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Moustached Danio – Danio dangila

Moustashed Danio

Danios are amongst the most popular aquarium fishes. There are probably more than 30 distinct species of Danio from which the aquarist may choose and this includes a large number of visually stunning fishes that are bound to enhance any home aquarium.

Is the Moustached Danio a good community fish? The Moustached Danio should be considered to be an excellent community fish assuming that the community is one of larger species, being that adults are around six-inches long. The Moustached Danio is suitable for novice aquarists as it gets on just fine with other similar-sized species. The Moustached Danio gets its name from its elongated barbels either side of its mouth.

Key Facts

CategoryKey Facts
Common name(s)Panther Danio
Scientific nameDanio aesculapii
Originate fromRakhine Yoma/Arakan mountains in Rakhine state, western Myanmar in southern Asia
Care requiredEasy to care for and hugely popular
TemperamentPlacid, shoaling fish
Colour & FormTorpedo-shaped with almost clear finnage and iridesccent “snakeskin-like” marking along its flanks.
LifespanUp to 4 years
Adult size1.6 inches
DietOmnivorous – eat aquatic insect larvae in nature
Aquarium size24 inches in length or greater
Compatible withMost other Tetras, Barbs, Danios, Guppies and other livebearers, dwarf cichlids, smaller Gouramis, catfish and loaches that live in fairly neutral, doft water
Avoid keeping withLarge and/or aggressive species and species with long-finnage
BreedingEasy if you put the fish in the right environment.
Water temp72 – 79 Fahrenheit
Water pH6.8 to 8.2
Water hardness (dGH or dH)1 to 12 dGH

Origins of the Moustached Danio

Danios, as a “family” of fishes belonging to the biological family Cyprinidae and are found in nature in south and southeast Asia.

The Moustached Danio originates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal in Asia where it tends to dwell in mountain streams.

Characteristics of the Moustached Danio

As you can see, the Moustached Danio is an impressive fish. It has a torpedo-shaped body, resembling the proportions if not the size, of a salmon and It will grow to up to around 6 inches in the aquarium and lives for around five years.

Moustached Danios prefer fairly soft, neutral water with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 with a temperature range between 64 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 20 dGH. 

The Moustached Danio enjoys soft to medium, neutral water conditions so it will be comfortable with other species of similar size that prefer this type of water chemistry.

The female is generally larger and hardier than the male but the male, as is often the cases amongst species of fish, is the more colorful of the pair.

A well-planted aquarium with open space in which the Moustached Danio can swim freely is preferred together with a decent flow of water to mimic the mountain streams of its natural habitat provided that the water is properly conditioned to maintain its soft, neutral condition.

Whilst not specifically an aggressive species the Moustached Danio is a lively fish, always on the go, so it is best to avoid putting it with slow-moving species, especially if the latter have long finnage, as the temptation could be too great.

The Moustached Danio is a shoaling fish and should be kept as a group of at least six fish, though a shoal of, say, twenty or more fish is highly recommended. Since this is not a small species, there is every reason to have a decent-sized aquarium to ensure that it has plenty of room in which to behave naturally.

Having plenty of vegetation to break up lines of sight will also help to protect your Moustached Danios from predation but it is obviously advised that Moustached Danios are not kept with predatory species, as they are very peaceful, if active fish and may be seen as prey.

The body of the Moustached Danio in good condition is a silver color behind the gill plates with darker, “Snakeskin”-like markings along its flanks and Makeral-like stripes over the dorsal area. The male can become deeply colored during spawning.

Its fins are pretty unremarkable other than both the dorsal and anal fins are quite trapezoidal with sharp corners. All of the remaining fins are fairly unremarkable but, overall, the fish is attractive and most elegant.

It is fairly to distinguish the sex of adult Moustached Danios because the adult female is larger and less colorful. The female is also fuller-bodied, especially when carrying eggs (gravid). 

The Moustached Danio tends to inhabit the middle areas of the aquarium. That said, it is a vigorous fish when breeding and will readily traverse the entire aquarium. It tends to feed in the middle and lower areas of its environment (but has regularly been seen feeding from the surface) and, being quite a large fish will prefer very substantial food and loves brine shrimp, blood worms, tubifex worms and daphnia a couple of times each week.

The Moustached Danio is, by nature, a shoaling fish and it is generally recommended to purchase at least six fish – preferably twelve, as their nature is to swim together like a shoal and they will tend to thrive much better as a shoal. Moustached Danios are excellent, larger community fish and are ideal for novice aquarists assuming that the soft, neutral water and appropriate breeding conditions required are provided and maintained.

It is generally advised that the minimum tank size for Moustached Danios should be one of at least 48 inches in length or more due to the shoaling nature of the species and the fact that they are very active swimmers indeed, which will enable a small shoal to move around freely. A smaller tank might be too restrictive and the fish will suffer as a result.

