Rainbow Fish

For the freshwater fish, see Rainbowfish.
The Rainbow Fish

Original German cover
Author Marcus Pfister
Illustrator Marcus Pfister
Country Switzerland
Language German
Genre Children's book (illustrated)
Publisher NordSüd Verlag
Publication date

The Rainbow Fish is a children's book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, Swiss author and illustrator, and translated into English by J. Alison James. The book is best known for its morals about the value of being an individual and for the distinctive shiny foil scales of Rainbow Fish. Decode Entertainment turned the story into an animated television series of the same name, which had aired on the HBO Family television channel in the United States from 1999 until 2001.


The story tells of a fish with shiny, multi-colored scales named Rainbow Fish. He is always fond of his scales. But one day, a small fish asks him if he could have one. Rainbow Fish refuses in a very rude way. The other fish are really upset about his behavior and don't want to play with him anymore.

Feeling upset, his only friend left, the starfish, tells him to go visit the mysterious octopus for advice. Rainbow Fish finds the octopus and asks what he should do. The octopus tells him that he must share the beauty of his scales with his friends.

When he encounters the small fish a second time, the Rainbow Fish gives her one of his precious scales and, seeing the joy of this little fish, feels immediately much better. Very soon Rainbow Fish is surrounded by other fish requesting scales and he gives to each of them one of his shiny scales.

The author about his book:

"'Rainbow Fish' has no political message. The story shows us the joy of sharing. We all enjoy making presents for Christmas or birthdays and we are feeling good doing so. I want to show to our children the positive aspect of sharing: To share does not only mean to give away something (which is quite hard for a child), but above all to make happy someone else - and itself."

The moral

Reviewers have called this a "cautionary tale about selfishness and vanity" and a reminder that "sharing brings happiness and acceptance,"[1] but the moral of the book has become a hotly debated topic. Interpretations include rejection of individuality and promotion of Socialism.[2]

The book series

With Dazzle the Dinosaur

On September 1998, the book was released on VHS & DVD with another book called Dazzle the Dinosaur which was published in 1994, the VHS and DVD includes 2 songs (Giving, and It's Called Courage).

Television series

Rainbow Fish was adapted into a children's animated television series. The television series does not, however, follow the plot of the book; rather it takes the character and the setting and creates a new story with them. There have been some characters added and others embellished upon for the purposes of the show. In the series, the place where the fish live is called Neptune Bay (It is named after Neptune (mythology), god of sea). The fish all attend school, which is aptly named "The School of Fish". There is a shipwreck called "Shipwreck Park" in the series that resembles the RMS Titanic. It was produced by Decode Entertainment and EM.TV for Sony Wonder.


Rainbow Fish: The proud, vibrant fish that lives with his mother and father. His favorite movie is Claminator 12. He loves it so much that it can lead to problems. He likes to play Clam ball, a fictional game which is in a place mostly. He was voiced by Rhys Huber.

Principal Gefilte: The proud Principal of The School of Fish, he is strict about behavior. Sometimes, he can get vain. Rainbow Fish gets annoyed when he insists that they all have to write book reports. He was voiced by French Tickner.

Sea Filly: In the first episode, she is a new girl in school. She is a beautiful seahorse, though she is half mermaid, half seahorse. She eventually becomes friends with Rainbow and Blue. She is often seen reading books. She is voiced by Chantal Strand.

Blue: Rainbow Fish's best friend, who is more down-to-earth and thoughtful than Rainbow Fish. He also enjoys playing Clam ball, and also loves Claminator 12. He is a blue fish and has a baby sister called Turquoise. She is a turquoise fish. He was voiced by Andrew Francis.

Ruby: She is Rainbow Fish's older sister who is a teenager. She is arrogant, bossy, self-centered and ruby-colored. Constantly, she gets Rainbow Fish into trouble, because she gets jealous, although she actually loves him. She has her own personal nickname for Rainbow Fish; she calls him "Barnacle Boy". She was voiced by Chiara Zanni.

Mrs. Chips: The teacher of the school. She teaches history, mathematics, science, and literature. She was voiced by Ellen Kennedy.

Wanda the Octopus: She is the owner of the Neptune Bay fast food restaurant. She is very wise and when Rainbow Fish is down she will always gives him advice. She was voiced by Kathleen Barr.

Chomper and Stingo: The two bullies of the school. They do not really commit acts of physical violence but they can bully and tease Rainbow Fish and his friends. Chomper is a shark while Stingo is a stingray. Chomper bullies more often than Stingo. They often call Rainbow Fish "Rainbow Creep", but sometimes call him other names, like on one episode, "Rainbow Girl". Chomper was voiced by Christopher Gray and Stingo was voiced by Bill Switzer.

