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Main Index > Detailed Fish Profiles > Cyprinids > Zebra Danio
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This page will give a completely detailed profile of the selected fish, from A to Z. The profiled fish will be chosen randomly by Badman, and will come from the complete genre of tropical fish. New profiles are added on a regular basis. If you would like to submit a profile for the site please contact me. Don't forget to let us know you experiences with this fish by filling out the


Zebra danio

Danio rerio


    Perhaps the most common fish in the world. The zebra has been around for many years. Although not one most beautiful fish, its fast movements and ease of care make it one of the most widely kept species.

Quick stats:

    Listed tank sizes are the minimum
    Size: Up to 2 1/2 inches (6cm)
    Tank: 20 inches +
    Strata: All, mostly top and middle.
    PH: 6.5-7.2
    Hardness: Soft, medium-hard
    Temperature: 65 to 78°F (18 to 24°C)


    Order: Cypriniformes
    Suborder: Cyprinidei
    Family: Cyprinidae
    Genera: Brachydanio
Zebra danio var_frankei
Leopard variety (var frankei)


Common name:

    Zebra Danio , Zebra fish

Image gallery:

    Additional species photographs


    Badmans' Forum


    Asia: India to Bangladesh

Zebra danio

General Body Form:

    Long and slender, you could say the Zebra has the classic fish shape. There are really no distinguishing features that make the Zebra stand out. The mouth faces slightly upward and has two sets of Barbels. Females are generally larger with a more rounded belly.


    Although, not a stunning fish the Zebra is handsome in its own way. The background color is leans toward gold in the male and a paler Yellow in the female. There are four long Blue / Black stripes that run the length of the body from head to tail. The combination give a stripped effect and the basis of the common name. The anal and caudal fins has the same pattern. The top portion of the body is Brown and the belly area a pale Yellow.

    In their home waters the zebra is extremely active and always on the move. We need to provide for this in our home aquariums. The tank should be fairly large with length being more important than height. The ideal tank should be at least thirty inches in length. Decorate the tank with plantings and rockwork, but always leave plenty of open space for swimming. They will take all types of commercial food from live , flake to frozen. They are a hardy species that are not overly demanding in their water conditions and make the ideal fish for the cycling of the tank. Today we see many inbred and twisted zebras in the store tanks, and it would be nice to see some fresh importation from the wild to give vigor back to our tank-bred strains.

    Found in clear fast flowing streams and similar waters. They tend to stay in large open areas near the surface
    Zebras are one of the easiest fish to breed providing you meet certain requirements. Condition the zebras with the best food possible (white worms, or tubifex ) for a week or so. Then you will need a separate tank, Preferably 5-10 gallons. The tank should have gravel or marbles on the bottom and the water level kept low or the fish will eat the eggs as soon as they are laid. Put several conditioned Danios in the tank to make sure you have both male and female. Watch for the spawning activity. Once the eggs are laid they fall in between the marbles and the parents cannot eat them. Once a few hours have passed remove the fish. The eggs should hatch in a day or so and if after a couple of days you see no fry you may try again after the fish are rested and reconditioned. Raising the fry can be difficult. Once they are free swimming you should feed them with finely ground flakes, paramecium, inforusia or commercial liqui-fry.
zebra breeding

Your comments:


Please remember that the following comments are personal experiences and may or may not apply to your setup. Use them as guide to help better understand your fish, like us all individuals will behave differently under different circumstances.


