How to Keep and Breed a Zebra and a Leopard Danio

Written by david peta
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How to Keep and Breed a Zebra and a Leopard Danio
To get your danios to breed, you will need more than just a bowl with some water and pebbles. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Originating from the cooler waters of India, the danio is a small aquarium-friendly fish that is easy to keep and breed because it is not fussy about lighting or temperature, although it does need clean water with a pinch of salt and succumbs to overfeeding and velvet disease. The leopard and zebra danios (the latter is more commonly known as the zebrafish) are two types of the same species, so there is much similarity in the way they are cared for and bred.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Feed your zebra and leopard danio ordinary flakes from a pet shop, as well as Tubifex worms, but be careful of overfeeding. These fish are particularly susceptible to poor water conditions, which can easily be caused by too much decaying fish food. It is better to feed them a few flakes at a time, then add more once they have finished the first batch.

  2. 2

    Ensure that the area in which your aquarium is situated remains at room temperature, which means you will not need a submersible heater to keep the tank warm. Danios flourish in water between 22.2 and 27.8 degrees Celsius, and they need an aquarium of 10 gallons or more in which to thrive. When you add clean water, add a pinch of aquarium salt, which decreases the amount of pathogens in the water.

  3. 3

    Deal ruthlessly with a suspected outbreak of velvet disease, which is caused by the Oodinium parasite, and which can kill all your fish in a few days. Unfortunately, danios are particularly vulnerable to velvet disease. The symptoms include what appears to be a fine gold dust on the fish's scales. It will clamp its fins together and rub against rocks in order to dislodge the parasite. Immediately raise the water temperature, decrease the amount of light around the tank and treat the water with copper sulphate for about 10 days.

  4. 4

    Separate a few of your adult danios into a shallow breeding tank, and condition them with brine shrimp to prepare them for spawning. Raise the water temperature, add more live plants and place black marbles at the bottom of the tank; these will be useful as ''traps'' for the eggs so the parents do not eat them. Once the adults have spawned (they can produce as many as 500 eggs), remove them from the tank and clear it of decay and marbles. The fry should hatch after two days.

  5. 5

    Move the fry to a larger tank after they have been fed microscopic live organisms for a few days. Feed them baby brine shrimp and powdered egg to promote growth. The adventurous can interbreed leopard and zebra danios; the fry usually takes after the zebra parent because the leopard is a spotted colour morph of the zebra, caused by a pigment mutation.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not feed your danio fry frozen brine shrimp, as the freezing process damages the shrimp's shell and destroys all nutrients. Also, the frozen shrimp are already dead so they'll decay as soon as they hit the water, endangering your fry.

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