Melanotaenia parva (male) - photo© Joël Félix

Melanotaenia parva

Allen, 1990
Lake Kurumoi Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Gerry Allen reported that there appeared to be two colour forms of Melanotaenia parva in Lake Kurumoi; males being either bluish to mauve with a black midlateral band (sometimes only on the front half), or silver with red speckling and narrow red or orange lines between each scale row on the side of the body. Fins of both varieties were red. Young males have a rosy-mauve body colour that turns more and more bright orange-red as they grow. The new species was reported to be very small (hence, the species name "parva", meaning small in Latin). However, Melanotaenia parva may reach a maximum size of 9-10 cm.

M. parva are closely related to M. angfa that is found in nearby streams. Gerald Allen's first impression was that they may have been a variety of M. angfa. However, there are significant differences regarding the number of first dorsal fin spines, soft rays of second dorsal and anal, and scales of the cheeks.

Melanotaenia parva (female) - photo© Patrick Meisenberg

Distribution & Habitat
Melanotaenia parva is currently known only from Lake Kurumoi, a small and isolated lake situated on the isthmus that links the Vogelkop Peninsula with the rest of New Guinea. Melanotaenia parva was very abundant in Lake Kurumoi and most specimens were collected along the shoreline of the lake amongst dense aquatic vegetation. This lake is characterised by a predominantly muddy shore and the water is very turbid. In some sections there is a dense growth of Ceratophyllum demersum. The level of the lake seems to have decreased dramatically over the last few years. Although the lake is part of the Yakati River, the present water level is well below its natural outlet and there were no visible outlets.

In 1989, Gerald Allen participated in a conservation survey of the Bintuni Bay region, the large gulf that serves to isolate the Vogelkop Peninsula from the remainder of New Guinea. Although the work mainly involved brackish and marine fishes, he had the opportunity to make several freshwater collections there and also in the vicinity of Manokwari and Sorong, in the northeast and western region of the Vogelkop Peninsula. These collections resulted in the discovery of three new species, Melanotaenia angfa, M. arfakensis and M. parva. Live specimens of M. parva were collected by Heiko Bleher in 1999 and introduced to the aquarium hobby.

Allen G.R. (1990) Les poissons arc-en-ciel (Melanotaeniidae) de la Péninsule de Vogelkop, Irian Jaya, avec description de trois nouvelles espèces. Revue française d'Aquariologie 16 (4): 101-112.

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

Mailliet C. (2004) "Those little red fish" Melanotaenia parva and Glossolepis pseudoincisus. Fishes of Sahul 18(3): 58-67.

Adrian R. Tappin
December, 2010

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Melanotaenia parva