celebes rainbowfish

Keeping Celebes Rainbowfish: Care Guide for Aquatic Marvels

The Celebes Rainbowfish (Marosatherina ladies) is a member of the Melanotaeniidae family and is known by various names, including sail-fin silverside rainbowfish. It is the smallest species among the rainbow family. The term “Marosatherina” is a combination of “Myros,” the name of the village where the fish was first discovered, and “Atherina,” which refers to the genus of fish in the silverside family Atherinidae. Celebes (Sulawesi), one of Indonesia’s Greater Sunda Islands, is where this fish comes from.

The discovery of this species is credited to the ichthyologist Werner Ladiges; thus, it bears his name as “Ladigesi” in its scientific name.

Although the Celebes Rainbowfish has been listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they are abundant in captivity and heavily farmed in South-East Asia.

Described for the first time in 1936, this slender fish exhibits different colors on its body, which can change depending on the lighting in the aquarium. Generally, it has a brown/yellow hue with a neon stripe running along its back, reflecting shades of blue and green. Yellowfins contrast with transparent or white pectoral fins.

Due to their vibrant colors and peaceful temperament, the Celebes Rainbowfish can be a wonderful addition to your aquarium. However, they require some care. Let’s explore how to take care of these beautiful Celebes Rainbowfish properly!


Other NamesCelebes sailfin
SynonymsTelmatherina ladigesi
DistributionBantimurung, Southern Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Lifespan3 years
Average Size3 inches
Maximum Size7.5cm (3″)
Average Tank Size20 gallons
pH7 – 8
Hardness12-18 dGH
FeedingFlake, granules and frozen foods
LightingNo special requirements
Water Parameters Will acclimatise to a wide range of conditions. pH: 6.5-7.5, dH: up to 25 degrees.


Celebes Rainbowfish Details On Goole

The Celebes rainbowfish, also known as the Celebes sailfish or Celebes sailfin, is a fish that can be commonly found in both brackish and freshwater environments. Its natural habitat includes the Sulawesi River and various estuaries in Indonesia. Unlike other types of Rainbowfish, the Celebes rainbowfish has a slender body build and is a member of the Melanotaeniidae family.

Despite its IUCN Red List listing, this fish is not endangered. It has certain risks, but it is not endangered.

The Celebes rainbowfish is a fascinating and beautiful species that is valued among fishkeepers for its unique appearance and peaceful behavior in aquariums. To keep them healthy and happy, you must meet their environmental and dietary needs.

Taxonomy and Classification

The taxonomy and classification of the Celebes Rainbowfish (scientifically known as Telmatherina ladies) provide a systematic way of categorizing and organizing this colorful aquatic species. The Celebes Rainbowfish belongs to the family Telmatherinidae, which is a group of small, freshwater fish endemic to Sulawesi Island in Indonesia.

At the kingdom level, the Celebes Rainbowfish is classified under Animalia, which includes all multicellular animals. Moving down the hierarchy, it falls under the phylum Chordata, indicating that it possesses a notochord (a flexible rod-like structure) at some stage during its life cycle.

The class to which the Celebes Rainbowfish belongs is Actinopterygii, encompassing ray-finned fishes, a large group that makes up the majority of fish species.

Within the class, the Celebes Rainbowfish falls under the order Atheriniformes, which includes various fish species, many of which are found in freshwater habitats.

The family Telmatherinidae houses the Celebes Rainbowfish and some other closely related species. This family is characterized by its vibrant colors and small size, making them popular choices for aquarium enthusiasts.

Finally, at the genus level, the Celebes Rainbowfish is classified under Telmatherina, a group of small rainbowfish found primarily in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia.

It’s important to note that within the species Telmatherina ladies, there may be different subspecies or varieties, each exhibiting slight variations in appearance or behavior. Taxonomy helps scientists and enthusiasts alike to understand the relationships between different species and their place in the broader ecosystem.


