The reproductive biology of three species of rainbowfish (Melanotaeniidae) in northeastern Australian rainforest streams was investigated. Two species, Melanotaenia eachamensis and Cairnsichthys rhombosomoides are endemic to the area, whereas the third, M. splendida splendida, is more widespread. The species were all highly fecund, producing many hundreds of eggs between 1.10 and 1.24 mm in diameter. Melanotaenia eachamensis was the most fecund, produced the largest eggs of the three species, and consequently exhibited the greatest maternal investment (as measured by gonadosomatic index). The majority of reproductive effort occurred during the dry season, although reproductively active fish were present year-round for each of the species, but particularly so for M. s. splendida and C. rhombosomoides. No evidence for a role by temperature or photoperiod as environmental cues for reproduction was found, and it was suggested that gonad development was strongly tied to somatic growth. The concentration of reproduction to the dry season ensures that larvae are produced during a period of relatively stable and benign physical conditions. Comparison of temporal changes in gonadosomatic index values suggest that the spawning season of M. eachamensis, which occurs in high-elevation streams, is more restricted and commences about 1 month earlier than either other species. A similar phenology was observed for the M. s. splendida population found at high elevation and highlights the potential for spatial differences in stream productivity to influence life history.
|Journal||Ecology of Freshwater Fish|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|