Zebra Danio – A Great Choice For Many Aquariums

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Zebra Danio are some of the most popular freshwater fish for home aquariums.

If you’re curious about what makes them a good choice for your tank, read on.

This zebra-striped fish is both gorgeous and tough, which makes them a great choice for many aquariums.

Zebra Danio come in lots of different colors and are a shoaling species that can bring diversity and life to your fish tank.

Want to know more about these fish?

Zebra Danio Overview (Danio rerio)

The striped Zebra Danio has been around in aquariums for many years.

This species is one of the most common aquarium fish. There are many reasons for why it is so popular.

Firstly, they are very hardy and easy to care for.

Add to this the fact that they are relatively peaceful and social making them a good fit for most community fish tanks.

Let’s dive in and see why you should consider them for your tank.

History of the Zebra Danio

Zebra Danios are small, freshwater fish native to South Asia.

This danio, which was originally only found in parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan has been released into the wild and can now be found in Columbia, Malaysia, and the US as well.

Danios belong to the Cyprinidae or minnow family and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and a number of different habitats.

They eat a range of different foods including things like plankton, algae, and small organisms, and will even eat worms if they cannot find their normal food.

These fish are so hardy and adaptable that they can be found in lakes, rice paddies, stagnant pools of water, and in fast and slow-moving streams.

They usually live in shallow, shaded waters with a sandy or silty pebbled-filled substrate.

Albino Zebra Danio

Size and Appearance

These fish are small in the wild and grow up to 2 inches but in aquariums, they can get a bit bigger.

In general, Zebra Danios live between 2-5 years.

They have a silvery/gold coloration with 5 blue stripes that extend from head to tail fin.

The background coloration of males in this species is more golden in color than that of females.

Females tend to have a silvery-white coloration.

Males are usually slimmer than females which are also rounder and fuller in shape.

It is worth noting there is another variation of this species which is the Longfin Zebra Danio.

They have been selectively bred to have longer fins than their wild counterparts.

Zebra Danios come in a variety of colors with a commonly found albino form.

Another color variation is the Golden Zebra Danio.

This type has a yellowish-golden body as a background to silver-white stripes.

Zebra Danios have also been genetically modified by using the genes of jellyfish to make them glow in the dark.

This highly contentious modification has produced fluorescent blue, orange, red, purple, and yellow Zebra Danios.

Zebra Danio Behavior

Danios are social, active, and like to live in groups. The minimum group size for Danios is 5 but it’s much better if you have 15 or more.

They can be shy and hide away when they’re on their own so this must be avoided at all costs.

Zebra Danios create a social order by playing and following each other.

They may nip from time to time but it is never harmful.

Zebra Danios like to hang out in the top and middle of your aquarium preferring open areas that are shaded.

These fish are similar in temperament to other peaceful species of similar size or shape, but they can be bothersome to slow-moving fish or fish with long fins.

While they form hierarchies through their play, they could inadvertently stress or injure slower-moving fish.

Care and Disease

Zebra Danios are usually straightforward to care for.

Providing you maintain them well, they are unlikely to get diseases or have an infection outbreak.

These fish, however, are prone to Mycobacteriosis, a common disease caused by non-motile bacteria in the water.

If your Zebra Danios are showing any of these signs then there is a strong possibility that they have contracted this disease.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Lethargy
  • Fin loss
  • Anorexia
  • Ulcers
  • Inflamed skin

Mycobacteriosis is difficult to treat and can spread quickly throughout your tank.

This disease can be passed on to humans so use full-length gloves and if you have any open cuts or wounds then do not even attempt to put your hands inside your aquarium.

Remove any fish that you suspect to have this disease and humanely euthanize them.

If the disease has already spread throughout the tank then you will have to euthanize all the fish and disinfect the tank before adding any new fish.

Zebra Danios can also be affected by intestinal nematodes (worms).

They will begin to lose weight and become very thin.

The infected fish should be removed from the aquarium and placed into a separate quarantine tank for treatment.

