Fish

Can Zebra Danio Live in Cold Water—All You Need to Know About Danios

Zebra danios are versatile freshwater aquarium fish belonging to the minnow family and native to South Asia.

They are also called Zebrafish, though in the trade they are mostly simple called zebra danios.

Intrestingly, zebra danios will survive in a cold water fish tank hence they also make part of a small group of fish that can be maintained with goldfish.

The species prefers an aquarium temperature range anywhere from 65°F to 70°F, which you can adequately maintain without a heater. Although having one will help in case your aquarium room temperature goes below 60°F in colder weather.

Even so, breeding zebrafish prefer a slightly higher temperature that is about 78°F.

To keep your zebra danios more hearty and active, add them in soft to moderately hard water with a ph 6.5 to 7.2.

Let’s dive a little more into the zebra danio tank and look at other things you need to know when keeping Zebra Danios.

What Size Tank Do Zebra Danios Need?

Mostly, when keeping fish in an aquarium, the size of the tank you use is determined by the size of your fish, their bioload and whether you are going to keep them singly or in a community.

That said, Zebra danios generally require at least a 10-gallon fish tank for them to be healthy and comfortable.

However, due to their small size, the fish can survive in tanks as small as 5-gallons. But not all fish are the same, so you’ll need to exert caution when choosing individuals to put in a nano tank.

Also, zebra danios are quite active. For this reason, keep them in larger tanks with other busy fish in case you plan on adding them to a community aquarium.

Zebra Danio Size

Since the size of your fish is important when stocking and choosing a fish tank, it imperative to know how big zebrafish get.

Usually, zebra danios reach up to 1.6 to 2.0 inches in length, but the typical average is 0.7 to 1.5 inches with some variations depending on a fish breeding history.

These fish have five blue-uniform-pigmented-horizontal stripes on the side of the body which are reminiscent of a zebra’s stripes hence the name zebrafish.

Males are torpedo shaped with gold stripes between the blue stripes. Whereas females have larger whitish bellies and silver stripes instead of gold like in males.

Consequently, the size of female zebra danios will be a little on the broader and stubbier side compared to their more narrow-bodied male counterparts.

How Many Zebra Danios Should be Kept Together?

Zebra danios are shoaling fish and do well in schools of 6 or more individuals.

Though they are also compatible with a host of other fish and do well in community tanks. In which case, you can maintain more than one school (with 6 individuals per school).

Even so, to keep your danios comfortable, have at least 5 or 6 individuals in a tank that hold 20-gallons or more.

A group of 3 fish in a smaller tank is acceptable but can lead to stress and aggression.

That said, putting zebra danios is schools provides the fish with multiple benefits including access to water, efficient foraging and defense against predators especially because of their small size.

Even so, the number of zebrafish you keep will depend on the size of your tank and on whether you plan on keeping them with other fish or alone.

If you decide to keep your zebra danios with large fish species, leave a lot of room, both for the big guys to swim and for the danios to escape aggressive fish when cornered.

Are Zebra Danios Aggressive?

Zebra danios are relatively peaceful fish. They are also quite social and often swim with other fish in a community aquarium.

However, aggressive behavior is not unheard of. Though there is nothing too serious to stop you from maintaining them with other fish.

Zebrafish will most likely act out when they are not in the company of many fish or when kept in a small school. With more company, they typically not aggressive.

However, make sure your fish are not living in a cramped or overly empty environment. Too many fish will make the zebra danios frustrated and anxious.

Moreover, in an underpopulated tank, zebrafish may often chase and nip on low ranking fish in a group or small companions.

Because they are shoaling fish, another common behavior is the fish expressing hierarchical order with dominant fish often showing their power by setting up individual turfs close to mating.

Nonetheless, all zebra danios, whether dominant or not, also show off their aggression by keeping their mouths wide open, elevating fins and making conspicuous, wavy body motions.

The only other zebra danio behavior that may concern you is their rapid swimming which often stresses out slower fish. Though the trait is also important because zebrafish are used as dither fish to adapt nervous individuals into an aquarium.

Good Zebra Danio Tankmates (Companions)

The best fish to keep with zebra danios are docile species that aren’t bigger or smaller than the danios. But you can keep them with large fish as long as they don’t fit in the mouth and get snacked on.

Even so, first consider keeping danios together before you place them with other species.

Fortunately, zebra danios are largely compatible and are one of the few fish you can keep with the popular goldfish and other coldwater species like white cloud mountain minnows in a heater-less tank.

However, avoid keeping zebrafish with species that have long fins because they are at times compelled to bite such flipper or tails. Plus slow moving fish since they get stressed out by these fast swimmers.

By and large, you can keep your zebra danios with:

  • Tetras
  • Mollies
  • Gouramis (similar sized)
  • Plecos
  • Loaches (Clown and Yoyo)
  • Barbs
  • Goldfish (Works best with fully grown Zebra Danios)
  • Minnows
  • Rasboras
  • Swordtails
  • Red tail and Rainbow sharks

What Do Zebra Danios Need in a Fish Tank?

Zebra danios are hardy, but to keep them comfortable and extend the fish lifespan, you will need to have a couple of items in your fish tank.

First of, you will need a filter, but the fish are not demanding so most aquarium filter in the market today will be adequate. I would, however, recommend a hang-on-the-back filter because apart from filtration it will provide a mild current that zebra danio can play in comfortably.

And speaking of current, these fish prefer mild water movements because in the wild they inhabit calm water in streams. However, zebra danios bred in captivity are quite hardy and will cope in a tank with air stones (bubblers).

Besides, they are top and mid-level dwelling fish hence an air pump should not be much of a bother.

Like most freshwater fish, zebrafish love tanks with a couple of plants that provide hiding spots for the fish to rest and hide.

More importantly, clean your tank weekly and vacuum the substrate frequently.However, when doing a complete gravel cleaning, don’t wash all the pebbles. This will ensure you have enough stones left with established bacteria to recolonize your tank once you are done cleaning and set it up again.

Use a scraper to remove dirt and algae from the glass or acrylic surfaces when cleaning.

Lastly, you can choose to replace 10 to 15 percent of the water weekly. But because zebra danios don’t have a big bioload, you can opt to perform 25 percent water changes once every two weeks to a month, as long as your water chemistry is stable.

What Do Zebra Danios Eat in a Fish Tank?

Zebra danios are omnivorous and far from fussy so they’ll eat almost any fish food you feed them. However, since the goal is to keep them healthy, it is recommended you try to imitate their diet in the wild.

The natural zebrafish diet includes lots of small insects, algae and crustaceans.

In an aquarium setting, good quality flake food can form their base diet with occasional servings of live food to supplements the diet. Also, consider feeding them frozen foods every now and then.

The best flake food for Zebra danios are micro pellets because the fish have small mouths, whereas the occasional feedings of live foods can include bloodworms and blackworms, brine shrimp and daphnia.

As far as feeding goes, give your zebrafish food they can finish in less than 5 minutes to avoid overfeeding them. You can serve them food twice a day, but once is good enough.

Plus make sure you remove leftovers food from the fish tank after a while to keep the water clean and stable.

In conclusion, remember to use floating food as zebra danios are top and mid-level feeders and will rarely swim to the bottom of the aquarium to feed.

Have fun keeping Zebra Danios

Eddie Waithaka

Resident Content Creator and Marketer at AquariaWise who talks about aquariums and fish and aquascapes a lot.

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