Melanotaenia maylandi - photo© Gerald Allen
Adult males of Melanotaenia maylandi are generally olive green or brownish dorsally and silvery white on the lower half. The upper back and sides often reflect bluish or mauve hues and there is a series of narrow oranges lines on the sides between each horizontal row of scales. There is also a diffused midlateral band extending from the upper corner of the opercula margin to the middle of the caudal fin base, often consisting of large blotches. The fins are translucent to light blue-grey except for a yellow anal fin. Males are more brightly coloured, larger, and deeper bodied than females. They may reach a maximum size of 10 cm.
Melanotaenia maylandi is most closely related to M. affinis, a species which ranges widely through much of northern New Guinea. Colour pattern differences and fin ray counts constitute the best means of separation. Melanotaenia maylandi is readily identified on the basis of the large black blotches on the middle of the sides and usually possesses 18 or 19 soft dorsal and more than 25 soft anal rays in comparison with a normal count of 13 to 16 soft dorsal and less than 24 (usually 20 to 23) soft anal rays for M. affinis.
Distribution & Habitat
So far Melanotaenia maylandi have only been collected from a small creek about 2 km upstream from Danau Bira (Lake Holmes) in the lower Mamberamo system of West Papua. Lake Holmes is situated in the Mamberamo region of West Papua. It is a complex of three interconnected lakes lying at an altitude of about 430 metres above sea level and set in the foothills of the van Wees Mountains, approximately 290 kilometres west of Jayapura, the capital city of West Papua. The lakes lie within a radius of 6-7 kilometres with the main lake having a length of approximately 4.5 kilometres and maximum width of about 2 kilometres. The lakes are drained by a small stream, which flows into the Mamberamo River at a point approximately 15 kilometres directly to the north. The lake and surrounding creeks are inhabited by 11 fish species, including one other rainbowfish, Chilatherina bleheri.
This species was discovered by Heiko Bleher and Gerald Allen during a visit to West Papua in 1982. The species is named in honour of Hans Mayland, well-known German writer, photographer, and aquarist. No live specimens have been collected for the aquarium hobby.
Allen G.R. (1983) Melanotaenia maylandi, a new species of rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae) from New Guinea. Revue française d'Aquariologie 10 (3): 83-86.
Allen G.R. (1991) Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea. Christensen Research Institute, Madang, Papua New Guinea.
Adrian R. Tappin
Updated December, 2008