The Celebes Sailfin is a slender and captivating fish with a unique appearance. Its body has an almost transparent base color, which is beautifully complemented by a striking blue stripe running along its lateral line. This fish has two colorful dorsal fins. The larger dorsal fin boasts two shades, while the smaller one is black.

Interestingly, the Celebes Sailfin’s body color can seemingly change depending on the lighting conditions in its tank. However, most individuals exhibit a lovely brownish-yellow hue with subtle green undertones. Their eyes are prominent, and the neon stripe running down their backbone reflects shades of blue and green, adding to their allure.

This fish has stunning pectoral fins. Their pectoral fins are white or virtually transparent, making them stand out. The other fins have a lovely yellowish color adorned with black spots. With their wispy, translucent pectoral fins and dorsal fins positioned on top, these fish give the impression of having beautiful sails.

The Celebes Rainbowfish’s stunning body and fins make it a truly worthy addition to any aquarium. They will undoubtedly bring a spark of beauty to your tank, making it even more vibrant and captivating.

Distribution and Habitat

The Celebes Rainbowfish (Telmatherina ladies) is native to the stunning and biodiverse island of Sulawesi, which is located in Indonesia. Within Sulawesi, these colorful fish are found explicitly in the clear, freshwater bodies of water, such as lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds.

One of the primary reasons for the name “Celebes Rainbowfish” is the diverse and vibrant colors displayed by this species. These fish are popular among aquarium hobbyists because of their vibrant colors, from blues and greens to reds and oranges.

The distribution of the Celebes Rainbowfish extends across various regions of Sulawesi, taking advantage of the island’s diverse aquatic environments. The different subspecies or varieties of fish can sometimes be found in specific areas, adapting to the unique conditions of their respective habitats.

In the wild, Celebes Rainbowfish thrive in waters with moderate to slow flow, usually preferring areas with dense vegetation, aquatic plants, and submerged structures like rocks and driftwood. These provide them with shelter, breeding sites, and areas to explore and forage for food.

Sulawesi’s diverse landscapes, from forested regions to mountainous terrain, have given rise to a variety of freshwater habitats for the Celebes Rainbowfish to inhabit. However, due to its restricted distribution and the impact of human activities, some populations of this species may face conservation concerns.

To protect the Celebes Rainbowfish and the region’s delicate ecological balance, there has been an increasing interest in maintaining and protecting its natural habitats. Aquarium commerce is supporting captive reproduction to decrease wild population pressure.

Understanding the Celebes Rainbowfish’s range and habitat is essential to recognizing its unique and sensitive character and emphasizing the need for conservation measures to preserve its long-term existence.

Sexual Dimorphism

Like many other fish species, the male Celebes Rainbowfish is larger in size than the female and exhibits darker colors. One notable difference between the male and female is seen in their second ventral and dorsal fins, which are more prominent and display darker hues in the males than in the females. These distinctions contribute to the striking appearance of the male Celebes Rainbowfish.

These fish are colorless as juveniles, unlike adults. Their lovely colors develop as they mature. This transformation from a plain appearance to a colorful and attractive one is fascinating to observe in the Celebes Rainbowfish.

Feeding Celebes Rainbowfish

One crucial aspect of ensuring the happiness of your Celebes Rainbowfish is providing them with a good and balanced diet. The diet plays a significant role in their care, as these fish can become moody and temperamental if they go hungry. As omnivores, they have a diverse palate and readily accept various types of food.

You can offer them dried and frozen foods like daphnia, tubifex, brine shrimp, or bloodworms at least once a week. Additionally, they will happily consume flakes, pellets, frozen foods, small vegetable matter, and meaty foods. Diet variety improves their health.

A fascinating fact about Celebes rainbowfish is that they have a small throat, which means they can only eat smaller portions of food at a time. It’s essential to provide them with an amount they can finish within five minutes to prevent overfeeding. Feeding them four to five times a day keeps them healthy and happy.

