Scissortail Rasbora (Rasbora Trilineata): Ultimate Care Guide

The Rasbora Trilineata, commonly known as Scissortail Rasbora, is a tropical freshwater aquarium fish from the Rasbora family.

The Scissortail Rasbora is native to slow flowing rivers and swamps in Southeast Asia. The Scissortail originates from the lower part of the Mekong River Basin that is bordered by Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. They have also been found in the Malaysian peninsula and in the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. In the United States, the Scissortail is bred only in captivity and is not seen in the wild.

The Scissortail has a sleek and slender body and is known for its deeply forked tail. They have a shiny iridescent silver skin with a horizontal black line running the length of the body, from the gills down to the tail. Its distinctive forked tail fin moves in an open and close motion, resembling a pair of scissors, hence the common name scissortail. The fin also has black and yellow bands with a white tip. This unique coloring on the fin has led to another common name for this fish, the Three Lined Rasbora.

Scissortail Rasbora Care

Scissortail Rasbora are very hardy fish as they are adaptable and will eat a wide variety of foods. They are easy to breed, care for, and have peaceful temperaments. All of these characteristics makes them a great choice both for beginner fishkeepers and in community tanks.  


Scissortail Rasbora are native to and thrive in a tropical climate, therefore their ideal tank temperature can range from 72°F to 79°F (22°C to 26°C).

Water pH and Hardness

The Scissortail Rasbora flourishes in slightly acidic environments, and the recommended water pH level is between 6.6 to 7.0, while the recommended water hardness for these fish is between 2° and 15° dH.

Scissortail Rasbora (Rasbora Trilineata)
Scissortail Rasbora (Rasbora Trilineata)

Scissortail Rasbora Size

Scissortail Rasbora have an average length of 5 to 6 inches, although some aquarists have reported their fish to have grown up to 8 inches with proper nutrition and care.

Scissortail Rasbora Food and Diet

Scissortail Rasbora are omnivorous fish who typically eat live food, mainly insects, in the wild. However, these aquatic fish will easily eat flake and pellet foods, as well as foods that have been freeze dried and frozen. Scissortails also enjoy fresh brine shrimp, daphnia, and blood worms. Scissortails do not need to be fed much and should not be overfed. An ideal diet for your Scissortail would be a protein rich tropical species flake food paired with some occasional live foods.

Scissortail Rasbora Lifespan

The Scissortail Rasbora typically has an average lifespan of 5 years but have been known to live up to 10 years with proper diet and care.

Scissortail Rasbora Tank Size

The Scissortail Rasbora are highly active fish that require plenty of open water to swim so a tank of at least 20 gallons is recommended. If they are placed in a community environment it is suggested to use an even larger tank because it is important to make sure that they still have plenty of room.

Tank Set Up

While the Scissortail Rasbora has minimal requirements when it comes to tank set up, keeping the tank covered is necessary since these fish have jumping abilities. It is also important to leave plenty of horizontal swimming room available for these fish, as they are energetic swimmers and will dart back and forth across the tank, therefore purchasing a long tank is beneficial for these fish. Placing rocks and clay pots throughout the tank will provide these fish with a place to hide. Decorating with driftwood, java moss, and other plants in the tank will mimic their natural environment. Using dark substrates, specifically rocks and pebbles, will bring out their beautiful colors even more. It is best to keep subdued lighting for these fish as well. Scissortails enjoy clean and well aerated water so using a strong and efficient filter while keeping a regular maintenance schedule is vital.

Scissortail Rasbora Breeding

The Scissortail Rasbora is known as being easy to breed, even for beginner aquarists. Like most cyprinids, these fish are egg scatterers, leaving eggs hidden under rocks or similar items and providing no parental protection. It is recommended to use a separate tank for breeding, one between 10 and 20 gallons, and to add a spawning mat or mesh net to hold the eggs and fry. The tank should be kept at a slightly warmer temperature, typically between 77°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C) with a slightly lower pH level of 6.0 to 6.5. The lighting should still be kept low. Once you see a female Scissortail begin to fill with eggs you may move her to the breeding tank with one or more mature males. Add cool soft water periodically throughout the day. This will mimic rain and increase the chances that a pair will spawn. Feeding the fish high-quality live foods such as insects, worms and brine will also increase the chances of breeding. Once the eggs have been deposited around the tank and fertilized by the males the adult fish should be removed from the tank, so that none of them eat the eggs. These eggs will be particularly vulnerable to fungal infections so using a high-quality filter is crucial during this process. The Scissortail eggs will hatch in approximately 24 hours, and they will then spend another 2 days eating the egg sac. Afterwards, they will become free swimming and should be fed fresh foods like brine shrimp and other small fry foods.  

Scissortail Rasbora male and female

There are not many differences between the male and female Scissortail, but main differences can be noticed in their size. Male Scissortails are smaller and have a more slender body while the females tend to be larger and have a more rounded abdomen, especially when viewed from above. During spawning season, male Scissortails will exhibit brighter colors than normal, and females will become larger from carrying eggs.

Common Diseases

Fortunately, Scissortail Rasboras are hardy fish that are not easily susceptible to disease, given that they receive proper care. Maintaining water parameters, providing a properly balanced diet, and keeping a tank that is clean and free of waste are the best ways to prevent disease and infection in these fish.

One of the most common diseases that affect this fish is fin and tail rot. Fin rot is characterized by a discolored, milky white or ragged looking fin, typically the caudal fin. You may also notice a lack of appetite in the affected fish. Fin rot is a bacterial disease that may result from a dirty or overcrowded tank or poor diet. Fin rot is relatively easy to cure but should be treated early to prevent it from spreading through the body or spreading to other fish, as it is contagious.

A tank that is not properly cleaned may also result in fungal infections, which are contagious as well. White or gray blotchy patches on the body are the most common sign of a fungal infection.

Separating an infected fish is important to keep spreadable diseases from affecting other fish in the community, so having a separate tank for the sick fish is advised.

Scissortail Rasbora and Tank Mates

Scissortail Rasbora is a peaceful and sociable fish, making them perfect in schools. They thrive in large community tanks, and it is ideal to keep them in groups of at least 5 or 6. Scissortails should be placed with fish that share the same calm and passive disposition as them and kept away from aggressive and fin nipping fish, as they are easily startled and may jump when scared.

Compatible Tank Mates for the Scissortail Rasbora

Some compatible tank mates for the Scissortail include other peaceful rasboras, some peaceful tetras, and danios. Livebearers that have been acclimated to acidic waters and bottom dwelling fish, such as corys and catfish, make good tank mates for the Scissortail as well. The colors of the Scissortail will become more vibrant when they are kept in tanks with their own kind.

Incompatible Tank Mates for the Scissortail Rasbora

Naturally aggressive fish are the most incompatible tank mates for the Scissortail. Species such as angelfish, bettas, gouramis, and zebra fish should not be placed in a tank with the Scissortails.

Where can you purchase a Scissortail Rasbora?

Scissortails are easily bred and available in the United States and can be found in many large chain pet stores, such as PetSmart and Petco, as well as in local shops. They will typically cost between $2 and $5.

Is the Scissortail Rasbora a good fish for home aquariums?

Scissortail Rasbora is a great fish, even for beginner aquarists since they require basic maintenance and care. They are a lively fast swimming fish that are fascinating to watch dart around and will bring enthusiasm, fun, and energy to your aquarium or community tank.