7 Types Of Danio (And How To Keep Them Happy)

Danios are famous in many hobby aquariums. These colorful and beautiful schooling fish dash around the tank and interlace with one another. This activity and their coloring provide a beautiful aquascape.

These fish come from the entire swath of Southeast Asia from places like Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Burma, Bhutan, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar. They’re peaceful, hardy, and can tolerate a wide range of water parameters. This makes them excellent for beginners.

A Quick List of the Different Danio Types

  • Celestial Pearl
  • Emerald Dwarf
  • Fireline
  • Giant
  • Glowlight
  • Leopard
  • Orange-Finned

What Are the Different Types of Danio?

Although there are many different species of danios, the ones listed below are not only very popular among hobbyists, but also the easiest to keep.

Celestial Pearl Danio

Danio Margaritatus, better called Celestial Pearl, is a type of danio with some of the most beautiful colors and they’re very popular in home aquariums. These are shoaling fish, so they should stay in a group of six or more.

Appearance & Lifespan

The males have much brighter coloration than females, especially in the fins. The females are more bluish-green and dull on the body with a tint of yellow on the belly. Both males and females have small pearly dots all over. Celestial Pearls have an expected lifespan of up to five years.

Habitat

In the wild, Celestial Pearl Danios live in marshy areas fed by small ponds or springs with dense vegetation. These areas are usually cool and among high altitudes in places like Taunggyi and Burma. This water is slightly alkaline and tepid.

Diet

They have small mouths but they aren’t picky eaters. Celestial Pearls will eat high-quality flakes, pellets, and granules. Because they often love the bottom of the tank, pellets that sink are best. They also love frozen or fresh brine shrimp, daphnia, white worms, or bloodworms. But these fish also enjoy algae and plants.

  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 3-15
  • Temperature: 68°F to 78°F (20°C to 25.6°C)
  • Size: up to one inch long
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons or more

Emerald Dwarf Danio

The Emerald Dwarf Danio, called Danio Erythromicron, is a sociable, peaceful fish that loves the company of their own species and can live up to five years. Any other breeds within the tank must be the same size or smaller with a similar temperament. They tend to be timid and are easily spooked.

Social Behavior & Tank Mates

Their insecurity lessens with plenty of plants to hide in and tank mates that like the upper regions of the water. However, it’s not unusual to see nipped fins between the same species in an aquarium. Emerald Dwarves will not usually do this to other breeds, just those of their own kind.

That said, they love being in groups of 10 or more. It is important to take note, though, that the more of these danios you have, the more likely aggression will increase between individuals. Also, they need open space for swimming.

Appearance

Emerald Dwarf Danios have pale copper heads with a pink-orange or coral body and up to 15 blue-green iridescent bars down the flanks. They also have one black copper-rimmed spot at the base of the caudal fin. These fish have a sort of stocky appearance with a vivid set of emerald green fins.

Habitat

Indigenous to Lake Inle in Myanmar, they love a neutral environment that’s slightly alkaline. The waters are clear and shallow with a very rich, loamy substrate. There’s dense vegetation and plenty of tree roots.

Diet

They love to eat brine shrimp, mosquito larvae, micro worms, daphnia and bloodworms. They also like micro pellets, flakes and algae wafers, so long as these things are small enough to fit in their mouths.

  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • pH: 7.2 to 8.2
  • Hardness: 2-10
  • Temperature: 69°F to 77°F (20.6°C to 25°C)
  • Size: up to 1½ inches long
  • Tank Size: 10 gallons or more

Fireline Danio

A reasonably hardy, active, and peaceful variety of danios, the Fireline, or Devario Sondhii, is rather new to the aquarium hobby. They make excellent members of a peaceful aquarium and can live up to eight years old. Firelines require at least six buddies of their own kind to be happy and thrive.

Appearance

Firelines have various colorations and this depends on their mood and condition. But, they often have a dark lateral stripe on the side of their body that extends into the caudal fin. They also have a prominent spot behind the gill cover.

The top front half is silvery and contrasts with a red-orange color on the lower back half. The fins are transparent except for the caudal fin, which has some orange shading.

Habitat & Water Parameters

They come from Myanmar in shallow, pristine, and transparent water among wetlands and ponds rich with plants and dense vegetation. This means Firelines are intolerant of organic pollutants, so they should only become part of a well-established aquarium. Plus, because these particular danios tend to be skittish, they will jump out of the tank. So, a cover will be necessary.