From: Kim
Love the 'ocelot' pattern mixed with long fin golden zebras. They go beautifully and easily with baby clown loaches, horse faced loaches, dojo loaches, yo yo loaches- you get my point, in a black water heavily planted SE Asian biotope or mixed with a pair of electric blue ram, school of diamond tetra or similar build characin and a dwarf bnp- I'm currently in love with my newly acquired Panama red bristle nose pair. I stumbled across this mixed black water biotope on accident while using a 40b to acclimate my small amazon inspired and southeast Asian inspired from one connected aquaponic system to their upgraded large tanks (smallest is 125g largest is 350g= 8 more planters for my garden). In my acclimation 40b I keep water sprite, ludwiga palustrus, ludwiga repens, Java moss and patches of crypt w. 'tropica' with the rams in a secure spot behind a water lily bulb and driftwood, diamond tetra schooling in the middle, these guys darting out and about in the floating water sprite, it was quite eye catching. I've noticed that my gold zebra have turned from yellow and white to an almost salmon and metallic gold and my diamond tetra are prettier than I ever pictured them when I first put them in their new set up. These little bitty surface show pieces are incredibly over looked because a lot of people don't realize how absolutely stunning they look when their natural habitat is replicated and their natural diet simulated. I would definitely suggest these guys to anyone starting out on their first nature scape inspired 30+ gallon tank as they are very adaptable and peaceful providing just enough surface motion and sparkle when paired with floating plants to bring out shy centerpiece fish out of hiding with out taking over the show! Perfect for beginners and experts and everyone in between.
From: Ony
They may be common and not massively colorful but I am totally smitten with them. They make great tank mates for my paradise fish and are really interesting to watch. They are totally different fish once settled into the tank so don't judge by what you see in the shop. Mine started off a silvery colour but changed into a very rich gold with subtle blue and orange shimmers. It also took them about a week to start using all levels of the tank instead of just the surface but I now have Danios zipping out of the carpeting plants when I least expect it. Definitely a fish worth keeping on its own merits.
From: Jeni
Had gathered much info from this site, so thought I should contribute my experience. I'm new to breeding Danios, all by accident really. Within a month of setting up my 5ft tank, I had very busy zebra danio's chasing each other. A few days later I did a gravel vacuum, and emptied the water into the bath, letting it go down the drain. On the 4th bucket I decided to put the plug in, and discovered babies in the bucket. (Who knows how many I sent down the drain...)We moved them to the main tank, in a floating fry tank covered with an ankle stocking around it for finer holes. Left this to float on the top. Discovered that the water surface doesn't get agitated enough in these and babies died off. When I let fresh water in the top daily, the fish were much happier. Did another gravel vac 2 weeks later, and found more fry, so suspected they'd had another batch. My Leopard Danio girl got very plump, so I moved her and her mate into a small tank for spawning one night, and the next morning she was very busy getting the eggs out, and he was chasing her catching a few each batch, for his supper. It was great viewing. She laid about 250 eggs then I moved him back to the main tank, gave her some time alone, then put her back with the others. 2 days later the fry began to hatch. Over the next few days the numbers rapidly grew. It is now 2 weeks since they were laid, and it seems that some of them are still hatching. There are babies about 4mm long, and some that look just 2 days old. Makes me wonder if they lay dormant in the tank perhaps, hence me previously finding them over a 2 week period in the gravel cleans from the main tank. So I now have about 250 baby fish, very happily living on the kitchen bench and eating only baby bites fry food. Don't know what I'll do with them when they get bigger... pet shops? They better hurry up and grow,because it seems another batch are on the way soon.
From: Gigi
I bought 3 Long Finned Zebra Danios for my mom's tank and they are so much fun to watch. They are so playful. Their movement reminds of seals when they swirl around in circles with each other. The female is very curious. She is not afraid to touch new fish with her head and follow them around until she's sure about them. They swim in their own little world oblivious to the other fish in the tank. I have them in a 20G tank with 2 Opaline Gourami and 1 Oto Catfish. All seem to be getting along just fine.
From: Eva Fiederer
