Melanotaenia splendida

10. May 2024

The second species of rainbowfish of the genus Melanotaenia that was ever scientifically described was M. splendida. This was in 1866 and the description of the species is based on specimens from the Fitzroy River in Queensland, Australia. The species seemed so unusual to Peters, who first described it, that he even created a new genus for it, Nematocentris. However, he overlooked the fact that the genus Melanotaenia had already been created by Gill in 1862 for the very first species of this genus – described as Atherina nigrans in 1843. While the generic affiliation of M. splendida is undisputed today, there is no consensus on how the numerous locality forms in Australia should be evaluated. Depending on which species concept the individual scientists follow, they are seen as either variants, subspecies or independent species.

The beautiful M. splendida that we received from Singapore show quite clearly that these are not purely academic debates, but that these things also have a practical significance. Unfortunately, the population to which the ancestors of these fish belonged is not known. All over the world, fish species are dying out because their environment is being altered. Many species of fish that are extinct in the wild or highly endangered can only be preserved for future generations of humans by breeding them in aquaria. This is already quite successful, but it is also necessary to breed on a population level and absolutely species-pure. After all, the distant goal is that these animals will one day be able to swim freely in their original habitat and be part of a natural ecosystem. 

If you are simply interested in colorful fish and perhaps want to earn your first spurs with breeding, M. splendida from Singapore is a very good choice; they are beautiful fish! However, if you are more interested, you should turn to specialized communities such as the IRG (Internationale Gesellschaft für Regenbogenfische) or the ANGFA (Australian New Guinea Fishes Association). However, we in the trade also endeavor to pass on this important information to our customers whenever we are offered locality forms.

For our customers: the M. splendida from Singapore photographed for this post have code 428903 on our stock list. Please note that we only supply the wholesale trade.

Text & photos: Frank Schäfer