Chilatherina sentaniensis (Weber 1907)

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Sentani Rainbowfish

This attractive rainbowfish species is rarely seen in the trade. By good feeding in the aquarium its colouration will become more intensive. This species is a perfect mate to Glossolepis incisus and other species like gobioids that inhabit the Sentani Lake near Jayapura.

This species was described in 1907 by the German-Dutch scientist Max Weber among others collected by a dutch scientific expedition to the island New Guinea by the Netherlands in 1903. Weber named it Rhombatractus sentanienis. Today it is place in the Genus Chilatherina sentaniensis.

Distribution: The species was named after after Lake Sentani, elevation 75 m over sea level, where the type specimens have been collected. Later expeditions to the lake showed that the species can be found rather in the affluences of the lake than in the lake itself.

Submitted by
Natasha Khardina
-2.5652609, 140.4276886
Geographical region
Southeastern Asia
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Water body part
Open water
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Lake Sentani, Irian Jaya, Indonesia
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated (NE)

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
22-27 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Standard length
12 cm
Water volume (min. aquarium)
300 l
Social behaviour
Group fish
Behaviour description

The lake is divided into three main sections with recorded depths of 7 to 52 metres. According to surveys in 1970-71, 1984 and 1987 the lake is thermally unstratified, with surface temperatures of 29–32° and
pH 6.2–6.8. Rainbowfishes are generally found around the margins of the lake. Large numbers are found congregating around submerged aquatic vegetation, fallen tree branches etc.

Aggression grade
Day active
Sexual dimorphism

Chilatherina sentanensis is distinguished by deep, laterally compressed body that increases with age, particularly in males. Their overall body colouration is silvery-blue or greenish on the upper back fading laterally to silverly orange.

They have a diffuse blue or green mid-lateral band and narrow silver or light blue stripes between each
horizontal scale rows. Males often show 6–8 reddish-brown bars on the lower sides of the body between the pectoral fin base and the level of the middle anal rays.

However, colour can be variable depending on captive conditions. Males are more brightly coloured, larger, and deeper bodied than females. Males may reach a maximum size of 12 cm, but females are usually less than 10 cm.

Nutrition in Nature

Chilatherina sentanensis is an omnivore species. In its natural biotope it feeds on small crustaceans, insect larvae, algae and detritus. As aquarium they will accept up to 70% flake or pellet food. Other 30% should be made up of a variety of live foods: bloodworms, tubifex worms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.


Breeding tank set-up

Chilatherina sentanensis is an egg scatterer. Separate a well fed breeding pair and introduce them to the spawning tank. The breeding aquarium should have a pH 7.0 and a temperature 26 °C. This species lay their eggs on fine-leaved plants such as java moss. A small raise in temperature can induce spawning.

Nutrition parents

High quality diet of frozen and live foods: Artemia sp., Mysis sp., microworms.

Mating type
Spawning behaviour

Males will display more intensive colour that depends upon age, health, temperature, water quality, mood, and even rank in the school.

Usually the healthy pair will spawn for a period of several weeks, laying a few eggs each day. These are attached to java moss or spawning mop by a small thread.

Breeding habits
Egg scatterer
Hatching period
7 days
Number of eggs in average
Parental care
Fry number
Nutrition fry

For the growth of the young it is necessary to administer an infusoria–type food for the first few days, until they are large enough to shrimp nauplii, microworm and other micronized food.

Notes on reproduction

Although the adults tend not to eat the spawn, it’s easier to raise the fry in a separate aquarium. It is recommended to checking the plants daily and remove the laid eggs to a raising tank with the water from the spawning tank.