I have 3 Zebra's in a 30G tank. I had 6 to begin with, but lost the other 3 to new tank syndrome. The Zebra's are housed with 2 Swords, 1 Angel, 4 Platy's, 6 Black Tetra Hets, 2 Gourami's and a Pitbull Pleco. I have never seen them get aggressive with any of the other fish, they zip around the whole tank chasing each other. I started a breeding tank for my rosy barbs, which are in a different tank, and I looked over at my community tank, and saw my Zebra's spawning. Believe it or not, I used a fish net to capture a whole bunch of eggs, took them to my breeding tank, put them into a floating net breeding tank, and the next day, I had Zebra fry. The first couple of days, I thought that they had died, I couldn't see them, they are so small. But then they started to come out and I have roughly 30-40 Zebra fry. I the main breeding tank, I have about 14 Rosy fry, as I lost a bunch of them due to the floating net tank getting squished up against the glass of the tank. I hope its just because they are hiding and I have more. We shall see. I think the Zebra's are a great addition to my community tank, and they do add speed to the tank, as do the fry. That's how I know they are the Zebra fry, by their speed. Enjoy.
From: Megan
When I first heard of zebra danios I was just browsing my local petsmart wondering what fish were compatible with male bettas other than neons when the man next to me suggested a trio of danio's for my 10 gallon. I first got them just to humor the man but a few days after adding them I can't imagine a community tank without them. Now that I've upgraded to a 36 gallon I can't wait to add more. They're full energy and dart about the tank playing this odd ball game of tag. Their energy also seems to be contagious as they know the best way to stir everyone else up and get everyone moving.
From: Laura
I think these fish are underrated because they're so cheap to buy and easy to keep. They have loads of character, very playful and curious, are wonderful to watch, and I think they're very attractive with the blue and gold stripes. I really recommend them highly, and not just for cycling the tank.
From: Courtney
I think Zebra Danios are great! I just bought two to cycle my tank with and they have been doing great. I will probably get more because they are a schooling fish. They are very hardy and they get along with just about any other fish. At first when you see them you might think that they look boring but they are sooooo much fun to watch. Mine play "tag" with each other, don't worry they don't hurt each other. I am really glad that I got mine. But like I said you should have more than just one or two, you should have about four or five at least. They don't get to big either so they won't take up two much room in your tank. They get to be about 2 inches when full grown but I think the males are longer and thinner than the females which tend to be shorter and fatter/rounder. I know that because the two I have now are a male and a female. If you have room in your tank I definitely recommend these fun little fish!!!
From: Mr. Fishman
These fish are some of the most energetic fish you can buy, and where I get them they are only 79 cents. I do not agree that they must be kept in a 30 inch tank, I had six in a 10 gallon with some cories. Please do not keep them with larger fin nippers, as a Buenos Aires Tetra bit one of my danio's tail, and it then got stuck to the outside of my filter. They do not eat very much, so be careful not to overfeed them. Although these fish are not very cool looking, they are a great beginner fish and are entertaining to watch.
From: Gary Lasseter
I have recently started back breeding zebra danios. I was surprised to see the method I use to breed them is nowhere on the Internet. It's quite simple, I just take about 6 or 7 of them (half male half female) and put them in a plastic breeding trap with the bottom taken out. I leave them in the aquarium overnight and in the morning I have hundreds of eggs all over the bottom of the tank. I then take them out and watch the eggs develop and hatch. I find it much more enjoyable and way less complicated. I strongly urge anyone interested in breeding zebras to try it.
From: Laurel
Zebra Danios are some of the cutest fish to keep. I don't like the long finned variety(Something to me doesn't look right). They are very hardy little fish and I have heard they're common. I disagree with this profile saying they need a 20+ inch tank. I have 6(2 are about 1.5 in + 4 are less then 1 in) in a 10G aquarium... I will be getting more about 4-9 but this will occur once I get my 55G tank(Late Dec. Early Jan.)... They are wonderful to have especially if you're a beginner as they not Water Sensitive(as long as it's not like 8.5 pH or something like that). Badmans note: A ten gallon tank is 20" long.
From: Ronnie
Excellent fish to cycle your tank with if not used in abundance (5 per 20 gallons). Can be fin nippers if in overcrowded condition but otherwise an excellent starter fish.
From: David
Breeding - a method I use with lots of success: Float a mat of alga on the surface of their aquarium (spyrogira is good) and watch the fish leap onto the mat and spawn on there and then. Remove the mat and put into a black bucket with fresh clean water in it. If you keep the the temperature at 80 deg F - you should see the young sticking to the side of the bucket in a day or so (up to seven days I find) Once they are free swimming CAREFULLY remove them to a small container and feed "Liquifry" and then, later, micro worm. If you do it right - you can get plenty of fry from one spawning. Happy breeding.
From: OrrMate
A brilliant fish for beginners,easy to raise,fins grow big and flowing,which,disagreeing with what it says in the profile,makes it a beautiful fish.

From: connel
This fish is quite easy to keep and to breed, its a good community fish and does well in a well planted tank







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