Melanotaenia pierucciae - photo© Gerald Allen

Melanotaenia pierucciae

Allen and Renyaan, 1996
Pierucci's Rainbowfish

Species Summary
Melanotaenia pierucciae have a body colour of mauve or purplish on the upper back with a bronze sheen, white or very pale mauve on the lower half (except a large violet patch may be evident just behind pectoral fin). The body scales have a narrow dark outline, which is more intense on the ventral half, particularly those above anal fin where scales often have greatly expanded black margins. There is a broad, blackish to dark blue, mid-lateral stripe between the eye and base of caudal fin, occupying about two horizontal scale rows, except interrupted on middle of side for about 6-7 vertical scale rows (scales in this area have a bronze sheen). First dorsal fin white; second dorsal fin bluish; anal fin dusky grey to whitish; caudal and pectoral fins translucent; dorsal and ventral edge of caudal fin narrowly black on basal half. Female fin colouration generally less intense and more translucent compared to males.

Males have a more intense colour pattern, particularly during spawning and display a whitish-green forehead stripe. The species exhibits fin shape differences, typical for the genus, in which males have a longer first dorsal fin and the posterior profiles of the second dorsal and anal fins, are somewhat elongated and pointed. Males have a deeper body as well and may reach a maximum size of 8 cm, but usually less than 6 cm.

Melanotaenia pierucciae - photo© Gunther Schmida

Distribution & Habitat
This species is currently known only from Werfyang Creek, which flows into the north-western end of Lake Kamakawaiar. The habitat lies about 1-2 km upstream from the lake and is separated from it by a scenic 20 m high waterfall. The fish was common in the main creek (about 4-5 m wide and 1-2 m deep) as well as a small tributary, both flowing through dense rainforest. The water was crystal clear and flowing rapidly in Werfyang Creek, but slowly in the small tributary.

The Triton lakes are situated on the southern coast of West Papua, immediately east of the Bomberai Peninsula and about 50 km due east of the seaport of Kaimana. The lakes are surrounded by high limestone hills and lie just inland from Triton Bay. There are three main lakes: Kamakawaiar, Lakamora, and Aiwaso. Kamakawaiar (usually referred to as Kamaka) lies less then 5 km from the coast and is separated from the second lake, Lakamora, by a distance of about 7 kilometres. The third lake, Aiwaso, lies only a few hundred metres from Lakamora. The lakes do not appear to have any outlet streams and drainage is presumably subterranean.

Heiko Bleher collected live specimen of this species in June 1995 together with Paola Pierucci and Patrick de Rham. The species is named in honour of Paola Pierucci.

Allen G.R. & S.J. Renyaan (1996) Three new species of rainbowfishes (Melanotaeniidae) from the Triton Lakes, Irian Jaya, New Guinea. Aqua, Journal of Ichthyology and Aquatic Biology 2(2): 13-24.

Adrian R. Tappin
Updated September, 2015

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Melanotaenia pierucciae