Zebra Danios Care 101: The Ulitmate Guide

The Zebra Danio (Danio rerio) is a tiny, bright freshwater fish that is very popular in the aquarium trade among fish keepers.

These schooling fish are native to water bodies throughout India and Bangladesh, where they swim together in large groups.

In this guide, we will go over everything you need to know about Zebra Danio care, including their diet, habitat, tank mates, and more!

Zebra Danios History

In 1822, Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, a renowned scientist who significantly aided in the study of India’s nature, described zebra danios.

As a result of continual updating, the species was reclassified as the Danio genus and is now known by its scientific name Danio rerio.

Zebra Danios Origin & Habitat

The zebra danio fish is native to tropical and subtropical areas in India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

These fish live in a variety of habitats, from slow-moving streams to fast-moving and even stagnant ponds.

As long as there’s a murky bottom, plenty of plant life on the edge, and a few stones for them to hide under, they’re content!

Zebra Danios Size

The Zebra Danio grows up to 2.5 inches long. Additionally, there are reports exist of Zebra Danio reaching 3 inches in length.

However, they only reach this size when they live in ponds rather than in an outdoor aquarium. 

This is generally owing to a greater amount of space and natural food available in ponds in contrast to tanks.

Zebra Danios Lifespan

Generally, Zebra Danio fish have a lifespan of 2-5 years. However, this varies and depends on how well you care for it. 

Like any other pet, Zebras need good care to live a long and healthy life!

Zebra Danios Appearance & Colors

The zebra danio’s name comes from the five blue stripes horizontally running across its body and continuing onto its caudal fin.

During the larval stage, these blue stripes are transparent and they gradually darken as the fish matures.

In addition, they have tapered and compressed bodies on the sides, with pointed-up mouths.

The male zebra danios are like missiles with lined up golden and blue stripes in a row. 

While the female has a bigger white belly and silver lines between the blue stripes.

Compared to males, female zebra danio has lighter pink coloration and more rounded bodies. 

A plus, adult females have a small genital papilla located on their anal fin.

Zebra Danio Tank Requirements

Water Cycling Frequency

Although zebra danios are hardy fish, it’s important that you properly cycle your tank before adding them.

Cycling your aquarium is crucial to keeping your fish away from ammonia and nitrites, which can be extremely harmful (and even fatal) to them.

Depending on the fish population in your aquarium, change 25 percent of the water every one to two weeks.

pH Level & Water Hardness

One of the most important things to consider when setting up your Zebra Danio tank is the pH level.

The ideal pH level for them is between 6.8-7.2. To avoid any drastic changes in pH, I recommend using a water test kit to regularly test the levels in your tank.

As for water hardness, Zebra Danios prefer soft to moderately hard water. 

This means that the level of dissolved minerals in your water should be between 8 to 12 dGH.

Water Temperature

When it comes to water temperature, Zebra Danios are very tolerant and can adapt to a wide range of conditions.

The optimum temperature for them is between 64 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Any fluctuations in temperature can shock your fish and cause them stress, which can lead to disease.

Therefore, I suggest using an aquarium heater to maintain a consistent temperature in your tank.

Tank Size

Although they are small species, zebra danios are schooling fish and prefer to live in groups.

For this reason, it’s important that you provide them with enough space to swim and explore. The ideal size is at least a 10-gallon tank for 5 fish.

Just follow this golden rule: For every two inches of fish, you need one gallon of water. This way, you won’t be confused when stocking your tank.


Zebra danios prefer clear water with some movement, so a filter is necessary to keep the water clean and circulated.

You can install a canister filter since it will replicate the water conditions of their natural habitat.

However, if the other fish in the tank requires a filter with less water flow, consider adding a decorative bubbler to your aquarium.

This will give your danios some enrichment without disturbing the peace of their tank mates.

Lighting Requirements

Zebra danios prefer diffused light and do not need any special lighting requirements.

To provide the ideal lighting, you can simply provide them with natural light or add some floating plants to lessen the light intensity.

Suitable Plants

Aquarium plants are a great addition to any aquarium because they help oxygenate the water, provide hiding places for your fish, and give your tank a natural look.

Some good plants for zebra danios are:

  • Amazon Sword
  • Anacharis
  • Java Fern
  • Hornwort
  • Java Moss

Zebra Danios Best Tank Mates

Zebra danios are peaceful fish that can get along with a wide variety of other fish species.

However, they can be aggressive towards long-finned, sluggish-moving, and other aggressive fish.

From the following table, you can see some of the best tank mates and bad tank mates for zebra danios.

Zebra Danios Good Tank MatesZebra Danios Bad Tank Mates
Bengal Turquoise DanioElephant Ear Guppies
Ember TetraSailfin Molly Fish
Celestial Pearl DanioCatfish
Bronze Cory
Dojo Loach
Rummy Nose Tetra
Honey Gourami
Zebra Loach
Indian Flying Barb
Emerald Pufferfish
Scarlet Badis
Burma Danio
Scarlet Badis
Rosy Barbs

If you don’t want to overcrowd your aquarium with different fish species, you could also add some aquatic invertebrates, such as:

  • Zebra or Nerite Snails 
  • African Dwarf Frog
  • Blue Velvet Shrimp

Zebra Danios Diet & Feeding

These freshwater fish are not fussy eaters and will accept a wide variety of food. 

In the wild, zebra danios eat small insects, mosquito larvae, plant detritus, algae, worms, and crustaceans.

