Boeseman's Rainbowfish -- Melanotaenia boesemani

Male M. boesemani

Family: Melanotaeniidae

Habitat: Ajamaru Lakes in Irian Jaya

This fish was discovered in 1955 by Dr. Marinus Boeseman of the Leiden Museum in the
Netherlands in the Ajamaru Lakes region, Vogelkop Peninsula in Irian Jaya. It was officially
described in 1980 by Dr. Gerald R. Allen and Norbert J. Cross. Dr. Allen named it after Dr.
Boeseman. Since the specimens described were preserved he had no idea what these fish
looked like. But he found them again in 1982. They were brought back to Germany by Heiko
Bleher where they were bred and distributed into the hobby.

Size: males 3½"; females 3"

Sex: Male boesemani show a split colouration that is completely different from most other
rainbowfishes. The front part of the body is a brilliant bluish-grey, almost blackish, while the rear
half is (including the fins) yellow to bright orange-red. Between these two areas, there are
alternating light and dark vertical bars. The females are similar to many of the other species of
Melanotaenia, displaying a broad dark horizontal stripe along with narrow yellow or
reddish-orange longitudinal stripes. Older females often look similar to subordinate males, but
are usually easily identified by having a slighter chest depth.It is also believed that each
generation removed from the wild results in a fish with less colour. My male is very brightly
coloured and shows the black front in the morning hours.

Recommended keeping: pH 6.5-7 with a dH to 10 Temperature of 81-86F. A sizeable open
swimming area in a large tank gives these fish the room to swim that they prefer.

Special notes:These fish were collected in areas with quite different water readings. One site
was reported to have a pH of 9.0; the other site was pH 6.5.

Breeding: Boesemani will breed in an aquarium either in a spawning mop or Java moss. It is
recommended that you change the spawning medium daily to a separate tank to raise the fry
which hatch from 7-10 days later. Boesmani fry are very small and hard to raise.

Personal Observations: I received a few fry from Richard Schinkel last year. They were placed in a 10 gallon tank along with a few Apistos to grow up. They were very small and unsexable. I lost a few but I ended up with a definite male and female. After I felt that the female was big enough to breed, I placed the couple into a 25 gallon community tank. I placed several large spawning mops into this tank. At the beginning I didn't see any eggs so I stopped checking for awhile. One day after seeing how the male displayed at the female I decided to check the mops, I finally found a few eggs. I removed the mop to a 5 gallon aquarium with no aeration. After a little more than a week I only saw 1 fry. I again checked the mop and seen more eggs. This mop too was placed in the 5 gallon tank. This time I had 4 fry hatch. (I only saw 5 eggs) Around this time the female started acting funny. She swam oddly and turned a brilliant green colour; very metallic looking. I hoped that she would be ok. She died the next day of unknown causes. I was very disappointed because now I only had 5 fry and a rather large male. I fed the fry powdered food and kept lots of Java moss in with them. They took forever to get to a size where they could eat baby brine shrimp (at least it seemed like it to me). I kept searching all the pet stores I visited in hopes of finding another female large enough to not get killed by the now 3" male. After many months of fruitless searching I came across a small group of boesmani in a pet store and there were 2 females. I only bought one because the price of these fish was very high in my estimation. I put the second female in with the male. It took a short while for her to feel comfortable in the tank. I would never see any eggs in the mops anymore though. I had a feeling that the other inhabitants of the tank had gotten wise to looking for eggs there and ate them before I had a chance to remove the mops. Spawning takes place in the morning and I could not get to the mops til lunchtime. So I decided to remove the mops completely for a few weeks in hopes that the female would get fat and give me a lot of eggs at once and also that the other fish would forget about the mops. After a while I put the mops back in and this time got a few eggs. I removed these and put them in a different 5 gallon tank as the original fry were now too big for the newly hatching fry. I received 5 fry from this batch. I never found any more eggs in the mops. I think the other fish did eat them. After this the second female also turned that bright metallic green and died also. I did not lose any of the fry that hatched. Whew! I find these rainbows harder to care for than the other rainbow I have. It also grows a lot slower. These are a very gorgeous fish. I am keeping my male as a display tank fish. He always gets comments from visitors to my fishroom.

 © Copyright 1999-2003 Lisa Boorman
All Rights Reserved

Suggested Reading:

Baensch Aquarium Atlas by Dr. Rüdiger Riehl & Hans A. Baensch

Rainbowfishes In Nature and in the Aquarium by Dr. Gerald R. Allen

Australian freshwater fishes : biology and management by John R. Merrick
 Aqualog Special: Breathtaking Rainbows by Harro Hieronimus                                               

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