Can Zebra Danios Live with Shrimp?


Zebra Danio are usually peaceful with other community fish of the same size or larger than themselves. Let’s explore if these easy to keep fish can live peacefully with freshwater Shrimp.

Zebra Danios can undoubtedly live with Shrimp if the right conditions are met, such as a regular feeding schedule, plenty of plant cover and hiding spaces, and the right size shrimp. However, it is recommended that you wait until the shrimps are adults; baby shrimp’s small size boasts too big a temptation for the Zebra Danios. 

Having a thriving fish tank should be the top of your priorities when taking care of Zebra Danios. If you’re worried about introducing Shrimps into the mix, then read on to learn more about taking care of both fish. 

Can Zebra Danios live with Shrimp? 

The short answer is yes; they can. However, the process of Shrimp introduction into the ecosystem of your water tank isn’t as simple as letting baby shrimps free into the water. You have to take into consideration a few factors. 

Namely, size is a significant factor. You don’t want to release baby shrimp into the tank as their small size will tempt the Zebra Danio fish into eating them. The Shrimp can outrun the Danios, no problem, but living in a constant state of stress is not beneficial. This goes mainly for dwarf Shrimp, like red cherry shrimp or crystal red shrimp, for example. Bigger Shrimp, like bamboo shrimp, ghost shrimp, or Amano shrimp, have nothing to fear from Danio fish because of their size. 

Cherry shrimp are, because of their size, the main focus of the tips. 

Another factor to consider is the other aquarium fish that are living in the tank. Will they also pose a constant threat to the Shrimp? If so, it may be hard for your small additions to thrive in such an environment, and you may find your Shrimp dying off. 

But aren’t Zebra Danio playful fish, not predators? 

Zebra Danios are naturally very social creatures and thrive with at least five other Zebra Danios and an assortment of other fishes. But when it comes to adding in smaller fish, you have to consider the hierarchy of nature. Zebra Danio are like most freshwater fish, not aggressive fish but always open to opportunity, small fish or baby Shrimp, if it fits in their mouth, it is food.

If you wait until the dwarf Shrimp have reached adulthood, their integration into the tank hierarchy will go much smoother. Zebra Danios are less able to eat adult shrimp at their full size. However, it doesn’t mean they won’t try, especially if they miss out on meals. 

How Can I guarantee that my Zebra Danios won’t eat the Shrimp? 

Feeding your tropical fish regularly and with good food will assure a decreased likelihood of your creatures turning on each other. If you find that your Danios are going after the smaller Shrimp, it could be a simple matter of feeding them more. 

But all that being said, even a regular feeding schedule can’t stop the Zebra Danios knack for play. And for a fish’s instinct to eat anything smaller than it is. 

How can I make sure that the Shrimp thrive? 

If you’re still set on introducing Shrimp into your tank’s ecosystem, then you may have to do a few ‘home renovations’ before you begin. Zebra Danios are highly playful and can often be seen in shoals where they chase other fish around. 

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Shrimp will most likely see this playful behavior as a threat, and so ensuring that your shrimps have an abundance of cover and hiding places will make their lives easier. This means filling your tank with more greenery and other features that grant the shrimp peace of mind. 

What happens if I don’t increase coverage for my tank? 

Although the Zebra Danios may be playful, being chased around the tank every day is highly stressful for the cherry shrimp. If they have to be on edge constantly and have no good place to hide from the larger fish, they won’t thrive. 

Living in a state of constant stress will most definitely wear down the Shrimp, and they will soon grow lethargic and unresponsive due to their environment. You will have a hard time keeping them healthy without that additional coverage and hiding places. 

What are other fishes that can easily live with Zebra Danios? 

If you think that keeping Shrimp and Zebra Danios together may be more of a hassle than you’re willing to deal with, then you may be looking for alternative fish to keep in the tank with the social and very playful Danios. 

Going along with size, you’ll want to opt for fish that are roughly the same size as your Zebra Danios. This will, in a way, keep the peace within the tank. However, that won’t for sure stop Zebra Danios. Danios are less likely to go after one another when hungry or angry. 

What should I know about Zebra Danios? 

Zebra Danios are lovely fish to keep because of their naturally social and playful behavior. They can get along well with other fish quite quickly and are easily maintained and active creatures. 

However, their love of socializing does pose a problem if they don’t have any fish to socialize. If Zebra Danios are kept alone, they can become hostile, even when other fish are added to the tank. Ensuring that there are at least five other Zebra Danios together will help your fish thrive. 

Funky fact: Zebra Danio are the same danio fish as leopard danio; their patterns result from selective breeding.

What to watch out for in Zebra Danios and other fish? 

Another thing to note when it comes to these creatures is their playfulness. It can be seen operating most of the time in shoals (hence why having multiple Danios together is a good thing), but Zebra Danios can be known to be too playful with other fish. 

Fish larger than Zebra Danios and have longer fins will find living with them especially hard since Zebra Danios like to nibble on the elongated fins of other fish. What they see as playful, the other fish see as annoying or even threatening. 

That’s why it is best to pair Zebra Danios with fish of the same size or smaller than them, such as larger shrimps. It’s also best practice to keep Zebra Danios away from long-finned fishes, as they enjoy nibbling on them. 

How do I maintain the peace between Zebra Danios and Shrimps? 

Since large Shrimps like ghost shrimp, Amano shrimp, and bamboo shrimp are viable tankmates with the sociable Zebra Danios, it makes sense to pair them off together. But as we highlighted, it takes a lot more than just throwing cherry Shrimp into the deep end for things to work; provide lots of places to hide. 

To maintain a good relationship between the two species is to make sure all fish are well-fed, that there is plenty of hiding places for the small Shrimp, and that you are introducing only larger Shrimp into the tank. 

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In the end, it’s all up to you whether you want to integrate Shrimp into your Zebra Danios environment. Although Zebra Danios are the perfect fish roommate to plenty of other fish, they can threaten the smaller Shrimp species. 

However, if you ensure that all the criteria we mentioned in the article, namely: 

  • proper tank environment with plenty of hiding places for the Shrimp 
  • all fish in the aquarium must be well fed
  • Shrimp are adults, or of the larger variety, so they can fend for themselves

If these criteria are met, you will find that Shrimp and Zebra Danios can coexist in the same water tank quite happily and peacefully. 

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