Information, Cyprinids, Danios, Freshwater fish, Species

Zebra Danio (Zebrafish): Complete Species Overview

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by Jason Matthews



If you are a beginner in the aquarium industry, the zebra danio is a good choice to start with. This freshwater species can be quite low maintenance and are easy to care for, making them an excellent fit for your aquarium. Zebra danios are easily recognizable thanks to their zebra-like striped bodies.

When you get zebra danios for your aquarium, you need to know how to care for them, what they eat, how to breed them, their tank requirements and ideal tankmates, characteristics, and behaviors. This article will look at all you need to know about Zebra danios.


Scientific Name: Danio rerio

Common Names: Zebra danio, striped danio, zebrafish

Life Expectancy: 5 years

Adult size: About 2 inches


Beginner friendlyYes
Tank preferenceAll levels
Water temperature64 – 74F
Water parameterspH range 6.5 – 7.0, hardness of 5-12 GH
Tank sizeminimum 10 gallons
Tank compatibilityCommunity tanks

Fun Fact

Zebra danios are one of the species that have been launched to space. A total of 18 zebrafish were launched to the space station in 2015. Five fish returned alive on a previous Soyuz spacecraft while some chemically preserved fish were to be returned with the completion of the fifth SpaceX commercial resupply mission.


Zebra danios are originally from the tropical and subtropical waters in India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan. However, their natural habitat usually differs depending on the season. They can easily acclimatize and adapt to changing water temperatures in the summer and winter. Because of this, they are hardy fish when you need to maintain the temperature in the tank.

Additionally, zebra danios can be found in habitats with slow-flowing rivers, streams, ponds, and rice paddies. They also adapt to varying levels of light and vegetation.


You can’t miss zebra danios in your aquarium thanks to their distinctive markings. These fish species have silvery-gold colors with blue or purple stripes. These stripes stretch from the gill plate to the tail fin. Depending on the lighting, the stripes may appear grey or black.

Most of these fish varieties have rounded and short fins and rounded tails. However, you need to know that zebra danios come in different varieties, which are determined by the patterns, colors, and markings.

  • Long-fin zebra danio – long, flowy fins and a long tail
  • Leopard danios – a variation of zebra fish that crossbreeds with zebra danios


As an adult, zebra danios grow to about 2-2.5 inches. On rare occasions, some of them can get to three inches. Because of their size, they are a popular nano fish making them ideal for small tanks.

Gender Differences

It’s easy to differentiate the gender of your zebra danios. Males are usually gold in color and are quite slender. On the other hand, female zebra danios are silver in color and have a more rounded body. They also have a larger belly.


[Image by Petr Kuznetsov, Pixabay]

While zebra danios are peaceful, they are active and playful. They are also regular swimmers, so they are always on the move in the tank. Additionally, since they are diurnal, you’ll notice that they are more active at night.

Zebra danios are schooling fish, so they should be kept in groups to stay healthy and happy. If they are not within a school of their own kind, they could succumb to illness and stress. You can put them in groups of five or more. If they are too few, they get stressed, and if they are too many, they’ll start exhibiting territorial behavior.

Within their schools, they have a hierarchical system of dominance; therefore, they engage in non-aggressive chasing and play fighting. Although they are peaceful, they are known to be fin-nippers when you put them together with long-finned and slow-moving fish species.


Due to their size, zebra danios are well suited for a community tank. They are compatible with other peaceful fish species of the same size. Ideal tankmates include loaches, ember tetras, rosy barbs, peaceful gouramis, corydoras catfish, and swordtails.

Avoid housing this species with slow swimmers and long-finned fish like betta, guppies, and angelfish because zebra danios are fin-nippers. In addition, you should not put them together with aggressive, large tankmates who can attack them. Choose tankmates that can keep up with their fast pace.

Tank Size and Requirements

To avoid issues with the zebra danios, replicate their natural habitat in the tank as much as possible. If you keep a small number of zebra danios together, you’ll need a 10-gallon tank to allow them to swim freely. However, if you want to keep more than 6, you’ll need a bigger tank.

Their natural habitat is densely vegetated, tropical, and has pebbles. You can mimic this by adding many plants, suitable decorations, and a specialty substrate. Additionally, you can add rounded pebbles at the bottom of the aquarium.

Zebra danios prefer a water temperature of 64 -75F and hardness of 5-12 GH. You should maintain these conditions to protect your fish from becoming sick. You also need a filtration system to replicate the slow-moving waters from their natural habitat. Provide lighting to mimic the day-to-night cycle and help the plants’ growth.

Diet and Feeding

[Image by Petr Kuznetsov, Pixabay]

In the wild, zebra danios eat different foods, including worms, algae, mosquito larvae, and crustaceans. In captivity, they are also flexible, making it easy to take care of. Ensure that you provide a range of foods to give them all the necessary nutrients. 

You can feed them fish flakes, algae wafers, bloodworms, or greens like cucumbers and spinach. Also, remember to feed this fish species once or twice a day for about two minutes. You should then remove the excess food afterward to keep the tank clean.


Like other care processes, breeding zebra danios is also pretty easy. They spawn frequently and can produce more than 400 eggs at a time. The ideal way to breed this fish species is to allow them to pick a mate naturally by keeping young ones together in one group.

You’ll need a separate spawning tank because adult zebra danios eat the eggs. Raise the temperature to about 78F to help with the spawning. After the females lay eggs, remove the adults and wait for the fry to emerge after two days.


Zebra danios are a lively and entertaining addition to your tank. Apart from their popping patterns and colors, they are active swimmers. This fish variety will thrive in your tank if you provide the right conditions.

Featured image credit: [Image by Petr Kuznetsov from Pixabay]


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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