Glowlight Danio

Family: Cyprinidae Glowlight Danio, Danio chopraeDanio choprai
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WOAH, your 32 gallon tank is way over crowded! Even if you just had the danios in your tank, it would still be over crowded. When stocking your fish tank there is... (more)  kyle

A beautifully striking species, a school of Glowlight Danios in a well designed tank is unforgettable!

The Glowlight Danio Danio choprae (previously Danio choprai) is one of the most vibrantly colored fish of the species. It is also one of the smallest of the danio group as it group, reaching less than 1 1/4" (3 cm) in length. Its beautiful colors are greatly appreciated as it sports bars, stripes, and spots in green, gold, red, and turquoise. This cyprinid is every bit as hardy as other small danios so makes a great fish for the beginner, but it is rather expensive and can be hard to find.

They have only become popular in the hobby in the last few years. They were first described by Hora in 1928 and named in honor of Dr. Chopra, who collected the first specimens. The first imports were in 2003, brought into the hobby by Fischhaus Zepkow. These Asian fish are the envy of the western world but are still pretty rare and often difficult to obtain. In the wild they are currently found in only one remote area, the Irrawaddy River drainage of the northern Myanmar region of Asia. There are captive breeding programs underway which are helping them to become more available.

The common name of this cyprinid fish is derived from its similarities to the Glowlight Tetra Hemigrammus erythrozonus. This is a pretty little characin fish from South America and is only a very distant relative. Do not confuse the Glowlight with a closer relative, a cyprinid known as the "Glofish". This is a genetically manipulated color form of the Zebra Danio Danio rerio while the Glowlight Danio’s coloration is totally natural. It is a separate species from the Zebra Danio, or any of the Zebrafish varieties.

This danio does have a very similar looking close relative, the Northern Glowlight Danio Danio flagrans, which is found in the Putao area of northern Myanmar. The Northern species is equally vibrant and almost identical in appearance, but with more vertical bars. It is also less frequently traded so very few are found in the hobby.

Having no vices, these little fish could never be a source of trouble in the aquarium. However only in a shoal, and housed in a well thought out aquarium, will they maximize their color potential. They need to be kept in a groups of at least 8 - 10 individuals, though about 20 is even better. A small school could be housed in a 10 gallon tank as the bare minimum, but a 20 gallon aquarium will suit them best. They can appear rather washed out if the tank is too sparsely decorated. So to bring out their best colors use a darker substrate and provide them with plenty of plants.

This beautiful fish will be constantly in motion and a school makes a beautiful display. It does tend to be a bit nervous and shy however, so should be kept either with small, calm tank mates or in a species tank. It does very well with other small cyprinids and all the other danios except the Giant Danio Devario aequipinnatus, which is much larger and will often harass smaller fish. It can also be combined with most tetras, livebearers, rainbowfish, anabantoids, catfish and loaches.

For Information on keeping freshwater fish, see:
Freshwater Aquarium Guide: Aquarium Setup and Care


Geographic Distribution
Danio choprai
Data provided by FishBase.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Danio
  • Species: choprai
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  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 81.0° F (22.8 to 27.2° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 15 dGH
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Glowlight Danio Danio choprae (previously Danio choprai) was described by Hora in 1928. It was named in honor of Dr. Chopra, who collected the first specimens. In the wild they are currently found exclusively in the Irrawaddy river and its outlets in the northern Myanmar region of Asia.

This species is listed on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC). Although it is found only from a remote area in Myanmar there are no major threats identified. It is also believed that it may be very common but research is still needed to confirm its total range. The first imports for the hobby were brought in by Fischhaus Zepkow in 2003 and there are captive breeding programs underway today.

There is quite an interesting history behind the scientific naming of this species. Originally Hora named it Brachydanio choprae but then he changed the spelling in 1937 to Brachydanio choprai, stating that the original spelling had been an error. Then In 2003 Fang determined Brachydanio was a junior synonym of Danio, so the species then became valid as Danio choprai. Well the ICZN rules are such that changing original spellings are not allowed, so it is now valid as Danio choprae.

This fish is very similar to its close relative the Northern Glowlight Danio Danio flagrans, originating from the Putao area of northern Myanmar. This species was first thought of as a variant of Danio choprae and then referred to by the fictitious scientific name Danio putaoensis. But in 2012 it was scientifically described by Kullander as its own species D. flagrans. There are some very subtle anatomical distinctions such as longer barbels on D. flagrans, and it has more vertical bars. But overall these two are almost identical and the Northern species is equally vibrant, but it is much less frequently traded.

