Scissortail Rasbora

Scissortail Rasbora

The Scissortail Rasbora (Rasbora trilineata) is a captivating freshwater fish species that has gained popularity among aquarists due to its distinctive appearance and playful demeanor. This comprehensive guide will cover essential aspects of Scissortail Rasbora care, including their size, lifespan, diet, tank mates, and tank requirements. By following the guidelines presented in this article, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your Scissortail Rasbora.


The Scissortail Rasbora, also known as the black scissortail or three-lined rasbora, is a small, eye-catching fish native to the slow-moving rivers of Southeast Asia, predominantly found in the Mekong River Basin in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. Despite their exotic origin, these fish are relatively easy to care for and can make lively additions to your aquarium.


The Scissortail Rasbora boasts a sleek, dart-like silhouette with a predominantly silver and iridescent body. When viewed under the right lighting conditions, the fish’s scales create a mesmerizing shimmer that showcases its beauty. A subtle black line runs from behind the gills to the tail, accentuating its unique forked caudal fin. The tips of both forks feature thick banded stripes of yellow, black, and white, making it one of the most easily recognizable features of the Scissortail Rasbora.

Size and Lifespan

The average size of a Scissortail Rasbora is around three and a half inches in length, although some may grow up to six inches with proper care and a nutrient-rich diet. These fish have a typical lifespan of approximately five years. However, in the right conditions, some Scissortail Rasboras can live for as long as seven years. It is essential to note that genetics and the level of care provided play a significant role in determining the fish’s longevity.

Natural Habitat

Scissortail Rasboras originate from slow-moving rivers, streams, and lakes in Southeast Asia. Their natural habitat in the Mekong River Basin is characterized by tropical waters, making it relatively straightforward for aquarists to replicate these conditions in a home aquarium. These fish are most commonly found in slow and easy rivers, but they can also be found in fast-moving streams and lakes.

Tank Requirements

Tank Size

Scissortail Rasboras are active swimmers that require ample space to move around. A minimum tank size of 20 gallons is recommended for a small group of six fish, although a 30-gallon tank is even better if space permits. Keep in mind that if your Scissortail Rasboras grow larger than average, you may need to invest in a bigger tank to accommodate their active lifestyles. These fish prefer horizontally oriented tanks, as they primarily reside in the upper and middle parts of the water column.

Water Parameters

To create a comfortable environment for your Scissortail Rasbora, it’s essential to replicate the water conditions found in their natural habitat. These fish thrive in most standard water conditions and are adaptable to some extent, but stability is crucial. Monitor water parameters regularly to avoid significant fluctuations that could cause stress and harm to your fish.

  • Water temperature: 73 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • pH levels: 6.0 to 7.0 (Around 6.6 is ideal)
  • Water hardness: 2 to 12 dGH

Tank Setup

When setting up your tank, it is essential to provide your Scissortail Rasbora with an open swimming space and suitable hiding places. Decorate the lower parts of the tank and its perimeter with items that mimic their natural riverbed habitat, such as driftwood and rocks. A dark-colored substrate, like black sand, is an excellent choice for the tank’s base.

Scissortail Rasboras enjoy swimming through soft plants, so incorporate these into your tank’s design while maintaining an open swimming area. Java moss and Indian almond leaves are particularly favored by this species, although any delicate and soft plants will suffice. Keep lighting subdued, as these fish prefer a dimly lit environment.

Filtration and Current

Scissortail Rasboras enjoy a subtle current in their tank, which can be achieved using a water pump or the outlet of your filtration system. A gentle current mimics the slow-moving rivers they naturally inhabit and helps maintain a clean tank environment. Additionally, ensure your tank has a tight-fitting lid, as these fish are prone to leaping out of the water if startled.

Diet and Feeding

Scissortail Rasboras readily accept most commercial dried fish foods, such as flakes and pellets. Choose a well-balanced formula with ingredients that enhance the fish’s coloration, as this will help bring out the unique striped detail on their fins. When possible, provide live, frozen, or freeze-dried foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, bloodworms, and mosquito larvae. These foods not only supply valuable nutrients but also offer enrichment for your fish.

It is essential to feed your Scissortail Rasbora three times a day, providing enough food that they can consume within three minutes. If any food remains in the tank after this time, remove it and adjust your feeding portions accordingly. Overfeeding can quickly lead to poor water conditions, so it’s crucial to monitor and maintain a suitable feeding schedule.

Behavior and Temperament

Scissortail Rasboras are peaceful, curious, and playful fish that get along with most freshwater species. They are unlikely to instigate fights and will typically defend themselves only if provoked. These fish enjoy swimming back and forth through open spaces and exploring their surroundings, making them a delightful addition to any aquarium.

In the wild, Scissortail Rasboras are schooling fish that live in large groups and often move as a unit. While they may not rely on such extensive groups in a home aquarium, they still need the company of their own kind to remain healthy and confident. Keeping at least six fish together is best practice for this species.

Related: Yellow Lab Cichlid: An Eye-Catching Freshwater Fish

Tank Mates

Scissortail Rasboras can peacefully coexist with a variety of tank mates, provided they are not too large or aggressive. Avoid housing them with any fish that may pose a threat, such as fin-nippers or those that could view the Scissortail Rasbora as food. Suitable tank mates for the Scissortail Rasbora include:

Breeding Scissortail Rasboras

Breeding Scissortail Rasboras is not overly complicated but does require some preparation. Begin by setting up a separate breeding tank designed to protect the eggs from being eaten by the adult fish. The tank should be equipped with mesh or spawning mats to provide a safe space for the eggs.

Raise the water temperature in the breeding tank to between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust the pH to slightly acidic levels. Condition the male and female fish with protein-rich foods such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia to encourage spawning. Once the eggs have been laid, remove the adult fish from the tank and monitor the eggs closely to prevent fungal issues.

Eggs typically hatch within 24 hours, and the fry will feed on their egg sac for an additional two days. Once the young fish become free-swimming, provide them with powdered fish food and baby brine shrimp to support their growth.


Caring for Scissortail Rasboras is a rewarding experience, as these beautiful and lively fish make a delightful addition to any freshwater aquarium. By following the guidelines presented in this comprehensive guide, you can ensure a happy and healthy life for your Scissortail Rasbora. If you have any questions or need additional assistance with this species, please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance.

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