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SENTANI RAINBOW (Chilatherina sentaniensis)

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The Sentani Rainbowfish was scientifically described by Weber in 1908. Its scientific name is Chilatherina sentaniensis. It is called Sentani Rainbowfish since the first specimen was collected from Lake Sentani.

Chilatherina sentaniensis is often confused with Chilatherina fasciatus. Chilatherina fasciatus has a shorter and less pointy snout than Chilatherina sentaniensis. You can also tell them apart by counting the dorsal rays; Chilatherina sentaniensis has 10 soft dorsal rays, while Chilatherina fasciatus has 12-14 rays.

The Sentani Rainbowfish can reach a length of 12 cm. It is not a very colourful rainbowfish; the body sports a dull orange shade with narrow stripes between each row of scales. The stripes are silvery or of a pale blue shade.

Geographical distribution, habitat and conservation
The Sentani Rainbowfish lives in the northern part of West Papua (Irian Jaya). In 1954, Dr. M Boeseman (of the Leiden Museum) collected a large group of Sentani Rainbowfish from Lake Sentani. When the lake was explored by Dr. Gerald R. Allen in the early 1980’s and 1990s, no Sentani Rainbowfish was found. Allen did however find the species in a tributary stream called “Carwash Creek”.“Carwash Creek” has a bottom consisting of sand and rocks.  

The Sentani Rainbowfish has been listed as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 1996. Between 1994 and 996, it was listed as “Rare”. A lot of fish species have been introduced to Lake Sentani by man and they might have had a negative impact on the Sentani Rainbowfish population. Tilapia, carps, barbs, gouramis and walking catfish are just a few examples of non-local fishes that now live in Lake Sentani. The human population along the shores of Lake Sentani has also grown rapidly, which has led to increased amounts of domestic waste ending up in the lake.

Keeping Sentani Rainbowfish in aquariums
As far as we know, the Sentani Rainbowfish has not been kept in aquariums. Quite a few aquarists believe that they are keeping Chilatherina sentaniensis when they are actually keeping Chilatherina fasciatus.

If you want to keep Sentani Rainbowfish in your aquarium, try to resemble its natural habitat. Keep the water in the 24-29 degrees C (75-84 degrees F) range.