Hengel's Rasbora, Glowing Rasbora, Rasbora hengeliFamily: Cyprinidae Trigonostigma hengeliPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy David Brough
The Glowlight Rasbora looks like bright neon orange spark as it darts around the aquarium!
The Glowlight Rasbora Trigonostigma hengeli (previously Rasbora hengeli) is a pretty little fish that so many aquarists fall in love with, and rightfully so. This simply dressed fish has lots of hidden charm and is always on the move. A school of these in the aquarium creates bright little flickers of glowing color all across the upper levels of the tank.
This cyprinid was discovered in the mid-1900's and scientifically described by Meinken in 1956. It is found in Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula through Singapore, the Greater Sunda Islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and possibly in Thailand and Cambodia as well. These fish are wild caught and so are rather rare, but specialized and well stocked suppliers will often have them available.
These are tiny fish, only reaching just over an inch (3 cm) in length, but are surprisingly eye-catching in appearance. Their coloring ranges from a translucent ivory to a pink flushed orange. In healthy specimens, the fins are a distinct lemon yellow. But their most distinguishing feature is a bright stroke of neon orange just above a thin black marking along the back half of their body. Thus they are described as the Glowlight Rasbora as well as the Glowing Rasbora and Hengel's Rasbora.
This fish has two close relatives with which it is often confused, the Harlequin Rasbora Trigonostigma heteromorpha and and the Lambchop Rasbora or Espe's Rasbora Trigonostigma espei. The name Espei Rasbora is often ms-applied to the fish, and to confuse the issue more, both the Glowlight and the Lambchop are sold under the name of 'False Harlequin'. To identify these three notice some subtle distinctions. The Espei Rasbora should be bronze pink in color and have no orange stripe above the black triangle. The Harlequin Rasbora is pale pink to bright red, is much stocker than its cousins, and its black mark is much closer to a triangle shape.
This is great fish for the beginning aquarist who wants something special for a peaceful community tank. Even more enticing then their looks though, is their fascinating fast paced lifestyle. A school is a must, the companionship of their own species is absolutely essential for their well-being. They need to be kept in a groups of at least 8 - 10 individuals. A school could be housed in a 10 gallon tank as the bare minimum, but a 20 gallon aquarium will suit them best. They are very fun to watch, even for non-aquarists, as they are almost constantly in motion creating flashes of orange color.
This is a very forgiving fish, more so than many other rasbora species, and require little extra care. Its an excellent species to introduce yourself or a friend to the hobby. They generally have a good disposition. They can be combined with most any fish that won’t eat or frighten it, or the opposite. They also have an excellent disease resistance. To bring out their best colors use a darker substrate and provide them with plenty of plants. The tank should be carefully covered as these fish are liable to jump if startled or excited.
For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care
- Size of fish - inches: 1.2 inches (3.00 cm)
- Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
- Temperament: Peaceful
- Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
- Temperature: 73.0 to 82.0° F (22.8 to 27.8° C)
- Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
- My Aquarium - Enter your aquarium to see if this fish is compatible!
The Glowlight Rasbora Trigonostigma hengeli (previously Rasbora hengeli) was described by Meinken in 1956. It originates from Southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula through Singapore, the Greater Sunda Islands of Borneo and Sumatra, and possibly in Thailand and Cambodia. This species is not listed on the IUCN Red List as it has not yet been evaluated. Other common names it is known by are Hengel's Rasbora, Glowing Rasbora, Rasbora hengeli, False Harlequin, and Lamb Chop Rasbora.
There are currently four distinct members in the Trigonostigma genus. These fish were previously contained in the Rasbora genus but were reclassified in 1999 by Kottelat and Witte. They were distinguished by their triangular shaped pattern and coloring, as well as their reproductive method of depositing adhesive eggs underneath leaves or other matter rather than simply scattering them.
In nature these fish are found in huge groups, filling entire sluggish streams. These are heavily vegetated peaceful waters that are calm or gently flowing. There is often decomposing organic debris, so the water is sometimes stained a yellowish brown by tannins and other chemicals. It is soft and weakly acidic or neutral, and the forest canopies often keep it shaded. These fish swim in schools and are known as a micro predator, feeding on small insects, worms, crustaceans and zooplankton.
