Oily bitterling

Oily Bitterling: Freshwater Fish Quick Guide for Freshwater Fish Keepers

Oily bitterling

Oily bitterling

Oily bitterling is the freshwater fish with temperature water parameters of water belonging to the parent family of Acheilognathinae.

Korean Oily Bitterling Quick Stats:

  1. Scientific Name: Tanakia limbata
  2. Family: Cyprinidae
  3. Origin: Central and Southern Japan
  4. Maximum size: 6cm
  5. Habitat: Temperate Freshwater

I wrote about another bitterling species long ago and, at that time, I mentioned how I considered them to be northern Asia’s answer to the Rainbowfish in the southern hemisphere.

Fish Color:

Not only is the body shape very similar to many of the species in Melanotaenia, but in some cases, their colors also rival those favorite aquarium fish.

The Korean oily bitterling is the perfect example of that phenomenon. They are the ideal size for aquaria, brightly colored, and they make the ideal tenants in a peaceful community aquarium.

The oily bitterling has several naturally occurring color variations as well which should be of interest if they gained popularity and one wanted to line breed them.

Some have great orange through their body, making them look like Golden Barbs, while others display a similar color scheme as the male pictured but instead of orange are pigmented with yellow or black.

Fish Sex:

Females are generally more evenly colored and have far less, if any, black on their body. With their colors and personality, they should be more popular, but I have seen them only rarely for sale outside of Korea on sites such as Aquabid.

One of the things that hold this species back is because of its manner of reproduction. Like all bitterlings, it spawns within live clams, which are extremely difficult and time-consuming to keep alive in aquaria.

However, this year I followed a blog on Naver whose title translates as Our Beautiful Freshwater Fish by a man who only identifies himself as zmz045.


In the blog, he describes and photographs how he successfully got eggs and fry from these and several other clam spawning fish.

Pregnent Oily Bitterling Tanakia limbata

Pregnant Oily Bitterling Tanakia limbata

He used a gentle form of strip harvesting of eggs and milt from the fish without harming the parents and hatched the eggs without using clams. I will provide a picture in the comments.

He got 48 eggs from his first female and 47 hatched after three days. He was doing it to repopulate the river near his home, but if it is possible for one home aquarist to do it, surely others can.

Size Tank:

Hopefully, this fish can soon be made available globally! A group of 6 can live happily in a 30 gallon/115 liter tank. But more big tank size is more preferable.


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2 thoughts on “Oily Bitterling: Freshwater Fish Quick Guide for Freshwater Fish Keepers

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