Golden Zebra Danio

Gold Danio, Longfin Gold Zebra Danio, Gold Zebrafish

Family: Cyprinidae Golden Zebra Danio, Danio rerio variety, Gold Danio, Gold ZebrafishDanio rerio
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I have 3 normal zebra danios and they are awesome because they are so active and the males have really long fins (for danios). They get along with other fish their... (more)  Kai van der Bijl

The Golden Zebra Danio is a lively, eye-catching aquarium favorite with its striped pattern of gold and white!

The Golden Zebra Danio is a striking color variation of the Zebra Danio. This beauty is small in size but big in color. It grows to about 2 1/4 inches (6 cm) in length. The dark blue stripes of the normal Zebrafish have been bred out, leaving this danio embellished with yellow-golden and white stripes. This gorgeous variety is every bit as active and hardy as its progenitors, making it a great fish for the beginning aquarist or any other fish keeper.

Some other common names of this ornamental strain include Gold Zebra Danio, Gold Danio, and Gold Zebrafish.  A long-finned variety called the Longfin Gold Zebra Danio or simply Longfin Gold Danio has also been developed.

Like its progenitors, this charming little Cyprinid is an ideal fish for the beginning aquarist and is enjoyed by advanced aquarists as well. It is active, attractive, and a prolific breeder. This is schooling fish should be kept in a small group of at least 3 individuals, though 10 or more makes them happier and creates a lively display. A school of these small, lively fish does well in a smaller aquarium of 10 gallons, but 20 gallons is optimal. They can be housed with most community fish, but take care that this little danio will not be eaten, and that the other fish aren’t startled by swift movement.

Their aquarium needs, care, and feeding are the same as their parentage. Like all Zebra Danio varieties, they can withstand an impressive range of water temperature and conditions and will generally do just fine without a water heater. They can be comfortable in temperatures down to the low 60s (F). However, though they are not finicky about water conditions, it's best to not keep your aquarium at any extreme.

For a very attractive effect in your aquarium, create a mixed school by combining the pretty Gold Danio with some regular Zebrafish. This mix will provide a nice contrast of swift-moving, darting color. Mixing even more varieties like the Albino Zebra Danio, Leopard Danio, and Longfin Blue Danio works equally well and creates a really exciting effect. Don’t be surprised if the school spends a lot of time in the water flow of the filters or pumps as this is reminiscent of the swift-moving waters of their natural environment.

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

Geographic Distribution
Danio rerio
Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Cypriniformes
  • Family: Cyprinidae
  • Genus: Danio
  • Species: rerio
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Golden Zebra Danio - Quick Aquarium Care
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size of fish - inches: 2.4 inches (5.99 cm)
  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gal (38 L)
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 75.0° F (17.8 to 23.9° C)
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Habitat: Distribution / Background

The Zebra Danio Danio rerio (previously Brachydanio rerio) was described by Hamilton in 1822. They are found in Asia from Pakistan to India and as far as Myanmar.

The Golden Zebra Danio is a specialty bred color variation of the Zebra Danio and many are produced for the aquarium industry. Other common names they are known by include Gold Zebra Danio, Gold Danio, and Gold Zebrafish. It has also been developed as a long fin variety called the Longfin Gold Zebra Danio or Longfin Gold Danio. There are no wild populations of these color morphs.

In nature, Zebrafish show a preference for the lower reaches of streams, canals, ditches, and ponds. However, their habitat varies depending on the time of year. During the wet season, they are found in large numbers in seasonal pools and rice paddies where they feed and spawn. The adults then migrate back to faster moving waters, and the young follow when they reach maturity. The substrate of their clear, freshwater streams is normally rocky and shaded, while the still waters are silty with dense vegetation. In the wild, these fish are considered micropredators and feed on worms, small aquatic crustaceans, insects, and insect larvae.

  • Scientific Name: Danio rerio
  • Social Grouping: Groups
  • IUCN Red List: NE - Not Evaluated or not listed - There are no wild populations of this color morph.


The Golden Zebra Danio has a slender, compressed body and a barbel at the end of each lip. These small fish reach lengths of only up to about 2 1/4 inches (6 cm) in the aquarium. Their progenitors, Zebrafish, are thought to be primarily an annual species in the wild, but captive-bred varieties can have a lifespan of 3 to 4 years, and some have lived up to 5 1/2 years with proper care.

