Melanotaenia catherinae - photo© Neil Armstrong

Melanotaenia catherinae

(de Beaufort, 1910)
Waigeo Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Melanotaenia catherinae are bluish to purplish brown on the back and white on the lower side with a blue midlateral band up to 2½ scales wide. Dorsal, anal and caudal fins maroon reddish. They may reach a maximum size of 10 cm, but usually less than 8 cm. They are closely related to Melanotaenia synergos, which is found on Batanta Island. Both species are similar in colour; however, the mid-lateral stripe of Melanotaenia catherinae is significantly wider, having a maximum width of about 2½ scales compared with 1½ scales for Melanotaenia synergos. Moreover, the midlateral stripe of Melanotaenia synergos is nearly covered entirely by the pectoral fin, whereas it is broadly exposed (at least one scale row) above the pectoral fin of Melanotaenia catherinae.

Distribution & Habitat
Melanotaenia catherinae is so far found only on Waigeo and Batanta Islands in the Raja Ampat Group lying immediately west of the Vogelkop Peninsula, West Papua. Raja Ampat is a group of islands located to the west of Sorong, on the northwest tip of the mainland of New Guinea. The Raja Ampat Islands are situated immediately west of the New Guinea mainland. The type-locality was a brook flowing into the Rabiai River, on Waigiou (Waigeo) Island. However, they have been collected from several streams including the Rabiai River, Wai Semie, Wai Meniel and Waiwo Creek. Waiwo Creek is a small clear-water stream (4-5 metre wide) flowing over pebble and boulder substrate, north of Saonek Island. Water conditions reported: Temperature 27.0°C; pH 8.3; Conductivity 390 µS/cm.

Melanotaenia catherinae - photo© Taoyeah Deng

Melanotaenia catherinae were originally collected from Waigeo Island by Sten Bergman during the Swedish New Guinea Expedition in 1948-1949. Specimens are maintained in the Swedish Museum of Natural History. The first aquarium specimens were imported to Germany by Heiko Bleher in 1992, where they were bred and distributed internationally.

Allen G.R. (1991) Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Allen G.R. & P.J. Unmack (2008) A new species of rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae: Melanotaenia), from Batanta Island, western New Guinea. Aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology 13 (3-4): 109-120.

de Beaufort L.F. (1910) Weitere Bestätigung einer zoogeographischen Prophezeiung. Zoologischer Anzeiger. 36 (12/13): 249-252.

Adrian R. Tappin
Updated April, 2013

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Melanotaenia catherinae