Care Guide for Chili Rasboras – Spicy Red Nano Fish for Planted Tanks
If you are thinking of setting up a nano tank with live aquarium plants, then you have to try chili rasboras or mosquito rasboras. Unlike most red aquarium fish that tend to have a warmer, red-orange hue, these tiny rasboras display a deep, cool-toned red with distinct black markings. However, they often get passed over because the juveniles sold at pet stores are miniscule and look washed-out. Learn how to raise these amazing nano fish and keep them happy for hours.
What are Chili Rasboras?
Boraras brigittae is a close cousin of other micro rasboras, like the exclamation point rasbora and strawberry rasbora. They grow only 3/4 inch (2 cm) in length and have pointed fins. Although the adults are well-known for their scarlet red scales, they can temporarily turn paler when they move between tanks. Allow them to adjust for a few weeks before their true colors return. Due to their fear of predators most nano fish are shy, but chili rasboras have proven to be a refreshingly bold alternative. Although they won’t hurry to greet you at the tank’s front, they may approach you if you remain still for a while.
Chili rasboras are well-known for their bright red bodies and horizontal black stripes.
How to Set Up an Aquarium for Chili Rasboras
Chili rasboras are found in the jungles of Borneo or Indonesia. Here, tons of trees block sunlight from reaching the plants and the leaves fall into the water, forming brown tannins. This means they come from acidic, softer waters, but in our experience, chili rasboras are quite hardy and can handle a much wider range of water parameters. We have successfully kept them in pH levels of 6.0-8.0, temperatures between 72-82degF (22-28degC), and soft to hard water. To recreate the dim lighting of the jungle, use plenty of low light plants that create shady areas and good hiding spots for both the adults and fry. Anubias and cryptocoryne plant, dwarf aquarium lily, floating water sprite are our favorites. For a biotope tank that imitates their natural setting, try adding some dried catappa leaves to tint the water, gently lower the pH, and create biofilm for the fish to nibble on.
Because of their petite size, mosquito rasboras have a very low bioload and produce little waste, so we have successfully kept them in planted fish tanks as small as 3 gallons. They don’t swim fast so choose a filter that is low in current, such as a sponge filter. To prevent the nano fish from accidentally getting sucked up, use a canister or hang-on-back filter.
How many chili rasboras should be kept together? As a schooling fish, getting a larger group of chili rasboras will help them feel more comfortable and confident about swimming out in the open. We like to keep at least 8-12 schools together because of their small bodies.
Can chili rasboras live with fish? Boraras Brigittae, a peaceful species, would be great with smaller community fish that aren’t big enough to predate. Lambchop rasboras can be paired with rosy loaches and ember tetras as well as dwarf cory catfish, neon rasboras and snails. Yes, all fish will try to opportunistically snack on baby shrimp, but chili rasboras won’t bother the adult shrimp.
Chili rasboras get along well with other peaceful nano fish like clown killifish.
What does a Chili Rasbora eat?
In the wild, they feed on zooplankton, micro worms, insect larvae, and other tiny invertebrates. Look for small fish foods that can fit into their mouths or are chewable enough for them. They prefer to feed from the middle of the water column, so floating or slow-sinking foods should be offered. They are also not very picky eaters, and they can be easily outcompeted at mealtimes if the food is good enough to spread all over. However, chili rasboras can eat almost anything. To bring out their vivid red coloration, our favorite foods are crushed krill flakes, Easy Fry and Small Fish Food, and baby brine shrimp.
How to Breed Chili Rasboras
The babies of nano fish are tiny, so it is best to breed them in an aquarium with lots of plants, catappa leaves and other botanicals. To prevent the adults from predating on their own eggs, cover the bottom of the tank with plastic craft mesh (purchased from a craft store), and put a thick layer of java moss, a yarn spawning mop, Easter basket grass, or other fluffy, dense plants underneath the mesh. The mesh allows eggs to pass through but is too small for adults to enter. Acidic pH below 7.0 may increase hatch rates and survival.
To ensure you have fish of both sexes, get a group of least 6 chili rasboras. Females tend to be rounder and less colorful, while males are smaller and have the brightest reds. You can condition the adults to breed by giving them high-quality foods like live baby brine shrimp. Place them in the mature, sterile tank for a few days. Once they have spawned or you see any fry, remove them. Feed the babies multiple, small meals a day consisting of fry foods like infusoria and vinegar eels, and in a couple of weeks, they should be large enough to eat live micro worms and baby brine shrimp.
Juvenile chilli rasboras can be a little dull at first, but they will soon look as vibrant as rubies with patience and good care.
While Aquarium Co-Op does not ship live fish, you can visit our preferred online retailers to see their current stocking lists. For more inspiration, check out the top 10 stunning nano fish you need to try in your next small fish tank.