Zebra Danio: Everything You Need to Know

The Zebra Danio is considered a top choice for owning a low-maintenance freshwater fish. This popular aquarium fish has origins in India and Bangladesh, and their habitats include fast-moving streams to quiet ponds. Today, you can buy them just about anywhere because they are easy to raise and inexpensive.

Those who own zebra danio love these fish because of the different varieties and amazing colors and shapes. Whether you want stripes, spots, or bright neon-colored varieties, these passive fish will light up a room and entertain.

This guide will help you unearth everything you need to know about Zebra Danio fish. From setting up a tank, a few breeding tips, primary care, and more! Read further to learn more about the Zebra Danio.

Zebra Danio Overview

The exotic zebra danio originates along the streams and rivers of India and Bangladesh. So if you were hoping to catch some in the wild, you would have to travel across the ocean to see these vibrant little guys when they are in season.

The zebra danio, also known as the Danio rerio, comes from the Cyprinidae family. These beauties live up to their name of being Zebra Danios as they have slimmer bodies and black and white stripes that appear to run along their bodies.

Zebra danio is surface-dwelling fish, and you will likely see them spending a lot of time in the upper parts of the aquarium.

Zebra danio is diurnally active, meaning they are more likely to be active during the day instead of being active during the night. With a lifespan of 3 to 5 years and their gentle and playful nature, the zebra danio is well known for its ‘bubbly’ and makes for a perfect tank mate to most fish.


The male zebra danio fish are smaller and more torpedo-like in shape than the female zebra danio fish. Females also have a larger belly that will balloon when full of eggs. Zebra danio fish have distinct horizontal stripes that run along their body from gill to tail, making them easily recognizable. Though they are known for their zebra-like appearance, the zebra danio come in various colors and species.

There are golden, albino, leopard, and ling-finned zebra danio varieties. The leopard variety is an eye-catching attractive fish with black spots on its body and is great for beginner fishkeepers. The albino variety can’t be easily found in the wild because they are easy prey. However, they are widely bred among fishkeepers. With so many varieties, your aquarium will shimmer in different colors and shapes.

Zebra danio doesn’t get bigger than two inches and is well-suited to live in a community. They are peaceful fish but avoid adding other species with long fins, such as angelfish, because they may nip at them.

When your Zebra danio gets sick or stressed, they will discolor, and when they are trying to mate, they’ll get brighter and bolder.

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Tank Setup

Ideal tank conditions for a zebra danio are as follows:

  • Temperature: The temperature should range from 64-77 to ensure that the fish are kept in the perfect temperature water. If you want to start breeding, the temperature will have to increase in a separate tank slowly.
  • Tank size: The tank size should be a minimum of 10 gallons, and an additional 2 gallons should get added per fish that you keep in the tank.
  • Tank setup: Your tank should be set up with a substrate and fine, soft sand along the bottom of the tank. Smooth rock, additional plants, and caves are perfect for fostering a playful and interactive environment for your fish.
  • Water type: The water should flow at a slow-flowing rate that is medium to hard.

Using sand, pebbles, and bogwood are great additions to the aquarium because they replicate the sandy river beds of their natural habitats. Wash the sand well to prevent the water from becoming cloudy. Add plants like Java ferns to aid in oxygen circulation, and it gives the fish a place to explore, hide, and minimize territorial behavior.

Other Specifications

Your tank should have lighting as specific species of Danio require a blue light to accent their neon colors. Lighting is also necessary to encourage plant growth.

In terms of oxygenating your tank, you will need to have a pump and can incorporate a bubbler to add additional levels of oxygen to your tank.

Freshwater fish do not usually get sick, but to avoid your fish getting diseases like Ich and Mycobacteriosis, you should frequently change your water and ensure that a pH balance of 6.8-8.0 is maintained.

Zebra Danio Tank Mates

Zebra Danio Tank Mates

Zebra danio is an energetic and socially interactive fish; they should be housed with other lively or otherwise peaceful fish of the same size. Other fish that would make for great tank mates to the zebra danio are:

  • Ember Tetras
  • Rummy Nose Tetras
  • Rosy Barbs
  • Scarlet Badis
  • Gouramis (specifically Honey Gouramis)

However, before you begin to think of other tank mates for your zebra danio, you must buy a school of at least five other zebra danio before you include other species of fish in your tank. By introducing other zebra danios to the tank first, your fish will have already established their order of hierarchy. As a result, they can engage in playful, non-aggressive behavior with the other fish you eventually add to your tank.

Fish that should not be tank mates with your zebra danios include the following:

  • Zebra Snails
  • Blue Velvet Shrimp
  • African Dwarf Frogs
  • Other, larger predatory fish (they will view the zebra danio as food)

You should also avoid housing your zebra danio with a slow swimming and long-finned fish mate as the zebra danios are known to be annoying to these fish and have a habit of being fin-nippers to long-finned fish.

Nutrition and Diet

The zebra danio is omnivorous and feeds on live invertebrates and fresh vegetable matter. These foods can include the following:

  • Fish flakes (high quality)
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Algae wafers
  • Daphnia
  • Blood worms

To ensure that your zebra danio is eating a correct diet, you should ensure that they eat live meals twice a week and have eating sessions twice a day. When you want to start breeding your zebra danio, you should increase the number of live foods they eat.

Breeding Zebra Danio

The zebra danio is perfect for those just starting to breed. Their easygoing nature and social personalities make them easier to maintain. In addition, the zebra danio does not take a second mate, so they will mate with any other fish even if their mate dies.

If you are hoping to breed these excellent little fish, you will have to do so under specific conditions. These conditions include:

  • Start a school with half-a-dozen zebra danios. Starting the school will allow the zebra danios to choose their mate; this is the best way to encourage the zebra danio to breed.
  • Once the fish have chosen their mates, setting up a second tank specifically for breeding is essential. The second tank should be shallow, with around 6 inches of water. It would be best to decorate the tank with fine-leafed plants and gravel. Courser gravel works best because it protects the eggs.
  • To encourage an ideal environment for breeding, increase the temperature of the breeding tank to temperatures around 78 around dawn. For the best results, you should slowly increase the temperature near dawn.
  • Once the fish have spawned, the female zebra danio can lay from 300 to 500 fry! Once the female has finished spawning, you should remove the adult zebra danio as they are known to consume their young as they hatch.
  • The fry will begin to hatch in two days and will not take much to be well taken care of. Alternatively, you can feed the fry commercially sold food for fry or provide them dry, finely crushed food.

Please note that the fry will be extremely tiny once they have hatched and can be difficult to see at first. Therefore, you should take extra precautions when changing the tank water to avoid losing any.

Final Thoughts

Zebra danio is a social fish and needs to be kept around other fish schools. The zebra danio thrives in conditions where they can be social and should be kept in a school of at least five other fish. Don’t worry about having other species with them – they are gentle in nature.

The brightly colored fish maintain their hierarchy system in the tank through non-aggressive chasing. This encourages more social interactive behavior between your fish as they will be more playful with one another.

Add plants, sand, and bogwood, and make your tank as natural as possible for the cute zebra danio. Ensure the temperature is well maintained, and see your fish thrive!