The Chili Rasbora is a small and beautiful freshwater fish from the Southwestern Borneo region in Indonesia and thrives best in a Nano tank or being part of a large community tank. They can thrive in both instances. This species is scientifically known as Boraras brigittae. It is always super fun to watch them, especially when they are in their school since they have great personalities that will make you stare at them without getting bored.

Atulbhats, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

 One of the most amazing things about these creatures is that they are super active, and this brings life to your aquarium. They are also colorful, and this makes them stand out, bringing a stunning aesthetic to your aquarium. When they are in a solo tank all the time, they will put a colorful show all through, and this will keep you entertained throughout.

Another advantage of putting the Chili Rasbora in a community tank is that they are super peaceful, and they will easily get along with their tank mates, such as small fish and other invertebrates as well as they are peaceful too. This guide seeks to give you a clear insight into what it entails to take care of a Chili Rasbora and why it is the ideal choice for you as a beginner aquarist.


Scientific NameBoraras brigittae
ColourRed and Black
Care LevelModerate
Size6 to 8 inch
Lifespan4 to 5 years
Tank SizeAt least 5 gallons
Temperature68 to 82 degrees F
Freshwater or SaltwaterFreshwater
CompatibilityPeaceful community


Many people imagine that since these fish are small and peaceful, they can be compatible with most species, but that is not the case. In fact, their small size makes them incompatible with many species. Actually, they thrive best in their own tank with plenty of live plants and a couple of dwarf shrimps like cherry shrimps or bee shrimps. However, if you want to keep your Chili Rasbora together with other species of fish, then below are some of the best tank mates;

JoKrimmel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best tank mates is the Neon tetra. It is almost as small and peaceful as the Chili. They are red-blue striped, and they grow to an average length of 1.2 inches, and they need a little bigger tank than the Chili Rasbora. The neon tetras need to be kept in a school of between 6 to 8, and they need a bigger tank of about 5 gallons for themselves.

The other possible tank mate is the ember tetra which closely resembles the Chili Rasbora at first glance, but in a real sense, they are not related. They also grow to a maximum length of 1.2 inches, and they will need to be kept in groups of six or more. They also will need a minimum tank of 15 gallons for themselves.

The other possible tank mate for the Chili Rasboras is the pygmy Cory. They are among the funniest bottom dwellers to have in the Nano tank. These active but tiny fish grow to a length of 1 inch, and they thrive best in a tank of 10 gallons. These fish also need to be kept in groups of at least eight or more.

Both the neon and the ember have similar behaviors to those of the Chili Rasbora, and they do best together compared to the others. The pygmies are more active compared to the three others, and they usually settle at the middle or lower water column of the tank, where they do not stress out the other tank dwellers. Some other aquarists suggest that because the Chili Rasboras are small, they can make good tank mates to betta fish, but this does not work at all since the beta fish will eat anything that can fit in their mouth, and that includes the chili rasboras.


When you just look at these fish, it is not hard to tell why in the fish world they are so much loved, and this is mainly due to their bright coloration. The shades of pink and red usually cover the whole body. In general, the male species tend to have more vibrant shades of red compared to the females. An interesting thing about this red stripe is the fact that it is accompanied by a think band of black. This red stripe is located right on top of the black band, and this creates a striking contrast that stands out.

Throughout the fins of this fish, the males have some bright red spots, and they can often be seen on the anal, dorsal, and tail fin. Since the fin is translucent, they give these red spots a floating appearance. Generally, the Chili Rasbora is slender in shape. Around the midsection, these fish are the girthiest, but the body tapers off to the large tail fin. The Chili Rasbora is characterized by two large eyes on the head. The differences between males and females are small but noticeable. Apart from the males being more colorful than females, the females are also larger than the males. The females are also a bit rounder, and they are generally duller than the males.

The average size of a Chili Rasbora is approximately 0.7 inches in length. These species are mainly are generally small, and they do not get bigger; therefore, they make great Nano fish, and they are found in the smallest tanks in the world.


