The Celebes Rainbow is a gorgeous little fish with unique fins found in clear, slowing-moving streams and estuaries on the Island of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

They can thrive in freshwater or brackish waters and are suitable for community aquariums. With their peaceful disposition, finding compatible tank mates for them is not such an arduous task.

Learn all about the Celebes Rainbow’s appearance, size, lifespan, care, feeding habit, tank mates, breeding pattern, tank setup, and behavior in this article. Let’s get started, shall we?


Other Names Celebes sailfin
Lifespan 3 years
Average Size 3 inches
Average Tank Size 20 gallons
Temperament Peaceful
Temperature 77 – 82.4 F
pH 7 – 8
Hardness 12-18 dGH


Celebes rainbow fish is found commonly in brackish and freshwater bodies in the Sulawesi river and other estuaries in Indonesia. Unlike other Rainbowfish, the Celebes has a more slender build and belongs to the family of Melanotaeniidae.

They are commonly called Celebes sailfish and Celebes Sailfin and are among the IUCN Red List of Threatened species are non-endangered species.

– Appearance

The Celebes Sailfin is a slender fish with an almost transparent base color contrasted sharply by a blue stripe that runs down the lateral line of its body. A unique feature of this fish is its possession of two dorsal fins that sport different colors. While one fin is large and has two color shades, the other is tiny in comparison and black in color.

Their actual body color can appear to change depending on the intensity of light in their tank. However, most of them have a brownish-yellow hue accented by green undertones. Their eyes are prominent, and the neon stripe that runs down their backbone often reflects different shades of blue and green.

Another exciting thing about this fish is its pectoral fins which are breathtakingly beautiful! The tips of their pectoral fins are white or almost transparent, while their other fins have a more yellowish color peppered with black spots. Their wispy, translucent pectoral fins and their dorsal fins positioned at the top give this fish a sail-like appearance.

The Celebes Rainbows gorgeous body and fins make it worthy of adding to your tank. They will give your tank the spark it needs.

– Sexual Dimorphism

As with other fish species, the male Celebes Rainbow is larger than its female counterpart and has darker colors. Their second ventral and dorsal fins are also more prominent and spot darker hues than the females. Juvenile Celebes Rainbows, however, are colorless and only begin to display their colors as they mature.

– How Big Can Celebes Rainbows Get?

The average Celebes rainbow size is around three inches at maturity. That is relatively tiny, right? There have, however, been reports of this fish reaching five inches with proper care and diet.

– What Is the Lifespan of the Celebes Rainbow?

The average Celebes rainbow lifespan is around four years in the wild. However, in captivity, they have a slightly shorter lifespan of about three to five years. Of course, the actual lifespan of this fish in your fish tank will depend mainly on how well you nurture it. Your fish can enjoy a long and healthy life with the proper tank setup, diet, care, and tank mates.


The Celebes Rainbow is straightforward to handle once you know how to care for them. In simple terms, caring for these fish involves creating a conducive environment similar to the conditions they have in their natural habitat.

It also involves proper diet, wise selection of tank mates, and effectively managing their breeding process.

Without proper care, these fish are very susceptible to common freshwater diseases. Once the diseases strike, they lose their beautiful hues and may even die. To prevent that, you must nurture this fish.

Let’s see what caring for Celebes Rainbow fishes entails, shall we?

– Diet

Diet plays a crucial part in the growth and life of these freshwater fish as they can get quite capricious when they are hungry. Owing to this, we advise that you prioritize their diet to maintain their sweet temper and continue to grow.

Although they can eat anything you offer, it is best to provide high-quality food rich in protein for optimal coloration and health. Try out live or frozen meaty foods, invertebrates like shrimps, mosquito larvae, micro worms, and baby brine shrimps, etc. You can also provide them with high-quality flake foods.

Being omnivores, these rainbow fish species will easily accept anything you give to them, including dried and frozen foods. In the wild, they feed primarily on plants, insects, and worms. Their ease of feeding gives you some sort of wriggle room with their diet; however, you must remember to keep their diet balanced.

