Fish, Tanks and Ponds

Fish, Tanks and Ponds
A comprehensive guide to fish

Danio rerio

Zebra danio

Zebra danio, Danio rerioZebra danio, Danio rerio
Photos by Andy Rapson


Danio: Vernacular name fron India and Sri Lanka

General Notes:

Zebra danio are very lively fish which live near the surface most of the time. They are generally very peaceful but timid fish may feel intimidated by their lively behaviour. As well as the standard coloured zebra danio there is a variant where the lines have been broken up in to spots and this fish is called the leopard danio but the two are the same species and require exactly the same care. Zebra danios don't live as long if they are kept at high temperatures, they prefer the lower end of the tropical range; from the mid 60's to the low 70's, they can be kept in an unheated aquarium providing that there are large temperature swings between night and day, a safer option would be to use a heater and set it to 18°C. With good care zebra danios will live between 3 to 5 years or even a little longer.


Wild zebra danios feed on worms and small crustaceans also on insect larvae they have been introduced to new location in order to try to control mosquito larva. In captivity they are unfussy eaters and will thrive on all the usual commercially prepared dried food but their diet should also routinely include some live or frozen food to keep them in top condition.


The sexes are easy to tell apart when the fish are adult because the female is larger and much heavier and the males are more vibrantly coloured.


Zebra danios are very easy to breed and often recommended as a good first egg layer to breed. To condition the fish first raise the temperature by a few degrees and feed the fish heavily on high protein food such as live, frozen or freeze dried blood worms and similar. After a few days put either a pair or a small mixed group in a tank with either marbles or small pebbles on the floor. The eggs are non-adhesive and will fall between the gaps where they will be afforded some protection from the adults which would eat the eggs if given a chance. The eggs will normally hatch after 24 to 36 hours and the fry will be free swimming after another 36 hrs at which point the fry will begin feeding.

Zebra danio fry are much smaller than livebearer fry and so their food needs to be very small to begin with. The easiest option is to use a commercial liquid fry food and then newly hatched brine shrimps a little later and finally finely crushed flake food.

Wild status

The wild status of zebra danios is that of least concern, the fish is wide spread and not facing any threats across its entire range although a few populations are over exploited for the aquarium trade.

Information at a glance

pH: 6 - 8
dGH: 5 - 19
Temperature: 18 - 24°C (64 - 75°F)
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 3.8cm (1.7in)
Min tank size: 60 litres
Difficulty level: Easy
Aquarium type: Community
Swimming level: Top

Distribution and habitat

distribution map for Zebra danio, Danio rerio

Origin: Asia: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar Reported from Bhutan

Habitat: streams, canals, ditches, ponds. Occur in slow-moving to stagnant standing water bodies, particularly rice-fields and lower reaches of streams. Common in rivulets at foot hills


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Cypriniformes
Family: Cyprinidae
Genus: Danio
Species: D. rerio (Hamilton, 1822)

Common name:
Zebra danio, Leopard danio variant.

Synonyms: Danio frankei, Brachydanio frankei, Danio lineatus, Perilampus striatus, Cyprinus chapalio, Nuria rerio, Brachydanio rerio, Barilius rerio, Cyprinus rerio