Maximum size : 10 cm

Malabar Danio - Devario malabaricus : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

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Malabar Danios (Devario malabaricus) grace our aquariums with their peaceful nature, remarkable hardiness, and energetic disposition. These captivating fish effortlessly find their place in most community aquariums, adding a touch of vitality to their surroundings. However, ensuring that our aquascapes are equipped with a secure lid is vital, as these agile swimmers are known for their astonishing jumping abilities.

Widely embraced by aquarium enthusiasts, Malabar Danios have enjoyed popularity in the trade for quite some time, making them readily available to aspiring aquarists. Embracing their innate shoaling behaviour, it is advisable to maintain these captivating fish in groups of 8 to 10 individuals. By creating a robust collective, we not only foster a sense of tranquillity among these fish but also cultivate a visually striking and authentic display of their natural behaviour. Within this harmonious assembly, their vibrant colours are further enhanced as they vie for attention within their ranks.

While inherently gentle, it is important to consider the temperament and activity level of Malabar Danios when selecting tankmates. Their constant movement and vigorous feeding habits may unsettle slow-moving or timid species, making larger aquariums with robust, similarly-sized companions the ideal habitat. An enticing assembly could include a diverse array of Cyprinids, Characins, Catfish, Cichlids, and Loaches, creating a dynamic and vibrant aquatic community.

To recreate the natural habitat of Malabar Danios, our aquascapes should mirror the graceful flow of rivers and streams. A fine gravel or sand substrate serves as a foundation, complemented by various smooth rocks and stones. The inclusion of driftwood roots or branches adds a touch of authenticity, while hardy aquatic plants such as Anubias, Microsorum, or Bolbitis contribute to the serene beauty of their surroundings.

Prizing cleanliness and pristine conditions, Malabar Danios thrive in environments free from excessive organic waste accumulation. Regular water changes of 30 to 50 percent per week, coupled with optimal dissolved oxygen levels and moderate water movement, are crucial to their flourishing well-being. While fast-flowing currents are unnecessary, a thoughtfully balanced aquatic ecosystem is key to their vitality.

Admire the mesmerizing elegance of Malabar Danios as they grace our aquariums with their greyish-green to blue bodies adorned with two vibrant horizontal yellow bars. Starting from the operculum, these bars gracefully extend to the caudal fin, adding a striking touch of colour to their presence. Translucent fins, with hints of orange and blue hues in the caudal fin, complete their captivating ensemble.

Malabar Danio Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

Distinguishing between male and female Malabar Danios is a relatively uncomplicated task. Mature males exhibit slight physical variations that set them apart from their female counterparts. They generally possess a slightly smaller and slimmer body structure, accompanied by more vibrant and striking colouration. This notable contrast in appearance between males and females becomes particularly evident during the spawning period when their distinctive features become even more pronounced.

Sexually mature females, on the other hand, tend to display a larger and more rounded stomach compared to males. In addition, their overall colouration appears comparatively subdued and lacks the vividness and intensity observed in males. These distinguishing characteristics manifest when the fish are in their reproductive state, offering a clear visual distinction between male and female Malabar Danios.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameDevario malabaricus
Year Described1849
Other NamesNone
OriginsSri Lanka , India
Max Size10 cm
Aquarium LevelBottom - Middle
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 5 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.0 - 8.0
GH 5 - 15
TDS 36 - 268
Ideal Temperature
64 - 78
17 - 25

Natural Habitat

The captivating Malabar Danios originate from the picturesque rivers Chalakudy and Rawan Oya, where they have established their vibrant presence. These remarkable fish also grace the rivers and streams of Achankovil in Sri Lanka and the scenic west coast of India.

In their natural habitat, Malabar Danios thrive in the tranquil embrace of mountain streams adorned with an array of boulders, rocks, and pebbles. These aquatic landscapes boast crystal-clear, well-oxygenated waters that shimmer with life. The riverbeds are adorned with various substrates, ranging from fine gravel to sandy patches, intermingled with beautifully arranged rocks of different sizes. Enchanting pockets of overhanging vegetation provide both shelter and a touch of serenity, completing the idyllic scene.