Since this fish is timid, other aggressive fish species can easily outcompete it for food. So, we advise that you take care to ensure that your rainbow fish gets its fair share of food; after all, we all know an underfed fish is more susceptible to diseases. You can give them:

  • Microworms
  • Daphnia
  • Tubifex
  • Peas
  • Dried Planktons
  • Frozen beef heart
  • Tiny vegetables
  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworm

How Often Should Celebes Rainbows Be Fed?

Freshwater Rainbowfish have tiny throats, so they should be fed small portions of food that they can consume in under five minutes. You should feed them at regular intervals, four to five times a day.

Take care not to overfeed your fish; it can have disastrous implications. Remember, small portions of high-quality food.

Tank Setup

If you are a die-hard Celebes Rainbow lover and you want your fish safe and healthy, then you must get this stage right as it sets the tone.

A general rule is to create the tank conditions to resemble what the fish enjoys in the wild closely. That way, you can rule out the extra stress your fish has to endure when introduced to a tank with widely varying conditions.

– Tank Size

Although the Celebes rainbow looks tiny, they have an activity level that would put most giant fish to shame. That is why the size of their tank plays a vital role in their upbringing. We recommend a tank size of not less than 20 gallons to raise a small community of this fish.

Since these fish are avid jumpers, your tank should have a tight-fitting lid to prevent them from jumping out of the tank and winding up dead on your tiles.

– Water Conditions

For the most part, these fish will adapt to varying water conditions. However, we advise that you keep Celebes Rainbows in tanks with water conditions similar to those in their natural habitat.

Changing from hard water to soft water can be difficult for this fish to adapt to, especially when the change is done suddenly. Thus, we recommend introducing this water change slowly and over a long period to give your fish enough time to adapt.

Since this fish can survive in mildly salty waters, you can get off by adding a little salt to their water to increase the salinity of your tank water.

Water quality is paramount to the survival of this fish; thus, we advise that you get an aquarium water test kit to help you monitor the parameters very easily. You can get the water test kit from any local pet store near you or even search and buy one from trusted online stores.

– Preferred Substrate

We recommend dark-colored substrates with smooth surfaces because the dark colors make the Celebes Rainbow look even more beautiful, especially in the dark. Remember that your chosen substrate must have a smooth surface so that it does not bruise your Celebes Rainbows abdomen.

– Filtration and Water Current

As with all other Rainbowfish, your tank must have an efficient filtration system to take care of the waste buildup. Your tank water should be well aerated, and in addition, the current in your tank should be slow-moving so that it doesn’t affect the speed of your fish.

As a way to keep your water pristine, we recommend that you carry out a 25 – 50 percent water change every week. This helps to prevent an outbreak of diseases like Ich.

– Tank Decoration

Celebes Rainbowfish are timid and thrive in places with lots of hiding spots. You can create as many sites as you want with common everyday things like driftwood, logs, clay pots, flower pots, and many more.

Also, the best tank for them would be one with lots of trees to give them a further sense of security. Heavily planted tanks help to ensure that the subdominant male Celebes Rainbows are not harassed overly by other dominant males.

Plant Java moss and other hardy trees in their tank to keep them safe, comfortable, and happy. Be sure to leave enough room in the tank for your fish to swim in unobstructed.

– What Is the Recommended Water Parameter for Celebes Rainbow?

The Celebes Rainbow thrives in tanks with temperatures within the range of 77 – 82.4 F. The recommended pH for them is between 7 – 8, with the hardness of the water between 12-18 dGH. With your tank water conditions pristine and within this stipulated range, your fish would have an easy time adapting to its new home.

– Tank Mates

Perhaps, the most exciting thing about the Celebes Rainbow is that they are very peaceful and are not given to violence. Such temperament helps them get well acquainted with small groups of half a dozen or more other fish species.

This fish does not attack or defend itself, so it is essential to keep it far away from fin nippers, large fish, aggressive and semi-aggressive fish species that threaten them. Aggressive fish can stress your timid Celebes rainbow fish and cause it to become less colorful and more susceptible to diseases.