There is a predominance of so-called “Nano tanks” available but, being old-fashioned, I prefer my fishes live in an environment which, at least, attempts to mimic nature, rather than living in what I would liken to a prison cell. The tank should be well-planted but with clear areas where the fish can swim freely. The water should have a gentle movement, as Danios enjoy swimming against a flow of water.

Moustached Danios are difficult to sex until they are mature, where the female has a slightly fuller body when she is carrying eggs (gravid) than the male, which is likely to take on richer coloring. 

The general rule for Danios is that by keeping six or more of the same species in an aquarium they will be fully aware of which is male and which is female and they will act accordingly when the time comes for breeding.

Moustached Danio – Videos

How do Moustached Danios breed?

Danios, in general, will scatter eggs by laying them over fine plants such as Cabomba, Fontanalis or Willow Moss or Java Moss.

Moustached Danios are like most other Danios in that they scatter their eggs. In respect of preparing a breeding tank for the Moustached Danio, it is generally recommended that the bottom is covered in marbles between which the eggs will naturally fall, safe from predation from its parents.

As the female Moustached Danio becomes ripe with eggs, the difference between the sexes may become more evident, as the body expands because it is carrying eggs. If you plan to attempt to breed Moustached Danios then it is recommended that you have a breeding tank prepared. Such a tank can be empty and should be tall and not more than filled to around nine-inches deep with water.

The water should have a reasonable current so the pump should not only be able to draw sufficient water to pump back as a current but should also include protection to ensure that the eggs do not get pulled through the pump.

The breeding pair will go through their mating ritual and the female release some of her eggs and the male will fertilize them until up to 100 eggs, perhaps more, have been laid and fertilized.

Thereafter, the adults will take no further part in rearing their offspring and will eat the eggs, given the chance so it’s best to return them to the main tank.

It takes around forty-eight hours for the eggs to hatch, depending on the water conditions and temperature and around a further forty-eight hours for the yolk sacs to be depleted and the fry to become free-swimming

Breeding tank for Moustached Danios

You should prepare a tank of around 10 gallons in size with mature, soft, neutral water. The water should have a low level of light and be no more than around nine-inches deep. It is recommended that the substrate consists of marbles through which the fry will fall.

By all means, include plants such as Java Moss or, perhaps, a sterile spawning mop to encourage breeding but take into account the fact that you will need to remove the adults once spawning is completed and you don’t want to injure either the fishes or the eggs.

Danios prefer to spawn where the water is flowing do a decent pump is required to synthesize that flow and the marbles will help to prevent the eggs from being drawn into the pump or consumed by the parents.

You may wish to introduce baby brine shrimp, mosquito larvae or bloodworm as an inducement to reproduction.

The male and female will swim amongst the plants (if any) and the female will lay laying around 100 eggs during a spawning. The male(s) will swim alongside or behind her and fertilize the eggs as they are laid. The eggs are not adhesive and will fall to the bottom of the tank. Once the female has laid all her eggs the adults should be removed from the breeding tank.

Reduce the water movement by turning down the pump – only regular aeration is now required. Keep the lights off (or very low) and the tank dark (of fairly dark)  because eggs and fry can be particularly sensitive to the light.

The eggs will hatch typically in a day or two depending on tank temperature and conditions and the fry will become free-swimming after around two days after hatching. Keep the tank unlit for the first week or so then gradually increase the lighting. Bear in mind that the eggs and fry of a fish as small as the Moustached Danio will be tiny indeed so you may need to use a magnifier “app” on your smartphone to see anything at all.

The newly hatched fry will feed firstly on their yolk sac but, once free-swimming, can be fed infusoria (particularly rotifers) and will also thrive on egg yolk during the first two to four weeks. It is worth mentioning that immediately after hatching, fry seem quite vigorous but will soon go into a resting state before they become free-swimming so please don’t mistake this initial stage as being free-swimming.

Once the fry are free-swimming and their yolk sacs are depleted, then add baby brine shrimp. Once the fry are sufficient in size not to be treated as a snack then they can be introduced into the community tank where they will join the existing shoal. Before moving the adolescent fish into the community tank ensure that you have balanced the water temperatures to mitigate the risk of White Spot or other diseases being triggered.

Unless you are breeding commercially, you may wish to consider moving the fry into the community tank sooner rather than later. It may seem harsh but the adult fish in the tank will deal with any fry that are unlikely to survive to adulthood in the wild and you are synthesizing, to the best of your ability, a wild environment. The fittest fry will probably survive whilst the rest will be dealt with by the community.

Should your Moustached Danios have a special diet for breeding?

Adult Moustached Danios don’t need any particular inducement to breed. That said, it has been suggested that adding baby brine shrimp, mosquito larva may encourage them, presumably because the addition of a new food may “fool” the fish into thinking that it is breeding time. From my own experience, I would always recommend keeping all of your fish in the best possible condition at all times, as this is good for the wellbeing of your fish.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

Mike Wheeler

I started keeping freshwater tropical fish in 1972 and it has been something of a passion ever since. In this website, my aim is to build up an everyman's guide to help the everyday aquarist get the best from this inspiring and entertaining hobby.

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