Zebrafish Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Zebrafish Definition

Zebrafish, scientifically known as Danio rerio, is a small freshwater fish species that belongs to the minnow family Cyprinidae. They are native to the rivers and streams of South Asia, particularly found in countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. Zebrafish have become one of the most important model organisms in scientific research, especially in genetics, developmental biology, and biomedical studies.

Zebrafish General Characteristics & Facts

General Characteristics & Facts of Zebrafish (Danio rerio):


Zebrafish are small freshwater fish, typically growing up to 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.6 inches) in length.


They have a distinctive appearance with blue and silver stripes that run horizontally along their body from head to tail.


Zebrafish are native to the rivers and streams of South Asia, particularly found in countries like India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.


Zebrafish are social and peaceful fish, and they are known to school in the wild, forming groups for safety and foraging.


They are prolific breeders and lay hundreds of eggs in a single spawning event. Their transparent embryos allow researchers to observe the early stages of development.

Genetic Similarity

Zebrafish share many genetic similarities with humans, making them an important model organism in scientific research. Studying zebrafish has provided valuable insights into human development and diseases.


In captivity, zebrafish can live for up to 2 to 4 years, though their lifespan may vary based on environmental conditions and care.

Easy to Maintain

Zebrafish are relatively easy to care for, making them popular among aquarium hobbyists and researchers alike.

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Physical Characteristics of Zebrafish

Physical Characteristics of Zebrafish (Danio rerio):

  1. Body Shape: Zebrafish have a streamlined and elongated body with a torpedo-like shape, which allows them to swim swiftly in the water.
  2. Coloration: One of the most distinguishing features of zebrafish is their vibrant blue and silver stripes that run horizontally along their body. These stripes extend from the head to the caudal fin (tail fin).
  3. Fins: They have two dorsal fins, one anal fin, and a caudal fin. The dorsal fins are located on the top of the body, and the caudal fin is located at the end of the body, providing propulsion for swimming.
  4. Mouth and Eyes: Zebrafish have a small mouth with tiny, pointed teeth that they use to feed on small organisms. Their eyes are relatively large and positioned on either side of the head, providing excellent lateral vision.
  5. Size: Zebrafish are small fish, typically growing to around 2.5 to 4 cm (1 to 1.6 inches) in length.
  6. Scales: Their body is covered with small, overlapping scales that have a silvery appearance, contributing to their striking coloration.
  7. Transparent Embryos: One of the most unique features of zebrafish is their transparent embryos. This transparency allows researchers to observe the development of internal organs and tissues easily.
  8. Lateral Line: Zebrafish have a sensory organ called the lateral line, which runs along both sides of their body. The lateral line helps them detect changes in water movement and pressure, aiding in navigation and detecting prey.

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Scientific Classification of Zebrafish

Scientific Classification of Zebrafish (Danio rerio):

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Cypriniformes

Family: Cyprinidae

Genus: Danio

Species: Danio rerio

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Zebrafish FAQs

What does Zebrafish eat?

  1. Small Organisms
  2. Algae
  3. Brine Shrimp (Artemia)
  4. Microworms
  5. Daphnia
  6. Commercial Fish Food
  7. Fish Flakes and Pellets
  8. Live and Frozen Foods
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