- Scientific Name: Trigonostigma hengeli
- Social Grouping: Groups
- IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed
The Glowlight Rasbora is a small slender fish, reaching a total length of just over 1 inch (3 cm). It has a typical lifespan of 2 to 3 years with good care. The body color ranges from translucent ivory to a pink flushed orange. In healthy specimens, the fins are a distinct lemon yellow. The most distinguishing feature is a thin black marking, above which is a stroke of neon orange.
- Size of fish - inches: 1.2 inches (3.00 cm)
- Lifespan: 2 years - They have an average lifespan of about 2 - 3 years with proper care.
This is a very hardy fish, and more forgiving than many other rasbora species, It makes an ideal first rasbora and is great for beginners. They are usually not very picky eaters. They will accept and thrive on quality flake foods. With well filtered water and regular maintenance these fish will do very well, but they must be kept in a school.
- Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
- Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
The Glowlight Rasboras are omnivores. In the wild they feed on small insects, worms, crustaceans, and zooplankton. In the aquarium their diet should be based around a quality flake or pellet food. This should be supplemented with the occasional live snack like brine shrimp or bloodworms. Some blanched lettuce or spinach is also a welcome addition to their diet.
Feeding time with rasboras is especially fun to watch. They will dart to the surface, grab some food, and then dive an inch or so and swallow. Then they repeat this until the food is gone. These fish will do best when offered food several times a day, but only offer what they can eat in 3 minutes or less at each feeding. If you feed only once per day, provide what they can eat in about 5 minutes.
- Diet Type: Omnivore
- Flake Food: Yes
- Tablet Pellet: Yes
- Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
- Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
- Meaty Food: Some of Diet
- Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.
These fish are not exceptionally difficult to care for, they mostly just need their water to be kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced once a month. If the tank is densely stocked 20 - 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week. The substrate should also be vacuumed during water changes to avoid accumulation of waste.
- Water Changes: Monthly - It the tank is densely stocked the water changes should be done every other week.
The Glowlight Rasbora is a schooling species that rarely leaves the upper and middle regions of the aquarium, not even to chase after food. This fish as fairly hardy and will adapt to most aquarium conditions. A school of 8 - 10 can be kept in a smaller 10 gallon aquarium, but they will do best in about a 20 gallon size. Its colors can be quite stunning and will show best in soft, slightly acidic water conditions. Provide a good filter, but as these fish come from very sluggish waters strong filtration is not necessary. The tank should be carefully covered as these fish are liable to jump if startled or excited.
A heavily planted tank will make them feel much more at home. A good aquascape would be dense plantings reaching the surface of the aquarium around the sides and back and a few broad leaved plants for shelter. But these fish do prefer open water in the middle of the tank for swimming. A dark substrate and areas of shadow will bring out help bring out their best colors. Adding floating plants will give the fish extra security and help to diffuse the light entering the tank. Bogwood is also a great addition, as the tannins help maintain water parameters more closely to their natural environment. To create a natural feel and encourage the growth of microbe colonies add dried leaves to the tank. The microbe colonies will also act as a secondary food source.
- Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) - Though a school can be kept in a smaller aquarium, they will do best in about a 20 gallon size.
- Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
- Substrate Type: Any
- Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting
- Temperature: 73.0 to 82.0° F (22.8 to 27.8° C) - Suggested breeding temperatures between 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28° C).
- Breeding Temperature: 77.0° F - Breeding temperatures suggested between 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28° C).
- Range ph: 6.0-7.5
- Hardness Range: 1 - 15 dGH
- Brackish: No
- Water Movement: Moderate
- Water Region: All - They will rarely leaves the upper and middle regions of the aquarium.
These fish must absolutely be kept in groups of at least eight or more. Although they are technically a schooling fish, they tend to swim about in loosely formed groups unless they are frightened. The more fish you have, the more apparent the schooling instinct will become. They will have a pecking order but will never really cause harm to each other. The males will display their best colors as they compete for the attention of females.
