Top 10 Rasboras for Your Next Community Aquarium
Looking for the perfect schooling fish? Most people tend to think of tetras and danios, but don’t forget about the breathtaking world of rasboras. They look similar with their torpedo-shaped bodies and peaceful personalities, but most species are found in Southeast Asia and come in a wide array of unique colors and patterns. The common name “rasbora” actually refers to several genera of fish, including Rasbora, Boraras, Trigonostigma, Microdevario, and many more. Let’s talk about 10 different rasboras that sold in the freshwater aquarium hobby to find out which one is right for you.
1. Harlequin Rasbora
Left to right: harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), lambchop rasbora (T. espei), and glowlight rasbora (T. hengeli)
The harlequin rasbora is a classic beginner fish that has a hardy constitution and easygoing disposition. Its 2-inch (5 cm), deep-bodied profile has a light orange tint with a very distinctive, black triangle extending from midsection to tail. It has two smaller, 1.25-inch (3 cm) cousins — the lambchop rasbora and glowlight rasbora — that feature a slimmer profile and skinner black patch. All of these peaceful, orange-colored species look fantastic against a lush jungle of green plants and get along with almost any community fish that isn’t big enough to eat them. While they come from the more acidic, softer swamps in Southeast Asia, they can live in a broad range of parameters from 72–82°F (22–28°C), pH of 6–8 pH, and soft to moderately hard water. For breeding purposes, lean toward a warmer environment with lower GH, and make sure to include several broad-leafed plants such as Cryptocoryne wendtii and Anubias barteri. Unlike most egg scatters, these rasboras like to spawn upside-down and attach their eggs to the undersides of plant leaves. For more details, see our full care guide on these Halloween-colored rasboras.
2. Chili Rasbora
Clockwise from top left: chili rasbora (Boraras brigittae), exclamation point rasbora (B. urophthalmoides), strawberry rasbora (B. naevus), and phoenix rasbora (B. merah)
There is a whole group of closely related micro rasboras that are reddish-colored with different black patterns to tell them apart, and the most famous species out of the bunch is the chili rasbora. Its slender body and pointed fins boast a deep, cool-toned red with black markings, but it becomes quite pale when stressed and may need at least a couple of weeks in their new home to color up. At only 0.75 inch (2 cm) in length, they have very little bioload, so hobbyists have kept them in tanks as small as 3–5 gallons. However, you may want to upsize the aquarium so you can keep a bigger school of at least 8–12 to make a bigger visual impact. They can easily handle pH levels of 6–8, 72–82°F (22–28°C), and soft to hard water. Because of their petite size, keep them with similar-sized tank mates that won’t eat them, and feed them tiny foods that will bring out their vivid redness — like crushed krill flakes, Easy Fry and Small Fish Food, and baby brine shrimp. For more details, read the full chili rasbora care guide.
3. Green Neon or Kubotai Rasbora
Astonishingly, this radioactive yellow-green is the natural color of the kubotai rasbora. A school of at least 8–12 neon green fish would look stunning in a 5-gallon or larger tank with dark substrate and a black background. Their native waters in Thailand and Myanmar have slow to moderate current, acidic pH of 6–7, 72–80°F (22–27°C), and soft to moderately hard GH. Because they only reach 0.75 inch (2 cm) in size, keep them with other small tank mates like dwarf corydoras, clown killifish, rosy loaches. While all fish will try to opportunistically snack on baby shrimp, they won’t bother the adult-sized dwarf shrimp. Offer them little foods that will fit in their little mouths — like frozen rotifers and cyclops, Repashy gel food (in the powder form), and live micro worms.
4. Scissortail Rasbora
Need a bigger, 4- to 5-inch (10–13 cm) schooling fish to go in your next medium or large aquarium? The scissortail rasbora is a fast-swimming community fish with a silver body and striking forked tail that has yellow, black, and white banding. Its other common name is the “three-lined rasbora” because the posterior end of the fish has a black horizontal stripe surrounded by two shorter lines on the back and belly. This species is quite tolerant of water parameters ranging from pH of 6–8, 73–77°F (23–25°C), and soft to moderate GH. Since they need lots of open swimming space, aim for a fish tank that is at least 4 feet (1.2 m) in length with a heater and tight-fitting lid. They pair well with other medium-sized, fast swimmers (e.g., barbs, rainbowfish, Siamese algae eaters, and loaches) and will happily consume all kinds of prepared foods, frozen bloodworms, freeze-dried brine shrimp, and live foods.
5. Asian Rummy-Nose Rasbora
Rummy-nose tetras have been a long-time favorite in the hobby, but did you know there’s a fish called the “rummy-nose rasbora”? Also known as the Sawbwa barb and Asian rummynose tetra (even though it’s not a tetra), this 1.25-inch (3 cm) peaceful schooling fish is perfect for your next community tank. Males are the ones with the bright, red-orange nose, a shiny grayish-blue body, and two red-orange dots on the ends of their forked tail. Females are drabber in color with a silvery-tan body and black spot near the anus. To imitate their habitat in Myanmar, we recommend using a sponge filter for gentler flow and lots of aquarium plants to break up line of sight. Rummy nose rasboras love to cluster together with a bigger group of their own kind, and you may see some sparring behavior among the males. Provide them a home with 10 gallons or more, alkaline pH from 7–8, harder water, and slightly cooler waters from 68–77°F (20–25°C). Just like the chili rasboras, you can feed them fish foods high in natural red pigments to bring out the ruddiness in their snout and tail.
