Mountain Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia monticola
Mountain Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia monticola

Mountain Rainbowfish - Melanotaenia monticola

The Mountain Rainbowfish was scientifically described by Allen in 1980. Its scientific name is Melanotaenia monticola.

The Mountain Rainbowfish can reach a length of roughly 10 cm (4 inches). The body colour varies from blue grey to greenish on the back and the scale margins are broad and of a coppery golden shade. The mid-lateral stripe is black.

The male fish is decorated with a pale lilac colour on his breast and pectoral fin region. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins are transparent with a hint of yellow.

Geographical distribution, habitat and conservation
The Mountain Rainbowfish lives in the upper Purari and Kikori river systems in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands. It has been found in Omei Creek, the upper Mubi River, and creeks that empty their water into Lake Kutubu. The geographical range of this species stretches from Lake Kutubu to Mendi, the provincial capital of the Southern Highlands Province.

The typical Mountain Rainbowfish habitat consists of high altitude headwater tributaries with clear and comparatively swift flowing water and scarce to non-existent aquatic vegetation. Unlike most other rainbowfishes, the Mountain Rainbowfish lives at really high elevations, from 790 to 1600 meters (roughly 2600 to 5250 feet) above sea level. It likes to congregate in slow-flowing parts of the streams and stay close to grassy banks.

The Mountain Rainbowfish is listed as “Data deficient” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Keeping Mountain Rainbowfish in aquariums
The Mountain Rainbowfish is not very difficult to care for in the aquarium as long as you keep the oxygen levels high. It’s a peaceful species that can be combined with other non-aggressive species of roughly the same size in the community aquarium or be kept with its own kind in a species aquarium.

Compared to most other rainbowfish species, the Mountain Rainbowfish is used to fairly low temperatures and the recommended range in the aquarium is 17-25 degrees C (63-77 degrees F). Keep the water alkaline, from pH 7.5 to 8.0. Good aeration is very important. Try to mimic the natural environment for the species by using rocks, plants and driftwood to create hiding spots.

The Mountain Rainbowfish is an omnivore species that needs both vegetable-based and meaty food types in the aquarium. You can for instance give it high-quality flakes plus live food in the form of brine shrimp and insect larvae.

Breeding Mountain Rainbowfish
The Mountain Rainbowfish will readily spawn in aquariums. Keeping the water temperature above 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) is recommended, but this species can spawn even in 15 degrees C (59 degrees F) water. Provide the fish with suitable spawning media, such as densely grown java moss or man-made spawning mops. In the wild, the Mountain Rainbowfish inhabits waters where aquatic vegetation is scarce and will therefore deposit its eggs on submerged roots of terrestrial plants along the banks of the river instead.

When the Mountain Rainbowfish male is ready to spawn, he will start displaying really intense colours and his coppery scale edges will become more prominent than ever. The upper part of his body and head will darken dramatically, and he will flash an orange colour on the top of his head.

The adult fish might eat eggs and fry and the spawning medium with the fertilized eggs should therefore be moved to a separate rearing container. The female Mountain Rainbowfish will typically release a few eggs per day so you have to check the aquarium regularly.

If you keep the water temperature in the upper part of the recommended range for Mountain Rainbowfish, you can expect the eggs to hatch within 10-12 days. You can feed the fry infusoria and finely ground flakes to begin with. After a while, they will be big enough to devour newly hatched brine shrimp and nibble at whole flakes.

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