Often overlooked as 'dull silver fish' in shop tanks, rainbow-fish develop their color as they mature and are amongst the most robust and colorful fish available for the aquarium
Everyone must know the story of the ugly ducking who felt left out and dejected until one day upon seeing its reflection, saw the image of the beautiful swan he had become. This could also be the story of the rainbowfish - those dull silvery fish with high price tags you may have seen for sale. One day these fish will become the most colourful fish in their aquarium and the pride of the plucky aquarist who purchased them. In fact, rainbowfish have quiet a lot going for them which may not be apparent at first glance
Spring chickensRainbowfish are a large group of fish from varied natural environments, In fact there is a rainbowfish suited to almost every aquarium setup. For the purposes of this article we will concentrate on the true rainbowfishes from the family Melanotaeniidae.
In evolutionary terms, the true rainbowfish are a very young family of fish being only around 200,000 years old. For the vast majority of this time the land they occupied around Australia and New Guinea was undergoing a continual changing of environment.
The young rainbowfish family are therefore still rapidly evolving and this can be seen today in the large variations of colour forms within the same species.
At some point it is likely that these regional variations will become different species. For the fishkeeper, this means that identifying rainbowfish can become very tricky without the help of a comprehensive guide of species and colour variations.