This gold color morph of the Zebra Danio has had the blue stripes bred out, leaving it embellished with yellow-golden and white stripes. This fish should not be confused with the Pearl Danio Danio albolineatus, which is an entirely different species.

  • Size of fish - inches: 2.4 inches (5.99 cm)
  • Lifespan: 4 years - They have an average lifespan of about 3 1/2 years, though some have lived up to 5 1/2 years with proper care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Golden Zebra Danio is a great choice for beginning aquarists and makes a great addition to a community aquarium. 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 without too many issues and can even be kept without a heater.

  • Aquarium Hardiness: Very Hardy
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Beginner

Foods and Feeding

Since they are omnivorous, these fish will eat most any prepared or live aquarium fare, though the food does need to float at the surface. They especially enjoy chasing after tubifex worms, whether living or freeze dried. 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 provided that their water is kept clean. At least 25 to 50% of the tank water should be replaced once a month. If the tank is densely stocked, 20 to 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 water hardness increases due to evaporation.

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

Aquarium Setup

The Golden Zebra Danio is fairly hardy and will adapt to most aquarium conditions. This schooling species will spend most of the time in the top and middle regions, particularly if there is open water or water current. Though a school of danios can be kept in a smaller aquarium, they will do best in about a 20 gallon size. Provide good filtration and keep the tank covered to prevent jumps.

These fish are most effectively displayed in tanks with subdued lighting and a dark colored fine gravel or sand substrate. They like a well planted aquarium, and a variety of plants will make them feel safe. Some good selections include Water Wisteria, Hornwort, and Java Fern. As these fish are also extremely active swimmers, they will need some open areas for swimming.

  • 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
  • Temperature: 64.0 to 75.0° F (17.8 to 23.9° C)
  • Range ph: 6.0-8.0
  • Hardness Range: 2 - 20 dGH
  • Brackish: No
  • Water Movement: Moderate
  • Water Region: All - They will spend most of their time in the top and middle regions of the tank, particularly if there is open water or water current.

Social Behaviors

This Zebrafish color morph makes a good community fish. It gets along well with others of its own kind and most other community species. They can be kept in groups as small as 3 individuals, but are happiest in a school of 5 or more. A pecking order may emerge in the school, but nothing will come of it.

Select tankmates that are similar in temperament and can keep up with the fast-paced lifestyle of this fish. Zebra Danios have been known at times to harass other fish, and tankmates with a more laid-back demeanor can become stressed. Also, take care that this small danio's tankmates are unable to eat it.

  • Venomous: No
  • Temperament: Peaceful - They are good community fish with other fish that are also fast-moving.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species - conspecifics: Yes - They are best kept in groups of 5 or more.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe - Tankmates need to be able to tolerate the lively nature of this species.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat - Any type of aggressive fish will pose a threat to Zebra Danios. They should only be kept with peaceful community fish.
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Slow Swimmers & Eaters (): Monitor - Large schools of these very active fish may make calmer tankmates nervous.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe - not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sex: Sexual differences

The females are larger and fuller-bodied than the males, which are more streamlined and slim.

Breeding / Reproduction

Golden Zebra Danios are very easy to breed, and they may even do so on their own. Two fish will form a breeding pair, which they often keep for life. If you wish to retain the young, the breeding tank should be empty except for a two-inch layer of large glass marbles, 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Add the female to the tank and let her settle for about a day before adding the male. When they are both in the tank, adding a few cups of cold water will cause the courtship to begin.

If conditions are favorable, the female will release her eggs in open water and the male will fertilize them. The eggs will then sink to the bottom and fall through the marbles, out of their parents' reach. The fry will emerge from the marbles after about 7 days. At that time or before, parents should either be removed or kept constantly well-fed. 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: Easy

Fish Diseases

Golden Zebra Danios are extremely 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. Remember that any additions to a tank such as new fish, plants, substrates, and decorations can introduce disease. Properly clean or quarantine anything that you want add to an established tank, 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 dealt with 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 more closely their environment resembles their natural habitat, the less stress the fish will have, making them healthier and happier. A stressed fish is more likely to acquire disease. For information about freshwater fish diseases and illnesses, see Aquarium Fish Diseases and Treatments.


The Golden Zebra Danio, as well as the Longfin Gold Zebra Danio variety, is readily available and inexpensive. They can be found in pet stores, on the internet, and through mail order.


Author: Barbara Roth, Clarice Brough CFS
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