Chili Rasboras originate from Asia and specifically Borneo Indonesia. However, there is little knowledge about the population of these creatures, and this means they could be more widespread than this. In that tropical area, Chili mainly lives in swamps with freshwaters and with black water types and pools. This water is usually stained by the tannins which have been released b decaying plants, fallen branches, and other detritus. Due to this occurrence, the water in this place is usually soft and acidic. These creatures have not been listed as endangered species, but generally, their natural environments have been polluted by human activities such as agriculture, increased infrastructure, and other activities.


On average, the lifespan of this species is usually between 4 to 8 years. This may be a short period compared to some large species of fish, but for this type that it is long enough. The lifespan depends on the conditions in which this fish is brought up; if they are poorly brought up, they will have a short lifespan, and vice versa. In order to ensure that your chili Rasbora lives for the longest time possible, you should provide a healthy environment for them.


Chili Rasboras are generally peaceful fish, and they can at times be very timid. However, the moment they feel free and comfortable in the tank, they will start to explore it freely. Normally these fish will stick to the upper part of the tank, and they may occasionally be seen exploring the lower half of the tank, but there happens rarely. It is very normal to find the Chili Rasbora exploring the hiding spots or swimming through the vegetation. If you have more than one Chili Rasbora in the tank, they will group up. They will create a group and swim together, creating swaths of beautiful color throughout since they are schooling fish that thrive in large groups.



A small school of about six Chili Rasboras will be housed adequately in a 5-gallon tank; if they are joining a community tank, you will definitely need a larger tank. You should always remember that despite the fact that these Nano fish opt for a densely populated habitat, they also need adequate space to swim, and this means you should consider that when deciding o tank size.


To make sure that you enjoy the best color possible in your Chili Rasbora’s aquarium, ensure that you provide them with a dark substrate. The ideal material for the substrate is fine sand gravel. These conditions will also ensure the best health for the Chili Rasbora. In their natural habitat, these fish make their home in blackwater streams and pools, and therefore the dark substrate will meet their match their natural habitat for the dark bottom.


For the Chili Rasbora to do well, they need clean and clear water. This, therefore, mean that you need to have a filter in your tank. You need to make sure that the filter you choose is not too strong since major changes in the condition of water in the tank can be dangerous to the fish.


It is important to have a tight lid covering the top side of the aquarium. This is to keep the water dust free and also protect the fish from jumping out.


Also, their natural habitat has soft water with low pH, and therefore the home aquarium will need to maintain these conditions. These creatures will thrive in a lush environment that has both planted and floating plants. The roots and branches mimic their environment, and hanging vegetation limits the direct light to the Chili Rasbora.

If you decide on including live plants in your poll, this will not only give them an opportunity to explore but will also make a home for plankton and worms, which are just the right-sized food for the small Chili Rasbora mouths. The presence of plant cover in the aquarium will dim the light inside the tank, and this will give room for more intense and vivid colors.


This species is very sensitive to cleanliness, and therefore it is a must to keep the tank clean always. You can clean by wiping the aquarium walls using warm water and a piece of cloth. You can also put the decoration in running water, and you can use the algae scraper to remove the algae. Ensure that you do not use any soap-based or chemical products since they are generally harmful to the health of the fish. This should be done at least on a monthly basis.


Some of the conditions that need to be met in order to maintain a close match to their natural conditions include;

  • Hardness: 3-12 dKH
  • pH: 4.0-7.0
  • Temperature: 68-82.4° F (20°-28° C)


Despite the fact that the Chili Rasboras have a wide range of temperatures, it is important to maintain a constant temperature. Do not be foiled that whenever you are within the low range of the temperature, you will not need to warm the water. Different variations in water temperatures are also not so good for the health of the Chili Rasboras since they create stress in them, and it is common knowledge that stressed fish have compromised health, coloration, lifespan, and mood. It is advisable that you get a heater and set it to the point of the acceptable range of between 68 to 82 degrees F and ensure that you maintain it for happy health and stress-free Chili Rasbora.