Sherman: The smallest of the school. He is a salt-water shrimp. To him everything looks big. In the episode where he arrives to Neptune Bay, Rainbow Fish treats Sherman as a shrimp. In the end when Rainbow Fish gets stuck deep in the bowels of a shipwreck, Sherman hears from the TV and goes and rescues Rainbow Fish. Rainbow apologizes for his behavior. He was voiced by Alex Duduk.

Sol and Aqua: Aqua is an aqua-colored fish and is Rainbow Fish's mother. Sol is purple and is Rainbow's dad. They help their daughter and son whatever way they can and will always provide them with great courage. Sol was voiced by John Payne whilst Aqua was voiced by Ellen Kennedy.

Sir Sword: Local swordfish, upper-class and a bit of a busybody. He is sometimes grumpy, sometimes civil, but always seems to think he is better than everyone else. Plays Santa Sword to the kids at the local Guppies hospital. He was voiced by Colin Murdock.

Ret and Snapper: The two builders. They appear in only one episode, Moving Day. Rainbow Fish thinks they are going to be moving and Ret and Snapper will buy the house. He and his friends plan to make the house as much of a wreck as possible in order to put off any potential buyers. His parents reveal they were going to build a new recreation room.

Goldie: She appears in only one episode, Rainbeau De Bergerac. She has a crush on Blue, and Rainbow Fish attempts to bring them together. However, Chomper and Stingo soon ruin the plan.

Rainbow Fish's other classmates: They do not speak in any episode, but, however, they are different shapes, sizes and color. The first one is: a brown fish, the second one: has long body and colored violet, the third one: colored gold and has a reddish-like lips, the last one: has a sleek body and has the same color as the second one. Their names are not revealed in any episode since.