It’s important to be mindful of their shy nature while feeding them. In a community tank, more aggressive fish might overpower them and take away all the food, leaving the Celebes Rainbowfish hungry. To prevent this, you can consider feeding them separately or choosing tankmates that are peaceful and won’t dominate the feeding sessions. Taking proper care of their diet will contribute significantly to the well-being and vibrancy of your Celebes Rainbowfish in the aquarium.

Celebes Rainbowfish Breeding

Determining the sex of Celebes Rainbowfish can be tricky when they are young, but as they grow older, the males develop long filament extensions on their fins. Additionally, the males have slightly stronger coloration compared to females. Like many other fish species, male Celebes Rainbowfish are larger than their female counterparts and exhibit darker colors. The second ventral and dorsal fins of the males are also more prominent and display darker hues than those of the females.

Breeding Celebes Rainbowfish is not overly difficult. To encourage successful breeding, it’s best to set up a separate aquarium with plenty of plants like Milfoil, Cabomba, Riccia, Java moss, and other floating plants. These plants make fish egg-laying pleasant. The water in the breeding tank should have a neutral pH and be slightly salty. Lowering the temperature slightly by about 2 degrees is beneficial, as these fish tend to breed better at lower temperatures.

Morning sunlight can trigger the spawning behavior in this species, so positioning your breeding tank near a window where it can receive morning light might be helpful. The female will become plumper when she lays eggs at the bottom of the tank during breeding. It’s important to remove the parents from the tank after the eggs are laid, as they may eat them otherwise.

Depending on water temperature, eggs hatch in 7–14 days. For the first four days after hatching, the fry will feed on their yolk sack. After this initial period, they become active swimmers and can be fed commercial foods, finely ground baby brine shrimp, and infusoria.

As the Celebes Rainbowfish fry are small and vulnerable to being eaten by other fish, it’s crucial to raise them in a separate tank until they are large enough to survive in a community tank. The entire process from the egg stage to fully grown fish should take around five months. Proper care and attention during the breeding process will ensure the healthy growth and development of these fascinating fish.

Tank Mates

Celebes Rainbowfish are known for their peaceful nature, making them ideal tank mates when kept with other non-aggressive species. It’s best to have a group of 6 to 8 Celebes Rainbowfish together with other fish that share similar characteristics. Slow eaters, gentle swimmers, and naturally non-aggressive species are great companions for them. Livebearers, Gobies, Halfbeaks, Mollies, and other rainbowfishes are some examples of suitable tank mates that can peacefully coexist with Celebes Rainbowfish.

One important thing to note is that Celebes Rainbowfish neither attack nor defend themselves, so it’s crucial to avoid putting them in the same tank with fin-nipping or highly aggressive fish. Fish species like barbs, bettas, cichlids, loaches, and tetras, especially known for being notorious fin nippers, should be kept separate from the Celebes Rainbowfish. If you’re considering any of these fish for a community tank setup, caution should be exercised to ensure the well-being of all the inhabitants.

By choosing compatible tank mates and creating a harmonious environment, you can ensure a peaceful and enjoyable community tank where the Celebes Rainbowfish can thrive and showcase their beauty without any undue stress or conflicts.

Common Health Issues

Keeping Celebes Rainbowfish healthy and thriving in an aquarium environment requires attentive care and understanding of potential health issues that may arise. Despite their hardy nature, these colorful fish can still be susceptible to certain health problems. Here are some common health issues to be aware of:

Ich (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis) Infection
Ich, also known as white spot disease, is a parasitic infection common in many freshwater fish, including Celebes Rainbowfish. Infected fish may develop white spots resembling grains of salt on their fins, body, and gills. Stress, poor water quality, and fluctuations in temperature can trigger an outbreak of Ich.

Fin Rot (Mycobacterium marinum)
Fin rot is a bacterial infection that affects the fins and tail of the fish. Infected fins may appear frayed, discolored, or eroded. Poor water conditions and injuries to the fins can contribute to fin rot.

Dropsy (Edema)
Dropsy is a symptom rather than a specific disease, characterized by the swelling of the fish’s body and abdomen. Bacterial infections and kidney failure may cause it. Dropsy is often associated with poor water quality and stress.

