Choosing a Danio Species for Your Aquarium

DaveAlan / Getty Images

Danios are a hardy, lively family of fish that do well in cooler water, making them suitable for unheated tanks. Here are some of the popular Danio species, so you can consider which one would be a good fit for you. Links within each species provide more detailed information on that particular fish.

Illustration of popular Danio species
Illustration: The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy
  • 01 of 06

    Dwarf Spotted Danio

    Dwarf Spotted Danio
    Choy Heng-Wah

    Scientific Name: Danio nigrofasciatus
    Also Known As: Dwarf Danio, Spotted Brown, Spotted Danio
    Adult Size: 2 inches (4.5 cm), usually much smaller
    Lifespan: 3 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    pH: 6.5-7.0
    Hardness: 5 - 12°dGH
    Temperature: 74-82° F (24-28°C)
    Tankmates: Schooling fish, keep only with other small species

    Smaller than its cousin the popular Zebra Danio, this pretty little danio rarely is larger than an inch and a half, making it suitable for smaller tanks. They enjoy lots of plants and dimmer lighting. A small, live planted tank would look stunning with a school of this species. 

  • 02 of 06

    Giant Danio

    Giant Danio
    Faucon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.5

    Scientific Name: Devario aequipinnatus
    Adult Size: 4 inches (10 cm)
    Lifespan: 5+ years
    Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallon
    pH: 6.8-7.5
    Hardness: to 20°dGH
    Temperature: 72-75°F (22-24°C)
    Tankmates: Peaceful, but keep with larger fish

    Giant Danios can reach four inches when they are adults and should be kept only with larger species. Due to their size, they are best kept in medium to large tanks. A school of Giant Danios is quite suitable for many cichlid tanks. 

  • 03 of 06

    Pearl Danio

    Pearl danio
    Sc99cs/Wikimedio Commons/Public Domain

    Scientific Name: Danio albolineatus
    Also Known As: Spotted Danio
    Adult Size: 2 inches (6 cm)
    Lifespan: 5 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.5 - 7.0
    Hardness: 5-12°dGH
    Temperature: 64-74°F (18-24°C)
    Tankmates: Peaceful, compatible with all species

    Pearl Danios have been a popular staple in the aquarium industry for over 100 years. Pearls can be added to almost any community aquarium and they are tolerant of a wide range of water conditions and live agreeably with most species of fish. Like other danio species, keep them in schools of at least four or more.

  • 04 of 06

    Rosy Danio

    Rosy Danio
    Choy Heng Wah

    Scientific Name: Danio roseus
    Also Known As: Purple Haze Danio, Purple Passion Danio, Rose Danio
    Adult Size: 1.25 inches (3.2 cm)
    Lifespan: 4 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallon
    pH: 6.0 - 7.5
    Hardness: 2-15°dGH
    Temperature: 68-77°F (20-25°C)
    Tankmates: Suitable for any small peaceful species

    Only recently sold in the aquarium trade, this attractive species is becoming quite popular. They are peaceful and hardy, making them a great option for community aquariums. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    White Cloud Mountain Minnow

    Aquarium fish close-up. White Cloud Mountain minnow against soft
    Besjunior / Getty Images

    Scientific Name: Tanichthys alboneubes
    Also Known As: Canton Danio, Chinese Danio, White Cloud, White Cloud Mountain Fish
    Adult Size: 1.5 inches (4 cm)
    Lifespan: 5+ years
    Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    pH: 6.0 - 8.0
    Hardness: 5-20°dGH
    Temperature: 64-72°F (18-22°C)
    Tankmates: Suitable for any small peaceful fish

    White Clouds are often referred to as the poor mans Neon Tetra and they are very hardy and easy to keep. It's not hard to see why, as a healthy, well-conditioned specimen is very attractive. They like cool water and do very well in unheated tanks, making them good candidates for smaller aquariums. 

  • 06 of 06

    Zebra Danio

    Zebrafish (Danio rerio) in aquarium
    NERYX / Getty Images

    Scientific Name: Danio rerio
    Also Known As: Striped Danio, Zebra Fish
    Adult Size: 2 inches (6 cm)
    Lifespan: 5 years
    Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallon
    pH: 6.5 - 7.0
    Hardness: 5-12°dGH
    Temperature: 64-74°F (18-24°C)
    Tankmates: Can be kept with all species

    Easily the most recognizable of the danio family, Zebras are also the most popular of their family. They are very active and get along with virtually all other species of fish. An interesting factoid about Zebra Danios: They are very loyal to their mates and stay with them for life. Usually, if they lose their mate, they will not choose another. Like White Clouds, they tolerate cooler temperatures well and can be kept in an unheated tank.

Article Sources
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  1. White Cloud Mountain Minnow (Tanichthys Albonubes)Nonindigenous Aquatic Species, United States Geological Survey, 2020