In your home aquarium, you should offer them a diet that is rich in protein and fiber. Some good food options for them are:

  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Flakes & Pellets
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Shelled peas

After 24 hours, remove any uneaten food from the tank. This will ensure that the water quality is not affected by decaying food.

When it comes to the feeding frequency, you should feed your danios 1-2 times a day. Each meal should be small enough that they can eat it all within 2 minutes.

Breeding Zebra Danios

Zebra danios are easy to breed in captivity and will not make you feel you are in over your head. 

Also, they are loyal fish and will mate for life and never leave their partner.

To successfully breed them, you need to have a pair of adult fish and set up a breeding tank with the following conditions:

  • Set up a minimum tank size of 10 gallons
  • Add fine-leafed plants and round marbles as a substrate to the spawning tank
  • Install a gentle sponge filter
  • Raise the temperature to 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Separate the danios’ gender before you introduce them to the tank. The females have rounded bellies while the males have long narrow bodies
  • Feed them protein-rich food such as daphnia and bloodworms to induce breeding

When the perfect conditions are met, the male danio fish will start to chase the female. 

The male will then nudge the female’s belly until she drops her eggs on the plants or marbles.

After spawning, remove the parents from the tank as they might eat their eggs.

The female zebra danios will lay about 100 eggs. Within 2-3 days, the eggs will hatch.

On their first days, they will consume their egg yolk.

Once the zebra danio fry are free-swimming, you can feed them commercial fry food or add powdered eggs to their diet to help them grow bigger and stronger.

Zebra Danios Possible Diseases & Prevention

Zebrafish are highly susceptible to freshwater ailments such as fungal and parasitic infections. However, they are prone to other illnesses, including:


Non-motile bacteria are the cause of this illness. mycobacteriosis can quickly spread throughout your aquarium and kill all your fish.

Some of the symptoms of the infected fish are:

  • Inflammation
  • Ulcers
  • Skin loss

To limit the infection in your tank before it turns into a graveyard, you should quarantine the sick fish.

Also, you should perform major water changes and clean the tank carefully until you get rid of all the bacteria.


The nematode is a parasitic infection that is common among zebrafish and grows in poorly maintained water conditions.

When your fish have this disease, they will show these symptoms:

  • Darker colors
  • Lethargy
  • Severe weight loss

Therefore, you should constantly evaluate their living circumstances and ensure that they are safe and stress-free to avoid such infections.

Also, you should make more frequent water changes and ensure that the filtration system is in good working order.

Zebra Danios Purchase Advice

I am sure that knowing everything about zebra danios has made you want to purchase some for your home aquarium.

The most significant benefit is that these fish cost just $2 per fish! You may purchase a tiny group of six to start your freshwater aquarium.

When you purchase them, make sure to acclimate the new fish properly to avoid stressing them out and causing health problems. 

Also, ensure that they are active and have a hearty appetite before you take them home.

Once you buy your zebra danios, follow proper quarantine protocol so you don’t introduce any diseases into your existing aquarium. 

Even if the fish looks healthy, it might be carrying an illness.


How Many Zebra Danios Should Be Kept Together?

You should keep five fish zebra fish together or more. They are schooling fish that love shoaling with their friends in the community tank.

Are Zebra Danios Aggressive?

Zebra Danios are not aggressive by nature. In fact, they tend to be friendly and social fish who enjoy being around other zebra danios.

However, when they are alone or in small numbers, they usually act out aggressively and attack other fish, especially slow-moving ones.

Are Zebra Danios Fin Nippers?

Zebra Danios nip the fins of various fish species, especially those with lengthy fins such as Betta, Angelfish, and Guppies.

How Do I Know If My Zebra Danios Are Stressed?

Some of the signs that your zebra Danios are stressed include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Infections
  • Swims strangely
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Hiding
  • Change in color
  • Fast gill movement

Where Can I Buy Zebra Danio Fish?

You can easily find Zebra Danios at your local aquarium store or through eCommerce retailers that specialize in fish species and fish food.

These aquarium fish are commonly available in the market due to their low cost and easy-to-care nature.

Is Zebra Danio a Solitary or Social Fish?

Zebra Danios are social fish that shoal in groups of five or more. They love being around their own kind and become aggressive when they are alone.

What Do Zebra Danios Fertilized Eggs Look Like?

Zebra Danios fertilized eggs have an ovular, bubble-like appearance that varies in color from white to yellow depending upon fertilization.

How Do Zebra Danios Behave Like Humans?

Zebra Danios and humans have 70 percent of their DNA in common.

Researchers use these fish in studies of genetics and development because they can simulate how diseases act in humans, including Alzheimer’s, congenital heart disease, and kidney disease.

What Time at the Day Do Zebra Danios Spawn?

Zebra Danios spawn in the morning. When they reach maturity, you can watch them chase each other around the tank and mate.

How Do Zebra Danios Protect Themselves from Diseases?

Zebra danios produce a slime-like substance that helps protect their body from disease.

Can Zebra Danios Survive in Cold Water?

Zebra Danios can survive in cold water in outdoor ponds and in the wild.

Last Words

Zebra Danios are freshwater fish that are perfect for beginner aquarium enthusiasts.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain fish that is also fun to watch, then zebra danios are the perfect choice for you!

We hope you enjoyed reading our care guide. If you have any questions that we didn’t cover, feel free to ask us in the comments below.

Happy fish keeping!

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