Malabar Danios gracefully navigate the currents within these pristine habitats, demonstrating their adaptability to diverse aquatic environments. From the upper reaches of rivers to the tranquil pools nestled in dry zone streams, these fish carve their niche, bringing a sense of vibrancy and elegance to their surroundings.

 Chalakudy River - India
India Flag


Like many Cyprinids, Malabar Danios follow the path of egg-scattering spawners, exhibiting minimal parental care. In the thriving conditions of a well-maintained aquarium, these fascinating fish may spontaneously engage in spawning activities, resulting in the emergence of a small number of fry without intervention. However, should you desire to maximize fry production, a more controlled approach becomes necessary.

Begin by conditioning the adult group together, ensuring their optimum health and vitality. Simultaneously, prepare a separate breeding tank, filling it halfway with water. To create an ideal spawning environment, dim the lighting and cover the tank's bottom with a carefully selected grade mesh, allowing eggs to fall through while preventing adult fish from reaching them. Alternatively, artificial grass matting or abundant fine-leaved plants, such as java moss, can serve as excellent alternatives. Finally, maintain the water conditions in a relatively soft, slightly acidic to neutral range while favouring a temperature towards the higher end of the spectrum.

Initiate the breeding process by introducing one or two pairs of well-conditioned adult fish into the dedicated breeding tank. Stimulate spawning by providing small quantities of live and frozen foods to the pairs, supplemented with periodic additions of cold water to gradually increase the tank's volume. This method emulates natural conditions and encourages the couple to engage in spawning activities, typically occurring the following morning. A visual clue to determine successful spawning is to observe the female, who will appear noticeably slimmer after releasing her eggs.

To safeguard the precious eggs from the adults' appetite, removing them from the breeding tank after a couple of days is crucial. During this time, switching from a power filter to a sponge-type unit is advisable to prevent the accidental suction of any fry. The incubation period of the eggs is influenced by temperature, typically hatching within 24 to 36 hours. Subsequently, after an additional 3 to 4 days, the young fry transition into the free-swimming stage.

In the early stages of development, providing the fry with nourishment such as Paramecium or appropriately sized dry food is recommended. Then, as they grow and become more capable of accepting larger sustenance, they gradually introduce microworms and baby brine shrimp to their diet. This balanced feeding regime ensures their healthy growth and development. With attentive care and adherence to these breeding guidelines, you can actively contribute to propagating and preserving these captivating aquatic inhabitants.

Diet & feeding

Malabar Danios exhibit a versatile and adaptable feeding behaviour within the confines of an aquarium setting. These fish display a broad acceptance of various food sources, allowing for a flexible and balanced diet. While they readily consume most offerings, it is important to prioritize high-quality dried products, such as nutrient-rich flakes or granules, as the foundation of their staple diet.

Regular supplementation of small live and frozen foods is highly recommended to enhance their nutritional intake and provide dietary diversity. In addition, offerings such as brine shrimp, bloodworms, mosquito larvae, and daphnia serve as excellent protein-rich options, enriching their feeding experience and promoting their overall well-being.

In addition to animal-based fare, incorporating occasional vegetable treats into their feeding regimen is beneficial. These may include offerings such as blanched vegetables or specialized plant-based food products. The inclusion of these vegetative components contributes to a well-rounded diet, replicating the natural dietary preferences of Malabar Danios.

By ensuring a balanced blend of high-quality dried products, protein-rich live or frozen foods, and periodic vegetable treats, aquarists can meet the nutritional requirements of Malabar Danios, supporting their vibrant health and vitality. Embrace the opportunity to curate a diverse and nourishing menu, unlocking the full potential of these captivating aquatic inhabitants.

Other Danios of interest