Fungal Infections
Fungal infections can affect the skin, fins, and gills of Celebes Rainbowfish. Infected areas may appear fuzzy or have a cotton-like growth. Fungi can proliferate in stressed or injured fish.

Parasitic Worms (Nematodes)
Parasitic worms can infect the digestive tract of Celebes Rainbowfish, leading to weight loss and reduced appetite. Internal parasites can be introduced through live food or contaminated water.

Mouth and Body Fungus
Mouth and body fungus are caused by various types of fungi and can affect the skin, mouth, and eyes of fish. Infected areas may become inflamed, ulcerated, or covered with cotton-like growths.

Overfeeding or feeding improper food can cause constipation in Celebes Rainbowfish.
Constipated fish may have bloated abdomens and exhibit reduced activity.

Stress-Related Issues
Stress weakens fish’s immune systems, making them more prone to infections. Stressors include overcrowded tanks, sudden changes in water parameters, and aggressive tankmates.

Internal and External Parasites
Various parasites, such as flukes and protozoans, can infect Celebes Rainbowfish.
Parasite infestations can cause tiredness, appetite loss, and irregular swimming.

It is essential to closely monitor the health of Celebes Rainbowfish and promptly address any signs of illness. Maintaining a clean and well-maintained aquarium, providing a balanced diet, and ensuring optimal water parameters are crucial in preventing and managing common health issues in these captivating aquatic marvels.

Famous Varieties and Strains

Over the years, the captivating allure of Celebes Rainbowfish has captured the interest of aquarists and fish enthusiasts worldwide. As a result, several famous varieties and strains of these colorful fish have been developed through selective breeding.

Each variety boasts its unique set of colors and patterns, adding a vibrant tapestry to aquariums. One well-known variety is the “Neon Blue” Celebes Rainbowfish, featuring striking iridescent blue hues that shimmer under aquarium lighting.

Another popular strain is the “Blood Red” Celebes Rainbowfish, known for its deep crimson coloration, which intensifies during breeding displays. Additionally, the “Golden Arowana” Celebes Rainbowfish has garnered attention with its brilliant golden scales that sparkle in the light. Aquarists often admire the “Turquoise Green” Celebes Rainbowfish for its mix of blue and green shades, creating a captivating underwater spectacle. Moreover, the “Albino” Celebes Rainbowfish, lacking pigment and displaying a beautiful pearly white coloration, has become a sought-after novelty in the hobby.

Each of these famous varieties and strains contributes to the diversity and charm of the Celebes Rainbowfish, making them treasured additions to aquariums around the globe.

Conservation Status

As a species native to the unique and ecologically diverse island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, the Celebes Rainbowfish (Telmatherina ladigesi) holds significance not only for its beauty but also for its role in the local aquatic ecosystems. Due to several circumstances, Celebes Rainbowfish are considered vulnerable. Habitat loss due to deforestation, pollution, and agricultural and urban growth is a major hazard. Unsustainable fishing and aquarium harvesting can also strain wild populations.

The Celebes Rainbowfish’s habitats are being protected to preserve Sulawesi’s natural environment and biodiversity. Local and international groups are raising awareness of the species and its vulnerable ecology. Research programs monitor populations, assess their behavior, and identify hazards.

In the aquarium trade, responsible fishkeeping practices are being promoted to ensure that the demand for Celebes Rainbowfish does not negatively impact their wild counterparts. Captive breeding programs are encouraged to reduce the reliance on wild-caught individuals and to maintain genetic diversity within the species.

The conservation status of the Celebes Rainbowfish highlights the importance of sustainable practices and the need for collaborative efforts to safeguard this aquatic marvel for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. By valuing and protecting the natural habitats of these beautiful fish, we can play a crucial role in preserving the rich biodiversity of Sulawesi and its delicate aquatic ecosystems.