In nature these fish are found in small rocky streams with gravel and rocky substrates of gravel where the water is clear and well oxygenated. These fish are omnivores that feed mostly on insects, insect larvae, and sometimes other small animals.

  • Scientific Name: Danio choprai
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: LC - Least Concern

Description

The Glowlight Danio is a small fish with a streamlined body and there is a barbel at the end of each lip. These are one of the smallest of the danio species reaching lengths of just under 1 1/4 inches (3 cm). They have a typical lifespan of 1 to 3 years, but could lived up to 5 years with good care.

This danio is similar in looks to the Pearl Danio Danio albolineatus, with its yellow, brown and green coloring. But this beautiful fish has a bright to orange striping on the back half of the body with spots in green, gold, red, and turquoise. No varieties are in existence today.

  • Size of fish - inches: 1.2 inches (3.00 cm)
  • Lifespan: 3 years - They have an average lifespan of about 1 - 3 years, but could live up to 5 years with proper care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Glowlight Danio is a great beginner fish. These fish will eat just about anything that is offered as long as it floats at the surface where they can readily consume it. They tolerate water condition changes with out many problems, but they must be kept in a school. They are rather expensive and can be hard to find.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Moderately hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous these fish will accept most fish food, live or prepared, though the food does need to float at the surface. As with all danios, these fish are quite active and have high nutrient requirements, so select a flake food that will provide for their needs. They enjoy small live foods like brine shrimp and insect larvae. These fish will do best when offered food several times a day, but offer what they can eat in 3 minutes or less at each feeding. If you feed only once per day, provide what they can eat in about 5 minutes.

  • Diet Type: Omnivore
  • Flake Food: Yes
  • Tablet Pellet: Yes
  • Live foods (fishes, shrimps, worms): Some of Diet
  • Vegetable Food: Some of Diet
  • Meaty Food: Some of Diet
  • Feeding Frequency: Several feedings per day - Offer only what they can consume in 3 minutes or less with multiple feedings per day.

Aquarium Care

These fish are not exceptionally difficult to care for, and mostly just need their water to be kept clean. At least 25 - 50% of the tank water should be replaced once a month. If the tank is densely stocked 20 - 25% should be replaced weekly or every other week. Aquariums are closed systems and regardless of size all need some maintenance. Over time decomposing organic matter, nitrates, and phosphate build up and the water hardness increases due to evaporation. Be mindful during maintenance that these fish will jump, so keep a close eye on them.

  • Water Changes: Monthly - It the tank is densely stocked the water changes should be done every other week.

Aquarium Setup

The Glowlight Danio is a fairly hardy schooling species that will inhabit all regions of the tank, but favors the middle. Though a school of these danios can be kept in a smaller aquarium, they will do best in about a 20 gallon size. Its colors can be quite stunning and will show best in soft, slightly acidic water conditions. Provide good filtration that offers some current. Make sure the tank is securely covered as these fish are skilled jumpers and will probably do so if given the opportunity.

The tank set up is fairly important for this fish to be comfortable. A good aquascape would be dense plantings reaching the surface of the aquarium around the sides and back and a few broadleaved plants for shelter. Floating plants will give the fish extra security. Adding some aquarium bogwood will help get the water chemistry close to they way they like it. A dark substrate is recommended to bring out the fishes natural glow.

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L) - Though a school of danios can be kept in a smaller aquarium, they will do best in about a 20 gallon size.
  • Suitable for Nano Tank: Yes
  • Substrate Type: Any
  • Lighting Needs: Moderate - normal lighting - An overly brightly light aquarium tends to wash out their otherwise spectacular coloration.
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 81.0° F (22.8 to 27.2° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-7.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 15 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - They will inhabit all regions of the tank, but favor the middle and surface areas.

Social Behaviors

These fish will generally get along with their own own kind. They may chase each other around a little, but without harm. A school of 8 - 10 individuals is required, and more is even better. A good sized school is needed or else they will become lethargic, refuse to eat, and waste away. Mixing the sexes makes the males much brighter in coloration.

Glowlight Danios are fairly shy fish. They should be kept either with small, calm tank mates or in a species tank. Any large tank mates, peaceful or not, tend to scare them into hiding. They do very well with other small cyprinids, basically all the other danios except the Giant Danio, which is much larger and will often harass smaller fish. They can also be combined with most tetras, livebearers, rainbowfish, anabantoids, catfish and loaches.

  • Temperament: Peaceful - They are peaceful fish but will get nervous with larger tank mates.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - They need groups of at least 8 - 10, though about 20 is even better.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - They need tankmates that are small and calm to prevent these shy fish from becoming stressed.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Safe - This danio is very shy, so even slow moving tankmates must be small.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

The differences are often too subtle to notice unless fish are in breeding condition, though the males are slightly smaller in comparison to the females. When spawning the males are more colorful, become darker with a brighter middle stripe, and the females become rounder when carrying eggs.

