Giant Danio Fish Species Profile

Characteristics, Origin, and Helpful Information for Hobbyists

Devario aequipinnatus - Giant Danio

The giant danio is a great addition to a large freshwater tank, especially if you're already raising larger fish such as cichlids. A schooling species, these large fish should always be kept in a sizeable group. As they zip around your aquarium you'll be impressed by their flashing scales and high energy. Like other members of this family, giant danios can be loyal to a single mate and remain with them for life.

Species Overview

Common Name: Giant danio, golden giant danio

Scientific Name: Devario aequipinnatus

Adult Size: 4 inches

Life Expectancy: 5+ years


Family Cyprinidae
Origin India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand
Social Active, peaceful, schooling fish
Tank Level Mid and top dweller
Minimum Tank Size 30 gallons
Diet Omnivorous, accepts all foods
Breeding Egg scatterers
Care Easy
pH 6.8 to 7.5
Hardness To 20 dGH
Temperature 72 to 75 F (22 to 24 C)

Origin and Distribution

The giant danio (Devario aequipinnatus) originated in the fast-running hill streams of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and northern Thailand. Their natural habitat is clear water, whether it is in free-flowing streams or in the still, remnant ponds of the dry season. About 85 percent of all Indian exports of giant danios are wild-caught, but in the wild, the population is seen to be stable, by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species).

The assigned genus of this fish has changed over the years, and it is common to see this species referred to just by the name Danio in the literature. The Malabar Danio (Devario malabaricus) was once considered the same species, but it has since been re-identified as a separate but closely related species.

Colors and Markings

Aptly named the giant danio, this deep-bodied species can reach four inches in length and even larger in its natural habitat. The body is iridescent gold with steel-blue-colored spots and stripes running lengthwise from the gills to the tail. The fins are pale golden in color and rounded, while the tail fin is forked. There are several color variations, including an albino.


Due to its size, the giant danio is not well suited to being kept with smaller fish. The rule of thumb is not to combine small fish with any fish large enough to swallow them. Small characins would be at risk, but medium to large characins may be suitable. Any medium- to large-sized bottom-dwelling fish will also do well with giant danios.

Slow-moving fish, such as angelfish or bettas, are not suitable as tankmates with giant danios. These little giants make excellent additions to cichlid tanks, as long as the cichlid species you have are not overly aggressive. Giant danios should always be kept in a school of a half dozen at a minimum, preferably more. Smaller numbers often result in aggressive behavior toward other fish and even toward one another.

Giant Danio Habitat and Care

Giant danios are active and swim rapidly throughout the tank, preferring the upper levels of the aquarium. They are a schooling fish and should never be kept by themselves.

The size and activity level of this species requires a roomy aquarium to provide sufficient swimming space. Although a 55-gallon tank is the recommended minimum size, it is possible to keep them in a 30- or 40-gallon tank if it is the long, horizontal variety. Any tank under 36 inches in length is simply too small to comfortably keep giant danios.

Because they have a tendency to jump, keep the tank kept well covered at all times. Filtration should be sufficient to provide a steady flow of water and maintain good water quality. Decor to mimic a river or stream habitat is ideal but not required. To mimic their natural hill stream environment, use river gravel or sand, minimal driftwood, and sturdy plants, such as anubias, only along the periphery of the tank; leave the tank mostly open, with large, long areas for swimming.

Giant Danio Diet and Feeding

Giant danios are omnivorous and will accept a wide range of foods, including flake, freeze-dried, frozen, and live foods. To bring out the best coloration, offer live foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, or mosquito larvae. If live foods are not available, substitute the frozen counterpart. Occasionally include vegetable flakes in their feedings to provide a well-balanced diet.

Gender Differences

Females are attractively colored but generally are less vivid than the males. The body is iridescent gold with steel-blue-colored spots and stripes running lengthwise from the gills to the tail. In females, the stripes bend upward at the base of the tail, while in males the stripe runs straight, extending through the tail. The abdomen of the female is fuller and rounder than that of the male. Males are also noticeably slimmer than their female counterparts.

Breeding the Giant Danio

Giant danios are relatively easy to breed, and the fry are fairly easy to raise. Spawning should be attempted in a roomy tank that has some exposure to the sun if possible, as natural sunlight triggers spawning. Keep the water warm, in the range of 77 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 28 degrees Celsius), with a pH of 7.0 or below. Provide fine-leafed plants, such as java moss, or a spawning mop. Condition the breeder pair with live foods such as brine shrimp.

During spawning, up to 20 eggs are produced during each pairing, which continues until as many as 300 are scattered on the plants or spawning mop. Remove the breeding pair once the eggs are laid, as the parents will consume the eggs and fry. Eggs hatch in 24 to 36 hours and the fry become free-swimming approximately 48 hours later. Feed the fry commercially prepared fine fry foods or freshly hatched brine shrimp.

More Pet Fish Species and Further Research

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