Zebrafish (Zebra Danio): The Ultimate Care Guide

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) is one of the most popular pet fish species that are known as Zebra Danio in some places. Not only are they easy to care for, but their active swimming habits and vibrant colors make them an attractive addition to any aquarium. 

Zebrafish, also known as Zebra Danio, are small schooling species. Meaning that they thrive in groups of five or more. These fish are hardy and easy to care for. They can tolerate a wide variety of water conditions and will happily feed on pellets, flakes, and frozen foods. Which makes keeping them even easier.

However, there are some key points you will need to know to provide them with a better living environment. So we put together this guide to help you with that.

Species Profile & Overview

Zebrafish fish are native to the rivers and streams of South and Southeast Asia. They can be found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, and across southern Asia. 

They prefer slow-moving or standing waters such as ponds, marshes, and swamps. They also inhabit lakes and streams with moderate currents. The water can be either clear or muddy but it should be well-oxygenated. In nature, these fish live among aquatic vegetation near riverbanks or shores.

Zebrafish live in tropical and subtropical environments. They are active swimmers and need plenty of space to swim around in. These fish have elongated, slim bodies which helps them to move quickly through the water. 

They are one of the easiest freshwater fish kept in home aquariums. They are active and lively and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. At the same time, they are schooling species that can swim in beautiful patterns in a tank.

Zebrafish fish are hardy and easy to care for, making them a great choice for beginner aquarists. They are peaceful fish that can be kept in community tanks, and their bright colors and active swimming make them an attractive addition to any tank.


Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)
Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)

The Zebrafish is an eye-catching fish for any aquarium. Its unique black and white stripes give it a bold look that stands out from the rest of the tank. The fish has a bright bluish hue on its body, adding to its already colorful appearance. 

Its small size makes it perfect for smaller tanks, but its active swimming style will still stand out against larger fish. They have an elongated, torpedo-shaped body with a rounded snout that helps them swim easily in a tank. 

It has a distinctive black and white striped pattern along its body, which gives it its common “Zebra” danio name. The scales are very small and smooth, adding to their overall sleek appearance.

Its fins are short and rounded, with the caudal fin being slightly longer than the dorsal fin. Its dorsal and anal fins are positioned back near the tail fin giving them a unique look. The tail fin is forked and the caudal peduncle is quite thin. 

The coloration of the fins is usually clear or white, but may sometimes be yellowish-orange. The combination of its stripes and fins makes this a very attractive fish.

The combination of all these physical features makes the Zebrafish look very unique and beautiful. These fish are also active swimmers that bring movement to the tank and their bright colors can really liven up a room. 

Adult Size

The Zebrafish is a small fish, usually growing between 1.5 and 2.5 inches in length. Females tend to be larger than males, typically growing more pumper. Males are usually slightly thinner with a cylinder-shaped body.

The Zebrafish fish is a perfect choice for someone looking for a small pet fish. These small fish are peaceful and easy to care for, making them an ideal pet for beginners and experienced aquarists alike. 


The Zebrafish or Zebra Danio typically has a lifespan of 3 to 5.5 years when properly cared for. However, the life expectancy of these fish can be affected by various factors such as diet, water quality, and environment.

Inbreeding and genetic mutations can cause health issues that will shorten the lifespan of an individual fish. At the same time, stress or diseases caused by overcrowding, poor water quality, or other environmental factors can also lead to a reduced lifespan. 

Behavior & Temperament

The Zebrafish is a highly active and energetic fish that loves to swim in schools. They are peaceful creatures and will usually get along with other peaceful tankmates, but they can be a little nippy towards long-fin fish.

When kept with short-fin species, Zebra Danio can be an excellent community fish. When kept in a larger aquarium, they become very active and swim in a school. The nipping behavior usually happens when these fish are kept in a small or overcrowded aquarium. 

This is why it’s important to set up their environment properly. We will discuss this in detail later in this guide. 

In the wild, they swim in large schools and use their fast swimming abilities to avoid predators. When kept in captivity, they enjoy being with other fish of the same species and tend to show more schooling behavior when kept in larger numbers. 

Zebrafish Care

Zebrafish are an ideal fish for beginner hobbyists as they require minimal care and can survive in a wide range of water conditions. They also make a great addition to any home aquarium due to their active nature and vibrant colors.

Additionally, they are hardy fish that can tolerate fluctuations in water quality and temperature. They are also relatively inexpensive and easy to find in most pet stores. Keeping Zebrafish is a great way to bring life and color into any home aquarium!

However, it is important to match the aquarium parameters as closely as possible to what they would have in the wild. This ensures optimal health and well-being for the fish. 

Now that you know Zebrafish are easy to care for, let’s continue reading to learn more about setting up your tank and maintaining a healthy environment for your fish!

Tank Size

The minimum tank size for a single Zebrafish fish is 10 gallons. However, these fish are kept in groups so you will need a 20 gallon aquarium if you want to keep a group of 5 or 6 of them.