Tips for Photographing Celebes Rainbowfish

Photographing Celebes Rainbowfish can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for aquarium enthusiasts and photographers alike. These vibrant and colorful fish offer a unique subject for capturing stunning underwater shots. To ensure successful and captivating photographs, consider the following tips:

Patience and Observation: Observing the behavior of Celebes Rainbowfish before attempting to take photos is crucial. Spend time studying their movements and interactions to anticipate interesting moments.

Use Natural Lighting: Avoid using flash when photographing fish, as it can startle them and may result in unnatural reflections. Instead, utilize natural lighting or invest in soft, diffused lighting options for a more flattering effect.

Fast Shutter Speed: Rainbowfish are active swimmers, and capturing their swift movements requires a fast shutter speed. Opt for a higher shutter speed to freeze their motion and avoid blurry images.

Focus on the Eyes: The eyes are a crucial focal point in fish photography. Ensure that the eyes of the Celebes Rainbowfish are sharply in focus to draw attention to their captivating features.

Clean Aquarium Glass: Prior to taking photos, clean the aquarium glass to remove any algae or debris that could obstruct the view and clarity of the fish.

Background Selection: Choose a background that complements the colors of the Celebes Rainbowfish. A simple, uncluttered background can make the subject stand out and enhance the overall composition.

Capture Natural Behaviors: Try to capture the fish in natural, authentic behaviors. Photograph them exploring their habitat, interacting with tankmates, or displaying their vibrant colors during courtship rituals.

Avoid Sudden Movements: Move slowly and avoid sudden gestures near the aquarium to avoid startling the fish. Calm and relaxed movements will ensure the fish remain at ease and display natural behaviors.

Macro Photography: If possible, invest in a macro lens to capture intricate details and patterns on the fish’s body, such as scales and fin structures.

Experiment with Angles: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles and perspectives to find the most appealing and unique shots. Shoot from above, below, or at eye level to add variety to your photo collection.

Remember that photographing fish requires patience and practice. Take your time to familiarize yourself with your camera settings and the behavior of the Celebes Rainbowfish in your aquarium. Be respectful of the fish’s well-being and avoid causing stress during the photography process. With time and dedication, you’ll be able to capture captivating and beautiful images of these colorful aquatic marvels.

Mythbusting Celebes Rainbowfish

Myth: Celebes Rainbowfish are Aggressive Towards Tankmates.

Reality: While some fish species can be territorial and aggressive, Celebes Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and non-aggressive. They are compatible with a wide range of peaceful tankmates and can coexist harmoniously in a community aquarium. However, it’s essential to consider the size and temperament of the tankmates and provide ample hiding spots and swimming space to reduce any potential conflicts.

Myth: Celebes Rainbowfish Require Brackish Water.

Reality: This is a common misconception, likely stemming from their natural habitat, where they are found in freshwater environments. Celebes Rainbowfish are not brackish water fish and thrive best in fully freshwater conditions. A well-maintained freshwater aquarium that resembles their native habitat will keep them healthy.

Myth: Celebes Rainbowfish are Difficult to Keep in Aquariums.

Reality: On the contrary, Celebes Rainbowfish are considered relatively easy to care for in aquariums. They have adaptable and hardy nature, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced fish keepers. As long as their basic needs, such as appropriate water parameters, regular feeding, and a well-maintained tank, are met, they can thrive and showcase their vibrant colors in the aquarium.

Myth: Only Experienced Hobbyists Can Breed Celebes Rainbowfish.

Reality: While breeding any fish species requires some knowledge and preparation, breeding Celebes Rainbowfish is not exceptionally challenging. With the right conditions, such as appropriate water parameters, sufficient hiding places for spawning, and a nutritious diet, they may breed readily in a well-maintained aquarium. As with any breeding endeavor, understanding their natural breeding behaviors and providing the right environment can increase the likelihood of successful reproduction.

Myth: All Celebes Rainbowfish Varieties are Expensive and Rare.

Reality: While certain rare and selectively bred varieties of Celebes Rainbowfish can be more expensive and harder to find, there are various standard colorations that are more readily available and affordable. The basic color varieties, such as the classic blue and silver, are often more accessible in the aquarium trade and can still offer an aesthetically pleasing addition to any aquarium.

