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The new Danio and Devario species: something for everyone

The following article has been kindly provided by Neale Monks. Many of the Danios featured are currently available at the shops listed on Tropicalfishfinder. If you go to the database entry for each of the species there is a link that will show you which of the shops have these fish currently available.

The new Danio and Devario species: something for everyone

Long overshadowed by the South American tetras and Asian barbs, danios are rapidly becoming the hot new thing among aquarists, and with good reason. Danios are invariably hardy, peaceful, lively, and easy to breed. Most are remarkably adaptable in terms of water chemistry, and virtually all of them can be considered good beginner's fish. What's not to like?

The downside was that until recently, only a handful of species were regularly traded, primarily the pearl danio and the zebra danio, with the giant danio turning up every once in a while. In the last few years all that has changed, with dozens of new species being imported from India, Thailand, and especially Burma. Many of these species are not only new to aquarists but new to science as well, and don't even have Latin names yet! Regardless of what they're called, they all seem to share the same basic characteristics of the subfamily to which they belong, the Danioninae, often simply referred to as "the danionins" by aquarists and scientists alike.

Before looking at some of the most attractive and interesting of the
new danio species, a quick review of their basic care is worthwhile.
Danios are schooling fish, which means they need to be kept in groups of six or more. While they are fairly boisterous towards members of their own species, they ignore anything else too big to be viewed as prey. For the smaller species, only livebearer fry are at risk, but the larger danios could potentially eat things the size of neon tetras. Danios natually feed primarily on invertebrates, in particular insect larvae and terrestrial insects that have fallen onto the surface of the water. In captivity, they will eat pretty much any floating food, and flake and pellet foods are relished. In addition, live daphnia and mosquito larvae are enjoyed, as well as frozen bloodworms, lobster eggs, and krill. None of the danios are fin-nippers, and coupled with their peaceable nature, this makes them excellent community fish.

Most species live in fast flowing streams, which means they prefer an aquarium with lots of water current and plenty of oxygen.They don't like high temperatures, with around 22 ûC being about right, and certainly never more than 25 ûC. While they can be kept at higher temperatures, they are often more short-lived when kept that way. Of course, there are lots of other aquarium fish from this sort of environment, and these will do well in a slightly cooler than normal aquarium, including white cloud mountain minnows, rosy and gelius barbs, hillstream loaches, and variatus platies. One final caution: like other mountain stream fishes, danios are excellent jumpers. While this is useful in the wild for escaping predators and catching prey, jumping out on aquarium is likely to be fatal. Only keep danios in covered aquaria.

Little jewels: the smaller Danio and Devario spp.

The Glowlight Danio, Danio choprai:

A lovely little fish that resembles the popular glowlight tetra,
Hemigrammus erythrozonus but is much more lively and arguably even prettier. Essentially a organey-pink fish, iut has a brilliant coppery band along the midline from about halfway along the flanks and onto the tail. Above and below the band are a blue patches that give a rather leopard-like appearance. The edges of the tail and dorsal fins are marked with yellow, and dorsal surface of the fish has an atrractive metallic green tint. At no more than 3 cm in length, it is a superb choice for aquarists looking for something active and colourful for the smaller aquarium.

The Blue Danio, Danio kerri

The blue danio is up to 5 cm long and resembles the well-known pearl danio in behaviour and requirements, but has a lovely blue sheen along the sides of its body. Overlying this are a couple of thin orange bands running from about midway along the body to the base of the tail. All in all, an attractive fish, especially when kept in a large group. The blue colour works wonderfully well with the hyperactivity of these little fish, adding a charming feature to any aquarium containing other small, peaceful species.

The Hikari Danio, Danio sp. "Hikari"

The Hikari danio is often sold as both "yellow" and "blue" Hikari
danios, but these are actually nothing more than the females and males of the one (as-yet unnamed) species. The females have a yellow sheen with a bold blue region running from behind the pectoral fins and onto the tail. Males are more silvery, with a dark blue band running from the gill covers to the tail, overlaid with brilliant orange stripes and spots. Basic care is identical to the other smaller danios.

The Panther Danio, Danio sp. "TW03"

This beautiful little fish does indeed have a wonderful panther-like
pattern of golden squiggles on its flanks. Another of the new Burmese species, within a year of being imported this species had quickly established as a firm favourite among hobbyists. Care is similar to the other small danios, but this species seems to do well at temperatures up to 25 ûC, so it can be easily kept with standard tropical fish.

The Tiger Danio, Devario pathirana

One of the most beautiful of all the danios, this boldly coloured fish
sports a series of alternating orange and blue bands along its flanks. A genuinely tropical species, this is an excellent fish for the mixed community tank, and consequently much in demand by hobbyists. It is a rare fish in its native Sri Lanka, with only small numbers of wild-caught fish being exported and commercially bred fish being still in limited supply. As a result, this is one of the more expensive danios, but many aquarists who have kept these fish consider their price money well spent.

Crown jewels: the larger Danio and Devario spp.

The Moustached Danio, Danio dangila

A boisterous but attractive species that is remarkable for its very
long barbels. It is silvery-blue fish marked with leopard-like pattern of orangey-pink blotches against the blue flank region, and a distinct
dark "shoulder spot" behind the gill covers. In aquaria seems to grow to around 8 cm, but in the wild it is said to get even bigger in the wild, up to 15 cm. Found throughout the highland regions between India and Burma, it lives in fast flowing mountain streams where it feeds primarily on insects, much like minnows and small trout here in Britain. As such, it needs an aquarium with lots of swimming space and a fast water current. Decorating the tank needn't be complex, and as with all the large danios, the ideal aquarium would have a gravel bottom with a few water-worn boulders for interest, and the odd clump of vegetation to provide a little shade here and there. Beyond that, these are undemanding fish, and an excellent addition to a community of medium sized species such as gouramis and barbs.

The Yoma (or Burma) Danio, Danio feegradei

Another lovely danio, this species can get up to 8 cm in length, though it is commonly a bit smaller. It has proven to be adaptable, and while it may prefer lower temperatures, it will do well at up to 25 ûC, making it a good choice for community tanks with medium sized fishes such as gouramis and dwarf cichlids. It is a variable species, but typically is silvery-green with a series of orange spots set against a green mid-flank band. There is normally a dark eyespot on the base of the tail.

The Meghlaya Danio, Danio meghalayensis

A distinctly subtropical species from India, this 9 cm fish would be an excellent addition to a community aquarium maintained at around 18 ûC, making them suprisingly good companions for many coldwater fish, such as sunfish, weather loaches, even goldfish. Of course, goldfish in particular are rather messy beasts, so such an aquarium would need excellent filtration, but otherwise these are undemanding fish. In looks, these are very similar to giant danios but with more colourful finnage. Males have red anal fins and females white.


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