Banded Rainbowfish (Goyder River)

The banded rainbowfish (Melanotaenia trifasciata) is a Rainbowfish that are native to northern Australia and Queensland.

They range in color depending on their habitat, but all forms have a distinct dark mid-lateral band and bright red/yellow dorsal, anal, and caudal fins.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about keeping banded rainbowfish, including their ideal tank mates, diet, and more.

Banded Rainbowfish Characteristics

Scientific NameMelanotaenia trifasciata
Common NamesJewel rainbowfish, Goyder River rainbowfish, three-striped sunfish or regal rainbowfish
SpeciesM. trifasciata
Aquarist Experience LevelBeginner
Size5.0 inches (12.70 cm)
Minimum Tank Size30 gal (114 L)
Aquarium HardinessVery Hardy
Temperature70.0 to 79.0° F (21.1 to 26.1° C)
Breeding Temperature72.0° F
Social GroupingGroups – Presumably congregates in schools like other rainbowfish
IUCN Red ListNE – Not Evaluated or not listed
Diet TypeOmnivore
Ease of BreedingModerate
Banded Rainbowfish Characteristics

Banded Rainbowfish History

Hialmar Rendahl proposed the name Melanotaenia trifasciata while describing the species in 1922.

However, this fish was first collected in 1895 by a Norway zoologist from the St. Mary river.

Banded Rainbowfish Origin & Habitat

Banded rainbowfish come from the northern territory of Australia, particularly on Melville Island, the Mary River, Arnhem Land, and Groote Eylandt.

They inhabit a lot of different places, such as rivers, lagoons, and slow-moving streams.

What Are the Features of Banded Rainbowfish?


The banded rainbowfish is characterized by its long, deep body and arched back. Additionally, this tropical fish has large eyes and two large dorsal fins.


A banded rainbow’s color could range from red to green, blue, purple, or yellow. The dorsal and anal fins are generally yellow or red.

As well, they usually have a black or dark blue mid-lateral bar. 

However, each river system has its own distinct color pattern, with more than thirty variations.

Below are two of the most common color patterns:

  • Standard or Jewel Rainbowfish: This fish is usually golden on the bottom and olive green on top with a strong black band running from the eye to the center of the fish.
  • Goyder River Rainbowfish: The Goyder species have a golden orange base color with milky white scale and a spotted look, reflecting the fish’s black stripe.


The Banded Rainbowfish can grow up to 5 inches (12.70 cm) as adult fish.

Are Banded Rainbowfish Hardy?

Banded rainbowfish can survive naturally harsh, changing environments which makes them a great choice for new fish keepers.

How to Care for Banded Rainbowfish?

a.Water Requirements

1. Water Quality

Although they are hardy fish, banded rainbows can not tolerate any water quality. 

They come from waters with a high dissolved oxygen content and low ammonia levels.

Thus, you should perform at least 25 – 50% weekly water change especially if the tank is densely stocked.

2. Water Temperature

These rainbowfish species are tropical fish that need warm water to feel comfortable and thrive in the aquarium. 

Therefore, you should aim for a water temperature of 70.0 to 79.0° F (21.1 to 26.1° C).

3. pH Level

When it comes to pH level, banded rainbowfish can be a little fussy. They prefer slightly acidic to neutral water, with a range of 6.5-8.0.

4. Water Hardness

These fish species come from soft to moderately hard water. In their natural habitat, the water hardness is usually around 8-25 dGH.

b.Tank Setup

1. Tank Size

Banded rainbowfish are very active swimmers. They need a lot of space to move around and feel comfortable in the aquarium.

Hence, they need at least a 30-gallon aquarium. However, if you want to house a group of them, so you need a tank size of 50 – 60 gallons or more.

2. Tank Lid

Like other rainbowfish species, these fish are skilled jumpers. Thus, you need to have a tight-fitting lid to prevent them from escaping.

3. Decorations

The banded rainbow fish will flourish and look their best in an aquarium environment that mimics their natural environment.

To do this, you should add a sandy substrate, aquatic plants, and bogwood that all echo the freshwater rivers they inhabit.

Banded Rainbowfish Compatibility

Banded rainbowfish is a shoaling species that gets along with other big fish in a community aquarium.

Although banded rainbows become bullies with excessively shy or submissive tank mates, they do not get along with other aggressive fish species.

The table below shows a list of fish types that are compatible with banded rainbowfish:

Same speciesYes – Groups of 6 or more are preferred
Peaceful fishSafe
Large Semi-AggressiveThreat
Large Aggressive, PredatoryThreat
Slow Swimmers & EatersMonitor – Rainbowfish are fast wild swimming fish that can make slower fish nervous
Shrimps, Crabs, SnailsSafe – not aggressive

To avoid conflict, it’s crucial to maintain a reasonable male-to-female ratio.

You can select the type of school you want to keep and how many fish from the stocking suggestions below.

5 rainbowfishDo not mix sexes
6 rainbowfish3 males + 3 females
7 rainbowfish3 males + 4 females
8 rainbowfish3 males + 5 females
9 rainbowfish4 males + 5 females
10 rainbowfish5 males + 5 females

Banded Rainbowfish Diet

Regal rainbowfish are omnivorous, so their diet consists of both animal and plant material.

In the wild, they eat arthropods such as aquatic insects, arachnids, and crustaceans as well as algae and terrestrial insects such as green ants.

In captivity, you can feed them a variety of processed, live, and frozen foods such as:

  • High-quality flake or pellet food
  • Bloodworms
  • Tubifex worms
  • Water fleas
  • Brine shrimp
  • White worms

When it comes to feeding frequency, you should offer them small meals two to three times each day, but only what they can consume within 5 minutes.

Banded Rainbowfish Breeding

Breeding banded rainbowfish is considered easy since they are egg-laying species.

These fish breed seasonally and intermittently throughout the year where male banded rainbowfish compete for territory against one for the female’s attention.

In contests, the males swim next to each other and extend their fins to look larger where they compare size and body coloration.

After mating, the females will lay between 200-500 eggs which they affix to vegetation using adhesive threads.

Finally, the female rainbowfish leaves and the male remains to guard his territory to ensure that the eggs are safe until they hatch.

Within 6 to 7 days, the eggs will hatch into fry. You should feed them infusoria or a liquid fry food until they are able to eat small live foods such as baby brine shrimp.

Banded Rainbowfish Gender Difference

The easiest way to sex them is by comparison. Males are often larger, more brightly colored, have a more arched back, and will display territorial behaviors than females.

Last Words

The banded rainbowfish is an excellent addition to a freshwater aquarium due to its bright colors and peaceful nature.

With the proper diet and care, these fish will make them a great choice for both beginner and experienced aquarists alike.

We hope you enjoyed reading our care guide. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *