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Breeding the Ocelot Danio

Danio kyathit is available in two naturally occurring variants: the ocelot and the redfin danio.

By Mike Hellweg |

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One of the recent danio imports from Burma is Danio kyathit, available in two naturally occurring variants: the ocelot and the redfin danio. (This breeding information covers both variants.) The ocelot’s entire body is covered with blue blotches or spots; in the redfin danio, the body above the lateral line has thin, squiggly, bluish stripes reminiscent of its distant cousin, the zebra danio, while below the lateral line, these stripes break up into long, oval spots. In both variants, the fins are bright orange to deep red, especially in males. Females are usually a bit larger, with a fuller body than the males. Really large females can top out just over 2 inches, while males reach about a quarter-inch less.



Use a "long" aquarium, as opposed to a "high” or "show” version, to give these active fish more room to move. In addition, they should have a power filter that creates a strong current. They will often swim in the current created by the filter. 

Keep them in groups of at least six to 12 individuals. When alone or in small groups, they languish and don’t do as well long term. They do not seek out and nip at slower-moving or long-finned fish, but the danios’ constant movement can be stressful to such fish; choose their tankmates accordingly. 

Plant the tank around the sides and back, but leave the front and middle open for swimming. These danios do not bother even fine-leaved plants, so you can use whatever plants you prefer. They make excellent residents for planted tanks, but don’t expect to be able to catch them easily in such a setup. Provide rocks, driftwood and other structures for the fish to swim over and around in the open area. 

Danio kyathit
The ocelot danio. Photo Credit: Il le faut/Wikipedia

They will take any commercial foods. As with most community fish, feed once a day with one rest day (no food). For balance, they should be given some meaty frozen or freeze-dried foods several times a week. Brine shrimp, Daphnia, bloodworms and mosquito larvae all fit the bill. 

A heater isn’t necessary for danios. They are coolwater fish that do well between the mid-60s and mid-70s Fahrenheit, which are also the temperatures preferred by humans. Hardness and pH are relatively unimportant with most danios, as long as extremes are avoided. 

Like many small stream fish, ocelot danios are egg scatterers; they produce a large number of eggs and scatter them all over the stream, so at least a few will avoid predation. In our tanks, the biggest danger to the eggs is their parents, so we have to keep the newly laid eggs separate from the adults. 

The most popular way to separate them is by placing a couple of inches of clean glass marbles on the bottom of the spawning tank. Similarly sized inert pebbles can also be used. Many breeders make a special spawning grid from a plastic "egg crate” lighting grid cut to size. This is then covered with a fine mesh, such as plastic needle point canvas or even quarter-inch minnow seine material, and laid on the bottom of the spawning tank. Other breeders make spawning cages out of PVC pipes covered with a fine mesh to create a box. Still others use a pile of acrylic yarn spawning mops. 

A week before the spawning attempt, separate males and females into two tanks. Condition them by feeding heavily with meaty foods, such as frozen bloodworms, brine shrimp and frozen Daphnia, and live foods such as white worms, black worms, live Daphnia or mosquito larvae. 

 Other Danios

 Zebra Danio

 Breeding Zebra Danios


A 10-gallon aquarium works well for a spawning tank. It gives the adults room for a spawning chase (an even more frenzied display than their normal game of chase). Place the spawning grid, marbles or whatever medium you have chosen on the bottom, and fill the tank with just enough water to cover this spawning media to a depth of about 2 inches. This allows the eggs to fall safely without giving nonspawning adults time to eat them before they disappear into the medium. 

A water temperature of 68 to 75 degrees is perfect. The spawning water should have a pH of about 7.0, low to moderate alkalinity (KH 3 to 5) and soft to moderately hardness (GH less than 12). Don’t worry about being exact — danios are adaptable. 

Place the adults in the spawning tank when the lights are turned off for the evening. They normally spawn at first light; the spawning chase can last two hours or so. When the adults are resting on the bottom, seeming to breathe heavily, and the females look  thinner, remove the adults and return them to the main tank. If you look closely among the spawning medium, you should find hundreds of tiny clear eggs. 

Leave the tank alone, and in 24 to 36 hours or so, the eggs should hatch. You will see small, dark slivers hanging all over the tank and spawning media. After another 24 hours, the larvae will have completed development and be free-swimming. At this point, the spawning media can be gently removed, and the fry can be fed for the first time. Feed them with a commercial food for egglayer fry, infusoria or paramecia. Add a few small snails to help clean uneaten food. After a week, you can add newly hatched brine shrimp to their diet. Mix the two food types for a few days until you see by the bulging bellies that all of the fry are eating brine shrimp, then discontinue the smaller food. After a month, start adding finely ground flake food to their diet. 
Each day, siphon any uneaten food from the bottom with a piece of air line tubing, being careful not to siphon any fry. Add a quart or two of water from the adults’ tank. Over a couple of weeks, the tank should eventually become full. Add a gently bubbling mature sponge filter and continue with the daily water changes with water from the adult’s tank. The fry will reach salable size in just over six weeks. 

Breeding Stats

  • Spawning method: Egg scatterer; spawns ingroups
  • Breeding tank size: 10 gallons 
  •  Difficulty level: ´(easy) 
  • Ocelot danios (Danio kyathit) are egg-scattering fish.
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Breeding the Ocelot Danio

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Reader Comments

Dante    Hyde Park, MA

5/16/2014 12:36:23 PM

This Ocelot Danio looks like Brown Trout.

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