Zebra danio Care Guide: Diet, Tank Mates, Diseases, Breeding & More

Updated: November 17, 2022

The zebra danio is a small, freshwater fish that is native to South Asia. It is a popular fish in the aquarium trade due to its bright colors and active nature.

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about zebra danio care. You’ll learn about their diet, size, lifespan, and more!

Species overview

The zebra danio (scientific name: Danio rerio) is a small freshwater fish that’s native to the Ganges River in India.

They’re a very popular choice for aquariums because they’re so easy to care for and are very peaceful fish. They do well in both fresh and salt water and can be kept with a wide variety of other fish.

Zebras are easily recognizable by their black and white stripes, which is why they’re one of the most popular freshwater fish out there.


Zebra danio

The Zebra Danio is one of those fish that you can’t help but notice. They’re very colorful with their blue and gold stripes running vertically down their bodies.

Their fins are all clear and rather unremarkable in terms of size or shape. The dorsal fin sits about halfway back on their body and is slightly taller than their anal fin. Both of these fins are shorter than their caudal fin.

The caudal fin on a Zebra Danio is forked and symmetrical. This fish has a very slender body shape that tapers off at the end.

They have a small mouth that is often described as being “inverted”. This is because their bottom lip protrudes out past their top lip.


The average lifespan of a zebra danio is between 2 and 3 years.

However, there are a number of factors that can impact their life expectancy. Things like water quality, diet, and stress can all shorten their lifespan.

If you take good care of them and provide them with a good environment, they can live a bit longer. Some zebra danios have been known to live for up to 5 years in captivity.


Zebra Danios are small fish, only reaching about 2.5 inches when fully grown. This makes them a perfect addition to a nano aquarium or even a larger community tank.


Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a school of zebra danios is 20 gallons. If you’re planning on keeping more than 5 fish, we recommend you go up to a 30 gallon tank.

While 20 gallons is the minimum, we think 30 gallons is a much better size for a school of zebra danios. This will give them plenty of space to swim around and explore without feeling cramped.

Water Parameters

The zebra danio is a very popular freshwater fish, and for good reason. They’re hardy, relatively peaceful, and can tolerate a wide range of water conditions.

This makes them a great choice for the beginner aquarist. They can even be kept in a community tank with other peaceful freshwater fish.

With that said, it’s still important to maintain proper water conditions for your zebra danios. They may be hardy, but they’re still fish. Sudden changes in water parameters can cause stress and potentially lead to disease.

Here are a few basic water parameters to help create a healthy zebra danio environment.

  • Water Temperature: 65°F to 75°F
  • pH Levels: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Water Hardness: 5 to 20 dGH
  • Alkalinity Levels: 4 to 8 dKH

What To Put In Their Tank

Zebra Danios are very active fish, so you’ll want to make sure their tank has plenty of open swimming space.

We recommend a minimum of 10 gallons for a single Zebra Danio, but 20 gallons or more is ideal.

When it comes to plants, these fish are not picky. They will eat just about anything, so you’ll want to choose plants that can tolerate a little nibbling.

Some good choices include Java Fern, Anubias, and Hornwort.

Zebra Danios also like to have a little hiding space, so you’ll want to add some rocks, driftwood, or caves to their tank.

A classic gravel substrate is always a good choice, but you can do with something soft and sandy if needed too (use other species you keep as a guide with this).

Common Diseases

Zebra Danios are a very hardy species of fish. They’re known for being able to withstand a lot of different water conditions and they’re not very susceptible to disease.

However, that doesn’t mean they can’t get sick. Just like any other animal, they can fall ill if the conditions in their tank are not ideal or if they come in contact with a sick fish.

The most common disease that these fish experience is ich. This is a very contagious disease that is caused by a parasite. It’s very easy to spot as it presents itself as white spots on the body of the fish.

If you notice these spots, it’s important to act fast. Ich can spread very quickly and it can be fatal if it’s not treated.

The best way to prevent your zebra danios from getting sick is to maintain a clean and stable tank. These fish are very sensitive to changes in water quality so it’s important to keep an eye on things.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, consult your vet and take action immediately. The sooner you catch a disease, the easier it is to treat.

Behavior & Temperament

Zebra Danios are a schooling fish, which means they do best in groups. In the wild, they live in large shoals of hundreds of fish. So, it’s no surprise that they feel more comfortable and secure when they’re around others.

Schooling Zebra Danios

You’ll often see Zebra Danios swimming in tight groups. They move quickly and change directions frequently. It’s a mesmerizing display, and it’s one of the reasons they’re such popular aquarium fish.

Although they’re social creatures, Zebra Danios can be a bit nippy. They’re not aggressive, but they may nip at the fins of their tank mates. This is especially true if they’re not getting enough to eat.

Zebra Danios are also known to be jumpers. They’re not the best swimmers, so they often jump out of the water to avoid predators. In an aquarium, this can be a problem because they can jump right out of the tank!

To prevent this, you need to make sure your tank has a tight-fitting lid.

Tank Mates

Zebra danios are one of the most popular freshwater fish for a reason: they’re easy to care for and get along with just about everyone.

These fish are schooling fish, so you should keep them in groups of at least six. This will help reduce their stress levels and make them feel more comfortable in their environment.

Zebra danios are also pretty active, so they do best with tank mates that can keep up with their high energy levels.

Some compatible tank mates for zebra danios include:

  • Neon Tetras
  • White Cloud Mountain Minnows
  • Other Danios
  • Guppies
  • Mollies
  • Platies


Zebra danios are one of the easiest fish to breed. In fact, they will often breed in community tanks without any intervention from the fishkeeper.

That being said, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. The first step is to set up a breeding tank. It should be at least 10 gallons in size and well-filtered.

Next, you’ll need to add some live plants. Java moss is a good option. Zebra danios like to lay their eggs on plants.

Finally, you’ll need to adjust the water temperature. Aim for around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

When everything is ready, add a group of 6-8 danios to the tank. It’s best to have more females than males. Females are smaller and have rounder bellies.

The fish will start to breed on their own, but you can trigger spawning by performing large water changes. This simulates the rainy season in their natural habitat.

Once the eggs are laid, the male will guard them. He will fan them with his fins to keep them oxygenated.

The eggs will hatch in 24-36 hours. At that point, you can remove the adults and start feeding the fry baby brine shrimp.


Zebra Danios are one of the most popular freshwater fish for a reason: they’re easy to care for, hardy, and beautiful to look at.

They’re also very active fish that will add a lot of energy to your tank.

If you’re looking for a beginner fish or just want to add something new to your tank, we highly recommend Zebra Danios!