Long-Finned Zebra Fish

Tank Set-up For Zebra Danios

Zebra Danio are very easy to care for and co-habitat well in the majority of tanks.

They do not typically need a lot of fussing over to make them happy.

When it comes to the habitat, there’s a lot of room for creativity that Zebra Danios will enjoy.

They love tanks filled with natural items like driftwood and plants.

In addition, they enjoy being playful and exploring their habitat!

You can also use other decorations like logs, fake houses, and rocks to provide shelter for your fish.

However, try to keep the middle of the tank fairly open.

Wide swim areas are necessary so your fish have plenty of room to swim around in.

Tank Size

The tank size will depend on how many Zebra Danio you would like to keep.

A 10-gallon tank will be suitable for a group of 5, the absolute minimum size shoal needed for this fish.

If you would like a large shoal then a 50-gallon tank would look stunning with 25 – 30 Zebra Danio darting around.


This fish is not fussy when it comes to the substrate in the aquarium.

The most common substrate in their natural habitat is silty and sandy but they will do perfectly fine with normal aquarium gravel.

If you want them to really stand out then choose a dark substrate to show off their colors.


The plants will serve a few different purposes.

They’ll provide better water quality, by oxygenating the water and filtering it for pollutants.

Plants also provide some much-needed nutrients and oxygen.

Plants naturally provide shelter for fish to hide in and floating plants will tone down the aquarium lights.

Position tall plants near the back of the tank with medium and carpeting plants filling up the middle and front sections.

Zebra Danio Tank Mates

These fish also play well with most other types of fish, they are very peaceful and can easily live with other like-minded species.

It’s best to avoid any aggressive or larger species that could negatively affect or eat your Danios.

In nature, they can be seen with fish like the Indian Flying Barb, Honey Gourami, Scarlet Badis, or Emerald Pufferfish.

I have compiled a list of good tank mates for your Zebra Danio below:

Aquatic invertebrates are also an option, with aquatic snails like Zebra Snails and other nerites being good choices.

African Dwarf Frogs and freshwater shrimps like Cherry and Ghost Shrimp are also suitable.

Avoid long-finned fish because some Danios like to nip at their fins.

Zebrafish (Danio rerio)


The majority of the food should be quality flakes and you can occasionally feed algae-based flakes to vary their diet.

Being omnivorous they will appreciate fresh vegetables like cucumber, spinach, and zucchini.

Feeding live food like Daphnia and bloodworms to Zebra Danios can be a great treat once a week.

If you cannot find any then dried or frozen will work just as well.

Zebra Danio Breeding

Zebra Danio breeds easily which makes them perfect for beginners.

In the wild, breeding is induced by a change in temperature at the start of the dry season.

Separate the males and females and feed them live foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.

In the meantime, set up a small breeding tank of around 10 gallons using water from the main tank.

Set the temperature to between 71-80°F. Use a sponge filter to protect the fry.

After the two-week feeding period, the males and females can now be placed into the breeding tank with a ratio of 2 males for every female.

They will usually spawn within 24 hours.

The best way to tell whether your fish is breeding or not is by looking for eggs at the bottom of the tank.

If you find translucent eggs, it means they are fertile.

White or cloudy eggs are infertile.

After spawning, you should remove the males and females and put them back into the main tank.

They’ll eat the eggs if not separated. Fertile eggs take around 3 days to hatch into fry.

Fry need to be fed a special food for egg-laying species and should be moved onto a baby fish food for growth when they get bigger.

Final Thoughts

A school of Zebra Danios would be a great addition to any aquarium, whether you’re an experienced fishkeeper or just starting out.

They add character to your tank, are entertaining to watch, and are easy to care for.

Photo of author


Irma Bense is the founder of BetterFishkeeping.com. She has over 42 years of experience in keeping fish.She has kept both freshwater and saltwater fish through the years.She has extensive knowledge in breeding numerous species of fish from Show Guppies, Cory Catfish, German Blue Rams to Apistogrammas.You can learn more about Irma on the 'About' page.

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