Chili Rasbora: Beginner’s Care Guide

Chili rasbora in a tank

If you are looking for a small, colorful, and easy-to-care-for fish for your aquarium, then the chili rasbora (Boraras brigittae) is a great option. These tiny fish are native to Southeast Asia and are known for their vibrant red coloration. They are also very peaceful and make great community fish.

In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about chili rasbora care, including their ideal water conditions, tank size, diet, and tank mates. We will also provide some tips for keeping your chili rasboras healthy and happy.

What are Chili Rasboras?

Scientific nameBoraras brigittae
Common nameChili rasbora, mosquito rasbora
OriginSouthwestern Borneo
Size0.7 to 0.8 inches (18 to 20 mm)
Lifespan3 to 5 years
DietOmnivore: flakes, pellets, live food
BehaviorPeaceful, schooling
Care levelEasy

Chili rasboras are tiny fish that belong to the Characidae family. They are also known as Boraras brigittae or Mosquito rasboras. They have a slender body that is covered in scales of a fiery red hue. A black stripe runs along their side, from the eye to the tail. Their fins are transparent, except for some red spots on the males. Males are slightly larger than females and have brighter coloration.

These fish come from the blackwater habitats of Southwestern Borneo, where the water is acidic and low in minerals. They can thrive in dimly lit, densely planted environments. Their peaceful behavior makes them popular among aquarists, as they can coexist with other compatible species. These little fish also display a lot of activity and playfulness, especially when kept in schools. They are also not very fussy about water conditions, which makes them suitable for beginners.

Boraras brigittae were called mosquito rasboras because they were originally found in areas with a lot of mosquitos.

Chili Rasbora Behavior

Chili rasboras are small, colorful fish that enjoy swimming in schools. They typically stay in the upper and middle parts of the water, where they can find food and avoid danger. Their striking red color with a black stripe makes them eye-catching in the tank, especially when they school together. They are fun to watch, as they can move fast and change directions suddenly.

Peaceful and sociable, chili rasboras can coexist with other non-aggressive fish of similar or larger size. They also get along with invertebrates such as shrimp and snails. Although they are not shy, they like to have some plants and ornaments to provide them with shelter and comfort. They are easy to feed, as they will eat any food that fits their small mouths.

Although not prone to jumping out of the water, chili rasboras may do so occasionally if they are scared or curious. Therefore, it is important to have a secure lid on the aquarium to keep them inside. They are also sensitive to water quality, so regular water changes and filtration are important for their health and happiness.

Chili Rasbora Tank Setup

Chili rasboras are small fish that can live in nano tanks of 5 gallons, but they do better in larger tanks of 10 gallons or more. They prefer a low-flow or no-flow environment, as they are used to living in slow-moving pools, bogs, and streams in the wild. Therefore, the filter should be gentle and not create too much current in the water. A good hang-on-back filter or sponge filter is good enough and much safer for the fish. If you opt to use a canister filter, use an intake mesh cover. This will prevent your little buddies from being sucked into the filter intake.

These fish prefer a dim and dense environment. However, as aquascapers, we often want our tanks to have bright lights. To balance this, we need to add plenty of live plants and hardscapes to our tank. These will give them lots of hiding places and cover. Plants such as anubias, bucephalandra, and Java fern are suitable because they can thrive in the low-light conditions that these fish enjoy. You can also add some branches and roots to mimic their natural habitat.

Chili Rasbora Water Parameters

ParametersIdeal Value
pH5.5 to 6.0
Temperature75 to 82°F (24 to 28°C)
Water Hardness1 to 6 dGH
TDSLow (less than 100 ppm)

Chili rasboras prefer water that is soft and acidic. They can adapt to pH levels from 4.0 to 7.5, but they are more comfortable and colorful at the lower end of that range. A pH of 5.5 to 6.0 is ideal for these fish, as it mimics their natural habitat.

The water hardness should also be very low, with a general hardness (GH) of 1 to 6 dGH. Hard water can stress them and affect their health and appearance. The softer the water is, the more vibrant and energetic the fish will be. If you are not keen on breeding them, then a more neutral water hardness would be fine.

These fish are tropical and need warm water temperatures to thrive. They can tolerate temperatures from 68 to 82°F (20 to 28°C), but they do better on the higher end of that range. A temperature of 75 to 82°F (24 to 28°C) is recommended for these fish, as it makes them feel at home and happy.

What Do Chili Rasboras Eat?

Chili rasboras are omnivores, but they prefer a carnivorous diet. In the wild, they feed on zooplankton, microworms, insect larvae, and other tiny invertebrates. Therefore, in the aquarium, they should be fed a diet that is high in protein.

Some good food options for chili rasboras include:

  • Flakes: Flakes should be crushed into a fine powder so that the fish can easily eat them.
  • Pellets: Pellets should also be small and sinking.
  • Freeze-dried or frozen food: This includes bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.
  • Live food: This includes micro worms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

Chili rasboras feed in the middle of the water column. Therefore, floating or slow-sinking foods are best for them. They are not aggressive eaters, so other fish will easily outcompete them during mealtime. When feeding my chilis, I use a turkey baster to introduce the food in the middle of the water column. This way, I can spread the food properly and make sure that all of the fish have an equal chance to eat.

It is important to vary the diet of chili rasboras to ensure that they get all the nutrients they need. You should also avoid overfeeding them, as this can lead to water quality problems. Feed them twice a day, and only feed them as much as they can eat in a few minutes.

Ideal Tank Mates of Chili Rasboras

Chili rasboras are gentle and timid fish that can sometimes be shy. They do not have to be kept in a species-only tank, but they do need compatible tank mates that are small and peaceful. They can coexist with other similar fish, shrimp, and snails, as long as the tank conditions are suitable for them.