They love water that’s well-oxygenated, properly filtered, and has a moderate water flow. The sides and bottom of the tank should have plenty of plants with a wide-open space in the center. Their water must be perfect at all times, so regular water changes will be necessary.

Diet

Fireline Danios aren’t fussy about food and will accept most offerings. Anything like high-quality flakes, granules, or pellets are great for the base of their diets. But, also include things like daphnia, artemia, and bloodworms.

  • Care Level: Intermediate
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: five to 12
  • Temperature: 68°F to 79°F (20°C to 26.1°C)
  • Size: up to just under 2½ inches
  • Tank Size: five gallons or more

The Giant Danio

The Devario Aequipinnatus, otherwise known as the Giant Danio, is a semi-aggressive, active fish and is the largest of all danios. They need tons of room to move around and a tight-fitting cover, since they like to jump.

Social Habits

They thrive best with five or more of their own kind and can live in excess of five years. They’re fabulous members in a community tank with other breeds that match their size and temperament.

Appearance

These beautiful torpedo-shaped fish have blue iridescent bodies that reflect a pale turquoise background. But this is only visible when a Giant Danio quickly changes direction, so it’s brief but gorgeous. They have gold blotches and stripes running from the length of the gills to the tail. These fish also have gray, transparent fins that are round with a forked tailfin.

Habitat

Giant Danios come from the entire subcontinent of India including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Northern Thailand. They love streams and ponds in hilly areas that are fast-flowing. Shaded, clear waters with a gravel or sandy substrate are ideal.

Diet

This fish loves to eat flakes, granules, mosquito larvae, bloodworms, brine shrimp, chopped earthworms, and daphnia. They prefer live meats over frozen and you can give them veggie flakes to create a more well-rounded diet.

  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: five to 19
  • Temperature: 72°F to 81°F (22.2°C to 27.2°C)
  • Size: up to four inches
  • Tank Size: 30 gallons or more

Glowlight Danios

A peaceful, stunning, and beautiful fish, Glowlight Danios, or Celestichthys choprae, are ideal for a community tank. They aren’t demanding with water parameters, can live with just about any other breed, and have a lifespan of up to four years.

Social Behavior

Since they are schooling fish, they do best in a group of eight to 10 individuals or more and develop their own pecking order. The more friends they have, the less nervous they will be. It also offers less dominant fish some respite from more aggressive males.

Appearance

The small, torpedo shape of these fishes possess blue vertical bars on their green-gold bodies. They also have a blue horizontal bar located dorsally across the entire body. Translucent fins have a black and gold tip at the end of the caudal fin with a yellow line that runs horizontally on the dorsal fin. The anal fin has a white line across it.

Habitat, Tank & Water Parameters

Glowlight Danios come from the rivers and small, rocky streams in Myanmar. They prefer gravel substrate, several sizes of rocks, and very little vegetation. A moderately-planted aquarium that mimics the rivers or streams they come from will be ideal.

You can accomplish this with powerheads or filter outlets. But it shouldn’t be a torrent-like current. It’s also a good idea to include different-sized rocks and gravel with smooth boulders as the substrate. These danios love plants attached to décor along with branches and driftwood. The tank should have a tight-fitting cover because they can jump even through the smallest of gaps.

Diet

Glowlight Danios aren’t too picky about what they eat and will accept almost any type of food. They love flakes and granules as the base of their diet. But they also enjoy other meaty selections like daphnia, artemia, and bloodworms.

  • Care Level: Beginner
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: one to 12
  • Temperature: 64°F to 75°F (17.8°C to 23.9°C)
  • Size: barely over an inch
  • Tank Size: at least 20 gallons

Leopard Danio

The Leopard Danio, also known as Danio Rerio, is a friendly, peaceful, attractive, and hardy fish. They’re great in any community tank, especially with other danios. As with most species of these fish, they love being in groups of six or more of their own kind and can live as long as five years.

Appearance

Leopard Danios display beautiful golden brown metallic bodies with grey-blue spots. They have a barbel at the end of each lip with long fins that flow and an extended tail.

