Exquisite Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia exquisita Allen 1978

Other Names: Exquisite Rainbow Fish

Exquisite Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia exquisita, from the Mary River, Northern Territory. Source: Dave Wilson / http://www.aquagreen.com.au/. License: All rights reserved


A small olive rainbowfish, silvery-white below, with a a red stripe just below a pair of prominent black midlateral stripes, and a pair of dark zigzag-like markings between the red stripe and the anal fin. The dorsal, anal and caudal fins are edged in red, and often have small black spots.

Mature males are relatively slender and have a taller first dorsal fin than females; females have smaller rounded dorsal and anal fins.

Cite this page as:
Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017, Melanotaenia exquisita in Fishes of Australia, accessed 14 Jun 2024, https://fishesofaustralia.net.au/home/species/3641

Exquisite Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia exquisita Allen 1978

More Info


Endemic to the King George River, Kimberley region, WA, and the Edith River Gorge and small, headwater tributaries of the Mary and South Alligator Rivers, Northern Territory.

Inhabits small, clear rocky areas of fast-flowing freshwater streams, often near rapids or in rocky pools or above waterfalls.


Dorsalfin IV-VI + I, 7-9; Anal fin I, 15-19

Body elongate, slender, laterally compressed; greatest body depth (specimens > 35 mm SL): males 23.7-29.5, females 20.6-26.8; head length 24.0-27.6; snout length 6.9-7.8; eye diameter 7.5-9.7; premaxillaries with an abrupt bend between the anterior horizontal portion and lateral part; jaw teeth conical to caniniform, several rows extending outside of mouth; teeth present on vomer and palatines.

Scales cycloid to slightly crenulate with well-developed radii relatively large, horizontal scale rows 9 or 10; vertical scale rows 34 or 35.

Two separate dorsal fins; 1st dorsal originates opposite anal fin; anal fin long-based.


To 7.5 cm SL


Silvery blue to olive green with two narrow black stripes midlaterally and black zig-zag markings below.


Feeds on on small crustaceans, insects and algae.


Little is known of the reproductive biology of this species.


  • IUCN Red List : Data Deficient
  • Species Citation

    Melanotaenia exquisita Allen, 1978, Trop. Fish Hobbyist 26(10): 97. Type locality: Edith River, NT.


    Gomon, M.F. & Bray, D.J. 2017


    Australian Faunal Directory

    Exquisite Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia exquisita Allen 1978


    Allen, G.R. 1978. The rainbowfishes of northwestern Australia (family Melanotaeniidae). Trop. Fish Hobbyist 26(10): 91–102 figs 1–15

    Allen, G.R. 1989. Freshwater Fishes of Australia.  Neptune, New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications pp. 1–240

    Allen, G.R. & Cross, N.J. 1982. Rainbowfishes of Australia and Papua-New Guinea. New Jersey : T.F.H. Publications 142 pp. figs.

    Allen, G.R. & Leggett, R. 1990. A collection of freshwater fishes from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 14(4): 527-545 fig. 1

    Allen, G.R., Midgley, S.H. & Allen, M. 2002. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Australia.  Perth : Western Australian Museum 394 pp.

    Hansen, B. 1999. Kimberley Cool. Fishes of Sahul 13(1): 595-604.

    Larson, H.K. & Martin, K.C. 1990. Freshwater Fishes of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences Handbook Series Number 1.  Darwin : Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences 102 pp.

    Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696(1): 1-293

    Leggett, R. & Merrick, J.R. 1987. Australian Native Fishes for Aquariums. Artarmon : J.R. Merrick Publications 241 pp. 142 figs.

    Merrick, J.R. & Schmida, G.E. 1984. Australian Freshwater Fishes Biology and Management. Sydney : J.R. Merrick 409 pp. figs 280 col. figs.

    Morgan, D.L., Allen, G.R., Pusey, B.J. & Burrows, D.W. 2011. A review of the freshwater fishes of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Zootaxa 2816: 1-64

    Unmack, P.J. 2001. Biogeography of Australian freshwater fishes. Journal of Biogeography 28: 1053-1089

    World Conservation Monitoring Centre 1996. Melanotaenia exquisita. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 15 July 2012.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37245006

    Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

    Fishing:Popular aquarium fish

    Habitat:Clear freshwater streams

    Max Size:7.5 cm SL


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