No. Title Summary
1a "Rainbow Fish and the New Girl at School A new girl, Sea Filly (who is half-seahorse, half-mermaid) comes to Rainbow Fish's school and Rainbow and his best friend Blue welcome her.
1b "Rainbow Fish Meets Wayne Grunion" Rainbow is excited to meet his hero, renowned hockey star Wayne Grunion, when he comes to town for a visit.
2a "Rainbow Fish Plays the Conch Shell" In the school band, Rainbow Fish is assigned the conch shell, the hardest instrument in the band to play. Rainbow is then forced to practice and he does so, making for a better performance at the school concert.
2b "Riptide" When Rainbow Fish and his friends attempt a dangerous sport called 'Riptiding', Blue is swept away on a riptide and his friends must find him.
3a "Rainbow Gets an 'A"' Rainbow Fish gets a bad report card, but Rainbow's classmate Kelp help change it so his parents won't be annoyed at his appalling grades.
3b "Grandpa's Fishy Tale" Rainbow is not enthusiastic about spending time with his grandpa while his parents are away at the store, thinking he will be bored, but when his grandpa tells him an amazing story that hides an incredible secret, Rainbow discovers that old people can be exciting after all.
4a "Rainbow's Dental Dilemma" Rainbow fears visiting the dentist, but when he goes, he discovers that dentists aren't as bad as he thought they were.
4b "Rainbow Fish and the Pop Star" Rainbow mistakenly brags to his friends that he knows the famous pop star, Bruce Sturgeon, which lands him in trouble and causes him to force Bruce Sturgeon himself to perform at the school.
5a "Sherman Shrimp" A new student, Sherman Shrimp, comes to school and Rainbow treats him badly. However, after Sherman saves Rainbow from a shipwreck, Rainbow realizes that he has been bad to Sherman all along.
5b "Lost in Crumbling Canyon" Chomper, the school bully, gets lost in a canyon with Rainbow Fish, and the two opposites must work together to find their way out.
6a "The Golf Lesson" Rainbow fools around with his father's golf club and breaks it, causing him to search for a new one before his father's big game with Sir Sword.
6b "Ruby's Adventures in Babysitting" Ruby decides to babysit their guppy neighbors' baby, Ferdie, and says Rainbow is too irresponsible to help her. However, Ferdie turns out to be more troublesome than expected and runs away. Rainbow then finds him and Ruby apologizes for what she said.
7a "Sir Sword Goes Back to School" Sir Sword needs to finish third grade, so he attends Rainbow's school.
7b "Rainbeau De Begerac" Blue has a crush on Goldie, but he's too shy to ask her on a date, so Rainbow decides to use a horn to amplify Blue's voice. However, Chomper and Stingo soon ruin the plan.
8a "Big Fish on Campus" When Blue becomes a hall monitor, he lets the power go to his head.
8b "Sibling Rivalry" Blue gets a new baby sister and he feels left out because of the attention his mom and friends are giving to the baby.
9a "One Fish's Treasure" Rainbow finds a sea-monkey bowl that he likes, and so he lines it with his sister Ruby's magazine and treasures it.
9b "Project Rainbow Fish" Rainbow learns a lesson about charity and works on a project involving it.
10a "Ruby Slips In" Ruby is always intruding on conversations between Rainbow Fish and his friends, and Rainbow is not happy about it.
10b "Working Fish" Rainbow gets a job at the Candy Counter to earn money.
11a "Cecil B. Derainbow" Rainbow takes up making movies and casts himself as the director.
11b "Rainbow's Pen Pal" Rainbow's pen pal is coming to visit him and Rainbow is excited.
12a "Campus Current" Sea Filly becomes the editor of the school newspaper.
12b "Fish Alone" Burglars break into Rainbow's house one afternoon and ruin it.
13a "Rainbow Fish and the In Crowd" Rainbow and Blue decide to show Chomper and Stingo they're not babies by hanging out with a new clique.
13b "Knights of the Coral Table" Sir Sword lends Rainbow a book that he becomes hooked on and can't stop reading.
14a "Bad Luck Ruby" When Ruby encounters a series of unfortunate events one day, she believes she has been cursed.
14b "Father's Day" Rainbow tries to give his dad a good gift on Father's Day, but everything turns out wrong.
15a "Prehistoric Pal" Rainbow finds a hole in the ground that an extinct coelacanth called Carl swims out of. However, Carl spends most of his time in the modern world trying to impress Ruby.
15b "May the Better Fish Win!" Rainbow, Blue, and Sea Filly all compete for the role of class president.
16a "Blue's Fishy Catch" Blue tries hard to win the Clamball championship, but he just can't.
16b "To Catch a Thief" Rainbow is suspicious of his sister when she starts acting oddly. However, it turns out she is just making a surprise gift for their parents.
17a "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" Rainbow's mom invites his teacher, Mrs. Chips, to dinner, and Rainbow is worried that she will act like a teacher.
17b "It's a Wonderful Fish" A guardian angel fish shows Rainbow the value of his life.
18a "Moving Day" Rainbow fears his parents are planning to sell the house to two fish called Ret and Snapper, and so his friends attempt to make his house as much of a wreck as possible to avoid it being sold. However, Rainbow then discovers his parents are planning to build a new recreation room and repairs the house.
18b "Romantic Dinner" Rainbow and Ruby prepare an anniversary dinner for their parents.
19a "The Bodyguard" Rainbow saves a whale's life, and, in return, the whale becomes his bodyguard.
19b "Mom's Away" Rainbow is not pleased when his mother gets a job in his school.
20a "How Sea Filly got her Groove Back" After being teased by her classmates, Sea Filly decides to take up cheerleading to prove herself worthy, causing Blue and Rainbow to worry about her becoming a different person.
20b "High Tide Noon" Rainbow stands up to Chomper and Stingo, earning the school's affection.
21a "Game Girl" After watching Rainbow and Blue play it, Sea Filly becomes addicted to a video game called Clam Blaster and hardly does anything else.
21b "There's No Business Like Show Business" Rainbow, Blue, and Sea Filly hearing the tale of two feuding crabs who were once song-and-dance partners, and set out to bring them back together.
22a "Sea Filly Needs a Helping Fin" Sea Filly gets a bad grade on a math test and worries greatly.
22b "Prince Blue" When Blue looks at his book and mistakenly thinks his ancestors were royalty, he starts behaving like a prince.
23a "Pool Shark" When Chomper's relative, a pool-playing master, comes to Wanda's refreshment shop, he beats everyone in pool by secretly cheating. Rainbow, unaware of this at first, is in awe and decides to become his assistant, then discovers his secret. Rainbow then declares a match to determine that Chomper's relative is cheating. Rainbow then wins, and the other player leaves the shop forever.
23b "Halloween Under H2O" Rainbow tries to put Sea Filly in the Halloween spirit, then has a haunting Halloween dream, and wakes up to find Sea Filly has scared him in his sleep.
24a "Eviction Notice" A real-estate fish is scared by a ghost in a house in Rainbow's neighborhood and he tells the whole neighbor to evict.
24b "The Vacation Rainbow, Blue, Sea Filly, and Sherman Shrimp go on a camping trip.
25a "Cave Mates" Blue and Rainbow's friendship is tested when Blue comes to stay at Rainbow's house.
25b "Chomper, Master Thespian" Chomper is given the lead role in the school play, but he mistakenly believes acting is for wimps.
26a "Rainbow's Hiccups" Rainbow's love of kelp gusher drinks causes him to get hiccups.
26b "Santa Sword is Coming to Town" Rainbow Fish helps Sir Sword dressed as Santa Sword on Christmas Eve.


  1. "Editorial Reviews". "The Rainbow Fish" Product Description.
  2. Steinman, Eric. "Lit Crit: The Rainbow Fish". Lit Crit: The Rainbow Fish.

External links

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