometimes sold under the name Melanotaenia waikiki, but most fish stores are today using the proper scientific name for this species: Melanotaenia irianjaya.

The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish can reach a length of roughly 11 cm (4.3 inches). The body is of a pale purple shade with silvery reflections. The mid-lateral stripe is wide and bluish. It is especially noticeable along the rear end of the fish. The caudal fin is reddish with black upper and lower margins. Dorsal and anal fins are reddish with a narrow white margin. Unlike most other members of the genus Melanotaenia, the Irian Jaya Rainbowfish exhibits middle rays that are longer than the rest of the rays on the dorsal and anal fins.

Geographical distribution, habitat and conservation
The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish is named after the Irian Jaya region. The current name for this region is Western New Guinea and it has been known under many different names during the last centuries, including Netherlands New Guinea, West New Guinea, West Irian, and Irian Jaya. The incorporation of New Guinea into Indonesia is still controversial and some opponents prefer to call the region West Papua instead of Western New Guinea.

Irian Jaya Rainbowfish
Irian Jaya Rainbowfish - Copyright

The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish lives in the southernmost parts of the Vogelkop Peninsula and is chiefly found in river systems that empty their water into Bintuni Bay (formerly known as Macleur Gulf). These river systems are surrounded by rainforest and located 30-500 meters (100-1640 feet) above sea level. The bottom will normally consist of sand or gravel and aquatic plants are is in short supply. The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish will instead seek shelter near submerged trees and branches. The species is found in slow-flowing turbid waters as well as in fairly fast-flowing clear streams that flows down along the hill sides.

The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish is listed as “Not Evaluated” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Keeping Irian Jaya Rainbowfish in aquariums
The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish is not difficult to keep in captivity as long as you know how to keep the levels of organic waste down. The recommended aquarium size is 150 L (40 gallons) or larger. The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish is a peaceful species that can be kept in community aquariums with other non-aggressive species of similar size. It is also commonly kept in species aquariums. Hiding spots created by drift wood are known to be appreciated. The water in the aquarium should be alkaline, from pH 7.3 to 7.8. The recommended temperature range is 25-28 degrees C (77-82 degrees F). Provide your fish with a varied diet in the aquarium. You can for instance combine dry food with meaty live food such as brine shrimp and insect larvae.

Breeding Irian Jaya Rainbowfish
The Irian Jaya Rainbowfish is not tricky to spawn in the aquarium. Provide your fish with a well decorated aquarium that contains suitable spawning media, e.g. spawning mops or densely grown java moss. Keep your fish on a nutritious diet. A 40 L (10 gallon) aquarium is large enough to serve as breeding aquarium for a pair, provided that you know how to keep the water quality up in such a small aquarium. Well fed adult Irian Jaya Rainbowfishes will normally leave eggs and fry alone. You can feed the fry infusoria and finely grounded flakes until they are big enough to devour newly hatched brine shrimp and nibble at whole flakes. The growth rate for Irian Jaya Rainbowfish fry is comparatively slow, even when kept in optimal conditions.

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