If you have always wanted a freshwater aquarium, or if you are just getting started in the hobby, you want a nice hardy fish that is easily cared for and won't end up floating belly up the day after you buy it! You would also like a fish that adds a little color to your aquarium. And if it's not too much to ask, you would also like to have an inexpensive fish. Is there one fish that meets all of those qualifications? Yes! Allow me to introduce you to the dandy little fish called the Giant Danio.
I have to admit that I didn't begin my interest in the freshwater hobby with the giant danio. I should have, but I didn't. Instead of acquiring this easily cared for, hardy fish, I went the opposite route. I bought the more difficult to care for fish. I spent more money on these fish, and unfortunately, I lost a great deal of them because they either weren't very hardy or they were too difficult to care for. If I would have purchased some giant danios, I would have had some great fish that are almost self-maintaining!
The giant danios are fast swimming, hardy fish that make a great addition to any medium or larger community aquarium. Some hobbyists even use these fish as their "centerpiece" fish because of their colorful markings. The base of their elongated body is a bluish gray. Their fins are transparent with just a hint of yellow. The most striking color comes from the yellow and blue stripes and markings that cover the giant danio's sides. Males will be more intensely colored, and the blue stripes will run straight into the caudal fin. In the fatter females, the blue stripe bends upward at the base of the caudal fin.
The giant danio may be one of the hardiest members of the cyprinid family. To keep your giant danio healthy, you will need to set up it's aquarium to reflect it's natural habitat. The giant danio is a native of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand. The tank should be decorated moderately with rocks, live plants and some driftwood. Be aware that these live plants may be nibbled on. The giant danio will tolerate a water temperature anywhere from 72 to 82 degrees. Over a period of time, giant danios may even be able to adapt to even lower water temperatures. They can even live in aquariums without a heater. In fact, my giant danio lives in the only freshwater tank in my house that doesn't have a heater. You will still need to keep the giant danio's water clean with a neutral pH.
Although I currently only have one giant danio, these fish should be kept in schools of at least six. These very fast swimming fish appreciate schooling, and will be much happier in their aquarium with other danios. They also appreciate sharing their tank with other fast swimming fish. Ideal tank mates for giant danios can include all barbs, rainbow sharks, red-tailed sharks, bala sharks, iridescent sharks, red-finned cigar sharks, most gouramis, loaches, platies, mollies, swordtails, corys, plecos, most eels and kribensis. As you can see, it's probably easier to list the species that aren't compatible with the giant danio!
The giant danio will need a minimum of a 20 gallon tank to call home. This is not due to their size. An adult giant danio will only reach a length of 4 to 4 ½ inches long. The giant danio will need at least a 20 gallon tank because of their schooling and their need for room to swim quickly. The giant danio is not exactly a timid fish, although it sometimes is thought of as timid because of it's fast swimming. Although I have never had this trouble, it is also recommended that you keep the giant danio's tank well covered because they are great jumpers!
In most pet stores and even wall to wall discount marts, the giant danio will be classified as peaceful. This is a little misleading. They aren't really aggressive, but they aren't totally peaceful either. The giant danio will soon develop it's own personality and territory in it's tank. When it does this, the giant danio can become a pest to smaller or similar sized fish. It won't hurt them. It will just harass them by chasing them constantly! My danio has harassed much larger cigar sharks and is currently pestering a similar sized kribensis. No fin nipping, or other injuries. It's just a pest!
Despite an occasional pestering, a school of danios can also provide an actual benefit to an aquarium. Although it's not widely known, a school of giant danios can be used as dither fish to distract aggressive fish from fighting! It's even possible to keep two female bettas in the same aquarium if you have a school of giant danios! When the female bettas live together in the same tank, they often flare their gills and act aggressively toward each other. However, when the fast moving giant danios school past, the bettas become distracted and will leave each other alone! Other aggressive fish will break off their pursuit of other fish when a school of giant danios swim past. Keep in mind that the average attention span of a fish is a mere 3 seconds, so they are easily distracted!
The giant danio is omnivorous, and they are easily fed. Not only will they nibble on any live plants in their tank, they will also readily accept flake foods and freeze dried tablets. A big treat for a giant danio, and my danio's favorite food, is blood worms. Just make sure the food is a floating food or a slow sinking food, as the giant danio is a mostly a mid-to upper level swimmer, however, it's not unheard of for the giant danio to patrol the bottom of it's tank.
Overall, the giant danio should be highly recommended for anyone just starting out in the freshwater hobby. Not only are they colorful, they are also hardy and good tank mates for most other fish. They are readily available in nearly any pet store at an inexpensive price. They can be both a pest and a peacemaker. The giant danio is just a dandy little fish that more or less takes care of itself! It would be the perfect freshwater fish if it could just learn to feed itself, but you've still got to do something! You don't want to get too lazy!