This is because Zebrafish are very active swimmers and need a larger space to move around in, as well as plenty of oxygenated water. If you plan on keeping more than six Zebrafish, you should increase the size of the tank accordingly to provide them with adequate space and prevent overcrowding.

The benefits of having a large aquarium for Zebrafish are many. A larger aquarium provides more room for the fish to swim and explore, allowing them to expend their energy in a healthy manner. 

This can lead to improved overall health and a longer lifespan. Additionally, having plenty of space helps reduce stress levels and aggression among the fish, which can further improve the overall health of the fish. 

What To Put In A Zebrafish Tank

The Zebrafish is a lively and energetic fish that can thrive in a variety of aquarium environments. The most important aspect to keep in mind when decorating an aquarium for Zebrafish is creating plenty of open swimming space. They are schooling fish, so they need room to move around and explore.

Zebrafish prefer tanks with lots of plants and plenty of hiding places. Rocks, driftwood, and caves are all great choices for decorations, as these fish like to explore their environment. Plants should be low-maintenance and hardy, such as Java Fern or Anubias, as Zebrafish are known to nibble on delicate foliage.

To learn more about easy plants to keep please read our guide on Best Aquarium Plants.

Using natural decorations like rocks and driftwood in an aquarium can be a great way to make the tank look more beautiful and natural. Natural decorations help to create an environment that is closer to what the fish would experience in their natural habitat. 

Rocks and driftwoods also provide hiding places for fish and other aquatic life, which can help them feel more secure in their environment. The addition of rocks and driftwood can also help to break up the lines of the tank, making it more visually pleasing. 

They also provide a place for beneficial bacteria to colonize, which helps keep the water clean and healthy. Natural decorations in an aquarium are not only aesthetically pleasing but are very beneficial for the health of your tank’s inhabitants.

The substrate is an important part of any aquarium, and this is especially true for a Zebrafish aquarium. The substrate serves many purposes, including providing a place for beneficial bacteria to colonize and letting the plants grow deeper roots. 

When setting up their tank, always think about the fish first and then the view of the tank. This way your fish will enjoy the environment and you can have a natural-looking tank.

Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)
Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)

Light Requirements

Light conditions that can make Zebrafish fish look more beautiful include bright, indirect light. This will bring out their vibrant blue and yellow colors. 

Additionally, having a well-lit aquarium can create a dramatic effect, by making fish and plants appear more beautiful. The light will also help the plants to grow much better, making your tank look more naturalistic. 

Try to stick with LED aquarium lights. LED lights are energy efficient, last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, and provide a more natural color spectrum. Which is better suited to replicate the natural environment of aquarium fish. 

When choosing an LED light for your aquarium, it’s important to consider the depth of your tank, the types of plants and fish you have in it, and the amount of time each day your aquarium will be lit up. 

If you’re unsure which type of light to buy for your aquarium, consider consulting with a knowledgeable pet store employee or an experienced aquarist who can help you determine the right size and wattage for your particular setup.

Water Conditions & Parameters

Zebrafishes are hardy and adaptable species of fish that can survive in a wide range of water parameters. But it is important to match the water parameters of the tank to the natural habitat of this fish, as this will ensure that they stay healthy and live long lives. 

The ideal temperature range for Zebrafish is 64 – 75° F (18-24°C). This is the room temperature in most of our houses so you might not need a heater if you only keep these fish. 

Your tank should also have a pH level between 7.0 and 8.0 and hardness levels between 5 – 19 dGH. Maintaining these parameters will help your Zebrafish thrive in your aquarium.

Zebrafish (Zebra Danio) is native to the lowland streams, ponds, and lakes of Southeast Asia. The water in their natural habitat is typically clear and with a subtropical temperature throughout the year. 

Here is a brief overview of what we just explained:

  • Temperature: 64 – 75° F (18-24°C)
  • pH: 7.0 – 8.0
  • Water Hardness: 5 – 19 dGH
  • TDS: 100 – 250 PPM

Changing the water on a weekly basis is important to keep the tank healthy and safe for your Zebrafish. Old water can contain excess waste and chemicals, such as nitrates and phosphates, that can be toxic to the fish. 

By changing a portion of the water each week you are removing these toxins, replenishing oxygen levels, and helping to maintain a stable pH level.

Filtration System

The overall health and well-being of fish depend on the quality of the filtration system in their tank. The filter works day and night to remove sediment, harmful particles, and other unwanted substances from the water. 

The filter aids in getting rid of ammonia, which can be harmful to fish if allowed to accumulate in the water. In addition, it assists in keeping the water’s pH at a healthy level, which is essential for the survival of your Zebrafish.

All things considered, a healthy and happy tank of Zebrafish depends on a well-functioning filtration system.

