Fact Sheet: HARLEQUIN RASBORA - Trigonostigma heteromorpha

(Original title: Harlequin Rasbora Fact Sheet)

English: Harlequin rasbora, Trigonostigma hete...
Harlequin rasbora, Trigonostigma heteromorpha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Peaceful and Delightful Fish

I have grown up with the idea that this delightful fish's scientific name was Rasbora heteromorpha. This used to be correct, with the heteromorpha referring to the fact that this fish is not a typical Rasbora. Now the name has been changed to Trigonostigma heteromorpha because of the several differences between the Harlequin Rasbora and the other Rasboras.

It is also called the "Rasbora", the Harlequin and the Red Rasbora.

It is native to Singapore, Malaysia, Sumatra and parts of Thailand. It is found in small streams, often ones coming from peat bogs where the water is stained brown with tannins. The water tends to be soft, acidic and low in total salts. This is one of the little fish that can be found in the small ditches in Singapore.

Although I have seen reports of Harlequin Rasboras reaching nearly 2 inches (5cm) nearly all are less than this. They will live for about 6 years,

Water Conditions
The Harlequin Rasbora is a tropical fish and temperatures of between 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) and 28 degrees C (85 degrees F) are suitable. I recommend a temperature setting of 24 degrees C (75 degrees F) for a mixed tank including this fish Although the water in its native habitat tends to be soft, acidic and low in salts, it is able to adapt to living in a wide range of water conditions, and can live happily in neutral water somewhat harder than it is used to.

Live plants are a very good idea with the Harlequin Rasbora.

The Harlequin Rasbora is very much a schooling fish and a reasonable sized group should be kept. A school of a dozen Harlequin Rasboras is a beautiful and striking sight. Although it is an Asian fish of a different group, its characteristics are similar to many of the small South American tetras.

I would avoid large or very aggressive fish, but the Harlequin Rasbora is an ideal fish for a community tank of small fish. Suitable companion species are Lemon Tetras, Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Emperor Tetras, Head and Tail Light Tetras, Glowlight Tetras, Corydoras Catfish, White Cloud Mountain Minnows and Zebra Danios.

One of the reasons it was removed from the Rasbora genus was its breeding behaviour. The other Rasboras are egg scatterers while the Harlequin Rasbora attaches its eggs to the underside of leaves, turning upside down to do it.

In contrast to the ease of keeping the Harlequin Rasbora, the conditions for breeding need to mimic the natural habitat of this fish fairly well. A temperature of 28 degrees C (82 degrees F) is suitable. Soft, acidic water is essential; a ph of 6 with hardness less than 3 degrees is alright. A high level of tannins in the water is also recommended.

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