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Best rainbow for a planted tank?

Art

Owner/Administrator
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Supporting
Founding Member
PAFF
  • Oct 29, 2022
    2,161
    2,411
    Miami, FL
    I will break the ice, @GreggZ!

    I've always loved Rainbowfish. They have such beautiful colors and are very active in the aquarium. However, they have always been too big for my tanks. I also worried about their compatibility with plants. Some fish seem to just work well like tetras and other software species.

    Is there a Rainbowfish that you think would be a good addition to a planted aquarium? Any particular water parameters to keep in mind?

    Thanks!

    Art
     
    I will break the ice, @GreggZ!

    I've always loved Rainbowfish. They have such beautiful colors and are very active in the aquarium. However, they have always been too big for my tanks. I also worried about their compatibility with plants. Some fish seem to just work well like tetras and other software species.

    Is there a Rainbowfish that you think would be a good addition to a planted aquarium? Any particular water parameters to keep in mind?

    Thanks!

    Art
    Hey Art these are great questions.

    What most people don't know is that there is a very wide variety of Rainbowfish available in the hobby these days. And the size varies quite a bit. There are quite a few "dwarf" species that don't get past three inches and are suitable for smaller tanks. Then there are some varieties that get much larger closer to 7". But most of the species settle in at about the 4" to 5" range.

    As to plants IMO they are a perfect companion to a planted tank. Extremely colorful, easy to care for, very long lived (not uncommon to live a decade or more!), active, and peaceful. While males do "spar" with each other, it's a mating ritual and no one gets hurt. Which is different than fish like cichlids that will out and out murder each other. And if you have never seen males displaying to each other it is something to see. Their colors intensify and they turn on a bright almost neon stripe that runs down their head. It's quite a show.

    As to tank parameters they are very adaptive. I have had discussions with most of the best Rainbow breeders in the country and the consensus is that they really don't care much about dKH and pH. I have kept them in everything from my current basically zero dKH pure RO water, to well water that was almost liquid rock.

    More important is providing the basics. They enjoy heavily filtered clean water, good surface agitation with high oxygen levels, and a mix of healthy foods. Of course large water changes are always appreciated.

    Like many things in this hobby there a lot of myths out there that are heavily repeated. I'll dispel a few.

    Rainbows need to be kept in groups of 6 of more. Not true. Rainbows don't care. I have groups of two, three, or four of different species. Even some single ones where they are the only species of that kind in the tank. It makes no difference to them.

    You need to have a certain ratio of male to females to bring out the best color. Not true. I have kept mixed sex tanks and all male tanks over many decades. There is no difference in the color of mature adults. None. Right now my tank is all male as I want the maximum display of color.

    Rainbows are a "schooling" fish. Not really. It's more like certain species will "hand around" together sometimes, but in general they don't really school.

    And one more. A lot of people think that Rainbows are very fast and always darting around the tank. Not really. For the most part they kind of "cruise" around the tank rather lazily. But they are in constant motion, so think more of a rainbow of colors constantly drifting around the tank. And not to say they can't be fast. They have a strong hunting instinct and are VERY fast when they want to be.

    Here's a recent video of the tank in motion. It provides a good example of what you can expect when they are in a planted tank.

     
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