How to Care for Your New Dwarf Neon Rainbowfish RainbowfishAqualand scoop on Melanotaenia praecox
Intro: We're writing this page in a bit different style.
Origins: Originally from New Guinea, these cute little two to two and a half inch guys and gals are now produced in fish farms. And, you can reproduce them yourself.
Size Appeal: Since most Americans start their fish keeping careers with a 10-gallon tank, small fish work best for them. Not the cheapest fish in the barrel (like neons, moons, or danios), they're a definite step up at a still reasonable price. Dwarf neon rainbowfish also start developing their color potential at a much smaller size than most rainbowfish. They're still somewhat harder to find than the usual run of the mill community fish.
Temperature: Like most community fish, dwarf neon rainbowfish fare fine at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They do okay slightly cooler and like to spawn when you bump them to 80F.
Sexing and Color: You can tell the males from the females (sexual dimorphism) fairly easily. Both sexes are an eye-catching iridescent silvery blue. Sometimes you can see a light orange background that appears behind the rows of silver scales. The males sport red top and bottom fins, which they enjoy flaunting at the females. When swimming, they tend to flatten these fins suddenly opening them when they change directions. Females have the same size fins, but they are yellow or orangish yellow.
Temperament: Dwarf neon rainbowfish spend most of their time schooling or looking for food. If no other dwarf neons live in their tank, they will school with other fishes. They patrol the top and middle layers of the tank. However, they do break ranks when food hits the surface. I've never seen them scrounge the bottom for food.
Foods and Feeding: Neon rainbows have smaller throats than their mouths, so they prefer smaller pellets. They like all types of flakes. And, of course, love live and frozen foods. Remember that food that falls to the bottom will not be eaten. Add some scavengers or snails. Rainbowfish do not like dirty water.
Mileage Warranty: Expect your dwarf neon rainbowfish to last three to five years -- about twice the lifespan of bettas and most livebearers.
Habitat: Most small fishes feel more secure in planted tanks -- live or plastic. Plants and aquascaping also add to your appreciation of your rainbowfish and your tank in general.
Water: Des Moines water works fine. Although they originally came from slightly acid water, they do fine in our slightly alkaline water. They do need clean water.
Breeding: Most schooling egglayers breed best if you separate the sexes and condition them for spawning. Dwarf neon rainbowfish lay smaller quantities of eggs on more of a continuous basis. You needn't isolate the sexes for maximum production. You will need a scavenger-free aquarium though. Reputedly, the parents will not eat their eggs or fry. However, I would not trust the reputation of any parental units that eat as heartily as rainbows. Try the standard danio layer of marbles on the bottom to protect their eggs, or just assume you'll have plenty of eggs even if they do eat some. Some fish keepers house their breeders in net cages that allow the eggs to fall thru. They then periodically siphon the eggs out. Bare tanks work best for this process.
Fry Care: Dwarf neon rainbowfish have too small a mouth to start life on newly hatched brine shrimp. Start them on Infusoria or Microworms for a week or so. Lower the water level if you feed microworms. They sink to the bottom fast. After a week start adding newly hatched brine shrimp -- even the frozen ones. Many breeders report success with the powder-fine commercial fry foods. Since the parents eagerly accept commercial foods, the fry should also. Make sure it's dust-fine and and do not overfeed. Mystery snails make great scavengers after your eggs hatch and start free swimming.
Last Words: Try a school of the eye-catching dwarf neon rainbows. You won't be disappointed. LA
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