Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras: Can They Live Together?

Quite often, I’m being asked about Zebra Danios and their ability to live with other species. Since Neon Tetras are quite prevalent in fish tanks, many people wonder whether they can get along with Danios. Over the years, I gained some experience with both fish. Now, I am willing to share what I learned.

Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras can live in the same tank since both species require similar water parameters, including pH, temperature, and hardness. Danios and Neon Tetras also grow close in size (1.5-2 inches) and feature similar temperament, making them suitable tankmates for each other. 

As we move forward, I will teach you a few tricks that will help you achieve peace in a tank that features both Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras. I will also show you what other species can get along with those fish so that you can easily diversify your community tank.

Can Zebra Danios Live With Neon Tetras?

Zebra Danios and Neon Tetras can live together in the same tank. If you have to select just one species to place in a zebra danio tank, neon tetras would be your first choice. They have so many attributes in common that make them such appealing tankmates for one another. For instance:

1. Tetras and Danios are About the Same Size

You cannot force fish that differ significantly in size to share the same tank since the bigger fish will eat the smaller ones. This can happen even when the bigger fish has a peaceful temperament. It isn’t a question of malice or ill-intent. It is relatively commonplace for fish to perceive smaller creatures in the water as food. 

But that doesn’t matter here because Neon Tetras have an average size of 1.5 inches.[1] Yes, they are relatively small. However, zebra danios grow to a size of 2 inches.[2] In other words, they are only slightly larger than neon tetras, which means that you don’t have to worry about either fish eating the other.

2. The Two Share Similar Water Requirements

Fish cannot coexist in the same tank unless they enjoy the same water conditions. In this case, neon tetras require temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees F, a pH of 6.8 to 7.8, and alkalinity ranging from 3 to 8dkH.[3]

Zebra danios, however, thrive with a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees F, a pH of 6.5 to 7.0, and dH of 8 to 12.[4] As you can see, there is a small difference in their temperature requirements. Such small differences matter in aquariums, though, not where zebra danios and neon tetras are concerned.

To be more specific, neon tetras are quite sensitive to their tank conditions. This is why you are encouraged to only add them to tanks that have been properly cycled. Zebra danios are less of an issue.

They are hardy fish that can tolerate a wide variety of conditions, and they are more than capable of surviving in the temperature range that neon tetras prefer. For that reason, you can trust both species to live comfortably in the same tank.

3. Tetras and Danios Got the Same Temperament

Neon tetras and zebra danios are so easy to rear in the same tank primarily because they have similar personalities:

  • Both creatures are social. They are shoaling fish that should be kept in groups of six or more. As such, they have no qualms about living in a tank with other fish. They will welcome the company.
  • Danios are playful and quite active. This is why it is a bad idea to put them in a tank with docile fish. They will induce stress in slower creatures because of their fast pace.[5]
  • Danios are somewhat aggressive. That is to say; they will clash with one another on occasion to establish their dominance. But they are not violent, and such behavior will subside once a hierarchy has been created.
  • You have to keep neon tetras in large groups to keep them happy. So long as their tank is sufficiently large, they will happily share their aquatic space with zebra danios.
  • Neon tetras are active fish that live fast-paced lives. They are a match for the equally active danios. You don’t have to worry about either fish annoying or irritating the other.
  • It is worth noting that danios are fin nippers, and therefore a source of irritation for fish with long, flowing fins. However, that description doesn’t apply to neon tetras, which hardly have long or flowing fins. Hence, you don’t have to worry about the danios targeting them.

As you can see, these fish share several attributes where their personalities and attitudes are concerned. They are a perfect match for one another. If the rest of the tank share similar characteristics, the community should get along just fine.

4. Both Species are Fast Swimmers

Both fish are omnivorous, which means that they can survive on the same diet. This is usually a problem for slower fish that are paired with danios. This is because the danios will eat all the food before their slower counterparts can reach it.

Danios get their meal from the upper sections. They don’t wait for the food to sink to the bottom. This makes them a threat to fish that feed from below as well. However, neon tetras are more than capable of holding their own during mealtimes. They are fast enough to ensure that their appetites are satisfied. They won’t starve.

How to Make Danios and Tetras Coexist?

In an ideal situation, danios and neon tetras can coexist peacefully. But fish are unpredictable, and they do not always behave. If your danios and tetras are acting aggressively towards one another, you can use the following steps to maintain the peace in your aquarium:

1. Keep the Fish in Large Groups

This is the most crucial consideration where tetras and danios are concerned. They are both shoaling fish. If you force them to live alone or in small groups of four or less, they will act out. The danios, in particular, will become aggressive. 

You can reduce that aggression by adding to their numbers. The bigger their numbers, the more peaceful they will become. From my experience, a group of six tetras can do great with a group of six danios (as long as the tank isn’t overcrowded).

2. Keep Them in a Tank of at Least 10-20 Gallons

To keep these fish, you need a tank of at least 20 gallons, though you can get by with 10 gallons. Because they are happiest in large groups, the more fish you have, the bigger the tank should be. I highly suggest not to force them to live in small, cramped aquariums. It will only encourage them to misbehave and to attack one another.[6]

Give them as much room as possible to swim and explore. They both occupy the same parts of the tank. The only way to keep the peace is to ensure that they have the freedom to maneuver without frequently running into one another.

If you feel that your current tank is too small, feel free to check my aquarium kits’ recommendations. I made sure to review the particular 20-gallon kit that I’ve been using for years with great success. I also mentioned a more extensive kit for experts and a smaller one for those new to fishkeeping.

