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Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

The Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi) known to tropical fish keeping enthusiasts as the Lake Tebera Rainbowfish is endemic to the Tebera Lake basin in Papua New Guinea.

The Axelrodi Rainbow is found only in Lake Tebera and it’s bordering streams and marshes which are surrounded by rainforest covered mountain slopes.   They are a peaceful schooling species that inhabit the clear, densely vegetated areas of their range and feed on small insects, worms, small crustaceans, and plant matter.

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Male Axelrodi Rainbows are bright yellow, occasionally with a greenish tinge, and have a black to bluish black lateral line that begins just before the eye and runs to the base of the caudal fin.   Their dorsal, anal, and caudal fins can be either a red or yellow color.

Spawning males develop an intense blue or white stripe that begins at the first dorsal fin and extends over the nape to the tip of the snout.

During spawning the entire head of the male turns almost completely black and the rest of the body turns a bright yellow with red fins.

Males are always more brightly colored and larger than females and develop deeper bodies with longer dorsal and anal fins as they mature.

Axelrodi Rainbows are a peaceful species that can be kept with other similarly sized rainbowfish, danios, barbs, characins, and peaceful Corydora like catfish in a community aquarium.

Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi is often kept with Rift Lake cichlids in community aquariums, but because it is a shoaling species, a minimum of at least 6 to 8 individuals should be housed together to bring out their best colors.

Axelrodi Rainbows are best housed in at least a 55 gallon aquarium with a sandy or fine gravel substrate that is densely planted with rather fine leaved plants.  Plenty of open swimming space should be provided for the fish.   Some rocks and driftwood can also be added to the decor, but because Axelrodi Rainbows are quite skittish and subject to jumping out of the aquarium, a few floating plants can be added to the tank to minimize this behavior.   High water quality is necessary to keep these fish healthy, but a strong current is not needed and will undoubtedly benefit the growth of the plants in the aquarium.

Axelrodi Rainbows are an easy species to breed.   They are egg scatterers and will eagerly deposit their eggs amongst the vegetation and substrate, especially on Java Moss.

Condition a group with live and frozen foods until the females are noticeably plumper and the males constantly display their colors with each other.   Remove the fattest female and the best colored male and place them in at least a 30 gallon breeding tank loaded with Java Moss, spawning mops, or other fine leaved plants and slightly hard, alkaline water (pH 7.5) at a temperature of 72-75°F.   This species does not do well in soft, acidic, water conditions.   No substrate is necessary in the tank, and only a small air powered sponge filter is needed to provide water movement and oxygen for the breeding pair.

Spawning can be induced by slightly raising the water temperature in the tank, at which time the pair will lay several batches of eggs daily, for a period of several weeks.   The eggs are attached to the moss by a small thread and although the parents will normally not eat the eggs, it’s much easier raising the fry if you remove the eggs daily and introduce them into a rearing tank.

Depending on water temperature, the eggs will hatch out in 7 to 13 days at which time the fry will need Infusoria until they are able to accept newly hatched brine shrimp, microworms, commercially prepared fry food, etc.   The fry stay close to the surface so keep away from sinking foods.

Axelrodi Rainbows are omnivorous and will eagerly accept live, frozen, and freeze dried foods. Regular twice daily feedings of a quality flake food will ensure that the fish stay healthy and display their best colors.

Axelrodi Rainbows are sometimes available from specialty tropical fish keeping shops and online from importers, retailers, and tropical fish forum members.  They are usually available for purchase  when they reach 2″ to 3″ in size.


Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)

Axelrodi Rainbow (Melanotaenia herbertaxelrodi)








Minimum Tank Size: 55 gallons
Care Level: Easy
Temperament: Peaceful
Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
Water Conditions: 68-79°F, 10 – 15 dGH, pH 7.5-8.0
Max. Size 4″
Color Form: Blue
Diet: Omnivore
Compatibility: Peacerful Community tanks
Origin: Papua New Guinea
Family: Melanotaeniidae
Lifespan: 6-8 years
Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner


Posted in Featured Articles, Freshwater Fish, Rainbowfish, Tropical Fish Keeping, Tropical Fish SpeciesComments (0)

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