|Melanotaenia praecox - photo© Gunther Schmida
(Weber and de Beaufort, 1922)
Melanotaenia praecox are bright neon blue with red dorsal, anal, and caudal fins. May reach a maximum size of 8 cm, but usually less than 6 cm SL. Heiko Bleher reported in Aqua Geõgraphia, "... males have red-edged fins while the fins of females are pure yellow". However, my original females had red fins and succeeding generations produced red-finned females, although at times they can appear faintly orange coloured. There are however, aquarium stocks that have yellow-finned females. Another colour variety was found in 1998 and has a red stripe between each scale row.
Distribution & Habitat
Melanotaenia praecox was initially collected by the Dutch naturalist W.C. van Heurn in 1910 from a tributary of the Mamberamo River in West Papua. They have been collected from the Mamberamo and Wapoga River systems. Their occurrence was known only from two small localities near the airstrips at Dabra and Iritoi on the edge of the Mamberamo Plains. In 1998 they were also found in small creeks and swampy ponds near Siewa, in the Tirawiwa River system, a remote area of northern West Papua about 200 km west of the Mamberamo River Basin. Habitat consists of small floodplain swamps and slow-flowing streams with clear water, soft muddy bottoms and accumulated leaf litter. Temperature 27-29°C and pH 6.6-8.0. These specimens differ from the Mamberamo representatives in having a red stripe between each scale row and males do not get so deep-bodied.
Live specimens were originally brought back for the aquarium hobby by Charles Nishihira around 1991. Heiko Bleher collected additional specimens in 1993. These were bred and distributed in the aquarium hobby.
Allen G.R. (1991). Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea.
Allen G.R. & S. Renyaan (2000). Fishes of the Wapoga River System. In: A. L. Mack and L. E. Alonso (eds.) A Biological Assessment of the Wapoga River Area of Northwestern West Papua, Indonesia. RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 14, Conservation International, Washington, DC. pp 47-53, 101-112.
Weber M. and L. F. de Beaufort (1922). The fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago.
Adrian R. Tappin
Updated December, 2008