In addition to maintaining the water condition that is not too cold, you also need to ensure the temperatures are not too high since these creatures can easily be overheated by a long period of direct sunlight, and this is another reason why it is important to have plant cover in the aquarium.


The natural environment of these creatures is characterized by a slow flow of water, and therefore you should replicate the same conditions in their new home. The reason why they are found in slow-moving waters is that they are too small and therefore cannot handle strong currents. In case the currents are too strong for the Chili Rasboras, you can add some driftwood, logs, and other decorations to break up the current. 

In order for these animals to survive, they need pristine water, and this explains why it is necessary to have a filter, but you should also ensure the filter is not too strong. Due to the small size of the Chili Rasboras, any slight change in the condition of water can be fatal, and this means that you will need to keep monitoring water all through to ensure there are stable parameters.


Besides slow current, the Chili Rasboras also opt for water that is both soft and acidic. This means that you will need a test monitor to always monitor the levels, and you can also use distilled water or reverse osmosis to dilute the tap water and create these conditions. If you find the PH level so high and you wish to lower it, there are some natural means that can be applied instead of additives, and they include peat that is moss or pellets and almond leaves. These natural remedies usually release tannins that, in turn, reduce the ph.

It is important to note that the presence of tannins and the low ph. that they provide is very critical to the general health of the Chili Rasbora by reducing the pathogens in water and ensuring that they do not get sick.


Mostly the tap water contains chlorine and other additives that are meant to keep the water clean, but these additives are very toxic and dangerous to the fish, and therefore, you should always ensure that water meant for aquarium is softened.


Despite the fact that the process of taking care of the Chili Rasbora is pretty easy, this does not mean that the tap water can be used as the primary source of water that will be used for the aquarium. Tap water comprises of very many components which might be toxic to the fish. One of the greatest risks of using tap water is the likelihood of containing phosphates.

The presence of too much phosphate in the aquarium leads to algae in the aquarium, whether it is fresh or saltwater. The plants in the aquarium need the phosphate to live and flourish, but the large can take all the phosphate before the plants, and this will lead to more large and decaying plants.

The tap water can also contain a lot of heavy metals, such as copper, which can greatly affect the health of your fish and the overall health of the aquarium as well. The only best way of knowing the tap water for sure is by sending the samples into the lab for examination. This is why as said earlier, it is always safe to use alternative sources of water such as distilled water or reverse osmosis water.

These waters have already filtered the unwanted components and heavy metals, and this means they will not be introduced into the aquarium. This water is very affordable and can be found in groceries or convenience stores, and this will save you from big algae headaches and fish dying later.


You should always ensure that your Chili Rasboras are kept in a school of at least six. Anything less than that, they will not be happy, and they are meant to be together. You can house two of them per gallon, and therefore for six chilies, the 5 gallons will be enough.


The main reason why these creatures cannot go into a small tank of 5 gallons and below is because of their need to be part of a school. A small tank does not allow for a school where these creatures thrive. These fish need to be timid even in large groups and therefore separating them into smaller numbers makes them hide, and they get stressed out. For your Chili Rasbora to be super active and happy, they need to be in school, and they will also be healthy.


Naturally, the Chili Rasboras are omnivores, and they have an extremely wide range of diets. As such, you do not need to worry too much about finding the best food for them. In fact, it is recommended that you provide them with a wide range of foods since it will not only ensure they are healthy but will also bring out the brightest colors in their body. You should also ensure that you do not overfeed them since they are so small in size, and they can easily get sick if you overfeed them. The more they eat, the more waste they will produce, and this will make the water dirty, which might lead to diseases.

You can provide your Chili Rasbora with pellets, flakes frozen as well as fresh food sources, more so proteins such as bloodworms and micro worms. Please remember that you need to thaw the frozen food before putting them into the tank water. These foods should be chopped into smaller pieces to ensure that they do not choke them.