When picking a filter for an aquarium, consider the size of the tank, the type of fish and plants that inhabit it, and the amount of waste produced. A larger tank will naturally require a more powerful filter than a smaller tank, while tanks with lots of bioloads will need more filtration and frequent water changes. 

Canister filters provide excellent mechanical and biological filtration. Hang-on-back and sponge filters are also great at keeping a tank clean and aerating the water. Which helps beneficial bacteria thrive. But they may not be as effective as canister filters.

Common Diseases and Prevention

Zebrafish are at risk of contracting a variety of diseases, including bacterial and fungal infections, parasitic infestations, and other aquarium diseases.

Common signs of the disease include loss of appetite, failure to thrive, lethargy or listlessness, abnormal gill movements, clamped fins, cloudy eyes, fuzzy patches on the skin or fins, discolored patches on the skin or fins, and white spots on the skin or fins. 

If any of these symptoms are observed in a zebrafish population it is important to identify and treat the disease as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading further.

But ideally, it’s best to prevent diseases before they spread into your tank. This is the best way to ensure your fish stay healthy and beautiful. To prevent diseases simply make sure you provide a clean and healthy environment for your fish. 

This includes regular water changes and monitoring the water parameters such as temperature, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels. It is also important to quarantine any new fish before introducing them into the tank to reduce the risk of introducing infectious diseases. 

After each feeding, removing any uneaten food or decaying organic matter from the tank can help reduce the risk of infection.

Diet and Feeding Requirements

In the wild, Zebrafish feed on a variety of small aquatic invertebrates such as insect larvae and crustaceans. They are opportunistic omnivore species and will eat whatever food is available in their environment. 

Zebrafish can find food by searching through plants and rocks in the water, or by hovering near the surface and skimming food off the top. They are also known to scavenge for food that has fallen into the water from above.

Dry commercially made fish foods are a convenient and easy-to-store option for feeding your Zebrafish fish. These foods typically come in the form of pellets, sticks, or flakes. They contain a balanced blend of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals that provide essential nutrition for the Zebrafish. 

Depending on the brand and type of food you choose, these foods can be highly nutritious for your fish. They generally contain high-quality protein sources like real fish or shrimp to provide amino acids for growth and health. Some also have plant proteins like soybean meal which provide vitamins and minerals which can be beneficial for the fish in lower quantities.

Frozen fish foods are an excellent way to provide your Zebrafish with a nutritious and varied diet. They are packed full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that can benefit the overall health of your fish. 

Generally speaking, Zebrafish fish should receive frozen food at least once a week. This will ensure that they get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active. But depending on the maintenance routine you have you can feed them more if you want them to grow or breed. 

Breeding Zebrafish

Breeding Zebrafish in an aquarium is a process that requires patience but can be quite rewarding. The first step is to provide them with a large enough tank with plenty of hiding places.

Make sure the temperature of the water is between 75 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit and that the pH levels are between 6 -7.5. Then add several females for every male and make sure there is ample vegetation for them to hide in or lay eggs on. 

It’s important to feed them high-protein foods such as daphnia, bloodworms, and brine shrimp in order to promote breeding. Lastly, make sure you have a separate container ready to move any parents as soon as eggs appear. Zebra danios can eat their fry or eggs so it’s best to remove them for maximum fry survival rate.

Zebrafish are known to breed quite easily and often. They typically lay between 300 – 500 eggs each time they breed. The number of eggs laid will depend on the size of the female Zebrafish as well as the diet they receive.

It is best to provide them with plenty of hiding places, such as plants and rocks, so that they can lay their eggs safely. Once the eggs are laid, they should hatch within 2 – 3 days. It is important to have some fry foods ready to feed them.

Tank Mates

Zebrafish fish are usually very peaceful and friendly towards other tank mates. They are active, schooling fish and prefer to be kept in groups of six or more. When they have plenty of space, they tend to be even more active and friendly. 

They can enjoy living with other tank mates that are similarly sized and peaceful. Larger fish or aggressive fish will stress them out so they should be avoided. Larger fish can also look at your zebra danios as a food source!

Zebrafish are schooling fish and will feel more comfortable in groups of their own kind. If they are kept with larger fish, they can become stressed or bullied, leading to health issues and even death. Keeping the same-size fish together will also reduce competition for food, and create a more balanced tank environment.

Considering these points here are our picks for Zebrafish:

Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)
Zebrafish (Zebra Danio)


Keeping Zebrafish fish in an aquarium is a great choice for any aquarist. These fish are hardy, peaceful, and easy to care for, making them ideal for beginners. They also bring a lot of color and activity to an aquarium with their bright stripes, energetic swimming, and school behavior. 

What’s more, they are unique in that they can survive both in cold water tanks and tropical setups. With the proper care and environment, these fish can be a rewarding addition to any aquarium.

References & Useful Links:
Danio rerio
Spot The Difference: Zebrafish
Zebrafish and Skin Color Reference Data