Busting these myths about Celebes Rainbowfish allows enthusiasts to have a better understanding of these captivating fish and promotes their responsible care and appreciation. By providing accurate information, hobbyists can create a suitable and enjoyable environment for these aquatic marvels, fostering a deeper appreciation for their beauty and charm.

Ethical Considerations in Keeping Celebes Rainbowfish

To protect Celebes Rainbowfish, aquarium owners must be ethical. Fish supply is a major issue. Wild-caught animals can harm wildlife and ecosystems, so avoid buying them. Instead, choose captive-bred or reputable-breeder fish.

Aquarium size and suitability are ethical considerations. Celebes Rainbowfish need lots of space to swim and behave naturally. They can become stressed, sick, and unhappy in small tanks. A large, well-equipped aquarium that simulates their natural habitat with plenty of swimming area and hiding places is essential.

Water quality is a moral obligation. Fish need regular water changes, filtration, and water parameter monitoring. Water pollution causes stress, disease, and death.

Morality requires enrichment and mental stimulation. Live plants, natural design, and suitable tankmates help keep Celebes Rainbowfish entertained and reduce stress.

These fish are also sociable. Known for shoaling, they thrive in groups. Isolating them might cause loneliness and social tension. To improve their well-being, give them a little group of their own.

Finally, ethics require education and awareness. Responsible fishkeeping requires understanding species, natural behaviours, and care needs. Learning and sharing can help Celebes Rainbowfish and other aquatic animals be treated ethically.

Aquarists can keep Celebes Rainbowfish ethically and beautifully by following these guidelines. Ethical fishkeeping promotes appreciation and conservation of these amazing species and their natural habitats.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are Celebes Rainbowfish suitable for beginners in the aquarium hobby?
A: Yes, Celebes Rainbowfish are considered suitable for beginners due to their hardy nature and adaptability. A well-maintained aquarium can support them.

Q: How big do Celebes Rainbowfish grow?
A: Celebes Rainbowfish are 2.5–3 inches (6.5–7.5 cm) aquarium fish.

Q: Can I keep Celebes Rainbowfish in a community tank?
A: Absolutely! Celebes Rainbowfish are generally peaceful and make excellent additions to community aquariums. They get along well with other non-aggressive fish species.

Q: What do Celebes Rainbowfish eat?
A: Wild, they eat insects, crustaceans, algae, and plants. They accept high-quality flakes, pellets, live, and frozen feeds in aquariums.

Q: How many Celebes Rainbowfish should I keep together?
A: Celebes Rainbowfish are social and thrive in groups. It is recommended to keep them in schools of at least 6 to 8 individuals to promote their well-being and display natural behaviors.

Q: Can I breed Celebes Rainbowfish in my aquarium?
A: Yes, breeding Celebes Rainbowfish in captivity is possible with the right conditions. Providing suitable hiding spots, ideal water parameters, and a nutritious diet can encourage successful breeding.

Q: What are the optimal water parameters for Celebes Rainbowfish?
A: Celebes Rainbowfish like a slightly alkaline to neutral pH of 7.0–8.0 and a water temperature of 75–82°F (24–28°C).

Q: Do Celebes Rainbowfish require a heavily planted aquarium?
A: While they appreciate a well-planted aquarium with ample hiding spots, they do not necessarily require a heavily planted setup. A balanced combination of live plants and open swimming spaces is ideal.

Q: Can I keep Celebes Rainbowfish with shrimp and other small invertebrates?
A: It’s generally best to avoid keeping Celebes Rainbowfish with small shrimp and delicate invertebrates, as they may view them as food. Opt for larger, sturdier tankmates in such setups.

Q: Are there any specific diseases that Celebes Rainbowfish are prone to?
A: Like all fish, Celebes Rainbowfish can be susceptible to common aquarium diseases such as Ich, fin rot, and fungal infections. Maintaining optimal water quality and a stress-free environment can help prevent such issues.

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