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Zebra Danio Fact Sheet


The "Zebra Danio" or "Zebra Fish", "
Brachydanio rerio" or "Danio rerio" is a very popular aquarium fish which comes from Eastern India and Bangladesh.
The Zebra Fish is often regarded as a cool water fish, but can survive in water of a very wide range of temperatures.  I have heard reports of them surviving through the winter with pond temperatures as low as 4̊ C (39̊ F).  This is the temperature water gets under ice.  However, I do not recommend them as a pond fish for these conditions.  At the other extreme, I have read that they can survive very high temperatures.  Again, I would not suggest very high temperatures for the Zebra Fish although if a tank of these fish is infected with the white spot parasite, raising the temperature of the water to 34̊ C for two days will cure the fish and eradicate the disease from the tank. Make sure the fish have adequate aeration.
In practice the Zebra Fish is happy in either cold water or tropical aquariums.
Leopard Danios
The "Leopard Danio" is sometimes given the scientific name "Brachydanio frankei" or "Danio frankei" but is probably not a true species, but rather a variation of the Zebra Fish.  It crosses readily with the Zebra Fish producing fertile young.  Care of these two fish is identical.  The striped colouration of The Zebra Fish appears to act as a dominant single gene to the spotted pattern of the Leopard fish.
Hybrids can occur within the genus, but they are normally sterile.
The Zebra Fish grows to about 2 inches (5cm) long so it is a small fish.  It is usually peaceful, but I have observed enough aggression in the Zebra Fish to class it as slightly aggressive, rather than peaceful.  The Zebra Fish is a strongly schooling fish and, as with most schooling fish, they tend to be more likely to be aggressive if there is less than a school. I have known a school of Zebra Fish attack a Siamese Fighting Fish, so I would avoid slow moving fish with long fins in with Zebra Fish.
Suitable companions for the Zebra Fish include White Cloud Mountain Minnows, most tetras, including Neon Tetras, Cardinal Tetras, Glass Bloodfin Tetras, Emperor Tetras, Black Widow Tetras, small Goldfish and other similar sized fish.
I would avoid slow moving, long finned fish like Guppies, Endlers Guppies and Siamese Fighting Fish.
The Zebra Fish is reasonably flexible in its water preferences, but I suggest near neutral to water.  The hardness does not seem to be critical for the Zebra Fish.  Zebra Fish do not like ammonia or nitrites, so the water should be kept clean and well filtered.
The Zebra Fish is very easily fed and are usually the first fish to come to the top to eat.  The Zebra Fish is an omnivore and will eat any normal fish food.  They usually eat at the surface, but are happy enough feeding at any level of the aquarium.
As with other fish, they do better with a variety of food.  I give mine frozen Brine Shrimp once a week. and frozen Blood Worms quite often as well as several different types of dry food.  They love live food like Mosquito larvae and Daphnia.
Catching the Zebra Fish
If you can catch your fish before they are disturbed, the Zebra Fish is very easy to catch.  They will swim into the net.  However, once they are disturbed they are extremely good at evading capture.  The horizontal stripes of the Zebra Fish combined with its speed of swimming make seeing it more difficult.
Occasionally an aquarium shop will have a competition to guess the number of fish in an aquarium on display.  The fish chosen is usually the Zebra Fish because they are very difficult to count.
The Zebra Fish is easily conditioned because they eat so readily.  Live daphnia or mosquito larvae (wrigglers) are good.   If these are not available, there are plenty of good dry and frozen foods.  I use frozen bloodworms.
The Zebra Fish is an easily bred egg scatterer.  They are also avid egg eaters.  One common way of protecting the eggs is to have the water shallow with marbles or small rounded pebbles on the bottom.  Most of the eggs will fall between the stones or marbles and have a chance of hatching.
Increasing the temperature a few degrees will often stimulate spawning.  A temperature of about 26̊ C (78̊ F) is suitable for spawning the Zebra Fish.  Eggs can hatch in a day.  One female Zebra Fish will produce between 200 and 800 eggs, so the eggs and the fry that hatch from them are small. 
The natural food of the Zebra Fish fry is protozoans (Infusorial) in the water.   This can be supplemented with commercial fry food like Sara Micron.  As the Zebra Fish fry get bigger they can eat larger grades of fry food like Sera Micropan or HBGFry Bites.  Live food is very good including screened Daphnia or newly hatched brine shrimp.
Pest Fish
With any pet. do not allow them to get into ecosystems that they are not native to.
Steve Challis


Leopard Danio; a variety of the Zebra Danio.
By Darkfalz at en.wikipedia [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (, GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons