Chilatherina bleheri – Bleher’s Rainbowfish Complete Overview

Chilatherina bleheri

The Chilatherina bleheri (Bleher’s rainbowfish) is found only in a lake in West Papua.

It belongs to the larger rainbow fish species and needs a correspondingly spacious aquarium with space for swimming, as it should be kept as a schooling fish.

It is peaceful and can be socialized with other species of ornamental fish.

Morning sun promotes wellbeing. Little is known about the offspring in the aquarium, but as a free spawner it seems to follow the usual process of mating and spawning for rainbow fish.

Chilatherina bleheri: Quick Facts

Scientific name:Chilatherina bleheri
Common name:Bleher’s Rainbowfish
Difficulty level:for beginners
Origin / Distribution:Irian Jaya, Indonesia
Coloring:Males are colourful; females lack the red colouration and are more of a plain silvery green. Males also display a yellow breeding stripe on the forehead
Age expectation:6-8 years
Water parameters:GH 2-20, KH 10-15, pH 8.5-9.0, temperature 23-27 ° C
Aquarium size:from 100 l
Feeding:Micropellets, flakes, green flake, , and small frozen foods such as mosquito larvae and daphnia
Behavior:very peaceful
Group size:at least 6 animals

Chilatherina bleheri: Distribution and Habitat

Chilatherina bleheri is found exclusively in Lake Holmes, Danau Bira, in Irian Jaya, West Papua. This lake is located in the lower reaches of the Mamberamo River.

That means that the Chilatherina bleheri lives in close proximity to 11 other fish species, including one other rainbowfish, Melanotaenia maylandi which are also found in the river.

Chilatherina bleheri: Features, Shape and Color


The males are much more colorful than the females, but the coloration can vary greatly from male to male.

  • The fish have a silvery or bluish-green body colour on the upper back fading posteriorly to pastel shades of yellow to red.
  • Females lack the vivid red hues and are mainly silvery or pale-bluish grading to grey or greenish-brown.
  • Males display a brilliant yellow-orange stripe on the middle of the forehead during spawning
Chilatherina bleheri
Chilatherina bleheri


The scales on the front half of the body, particularly on the dorsal region, have broad yellow-green margins. Other features include:

  • A charcoal grey dorsal fin
  • A red dorsal fin grey suffused with red
  • Red Caudal and anal fins red
  • Red pelvic fins anteriorly with remainder white or translucent
  • Translucent pectoral fins
  • A white lower side of the body with a series of faint vertical dark markings


  • Mature males are much deeper bodied than females with older males developing a very deep body
  • Males may reach a maximum size of 12 cm, but females are usually less than 10 cm

Chilatherina bleheri: In the aquarium

The Chilatherina bleheri is a lively schooling fish that needs a correspondingly large aquarium because of its considerable size.

It gets along well with other, not too small fish species such as barbels, tetras, cichlids or catfish.

For well-being it needs a bright, large aquarium(150cm length) standing in the sunlight with planted borders and plenty of free space for swimming.

Chilatherina bleheri in the Aquarium

Chilatherina bleheri: Breeding

The males start courting in the early morning hours and show the most magnificent colors.


When this starts, you should:

  • Set up a separate good-sized breeding aquarium with 75% mature tank water and 25% of de-chlorinated fresh water
  • Add a substrate of marbles to the breeding aquarium
  • Add a small air-driven mature sponge filter to give gentle circulation and filtration
  • Add fine-leaved plants to help ease the pair into the breeding tank


Chilatherina bleheri  are ‘continual spawners‘ which means that the spawning activity takes place over several days/weeks, even months in some cases.

Once the pair is acclimatized to then breeding aquarium:

  • The male will start swimming in front of the female, displaying the mating stripe on his forehead.
  • The male will then begin to drive the female over the plants, utilizing the whole length of the tank.
  • The eggs will be scattered over the plants a few at a time. It is recommended to siphon off the eggs into another tank with similar conditions to avoid some adult fish consuming eggs as they are scattered.
  • The eggs will usually hatch in 7-9 days
  • Once free-swimming, the tiny fry can be fed other food such as infusoria.
  • Eventually you can feed the fry onto larger foodstuffs as they develop

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