Melanotaenia picta, also known as the painted rainbowfish or the "Goldiei Aru II," is a species found in two locations in the Mareremar River system of the Kobroor Island, part of the Aru Archipelago, off the East Coast of New Guinea.
The Aru Islands are home to a variety of rainbowfish, and unlike the majority of the species that live in Papua New Guinea and Australia, most of the Aru Island rainbows are not seriously threatened with extinction. This is only due to the fact that native people consider the area sacred and prohibit business and permanent habitation, so the island has remained a virtually pristine environment for millennia.
Melanotaenia picta pair.
The natives are also proactively fighting to block companies that intend to build palm oil plantations from destroying the ecosystem on the islands. As a result of government officials being more interested in capitalist endeavors than habitat preservation, the islands are threatened, but local populations are banding together to prevent expansion.
Sadly, their efforts are likely only slowing the corporations down, and these fish could disappear in the wild frighteningly soon, as suggested by the incessant destruction of tropical forests in the region for mining and agricultural purposes.
Melanotaenia picta Pair.
M. picta was originally discovered by Heiko Bleher in 2007 and was distributed and known as "Aru II" in the hobby. In 2015, the species was described at the same time as the M. albimarginata, M. aruensis, M. kolaensis, and M. wokamensis by Gerald Allen, Renny Hadiaty, Peter Unmack, and Mark Erdmann.
Painted rainbowfish are very active and are most comfortable in a tank of 40 gallons or larger. They reach a maximum size of four to six inches with impressive deep bodies, although females will normally be smaller than males.
Melanotaenia picta fry.
They do best in groups of six to eight with a mixture of males and females so that the males will try to compete with one another by flashing their neon lights. One of the most amazing things about the species is its exceptional variety of colors, a few of which are blue, green, red, yellow, and violet. That is also why it received the name picta, which is Latin for painted. The displays are magnificent and are one of the many reasons that pictas are a coveted gem for rainbowfish aficionados.
We acquired purebred fish from Eric Bodrock, a well-known breeder and speaker at the Sacramento Aquarium Society's December 2021 meeting, and we grew the group in our fish room, bred them, and submitted fry at February's gathering as part of the Breeder Award Program. We look forward to others in the club keeping these gorgeous fish and will be keeping the genetics around for others that are interested.
Melanotaenia picta fry.
Like most other Melanotaeniids, the painted rainbowfish lays its eggs in a spawning mop. The fry are extremely delicate and must be fed soon after birth. While adults prefer temperatures in the upper 70's F, fry are best raised in the low 80's, as this helps prevent disease and stimulates appetite and metabolism. The genus is notoriously slow-growing, but patience is rewarded with stunning fish that easily live more than a decade in home aquariums.