Chilatherina pricei [Yapen Island] - photo© Gerald Allen

Chilatherina pricei

Allen and Renyaan, 1996
Price's Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Chilatherina pricei is a small stream dwelling species, growing to a length of about 7 to 10 cm. They were described by Gerald R. Allen and Samuel J. Renyaan in 1996 on the basis of 23 specimens collected between 1991 and 1995 from the Reifafeif River near Warironi Village on Yapen Island. They are similar to Chilatherina fasciata from the northern New Guinea mainland, but differ in colouration and have a shorter, blunter snout with the maxillary reaching the level of the eye. The body colour is overall silvery-grey to bluish; scales on back sometimes with golden or yellow margins, wider on upper and lower edge of scale and forming a longitudinal yellow stripe between each scale row. Scales on caudal peduncle sometimes entirely yellow. About 5-10 dull grey to dark blue bars on lower half of side between level of pelvic fin base and middle of anal fin; some individuals have 2-6 small dark blue spots on mid-lateral scale row or on scale row immediately above, on rear half of body. Fins mainly translucent bluish, except dorsal and anal fins of mature males often golden yellow.

Distribution & Habitat
Yapen Island is situated in Cenderawasih Bay (formerly Geelvink Bay) off the northern coast of West Papua. It is a narrow, elongated island with a central spine of mountains, which rise to a maximum elevation of 1496 metres, and was once part of the New Guinea mainland. It has an area of approximately 2424 km². The mountain range is dissected by numerous independent river systems. The streams rise in the steep mountains and plunge to a relatively narrow (3-5 km) coastal plain.

The Reifafeif River habitat is typical of numerous streams on Yapen Island. The main channel of the Reifafeif River on the coastal plain is approximately 15-30 m wide and in non-flood periods averages about 1-2 m in depth. Water temperatures and pH in July 1995 ranged between 24-26° Celsius and pH 7.5-8.1. Progressing inland, the river quickly narrows as it approaches the mountains and is characterised by scenic rapids, waterfalls, and deep pools. Chilatherina pricei is abundant in the main channel, usually over rock or boulder bottoms forming mid-water aggregations. Although the river flows through rainforest and gardens, it is generally open to sunlight over the coastal plain. Another rainbowfish, Melanotaenia japenensis, is sometimes found with Chilatherina pricei, but seems to be more common in smaller, shaded tributaries, rather than the main channel.

This species was named after David Price, in recognition of his keen interest in the natural history of New Guinea. He collected the type specimens of Chilatherina pricei. This species is currently not available in the aquarium hobby.

Allen G.R. and S.J. Renyaan (1996) Chilatherina pricei, a new species of Rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae) from Irian Jaya. Revue française d'Aquariologie 23 (1-2): 5-8.

Adrian R. Tappin
Updated August, 2015

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Chilatherina pricei