They are good community fish and will get along with most fish. They won’t cause any problems as long as their tank mates don’t mind an active environment. They are small however, so can easily eaten by bigger tank mates. Good tankmates include many popular community fish. Cyprinids are especially good as well as some of the characins like tetras, live bearers like mollies, guppies, plates, and swordtail fish. They also do well with bottom dwelling peaceful catfish and loaches, and even some of the dwarf cichlids.
- Temperament: Peaceful - They are peaceful fish but will get nervous with larger tank mates.
- Compatible with:
- Same species - conspecifics: Yes - This fish must be kept with a school of 8 - 10, or more, of its own kind.
- Peaceful fish (): Safe
- Semi-Aggressive (): Threat - Should be kept with peaceful community fish only.
- Aggressive (): Threat
- Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
- Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
- Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe
- Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
- Plants: Safe
The Glowlight Rasbora can be very difficult to sex. However mature females are usually deeper bodied and larger than the males. Males will be more slender and more brightly colored.
Breeding the Glowlight Rasbora can be a bit challenging but there are few reports of successful aquarium spawnings. If kept in a well maintained aquarium with dense planting, you may see some young fish showing up. Although like the other cyprinids they exhibit no parental care for the young, they differ slightly in their spawning method. Rather than being open water egg scatterers, their eggs are attached to the undersides of broad-leaved plants or other objects.
This overall approach for breeding Trigonostigma spp. is based on the Espe’s Rasbora with a controlled spawning. One or two pairs need be well conditioned with small offerings of live foods several times a day, usually for about 4 weeks. Conditioning well with live foods will also bring out the males color. When well fed, mature females should begin filling out with eggs.
Provide a dimly lit breeding tank and keep the water level low, at about 6 - 8" (15 - 20 cm). The water should be very soft at about 2° dGH, slightly acidic with a pH of 5.3 - 5.7, and a temperature between 77 - 82.4° F (25 - 28° C). Filtration isn't really necessary, but you can add a small air-powered sponge filter or some peat filtration. They need either artificial or live broad-leaved plants, like Microsorium or Cryptocoryne, for the eggs to adhere too. A spawning mop can also be added so any eggs that don't attach to the leaves have a place to fall that's out of the reach of the parents.
Place one or two pairs in the breeding tank, and spawning will usually occur in the morning hours. The male will direct the female to his selected location, almost always the underside of a broad leaved plant. The male performs a courtship dance and the spawn takes place under the plant leaves, with the partners swimming upside down. After the spawn, remove the parents as they will eat the eggs and darken the tank. At this time lower the water level down to between 4 - 6 inches (10-15 cm), just make sure the eggs are below the surface.
The fry will hatch in about 24 hours and be free-swimming in about a 7 - 14 days. Feed the free swimming fry starter foods like infusoria for the first few days, until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp. See Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.
- Ease of Breeding: Moderate - Breeding is probably similar to its close relatives the Espe’s Rasbora and the Harlequin Rasbora.
Glowlight Rasboras are very hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium.
Some disease the are common in rasboras are dropsy, fin rot, and Ich if good water quality, nutrition, and maintenance is not provided. With any additions to a tank such as new fish, plants, substrates, and decorations there is a risk of introducing disease. It's advisable to properly clean or quarantine anything that you want add to an established tank prior to introduction, so as not to upset the balance.
These fish are very resilient but knowing the signs of illness, and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. An outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your fish the proper environment and a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.
The Glowlight Rasbora is fairly difficult to come by, but specialized suppliers and well stocked fish stores will carry them, and it is reasonably priced.
- Animal-World References: Freshwater Fish and Plants
- Trigonostigma hengeli (Meinken, 1956) Glowlight rasbora, Fishbase.org
- Joseph S. Nelson, Fishes of the World, Wiley, 2006.
- Glen S. Axelrod, Brian M. Scott, Neal Pronek, Encyclopedia Of Exotic Tropical Fishes For Freshwater Aquariums, TFH Publications, 2005
- David Alderton, Encyclopedia of Aquarium and Pond Fish , DK Publishing, Inc., 2005.
- Dick Mills, Aquarium Fish (101 Essential Tips), DK (Dorian Kinglsey) Adult, 2004.
- Ulfrich Schliewen et.al, Aquarium Fish , Baron's Inc., 1992.
- Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod, A Complete Introduction to Community Aquariums , T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1987