Whenever the male Chili Rasbora is ready to breed, they turn a brighter red, and therefore it becomes easier to tell them from the females. Also, the black and red markings on their dorsal and tail fins become darker. On the other hand, the females will look rounder and plumb because they are carrying eggs. It is advisable that you remain vigilant since the males may turn very territorial during the breeding season, and they may fight others; therefore, you need to ensure that they have enough space for each of them to have a personal space.

You will also notice some male Nanos trying to show off so that they can get the attention of the females. If he gets it, the female will lay a small number of eggs that she scatters ate the bottom side of the tank. The process of parenting ends at this point, and neither the male nor the female will take care of the eggs. In fact, these creatures are known to damage their own eggs sometimes.

 If your home aquarium is dense enough, the fry may have enough cover to survive despite the threat of the other fish in the tank having them for a midnight snack. If you are thinking of breeding these Chili Rasboras in earnest, you should set up a separate breeding tank. They spawn pretty constantly, and therefore in a separate tank, you have the opportunity to give the fry a fighting chance to live.

In order to create the best balance for breeding, you will need one to two females for every male in the tank, and you will need the males that are dominant. The breeding male setup should be as follows;

You should add small groups to spawning containers with mesh at the bottom that is large enough in such a way that the eggs can fall through but small enough that the parents cannot access the eggs and eat them. It is fun seeing them spawning since they look like they are chasing each other around the tank. The male and the female breeding Chili Rasboras should be kept in the breeding tank for three to 4 days, after which they should be returned to their tank.

If you allow them to stay in the breeding tank for long, the fry will be at risk. You should also be aware of how sensitive the Chili Rasbora is to changes in water temperatures and other conditions, and therefore, you should always remember to keep these conditions constant in both tanks; otherwise, you will risk losing some in the process.


When the Chili Rasbora form mates, the female starts laying eggs on the floor of the tank; if the eggs are lucky, they will hide in the dense vegetation and not become the food of their parents or other tank mates. As said earlier, these fish need to be kept in a separate tank with a mesh at the bottom to ensure the eggs are secure. The fry will first feed on their eggshell, and once they come out, but later they’ll need food like infusoria until they can find and eat food on their own.


The Chili Rasboras are not affected by diseases that are specific to this species. They are only affected by diseases that affect freshwater fish as a whole. They include fungal problems, parasitic infections, and many more. The most common disease to affect freshwater fish is the ich.


This is an external parasite that causes white spots to appear all over the body of the fish. This infection is caused by stress, and this can be avoided by providing your fish with clean water and ensuring the diet they are feeding is healthy.

The ich is highly contagious, and therefore you need to monitor your fish closely so that you can separate the affected fish immediately before infecting the rest. Luckily this is something curable, and there are many over-the-counter medications for this.


The Chili Rasbora is a lot of fish in a small package. They are gentle and shy. Generally, they are beautiful to look at with their vibrant colors and interesting, playful antics, and they also get along well with other small and peaceful fish. You will enjoy them whether they are in their own dedicated tank or in one large community tank.


Are the Chili Rasbora Freshwater fish?

Yes. The Chili Rasbora is a tropical freshwater fish that originates from Indonesia. They are mainly found in blackwater streams and pools. They love water with heavy vegetation.

Why does Chili Rasbora need a lot of vegetation in the aquarium?

You will find the aquariums with this species having many plants that involve both live and artificial ones, and this is because their natural home is heavily vegetated, and this needs to be replicated in the tank.


Now that you know all the requirements when it comes to taking care of the Chili Rasboras and how to care for them. You have to realize how simple it is to take care of them and how fun they are to watch them swim around in your tank. Their size also gives you the flexibility to keep them in a Nano tank. This works best for individuals without a lot of space or looking for something small to include in their room. It is our hope that this guide has given a clear insight into what you need to do and not to do as you plan on keeping them.

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