These fish are very peaceful and will not bother other fish or invertebrates. Other small, calm fish and smaller invertebrates, like dwarf shrimp, can live with them. However, they should avoid aggressive and larger fish that will compete with them for food or prey on them.

Chili rasboras are schooling fish and need to stay together. Groups of at least six chili rasboras should be kept, but they will be happier and more active in larger groups of 20 or more fish. They will also show their colors better and feel more secure in bigger schools.

Here are some ideal tank mates that are compatible with chili rasboras:

  • Other small, peaceful fish: Neon tetras, ember tetras, rummy nose tetras, and pygmy corydoras
  • Otocinclus catfish
  • Shrimp: Ghost shrimp, cherry shrimp
  • Snails: Nerite snails, ramshorn snails

There are plenty more potential tankmates for your Chili Rasboras, but the mentioned list is a solid starting point. Make sure that the fish are compatible in terms of size, temperament, and water requirements.

How to Care for Chili Rasboras

These fish are hardy, but their small size makes them need a stable environment to thrive. They need regular water changes to keep the water clean and balanced, as they are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, nitrites, and ammonia. Always check for the water parameters using freshwater test kits. If your ammonia and nitrites are more than 0 ppm, perform a water change. Ideally, they need a 10 to 15% water change weekly with unchlorinated water that is similar in temperature to the tank water.

Chili rasboras are tropical fish from Indonesia, where the water is warm year-round. Use an aquarium heater to keep the water temperature at 75 to 82°F. Subjecting them to water temperatures below this range will stress them and make them susceptible to diseases such as ich, fin rot, and other bacterial infections.

Male or Female?

Chili Rasboras in a school
Chili rasboras are not true rasboras but belong to the Boraras genus, and they were first described in 1978 by Dieter Vogt, who named them after his wife Brigitte.

So, you wanna know the difference between male and female chili rasboras? Well, it’s pretty easy to tell them apart. Chili rasboras are sexually dimorphic, which means that the males and females have different physical characteristics. The most noticeable difference is the coloration of the fish. Males are more colorful than females and have a brighter red stripe and belly. They also have darker black and red spots on their dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins. Females are slightly larger than males and have duller and plumper bodies, especially when they’re carrying eggs.

The color difference between males and females becomes more evident during the mating period. Males develop a more intense red color and brighter spots on the fins to attract females. Females become more rounded, which indicates that they are ready to spawn.

Breeding Chili Rasboras

Chili rasboras are egg scatterers, which means they fertilize their eggs externally and scatter them around the tank. They are not very difficult to breed, but they need some specific conditions and care to spawn successfully. Here are some steps on how to breed chili rasboras:

  • Set up a separate breeding tank of at least 10 gallons. The breeding tank should have soft, acidic, and clean water with a temperature of 80 to 86°F. It should also have a low water flow rate and dim lighting.
  • Add plenty of live plants, moss, or marbles to the bottom of the tank. These will provide cover for the eggs and fry and prevent them from being eaten by the adults or the filter.
  • Choose healthy and well-conditioned breeding pairs. You should have two females for every male. Males are more colorful than females and have a brighter red stripe and belly. Females are slightly larger than males and have duller and plumper bodies.
  • Feed the breeding pairs with high-quality foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, or micro worms. This will enhance their coloration and stimulate their spawning behavior.
  • Observe the courting behavior of the breeding pairs. The males will chase the females and display their colors. The females will swim near the plants or moss and release their eggs. The males will follow them and fertilize the eggs with their milt.
  • Remove the adults from the breeding tank as soon as they spawn. The adults will not care for their eggs or fry and may eat them if left in the tank.
  • Wait for the eggs to hatch. The eggs will hatch within 36 to 72 hours. The fry will feed on their egg sacs for the first 36 to 48 hours, then they will start swimming around.
  • Feed the fry with infusoria-sized foods, such as rotifers, cyclops, or paramecium. As they grow bigger, you can switch to microworms, vinegar eels, or baby brine shrimp.
  • Perform regular water changes and maintain good water quality for the fry. The fry are sensitive to water parameters and need clean water to grow healthy and strong.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chili Rasboras

What is the ideal tank size for chili rasboras?

A chili rasbora can live in a tank as small as 5 gallons, but a 10-gallon tank is the minimum size.

What are some common diseases that affect chili rasboras?

Chili rasboras are susceptible to a few common diseases, such as ich and fin rot. You can prevent these diseases by keeping the water quality high and quarantining any new fish before adding them to the tank.

Are Chili Rasboras suitable for beginners?

Chili Rasboras are ideal for beginners. They are calm, low-maintenance, and can live in small tanks. They will do well if you provide them with suitable water parameters and food.

How large do Chili Rasboras get?

Chili rasboras are very small fish that can grow up to 0.7 inches in length. They are considered to be great nano fish for small tanks

Are Chili Rasboras Suitable for your Aquarium?

If you are looking for a small and colorful fish that can brighten up your tank, you might want to consider the chili rasbora. These fish are not very demanding in terms of care, but they do have some special requirements that you should be aware of.

Chili rasboras are peaceful and timid fish that can coexist with other compatible species, such as corys, tetras, shrimp, and snails. They are fun to watch as they swim around the tank in a tight formation. They have a lot of personality and charm, despite their small size.

Chili rasboras are a great choice for anyone who wants a low-maintenance and attractive fish for their tank. They are not very flashy or aggressive, but they are graceful and lively. These fish can truly make a wonderful addition to your aquarium as long as you provide them with the right conditions and care.

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