3. Add a Few Plants and Decorations

Create an enjoyable aquatic environment for your danios and tetras filled with plants like java fern and amazon sword along with caves, rocks, pots, and the like. Fish are most at ease when they have places in the aquarium to hide. Even if the danios become aggressive, the tetras can survive by only staying out of sight.

4. Test the Water For Toxins and Oxygenate it if Necessary

I highly recommend that you keep a clean, filtered, well-oxygenated tank. A well-maintained tank produces happy fish that are less likely to act aggressively towards one another. On the other hand, a dirty, poorly maintained tank will elevate stress.

On that matter, you’ll require a strong filter that can keep pollutants out of the tank, a functional heater that will maintain a consistent temperature, and conditioners that can neutralize toxins like chlorine and ammonia.

If you don’t own one already, I highly suggest considering the API Aquarium Test Kit (link to Amazon). That highly affordable bundle can measure your pH, ammonia nitrates, and nitrites within minutes. It will indicate if more frequent water changes are required.

If you did notice a spike, make sure that you change the water regularly. With small tanks that are about ten gallons, I would recommend replacing 50% of the water weekly. With larger tanks, 20-30% will get the job done. 

To oxygenate the tank properly, you can use the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone Kit (link to Amazon). That device works like a charm in large tanks that aren’t appropriately oxygenated through the filtration system. I’ve been using this stone for quite some time, and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

What Fish Can be Kept With Zebra Danios?

Zebra Danios can be kept with relatively docile fish, including Rummy Nose Tetras, Kuhli Loaches, Three Spot Gouramis, Angelfish, and Mollies. These are also suitable tankmates for Danios because they all share similar water requirements, including pH, hardness, and temperature.

Here is what you need to know about those tankmates and Danios:[7]

  • Rummy Nose Tetra – This is a unique fish with a semi-transparent body and a red spot on its head. It is just 2.5 inches, which puts it within the same size range as a zebra danios. Therefore, neither fish will eat the other. The rummy nose tetra has similar pH and temperature requirements as the danio. It can live in a group of seven.
  • Kuhli Loach – The Kuhli Loach is a suitable companion for a lot of fish. This is because it is most active at night. It is three inches in size, which makes the fish somewhat more prominent than a zebra danio. But the difference in size is too small for the loach’s presence to endanger the danio. They can survive within the same temperature range as a zebra danio. Their pH is also similar.
  • Three Spot Gourami – This fish only has two vertical black dots on its body. But people count the eyes as the third spot, hence the name. The creature can reach 6 inches in size. However, they are peaceful enough that you can keep them with your danios. For the best results, you should get a large tank.
  • Angelfish – Even though angelfish have a reputation for being aggressive, they can live with zebra danios. Because they grow to 6 inches, you should house them in large tanks of at least 80 gallons, especially if you have a school. If you keep them in a group, they will restrict their hostility to other angelfish.
  • Mollies – Mollies are roughly 4.5 inches in size. They occupy the same sections of the tank (middle and upper) as danios. But they are peaceful, and they have similar temperature and pH requirements, which is why people keep them with zebra danios.

What Fish Can be Kept With Neon Tetras?

Neon Tetras can be kept with relatively small fish, including Harlequin Rasboras, White Cloud Minnows, Hatchetfish, Guppies, and Dwarf Gouramis. These are also proper companions for Tetras since they all require similar water conditions, including temperature, pH, and water hardness.

Here is some more information about those species and their relationship with tetras:[8]

  • Harlequin Rasboras – This fish is just 2 inches, making it a suitable match for the neon tetra, which is 1.5 inches. They live within a similar temperature and pH range. Harlequin Rasboras are also peaceful, shoaling, active fish.
  • White Cloud Minnows – White cloud minnows are very similar to neon tetras, but they are cheaper, which is why people that can’t afford neon tetras are drawn to them. They are small, like the tetras, and just as peaceful.
  • Hatchetfish – These are silvery fish with laterally compressed bodies and an average size of 2.5 inches. Like tetras, they are peaceful, schooling creatures that spend most of their time near the surface of the tank. They may fight with your neon tetras for food, but that isn’t a problem if you add the food in sufficient amounts.
  • Guppies – Guppies are within the same size range as neon tetras. They are peaceful, and they get along with other fish of the same size. They are not only easy to care for, but they breed quickly. They have an average size of 2 inches.
  • Dwarf Gouramis – At 3.5 inches, this laterally compressed fish isn’t large enough to threaten your neon tetras. Available in a variety of beautiful colors, they will thrive in the same temperature range as the tetras. They are shy fish that have no interest in harassing their neighbors.

Related articles:

Conclusions

If you wish to keep Danios and Tetras in the same tank, you can probably do so without worrying about the behavior in your tank. That is because both species are not considered aggressive and thrive in similar water parameters.

To make sure the two will get along for extended periods, I encourage you to maintain ideal conditions in your tank. That includes keeping the tank clean and performing regular water changes. You should also test the water for ammonia once in a while to prevent unnecessary spikes.

References

  1. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/neon-tetra/
  2. https://www.fishkeepingworld.com/zebra-danio/
  3. https://www.aqueon.com/information/care-sheets/tetras
  4. http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/zebradanio/
  5. https://www.aquariadise.com/caresheet-zebra-danio-danio-rerio/
  6. https://animals.mom.com/aggression-zebra-danios-10534.html
  7. https://www.aquariumnexus.com/zebra-danio-zebrafish-tank-mates/
  8. https://modestfish.com/neon-tetra-tank-mates/

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