Zebra Danio (Zebrafish): Profile and Information

Zebra Danio (Zebrafish)

Zebra danio is a freshwater water fish that has gained popularity among fish hobbyists because it is one of the easiest types of egglayers to breed, and is easy to care for.

Zebra danio, also known as, zebrafish easily stands out among other fishes with its vibrant striped, zebra-patterned body.

This is a loyal fish that would stick to their breeding partner and mate throughout their life.

If you are a lover of fish looking for an active swimmer, then zebra danio should be on the list of fishes you should add to your tank.

Their endurance level is amazingly high and can withstand a different range of water temperature or conditions.

They can survive even without a water heater and would be comfortable at temperatures even as low as 60s F.

Breed overview

  • Common names: Zebrafish, zebra danio, striped danio
  • Scientific name: Danio rerio
  • Life expectancy: May live up to 5 years
  • Adult size: 6 centimeters (2 inches)
  • Origin: Eastern India
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Social: Calm, active, and suitable for community tanks
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Tank level: All levels
  • Min tank size: 10 gallons
  • Breeding: Egglayer
  • Care: Easy
  • Hardness: 5 to 12 dGH
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.0
  • Temperature: 18 to 24 C (64 to 74 F)

Origin and distribution

It was initially thought that zebra danios originated from a more significant part of Pakistan in the west and Myanmar in the east; however, an updated consensus showed that the species originated from some parts of Bangladesh and India.

Wild zebra danios have been seen in several habitats, ranging from fast-flowing streams to slow-flowing, some even near stagnant ponds.

The change in distribution is partly caused by the identification of similar species that was initially mistaken as zebra danio.

Not to mention environmental damage that leads to a reduction of habitable areas.

Although zebra danios are easy and less costly to raise, they are mostly always captive-bred. This makes them a major candidate for commercial breeding.

The result of the unlimited supply of this commercially bred zebrafish is the less robust version of the original wild zebrafish.

Colors and markings

Zebra danio can be easily distinguished among other fishes by its peculiar horizontal stripes. Blue-purple stripes run horizontally from gill to tail, setting off a slim and flattened silver-gold body of the fantastic fish.

The size (not more than two and a half inches) and the calm nature of the zebra danio gives them a sure place in a community aquarium.

Golden, albino, leopard, long-finned, and veil-tailed zebrafish varieties are readily available. The leopard strain can be easily spotted by copious dotting of black spots all over its body.

The leopard danio was initially grouped as a different species, but with further genetic studies, it’s been proven that the species is merely a spotted variation of the zebra danio, unlike the popular black and white stripes.

All danio rerios thrive best when kept in schools. Owners should never make the mistake of keeping them as singles.


Considerably peaceful fish, zebra danios get along just fine with most tankmates. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you find them nipping at the fins of some species of fish.

Fishes like angelfish, guppies, and bettas with long flowing fins are easy targets of zebrafish looking for some wild fun.

Some potential tankmates of the zebra danio May include loaches, swordtails, barbs, similar-sized gouramis, and corydoras catfish.

They are best in a school, in the company of at least five zebras. Groups of the zebra danio can be hierarchal, and this might inspire a pecking order in the school, but it’s really nothing to worry about.

It’s best to group tankmates that have similar temperaments. Preferably, fishes that are able to keep up with the active, fast-paced lifestyle of the zebra danio.

Slower fish that require a serene environment can become stressed easily if kept with zebrafish.

Zebra danio habitat and care

Zebra danios are surface-dwelling fishes that prefer moving waters. They are cold-water fishes that prefer water temperature ranging from 64 to 75F. Nonetheless; they can quickly adapt to a different range of water conditions.

They become more susceptible to disease if they are kept in water with low temperatures. Zebra danios are incredibly active, and although they prefer roaming the upper levels of the aquarium, they can also be seen moving throughout the entire tank.

An open swimming space, diffuse lighting, and vegetation scattered around should be provided for your zebras. To get a more natural feel, you can provide a darker substrate to help showcase the more apparent colors of your fishes.

Zebra Danio Diet

Zebra danios are omnivorous in nature and would accept almost all kinds of foods. Even though they don’t require any special diet, they wouldn’t mind fresh vegetable matter and small frozen or love invertebrates.

Sexual differences

Male zebras are much more slender and a bit smaller than females. Male zebra danios look a lot more torpedo-shaped, while female zebras have a more pronounced belly.

Both sexes possess two pairs of barbels with the same stripes, but female danios are typically larger. Rounder than the males, the belly of a female zebra danio puffs up when it’s filled with eggs.

Breeding of the Zebra Danio

Zebra danios are prolific breeders and are ideal for beginner fish owners. Interestingly, they tend to mate for life and also rarely spawn even when a mate dies. The easiest way to get mating pairs is to start with a school of at least half a dozen young zebra danios and allow them to choose their own mates.

You should have the breeding tank set up with shallow water, approximately (6 inches) deep. Design the tank with a spawning grid or fine-leafed plant on the bottom of the aquarium.

Another alternative is coarse gravel, as it helps collect eggs between the gravel pieces and protect them from adult zebra that may feed on them.

Spawning needs temperatures of up to 78F, and this can be achieved by increasing water temperature a couple of degrees near dawn when spawning usually takes place.

You can have about 300 to 500 eggs scattered across the base of the aquarium and on the plants. It is essential that breeders are removed after spawning takes place, else they would eat the young.

It takes two days for the fry to hatch, and they are usually very tiny. This is why it’s essential to be careful when maintaining nursery tanks so that the hatchlings don’t get lost. They can be fed finely crushed dry foods or commercially prepared designed for them.

Powdered eggs can also be added to their food to encourage growth. If zebra danios appeal to you, then you might be interested in some fish that have similar personalities;

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