The Glowlight Danio is both beautiful and striking, and a school of them in a well-designed tank is unforgettable!

The Glowlight Danio Danio choprae (previously Danio choprai) is one of the most vibrantly colored danios and one of the smallest, reaching less than 1 1/4″ (3 cm) in length. This danio has strikingly beautiful patterning and coloration composed of bars, stripes, and spots in green, gold, red, and turquoise. This cyprinid is every bit as hardy as other small danios, so it makes a great fish for the beginning aquarist. However, 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 brought into the hobby by Fischhaus Zepkow in 2003. These Asian fish are the envy of the western world but 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. Captive-breeding programs  are underway to help make them more available.

The common name of this cyprinid fish is derived from its similarities to the Glowlight TetraHemigrammus erythrozonus, a pretty little characin fish from South America and a very distant relative. Do not confuse the Glowlight with a closer relative, a cyprinid known as the “Glofish.” The Glofish is a genetically manipulated color form of the Zebra DanioDanio rerio while the Glowlight Danio’s coloration is totally natural. The Glowlight Danio 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 sports 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, to maximize their color potential, they must be kept in a shoal and in a well-thought-out aquarium. They need to be kept in groups of at least 8 to 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. 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. Glowlight Danios do tend to be a bit nervous and shy, however, so keep them with either small, calm tankmates or in a species tank. They do very well with other small cyprinids and all other danios, except the Giant DanioDevario aequipinnatus, which is much larger and will often harass smaller fish. Other suitable tankmates are most tetras, livebearers, rainbowfish, anabantoids, catfish, and loaches.

Scientific Classification


Glowlight Danio – Quick Aquarium Care

Aquarist Experience Level:Beginner
Aquarium Hardiness:Moderately hardy
Minimum Tank Size:10 gal (38 L)
Size of fish – inches1.2 inches (3.00 cm)
Temperature:73.0 to 81.0° F (22.8 to 27.2&deg C)

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 in a remote area in Myanmar, no major threats have been identified. It is believed to 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 captive-breeding programs are underway today.

There is quite an interesting history behind the scientific naming of this species. Originally, Hora named it Brachydanio choprae but then 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. However, ICZN rules prohibit changing original spellings, so this fish is now known 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 between the two, such as longer barbels and more verticle bars on D. flagrans. But overall, these two are almost identical. The Northern species is equally vibrant, but much less frequently traded.

In nature, these fish are found in small, rocky streams with gravel substrates 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


The Glowlight Danio is a small fish with a streamlined body and a barbel at the end of each lip. This is one of the smallest danios, reaching lengths of just under 1 1/4 inches (3 cm). They have a typical lifespan of 1 to 3 years, but could live 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. However, the Glowlight Danio has bright orange stripes 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 to 3 years, but could live up to 5 years with proper care.

Fish Keeping Difficulty

The Glowlight Danio is a great fish for a beginning aquarist. 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 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 provided 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. Be mindful that during maintenance, these fish will jump, so keep a close eye on them.

  • Water Changes: Monthly – It the tank is densely stocked, 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, though they favor 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 setup is fairly important for this fish to be comfortable. A good aquascape would be dense plantings around the sides and back of the aquarium, reaching to the surface, and a few broad-leaved plants to provide shelter. Floating plants will give the fish extra security. Adding some aquarium bogwood will help get the water chemistry close to the way they like it. A dark substrate is recommended to bring out their 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 – A brightly lit aquarium tends to wash out their otherwise spectacular coloration.
  • Temperature: 73.0 to 81.0° F (22.8 to 27.2&deg 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 kind. They may chase each other around a little, but without harm. They must be kept in a school of at least 8 to 10 individuals, but more is even better. Without a good-sized school, 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 tankmates or in a species tank. Any large tankmates, peaceful or not, tend to scare them into hiding. They do very well with other small cyprinids and 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 – These peaceful fish will get nervous with larger tankmates.
  • Compatible with:
    • Same species – conspecifics: Yes – They need groups of at least 8 to 10, though about 20 is even better.
    • Peaceful fish (): Safe – Small, calm tankmates will help prevent these shy fish from becoming stressed.
    • Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Semi-Aggressive (): Threat
    • Large Aggressive, Predatory (): Threat
    • Safe – This danio is very shy, so even slow-moving tankmates must be small.
    • Shrimps, Crabs, Snails: Safe – not aggressive
    • Plants: Safe

Sexual differences

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

Breeding / Reproduction

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. Still, breeding them is not too difficult provided the fish are comfortable. They should be conditioned well with live foods that will not only bring out their color but also 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.

These nervous fish will be most comfortable in a dimly lit breeding tank with some current. This tank 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. Provide fine-leaved plants or spawning mop for the eggs to fall into, so they are out of the reach of the parents.

In favorable conditions, the female will release her eggs in open water and the male will fertilize them. 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. Otherwise, they will eat the eggs. The eggs will fall to the bottom and 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. For a general description of breeding techniques, see 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. Remember that any additions to a tank, such as new fish, plants, substrates, and decorations, risk introducing 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 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 captive-breeding programs are underway to help increase availability and bring down the costs.



 Glowlight Danio – Danio Choprae (Image Credit: Sergev1001, Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0 Universal)