zebra behavior trends

  • #1
hI fellow fish keepers,

I am in the midst of cycling a tank using nutrafin cycle and three zebra danios. I belong to a couple of other message boards and there seems to be mixed feelings regarding nutrafin, but it was all I had available to me at our lfs.

I'm ordering some tetra safestart shortly. ordering it online.

my tank has been set up for a couple of weeks. I did a large water change yesterday and I use water conditioner to ensure my well water is safe.

my water parameters today are as follows:

ph 7.6, ammonia 0.25 nitrites 0, nitrates 5-10. i'm using the apI master kit. water temperature is a stable 77 degrees. I've added a hearty dose of prime since getting those readings earlier today. I haven't tested since.

i'm due for another water change tomorrow morning, and will likely do about 25 percent to protect their health while cycling.

I've never owned zebra danios before so i'm not up to speed on their behavioral patterns. I've read about them online and it seems there is quite a bit of variety in regards to behavior trends.

one thing I am reading is that they are very active fish. my three are staying quite close to the surface. they do not appear to be struggling/gasping/etc. they seem quite content, swimming along the top of the tank with their 'noses' at the surface. none of them appear to be in distress. they are not combative with one another, no one is moving in frantic patterns, they are not struggling to swim, etc. i'm just surprised that they aren't swimming all over the tank actively, as some websites suggest. others say they are surface dwelling fish and like to stay near the top. i'm not sure what is true.

also, one of them, who appears to be the smallest of the three, spends quite a bit of time alone, usually behind the filter. the other fish are not bullying him that I can tell. he does not appear to be distressed in his hideout. his fins are a bit red. one of the others has a slight redness along his gills. I've read this can be due to ammonia levels (mine were at 0.25 earlier) or can be a condition called flukes. they have had the red fins/gills since I got them from the store. I didn't notice when I chose them from the lfs tank. it could be a variation in the colour pattern...? especially the one with the red fins...? neither of the other fish have been nipping at his fins.

if anyone has any experience with keeping danios, i'd love to hear from you. they are quite pleasant fish to watch. i'm just a bit surprised that they aren't swimming around the tank as I expected.

could it be that they don't enjoy the current in my tank? my fluval filter gives a significant current, and I have an air stone as well. they don't have any trouble swimming in it that I can tell.

one other quick question about prime use. I put it in the tank when my parameters were as listed above. when they say it neutralizes ammonia and nitrites from harming the fish...will it actually decrease the ammonia levels? or render it unharmful to the fish somehow?

i'm eager to learn as much as possible about these fish but the internet certainly doesn't make it easy, with all of the conflicting information!
  • #2
Zebra danios are great fish. I do notice that they definitely swim toward the top whenever I'm standing near the tank, but then once I've sat down away from the tank they start swimming all over the place. So be sure to observe them from afar to see if they change their behavior.

Secondly, I've noticed that if they are upset or uneasy about things, they will also school to the top and swim in the two 2 inches or so. Once whatever startled them subsides, they go back to exploring the whole tank.

I would highly recommend that you increase the number of danios as they do prefer to be in schools of 6+. This also tames any nitpicking and/or chasing that might go on between them as it will spread the chasing around. I've not noticed any of mine to be fin-nippers.

I have noticed danios who are not doing well do tend to find their own space and avoid all of the others. I just had one of my snow whites die (or was near death yesterday enough to move to a quarantine tank in the hopes I could revive him in time -- but he was not looking good at all this morning -- he had stopped eating at least 4 days ago and was the smallest one of them all).

So keep a close eye on the one that is a loner. Make sure he is eating.

As for Prime, my understanding is it will neutralize the ammonia for 24 hours. It doesn't remove it permanently. So water changes are the best thing to do to keep your ammonia levels down (and any of the others: nitrite and nitrates).

I don't know anything about nutrafin cycle but I can HIGHLY recommend the Tetra SafeStart. Just please find and read the thread on this forum about how to use it properly. The directions on the bottle are not all that helpful and the thread I'm talking about includes an email from the developers of the product. It is very helpful. Main things to remember are:

1. Wait at least 24 hours after the last time you added Prime to your tank
2. Read the BACK side of the bottle to make sure it is a big enough dosage for your tank size (the front side sticker will likely say a different amount with the words "up to" so many gallons -- that's if you use it when not cycling your tank and I don't know many who do that).
3. Once you've dumped the entire bottle into the tank, then don't do any water changes for 14 days and testing the water parameters is not needed either. The only exception to this is if you notice some behavioral changes with your fish -- then test the water to see if something is drastically wrong.

Hope that helps! Welcome to Fishlore!!!
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
I just dropped some food in the tank, a small amount, and no one ate it, despite swimming right along the surface. they'd go right past the food and not even so much as pick at it. not sure what is up with them...i've got a bad feeling about it...

do you know which thread it was, by any chance? my head is spinning with all these different threads. lol
  • #4
Q & A With Tetra about Tetra SafeStart

I wish one of the mods would turn this link into a sticky somewhere on this website and include it in the Beginner's area. It really should be a must read for anyone asking about Tetra Safestart.

How long ago did you feed them last? They may not be hungry. If it has been over 8 hours then they should definitely be hungry. What kind of food are you feeding them?

I made the mistake of buying too large of pellets the first time and they just couldn't fit inside my danios' mouths. Switched over to flake food and they gobble it up.
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
it's just your average, ordinary basic flake food. I have some teeny tiny blood worms, as well. I fed them this morning and they ate...a small amount. it's 10 pm now. I just put a few flakes in about half an hour ago and ended up scooping them back out.

they haven't left the surface for hours now. still up there. swimming back and forth.

the little loner guy is definitely staying close behind the filter. not moving much to speak of. he comes out every now and then but is EXTREMELY easily spooked.

here are two pictures.

loner staying by filter. and the other two skimming the top. they've been there for HOURS.
  • #6
I've noticed that two of my danios hide behind the filter after I've done a partial water change and cleaned the gravel so I'm thinking this behaviour has something to do with when they're feeling uneasy. Just keep an eye on them and hopefully they relax and start eating better soon.

  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I watched some youtube clips of danio behavior. so active. mine are rather boring. lol. here's hoping they aren't sick.
  • #8
Maybe going through the cycle is affecting them. What are your water parameters?

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