Habitat & Behavior in the Wild

Leopard Danios come from Pakistan and Bangladesh, living in the fresh, still waters of ponds, streams, canals, and ditches. These places often have rocky substrates, shaded areas, and dense vegetation. But, their habitat depends on the season.

They live in large communities within rice paddies and seasonal pools during the wet season, when they feed and reproduce. Afterward, adults migrate to faster-moving waters where their young follow them once they reach maturity.

Diet

These fish must have a balanced diet of pellets, flakes, plant-based foods and live or frozen meats. They have high nutrient requirements so they have to have several feedings a day.

  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: six to 16
  • Temperature: 65°F to 80°F (18.3°C to 26.7°C)
  • Size: just under 2½ inches
  • Tank Size: 20 to 30 gallons

Orange-Finned Danio

Danio Kyathit, or Orange-Finned Danio, is a peaceful fish ideal for a well-furnished community tank. They aren’t demanding with the water parameters, so they can live with most other breeds aside from their own. Unfortunately, they don’t live as long as others and have an expected lifespan of up to three years.

Social Behavior

Because they’re schooling fish, like many other danios, they should have about eight to 10 buddies with them. Adequate numbers keep these fishes happy and reduces nervousness. The males exhibit some of the best colors when aggressive, especially if battling for a female.

Appearance

The torpedo-shaped bodies of these impressive fish come in varying colors. The Ocelot subspecies have moderate-sized dark spots all over while average Orange-Finned danios have these spots merging along a somewhat continuous line at the sides. This gives them a darker, shaded appearance.

Habitat & Tank Requirements

The Orange-Finned Danio is endemic to the streams and rivers of northern Myanmar. They love water that’s clear, fast-flowing, and tannin-stained. These areas have dense but marginal vegetation with bamboo, which provides lots of shade. These waters also have mud and stone substrates.

Since they’re expert jumpers, Orange-Finned Danios should have a tight-fitting cover. They are amazing escape artists, being able to fit through even the smallest of gaps.

Diet

They aren’t fussy about food and accept most high-quality pellets, flakes, and granules. But they also love feasting on daphnia, bloodworms, and artemia.

  • Care Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • pH: 6.0 to 8.0
  • Hardness: one to 18
  • Temperature: 60°F to 79°F (15.6°C to 26.1°C)
  • Size: just under 2 inches and up to 3¼ inches
  • Tank Size: at least 20 gallons, but larger is better

FAQ

How Many Types of Danio Are There?

There are 27 different types of true danios. But, there are other genera that expand on these types. For instance, there are 43 species within the Devario genus and the newest genus, Celestichthys, which currently has about two known species.

How Many Danios Should Be Kept Together?

Because danios are a shoaling, also known as schooling, fish, they have to be in the company of at least six of their own kind. This comes with the exception of Giant Danios, who can be with as few as five. For other varieties, eight to 10 is best.

Can Different Types of Danio Breed?

Different types of danios can breed together, but the likelihood of them actually spawning to create a crossbreed or hybrid is low. They will often prefer to reproduce with their own kind. In the event crossbreeding occurs in your tank, understand you will not be able to sell these since there are laws against such things.

In the case it happens accidentally in your home aquarium, you will have to keep an eye on the fry to see how they develop. The moment you notice retardation or other health issues due to the spawning, you will have to destroy the fish. Many aquarists consider it cruel to attempt intentional hybridization with danios.

What Danios Are Best for a 5 Gallon Tank?

Several dwarf species of danios along with Leopard or Fireline Danios are excellent for a five-gallon tank. But, if you’re planning on schooling more than six fish, you should opt for a 10-gallon tank to keep male aggression for females and territory at bay.

What Danios Are Best for a 10 Gallon Tank?

Emerald Dwarf and Celestial Pearl Danios, as listed above fit in a 10-gallon tank perfectly, even with a school of six. Other varieties include Zebra, Dwarf Spotted, and Pearl Danios.

Recap

As a mostly non-aggressive and peaceful fish, Danios are always on the move. What makes them so special is their ability to develop a hierarchy along with their amazing palettes of colors. They’re fairly simple to care for and they aren’t often fussy eaters, so they’re great for beginners to the hobby.

With over 27 true species to pick from, you can’t go wrong with whichever one you choose. But, be mindful when deciding on other species for tank mates if you hope to keep a peaceful and calm environment for all fish you intend to have.

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