Parosphromenus Ornaticauda: Distribution, Breeding, Proper Tank Conditions

Categories: AnimalsFish

Parosphromenus ornaticauda was first discovered in 1990 by Kottelat. It belongs to the family of Osphronemidae. It’s a small ornamental fish for aquariums. It is usually found in southern (peninsular) Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Indonesian rivers.

Parosphromenus ornaticauda is totally freshwater fish. Its length does not exceed 3.5 cm. It is lean and has no high back structure as compared to the other species of the same category. The lower half of the body is dark or black. The upper-half is red-brown.

Paired fins have similar pattern. Anal and dorsal fins are black and have white spots and a white edge.

This species has a typical striped pattern. The sexually mature male shows the stripe pattern when he is extremely stressed but the female shows all the time. During the mating season, the appearance is almost identical which can cause confusion about sexing the fish.

The females are less striking in color. The lower part of the body is not fully dark but has a brown stripe from the snout to the caudal fin base.

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Another stripe extends from below the pectoral fin base to the anal fin.

The suitable temperature for it is 27.6 °C, pH 4.5 and conductivity 39 micro Siemens. It can coexist with other peaceful small species.

This fish is highly sensitive, loves hiding and shows a conservative behavior. It is better to keep it with its kind in a species only tank. If you want to make a good compatible community tank, choose peaceful small cyprinids such like Sundadanio sp.

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or Borara sp.

Do not keep different Parosphromenus species together because the females are very much alike and the species can crossbreed with each other.


Parosphromenus ornaticauda is found in Kali man tan Barat, Western Borneo, Kapuas River and north west of the city of Pontianak.

This species is threatened in its original habitat because of the destruction of its natural environment which is destroyed to grow palm trees. Many of the species died because of water contamination with chemicals. And every passing day its habitat is getting smaller and smaller.

Now, its presence in the aquariums has saved it from extinction. It is traded worldwide as an ornamental fish.


This fish prefers living secretly and likes to stay hidden. Beginners are not recommended to have this species. Its breeding is a difficult process because of many different factors. The male needs a wide space for courtship dance. Small tanks are not suitable for breeding. Only big tanks over 20 liters are good. The water conductivity should be below 40 micro-Siemens.

Proper Tank Conditions

Parosphromenus ornaticauda needs a large tank. You can decorate it with driftwood branches and roots or clay pots. Arranging these decorations to create shade and hiding places for the fish will be good for their comfort. You can also add plastic camera film containers to create shelter and spawning sites.

Adding dried leaves is a good idea because of the tannins they will release and the hiding places they are providing. It also further emphasizes the natural feel of the aquarium. Decomposition of the leaf litter by the beneficial bacteria colonies also brings the growth of proper cycling ecosystem in the aquarium. The decaying leaves are also a good source of secondary food for the fries.

The tannins and other chemicals releasing by the leaf litters’ decomposition are beneficial for fish coming from blackwater environment. For this purpose, alder cones are also equally good to use.

This species naturally loves very dim lighting. Choosing aquatic plants that grow and stay healthy in dim lighting will be proper for the complete healthy ecosytem. Cryptocoryne sp., Microsorum or Taxiphyllum are suitable choices. Ceratopteris sp. is also a good floating aquatic plant that will fit for the Parosphromenus ornaticauda tank.

Tank Maintenance

Mild filtration with an air powered sponge filter or a low flow external/hang-on filter is sufficient for the filtration. Mostly breeders keep Parosphromenus ornaticauda in pairs. So, while keeping the fish in pairs it is not strictly necessary to use a filter in case the feeding is not too heavy. Instead, making regular water changes will be enough to keep the fish healthy. But it is always the best method to build a complete ecosystem with proper filtration, decoration and vegetation for the health of the fish and other inhabitants.

Since Parosphromenus ornaticauda is sensitive to the changes in water parameters, large volumes of water changes are not suggested. Changing the water weekly basis in small amounts like 5-10% of the aquarium volume is best for this fish. If it is possible to pre-condition the water prior to water changes, making higher volume water changes can be also possible.

This fish is highly sensitive and you should never introduce it to fluctuating levels of cleanliness or to biologically immature aquariums.


This fish has significant courtship behavior. The male displays a fantastic dance. He presents his strikingly iridescent fin edges. The male swims around the female in very fast and zig-zag movements. The female develops a coloring during the courtship time that is similar to the colors of the male in the same period. This color change is unique for this species of Parosphromenus.

The female prefers to lay eggs in very narrow caves where the diameter of the entrance is as small as 1.5 cm. Other breeding sites can be the covered areas under the plant leaves or under the floating spawning rafts.

During the courtship, the male embraces the female and wraps its body around the female while she releases eggs in batches. Some males make a simple nest in the cave for the eggs. Both the female and male try to attach the eggs to the ceiling of the cave after they are released. Male attempts protecting eggs from any harm. But in case during the following hugging and spawning, the eggs may dislodge from the ceiling and inexperienced males might eat them. So, it is important to the fish reaching the right mature age for breeding.

After successful spawning, the female comes out of the cave and guards the surroundings while the male takes care of the brood. He may move the eggs several times to other location during the incubation period which is 24-36 hours.

After hatching the fries swim without any sense of direction in the beginning. So, he collects them and takes them back to the “nest”. After 3 - 5 additional days of time they are fully free-swimming and leave the cave. At this point necessity of parental care ends. Parents can be moved and the fries can be reared separately.

As the first food, fries need rotifers or Paramecium. After they get big enough, feeding the fry with Artemia nauplii and powdered fish foods will be possible.

Most breeders keep these fish in breeding pairs because the fry can survive along with their parents but not usually alongside other adults.

Due the fish does not lay a huge amount of eggs – only 10 to 20 eggs each time – and also, eggs are highly sensitive the water values strictly should be at a pH value between 3 and 4 with a high humic acid content.

In clear water, successful breeding is also recorded at pH 6.5. The most important thing in all the breeding process is the provision of a large space for successful courtship, clean water, and low pH levels.

Updated: Feb 20, 2024
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Parosphromenus Ornaticauda: Distribution, Breeding, Proper Tank Conditions. (2024, Feb 20). Retrieved from

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