6. Clown Rasbora
The clown rasbora kind of looks like the bigger brother of Boraras naevus (strawberry rasbora) or Boraras maculatus (dwarf or pygmy rasbora). While they can grow to a maximum of 4 inches (10 cm), hobbyists often report that they stay around 2–3 inches (5–8 cm) in home aquariums. When happy and fully grown, they display a shiny, cherry red hue with two black spots on the side — a smaller one in front and a bigger one in the back. This red coloration would look great in an aquarium full of green aquarium plants. Give this energetic community fish plenty of space to swim with a tank that is at least 3 feet (90 cm) in length, pH of 5.0–7.5, warmer temperatures from 75–82°F (24–28°C), and very soft to moderate hardness. Like most rasboras, they are not picky eaters and like to consume all types of flake, pellet, freeze-dried, frozen, and live foods.
7. Brilliant Rasbora
Left to right: brilliant, blackline, or red-tailed rasbora (Rasbora borapetensis); brilliant or long-band rasbora (R. einthovenii); and porthole rasbora (R. cephalotaenia)
Confusingly, there are two species that are commonly known as the “brilliant rasbora.” Thankfully, they are quite easy to tell apart. Rasbora borapetensis has a silvery body with a pair of golden-yellow and black lines, which run from the gill plate to the red base of its tail. R. einthovenii, on the other hand, is silvery tan with a solid black line that runs down the entire length of the body, even crossing through the eyes and mouth. R. cephalotaenia (or porthole rasbora) looks similar to R. einthovenii because of the black line that crosses its eyes and mouth, but in the middle of the body, the black line appears to split slightly into two dotted lines that end in a small black dot at the tail base. In the wild, the two brilliant rasbora species can get up to 3.5–4 inches (9–10 cm) and the porthole rasbora can reach 5 inches (13 cm), but in captivity, most brilliant rasboras only grow to about 2–2.5 inches (5–6 cm).
They are found in Southeast Asian forest streams swimming amongst dense vegetation and leaf litter, so they prefer acidic pH below 7.0, 72–79°F (22–26ֻ°C), and soft to moderate hardness (depending on the species). As a peaceful but very active schooling fish, we recommend keeping them in a 30-inch (76 cm) aquarium or larger (e.g., 20-gallon long or 29-gallon tank) with a tight-fitting lid to prevent jumping. Pair them with other fast-swimming, soft water species like barbs and loaches, and feed them a varied assortment of community fish foods to avoid any nutrient deficiencies.
8. Blue Neon or Blue Axelrodi Rasbora
There are several species that are commonly sold as “rasboras” in the aquarium trade, even though they technically belong to other fish categories. For example, Sundadanio axelrodi (formerly known as Rasbora axelrodi) is still called the blue neon rasbora or blue Axelrodi rasbora, even though it is more closely related to danios. The gleaming, blue-green back and reddish belly and anal fin look similar to the neon tetra and its relatives. Depending on which locale the specimens originated from, they may display more red, blue, or green coloration. Since they come from tannin-filled waterways in Indonesia and surrounding areas, they are accustomed to dim lighting, acidic pH, very soft GH, and 73–79°F (23–26°C). They also have the interesting ability to make croaking and chirping noises when upset or excited, such as when males are sparring. At less than 1 inch (2.3) long, you can have a school of 8–12 fish in a 5- to 10-gallon aquarium or bigger. Feed them miniscule foods similar to the green neon rasbora, and consider mixing them with other peaceful nano species.
9. Galaxy Rasbora
Danio margaritatus are often sold under the monikers of “galaxy rasbora” and “celestial pearl danio,” but they both refer to the same fish. Their common names refer to the striking golden dots scattered on their dark bodies, which are accented with vivid red-orange fins that have black stripes. This 1-inch (2.5 cm) fish has the reputation for being shy, so we suggest buying 10–15 galaxy rasboras to help them feel safer. Adding dither fish and removing tank bullies can also help their personalities shine so that you can see them chasing each other or displaying breeding behavior. Depending on how many you get, they can live in a 10- or 20-gallon tank with a fairly wide range of pH from 6.6–8.0, soft to moderate hardness, and cooler temperatures around 72–76°F (22–24°C). Keep reading about this popular fish in our full care guide.
10. Emerald Dwarf Rasbora
A close relative of the galaxy rasbora is the emerald dwarf rasbora or emerald dwarf danio. This 1- to 1.25-inch (3 cm) fish is instantly recognizable by its dark zebra stripes that cover a light cream-colored body, reddish cheeks, a black dot at the base of the tail, and red-orange-tinted fins on the males. Unlike many of the aforementioned low pH, soft water species on this list, Danio erythromicron comes from a high-altitude lake in Myanmar and prefers neutral to alkaline pH, 70–77°F (21–25°C), and moderate to hard GH. Like the galaxy rasbora, they can live in a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium with other peaceful tankmates that are not too big to eat them. Offer them an assorted selection of small, slowly sinking foods such as baby brine shrimp, daphnia, microworms, and Easy Fry and Small Fish Food.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live fish, we highly recommend that you check out our list of preferred online retailers to see what rasboras they have available for sale. Also, if you need more inspiration for your next schooling fish, read our article on the Top 10 Tetras for Your Next Community Aquarium.