We advise that you pair them up with other peaceful fish with similar size and water preferences; that way, you reduce the competition and aggression. Slow eaters, swimmers, and other non-aggressive fish species and invertebrates are great options. Here’s a list of some compatible tank mate for Celebes Rainbow:

  • Livebearers
  • Halfbeaks
  • Gobies
  • Other Rainbowfish
  • Mollies


Aquarium Rainbowfish are not known to attack other fish for no reason. In fact, for the first few days following their introduction to the tank, they are pretty timid and get up to no trouble at all.

They are, however, very active and so require enough swimming space to function optimally.

Thanks to their peaceful disposition, this rainbow fish does well with other species of similar size and temperament. In groups of at least six, they tend to give off more intense colors, making your tank all the more beautiful. The group can be composed of several males; there is no fear of overly aggressive behavior.

They are prevalent amongst aquarists because of their hardiness, peaceful disposition, and breathtaking coloration. They can fare well in hard and brackish water, although we do not recommend keeping them in soft water.

Celebes Sailfins prefer dim lighting; thus, it is not common to find them hiding out in the day and coming out at night to play. To cater to their nocturnal behavior, we suggest that you use dim lighting in their tank and feed them at night. That way, they can grow strong and healthy.

These freshwater fish need a comfortable aquatic environment with the proper water parameters and setup, and they will thrive. Oh, don’t forget to feed them on time because they can get quite moody when they are not fed on time.


Celebes rainbowfish is one of those fishes that are not at all difficult to breed in captivity. All you need to do is set up a breeding tank with favorable parameters to maximize their chances of better spawning.

– Where Can I Buy Celebes Rainbow?

Celebes Rainbows are pretty easy to find in your local pet or fish stores, but you can buy them from trusted sites online if you cannot find them in your local pet stores. The best part is that they are quite affordable compared to other fish species.

The population of wild Celebes has been drastically reduced thanks to pollution and overfishing. However, European bred species are readily available.

– Setting up a Breeding Tank for Celebes Rainbow

The importance of a well-set-up breeding tank cannot be overemphasized. First, ensure that your tank has the correct water parameters. The pH should be neutral; the water should be slightly salty and soft to allow the fish to hatch their eggs.

Drop the temperature slightly; this fish tends to breed better in cooler temperatures. Ensure that your tank has a top-notch filter to take care of the waste and accumulated fish.

It is difficult for Celebes rainbows to spawn in unhygienic water conditions. To aerate the breeding tank, you will need to invest in a small air-powered filter. You should ensure that the breeding tank densely planted as the base of the plants serves as the perfect breeding spot for these fishes.

Milfoil, Cabomba, Riccia, Java moss, and other floating plants are great for breeding your Rainbowfish. Your tank should also have a spawning mop to catch the eggs.

– Celebes Rainbow Spawning

You can move your mating Freshwater Celebes fish into the setup breeding tank. Next, you should begin to condition your fish for breeding by feeding it with a high-quality, balanced diet similar to what it eats in the wild. Feed them with live and frozen food for a few days.

The female becomes plumper as she fills up with eggs and will scatter these eggs at the bottom of the tank. Once the eggs are laid, it is vital to remove the parent Rainbows before they eat the eggs.

The eggs take about a week to hatch, and for the first four days after they hatch, they feed on their yolk sack. After four days, they become free-swimming and can be fed with high-quality commercial foods, infusoria, and finely ground baby brine shrimp.

Remember that whatever you feed them must be floating food in small quantities that they can consume in less than five minutes.

Since the Celebes Rainbowfish fry is small and can be eaten by other fish, raising them in a separate tank is important until they are big enough to survive in the community tank. The entire process from the egg stage to the fairly big stage should take around five months.


  • The Celebes Rainbow is a tiny freshwater fish with a peaceful disposition
  • It is very active and prefers slow-moving waters
  • Celebes rainbows can live for up to three years with the proper care

Now that you know more about this fish, it is up to you to decide if you want one of these beauties in your tank.

What we can tell you is that their behavior and temperament make them perfect for aquarists with a bit of experience.

The chances of success with these fish are higher when you know what to do to afford them a happy, stress-free life, and we have just given you the cheat sheet!

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