Melanotaenia parkinsoni (wild-caught) - photo© Neil Armstrong

Melanotaenia parkinsoni

Allen, 1980
Parkinson's Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Melanotaenia parkinsoni have an overall silvery body colour with a rosy chest and narrow orange stripes between the scale rows. The fins of adult males are bright orange with dark edges. Mature males can be magnificent and usually have sweeping blotchy orange colouration on the posterior area of the body, giving an overall patchy appearance. Females are rather plain in comparison. Some males also develop large extended dorsal and anal fins with a ragged appearance. Another colour variety exists with bright yellow stripes or blotches instead of orange. Sometimes the stripes or blotches fuse to form an overall colouration, which covers the entire posterior half of the body. May reach a maximum size of 15 cm, but usually less than 12 cm.

Melanotaenia parkinsoni is most closely related to M. rubrostriata from southern New Guinea. Melanotaenia parkinsoni differs from M. rubrostriata primarily with regards to colour pattern and in usually possessing an additional horizontal scale row (usually 10 rows vs. 11 in M. rubrostriata). Furthermore, M. parkinsoni generally has more scales covering the cheek region (avg. 11, N = 20; compared with avg. 15, N = 26 for M. rubrostriata). The two species are among the larger members of the family with adults exceeding 10 cm SL; however, adult males of M. parkinsoni do not develop the exceedingly deep body characteristic of the males of male M. rubrostriata.

Melanotaenia parkinsoni (wild-caught) - photo© Neil Armstrong

Distribution & Habitat
Melanotaenia parkinsoni was first collected in October 1978 by Gerry Allen and were found along the southern coast of eastern Papua New Guinea between the Kemp River and Milne Bay. They were collected in only a few interspersed locations, but in all probability, could be widespread within this region. Gerry Allen collected specimens from two small tributaries of the Kemp Welsh River a short distance inland from the coast and about 75 kilometres southeast of Port Moresby, and from a small stream about 3 kilometres west of Alotau at the extreme eastern tip of mainland Papua New Guinea.

Most of the original specimens collected were taken from a small stream that was mainly dry except for the occasional isolated pool. The stream was situated in grassy plains habitat with patchy rainforest immediately adjacent to the creek. The temperature and pH range recorded from this habitat was 27-30°C and 7.6-7.8.

Melanotaenia parkinsoni - photo© Gunther Schmida

Named in honour of Brian Parkinson, a regular companion of Allen's on numerous collecting trips to Papua New Guinea. Live specimens were brought back to Australia in 1978 by Gerald Allen and distributed in the aquarium hobby.

Allen G.R. (1980) Two new species of freshwater rainbowfishes (Melanotaeniidae) from Papua New Guinea. Revue française d'Aquariologie 7(2): 43-50.

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

Adrian R. Tappin
Updated September, 2015

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Melanotaenia parkinsoni