Maximum size : 4.5 cm

Panther Danio - Brachydanio aesculapii : Complete Fish Profile & Care Guide

Table of contents


The Panther Danio (Brachydanio aesculapii) is a mesmerizing fish that captures the attention of any onlooker. These fish are not only beautiful but also hardy and peaceful, making them a perfect addition to any community aquarium. They are ideal for novice aquarists, but one should be aware that they may nip the fins of their tank mates. 

Panther Danios present a commendable selection as "dither fish" within aquarium setups containing Hillstream and Brook Loaches, Asian Stone Catfish, Painted Catfish, Torrent Minnows, Garras, and diminutive torrent Catfish species. It is important to note their incompatibility with ornamental, long-finned fish varieties.

Schooling is natural for Panther Danios, and they should be kept in groups of at least eight to enable them to feel comfortable and display their best colours. Inadequate numbers may make the fish anxious and reduce their natural behaviour.

To create a suitable habitat for Panther Danios (Devario malabaricus), the designated aquarium should possess a minimum length of 3 feet. It is imperative that the aquarium is equipped with efficient filtration and a robust oxygenation system to faithfully replicate the pristine, refreshing currents of mountain streams where this dynamic species naturally thrives.

Strategic aquascaping is advised, with consideration given to incorporating resilient plant species along the rear and lateral walls of the aquarium. These plants should demonstrate adaptability to moderate water movement, harmonizing with the species' natural habitat. Meanwhile, a spacious unobstructed area should be thoughtfully maintained at the center of the tank to provide an open expanse for their active swimming behaviors.

The substrate composition should feature fine sand or smoothly rounded gravel, augmented by the inclusion of cobbles, flat rocks, and segments of driftwood. These additions collectively emulate the characteristic appearance of a streambed. In addition, the introduction of dried Indian Almond leaves can be a judicious option, particularly in the more tranquil regions of the aquarium, contributing to a heightened sense of authenticity. It is imperative to equip your aquarium with securely fitted lids, as this species is known for its exceptional jumping ability. 

These fish have a torpedo-shaped body, and they appear to be plain at first glance, but when the light reflects off their sides, their opalescent appearance is revealed. The markings along their flanks resemble snakeskin and add to their unique appeal. The Panther Danio's fins are all transparent, creating an illusion of effortless movement as it glides through the water.

Panther Danio Photos

Sexual Dimorphism

It is possible to differentiate between male and female Panther Danios with relative ease. Typically, sexually mature females exhibit a rounder belly and are slightly larger than males. In addition, the dark bands in the anterior portion of the body appear elongated and thinner in females. These differences become more pronounced during the spawning period, with males displaying a deeper coloration and females filling with eggs.

Quick Facts

Scientific NameBrachydanio aesculapii
Year Described2009
Other NamesNone
Max Size4.5 cm
Aquarium LevelTop
DifficultyBeginner - Intermediate
Best kept asGroups 8+
Diet & FeedingOmnivore
LifespanUp to 4 Years

Water Parameters

Water TypeFreshwater
pH 6.5 - 8.5
GH 1 - 12
TDS 18 - 90
Ideal Temperature
72 - 79
22 - 26

Natural Habitat

The Panther Danio is a fascinating and unique species, native to the isolated Rakhine Yoma and Arakan mountains in Rakhine state, western Myanmar, situated in Southeast Asia. This area is renowned for forming a natural barrier that sets the nation apart from the rest of the country, creating a unique environment that has allowed the Panther Danio to evolve and thrive.

In addition to their natural habitat, you can also find Panther Danios in Kananmae Chaung, a coastal creek that flows out of the forest into farmland before eventually draining into the Bay of Bengal. Here, they adapt to the specific conditions of the area, demonstrating their remarkable ability to thrive in different environments.

In the wild, Panther Danios are typically found in slow-flowing shallow clear, transparent water, within pools, streams, and rivers. These bodies of water usually have a substrate made up of a mixture of pebbles, gravel, rocks, and leaf litter, providing the perfect environment for these beautiful fish to live in.


Panther Danios are an egg-scattering species that exhibit no parental care, a common trait among Danios. While these fish will often spawn in a densely planted, established aquarium, resulting in small numbers of fry appearing without intervention, a more controlled approach is required for those seeking to increase the quantity of fry. To increase the yield, a separate, smaller tank should be set up, half-filled with water, and dimly lit. The bottom should be covered with a wide-mesh grade that allows eggs to fall through but prevents adults from accessing them. 

Alternatively, fine-leaved plants or java moss can be used to the same effect. To condition the adult group, you can feed them small amounts of live and frozen food, add small amounts of cold water every few hours, and position a small air-powered filter, directing the current down the full length of the tank. Once the females appear full of eggs and the adult fish are well-conditioned, one or two pairs can be introduced to the separate tank.

Spawning can be initiated by the addition of food and small amounts of cold water, leading the pair to spawn the following morning. After a couple of days, it is best to remove the adults, as they will consume any eggs they find. To avoid fry being sucked into the filter, switch the power filter to a sponge-type unit.

The incubation period for Panther Danio eggs is temperature-dependent, with hatching typically occurring after around 36 hours, followed by the young becoming free-swimming 3 to 4 days later. To ensure the fry's health, feed them initially with Paramecium or a proprietary dry food of sufficiently small grade before introducing microworm and Artemia nauplii as they grow.

Diet & feeding

In the domestic setting, Panther Danios can be fed a diet that consists of high-quality dried products as the primary source of nutrition. However, a diet that is solely dependent on dried food may not suffice, and thus, it is advisable to supplement their diet with small live and frozen foods such as daphnia, artemia, and bloodworm. By providing your fish with a well-rounded diet, you will ensure their optimal health and vibrant colouration.

Frequently asked questions

Endemic to the Rakhine Yoma and Arakan mountains in Rakhine state, western Myanmar. These fish have initially been collected from a few streams and rivers of the west interior slopes. However, the individuals originated from the Kananmae Chaung, a coastal creek draining into the Bay of Bengal. These fish inhabit shallow, slow-flowing clear water, and the substrate is usually made of a mixture of pebbles, gravel, rocks and leaf litter.

Panther Danios make an excellent community fish as they get along with most fish species of similar size or smaller. However, these fish can be fin nippers, so be careful if you decide to house them with fish species with extravagant finnage.

Panther Danios have a slender torpedo-shaped body displaying a snake-like pattern with its iridescent gold markings across its body from behind their gill plates to the base of their caudal peduncle. Their fins have a vague white leading edge but otherwise are pretty much hyaline.

You should feed your Panther Danios a high-quality dried product as the staple diet; however, you should supplement this with frequent meals of small live and frozen fares such as artemia and daphnia bloodworm and suchlike. This will show the best colour and condition of your fish.

The water temperature in their natural habitat has been recorded between 22 and 27 degrees Celcius throughout the warmer months, so this likely drops during the monsoon's wet months; however, we don't know to what extent. The pH level in their natural waters has been measured between 6.9 and 7.1. Panther Danios inhabit softer waters with a hardness of 18-90 ppm; therefore, it is recommended that you keep the water parameters in your aquarium as close to this as possible.

Panther Danios look especially striking in a heavily planted aquarium with a dark substrate and appear a little dull in sparsely decorated set-ups. It would be better to set up your aquarium to mimic a flowing stream or river with a substrate of decent sized rocks and gravel and some large smooth boulders. The water needs to be well-oxygenated with a level of flow. However, it would be best to avoid torrent-like conditions since these fish live in calmer stretches of waters in their natural habitat. You can also add hardy aquatic plants, which can be attached to the decor and driftwood.

Other Danios of interest