Breeding / Reproduction

The Glowlight Danios are egg scatterers and exhibit no parental care for the young. They breed like other danios, though can be a bit more tenuous. It is not too difficult provided the fish are comfortable. If conditioned well with live foods that will not only bring out their color, but will increase the size of the spawns. When well fed, mature females should begin filling out with eggs. They spawn best in a school and will usually spawn about every 10 days.

For these nervous fish It is best to provide a dimly lit breeding tank with some current. It can be as small as 2 1/2 gallons (10 l) or somewhat bigger. They need plants or other objects like driftwood or rocks to spawn near. Fine leaved plants or spawning mop can be used for the eggs to fall into, so they are out of the reach of the parents.

If conditions are favorable, the female will release her eggs in open water and the male will fertilize. She will release up to about 50 eggs in the typical danio fashion of just a few at a time. After the spawn the parents should either be removed or kept constantly well fed, as they will eat the eggs. The eggs will fall to the bottom and will hatch in about 72 hours. Feed the free swimming fry starter foods like infusoria for the first few days, until they are large enough to eat baby brine shrimp. They will grow at a moderate rate and become mature in about six months. See the description of breeding techniques in: Breeding Freshwater Fish: Barbs. Also see Fish Food for Fry for information about types of foods for raising the young.

  • Ease of Breeding: Moderate

Fish Diseases

Glowlight Danios are fairly hardy and disease is not usually a problem in a well maintained aquarium. They are primarily susceptible to Ich if good water quality is not provided. With any additions to a tank such as new fish, plants, substrates, and decorations there is a risk of introducing disease. It's advisable to properly clean or quarantine anything that you want add to an established tank prior to introduction, so as not to upset the balance.

These fish are very resilient but knowing the signs of illness, and catching and treating them early makes a huge difference. An outbreak of disease can often be limited to just one or a few fishes if you deal with it at an early stage. The best way to proactively prevent disease is to give your fish the proper environment and a well balanced diet. The closer to their natural habitat the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happy. A stressed fish will is more likely to acquire disease. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.

Availability

The Glowlight Danio is somewhat difficult to find, but a select few fish stores will carry them and they may be available online. They are fairly expensive but fortunately captive breeding programs are underway which should help increase availability and bring down the costs.

References

Author: Clarice Brough CFS, Barbara Roth
Lastest Animal Stories on Glowlight Danio

kyle - 2010-01-02
WOAH, your 32 gallon tank is way over crowded! Even if you just had the danios in your tank, it would still be over crowded. When stocking your fish tank there is one fundamental rule. An inch per gallon. For example a 1.25" glowlight danio needs 1.25 gallons of water. Please remember this rule for the future.

  • Josh - 2012-03-29
    Your using the rule incorrectly, a 4 inch Red Tail Shark would need at least a 4 foot long tank, a 55 gallon. Glow light danios need at least 20 gallons.
  • Jeremy Roche - 2012-03-30
    This is not really a rule but more of a guide. Not always correct with all fish. Some fish it is more important to have length then actual amount of water. a 55 gallon high tank for example would not have enough surface area for many fish, where a starndard long 55 gallon would.
Reply
Anonymous - 2010-01-13
Hey, Kyle, that only applies as a GENERAL rule. If you have many live plants you can support a higher bioload. If you have superior filtration you can support a higher bioload.

Reply
Zing - 2007-03-27
Love that fish, have 8 in a 29g heavily planted tank together with odessa barbs and a red-fin shark.
Very active, always on the move, swim mostly at top-middle, enjoy swimming against the current from the pump. They do not seem to be as shy as the article describes - even though barbs try to chase glow-lights once in a while, danios easily outrun them and continue to swim as normal. Sometimes i can see danios "fighting" with each other - circling around, trying to get the opponents tale, but no harm is done. I believe it is a part of courtship.
I bought mine for as little as $3 per fish, though very few stores carry them.

Reply
ariwan - 2006-08-19
I used to have one. Lived for 1 year++. good fish to buy but quite rare!

Reply
H - 2008-04-21
I have about 50 of these little guys in a 32 gallon and they are insane. Together they get along well with 2 boseman rainbows, 1 austrailian rainbow, 2 roseline barbs (my fav's), and 7 golden white clouds. Heavily planted, they have so much fun swiming through the plants & wood; 8 mossballs (giant) at different levels off the wood & plants, with plenty of flow.

Reply

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