Chilatherina bulolo - photo© Gunther Schmida

Chilatherina bulolo

(Whitley, 1938)
Bulolo Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Chilatherina bulolo have an overall silvery-blue body colour with a black streak on the upper and lower edges of the caudal fin. It is very similar to Chilatherina crassispinosa, but has a wider head, blunter head, larger eye, and shorter first dorsal fin. It also tends to be more slender, but depth increases with age. Males are usually much larger and deeper bodied than females. Males may reach a maximum size of 10 cm, but females are usually less than 8 cm. They are essentially a carnivore, feeding on a variety of terrestrial and aquatic insects, insect larvae, and small aquatic crustaceans. Algae, plant pollens, and seeds are also ingested. Stomach contents of wild caught specimens indicated a diet of small insects, particularly ants, and algae that is grazed from rocks.

Distribution & Habitat
Chilatherina bulolo is so far known only from a few scattered localities in the Markham and Ramu River systems of north-eastern Papua New Guinea. They have been collected from the Erap, Snake, Bulolo, and Whege River. They are found mainly in mountain streams with rapid flow and coarse gravel bottoms, in water temperatures between 24-28° Celsius and pH 7.5-8.5.

Chilatherina bulolo were originally collected in the Bulolo River system by F.B.S. Hislop in 1934. Gerald Allen and Brian Parkinson collected live specimens from the Erap River near Lae in 1978. These were transported back to Australia, but failed to become established in the hobby.

Allen G.R. (1983) Chilatherina bulolo a valid species of rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae) from northern New Guinea. Fishes of Sahul 1(2): 13-17.

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

Whitley G.P. (1938) Descriptions of some New Guinea fishes. Records of the Australian Museum 20(3): 223-233.

Adrian R. Tappin
Updated August, 2015

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Chilatherina bulolo