Panther danio, Danio aesculapii

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Matt Ford spotlights the Panther danio.

Common name: Panther danio

Scientific name: Danio aesculapii, Kullander and Fang, 2009

Origin: Endemic to the Rakhine Yoma mountain range in Myanmar (Burma) and only recorded from a few streams of the western slopes. Type locality flows out of forest into farmland before draining into the Bay of Bengal.

The water was transparent, around 12”/30cm deep and ran over a mixed substrate of variably-sized rocks and gravel.

In the dry season it moves slowly and is occasionally reduced to a series of pools, but during the rainy season (May to October) volume and flow rate increase significantly.

Size: 4cm/1.5in

Water: Naturally soft (GH <5°) with a pH of close to neutral.

Temperature varies, depending on the time of year, but during the warmer months values of 72-80.6°F/22-27°C were recorded.

Aquarium: This fish does best in a hill stream-themed tank, but try to avoid torrential conditions as small danios prefer marginal or slower-moving zones in the wild. It will also thrive in mature planted set-ups, but despite a tiny adult size (2.5-3cm/0.98-1.18in) it is an active species that should be kept in numbers, so isn’t really suitable for nano aquaria.

Diet: Predominantly insectivorous by nature, but willingly accepts quality dried foods. Offer a varied diet containing plenty of live or frozen stuff such as bloodworm or Daphnia.

Breeding: Not many people have succeeded in breeding it so far, but reports suggest adding one or two conditioned adult pairs to a separate tank filled with Taxiphyllum barbieri (Java moss) or similar.

The fry are tiny and initially need microscopic foods such as Paramecium.

Notes: This species has been around for a few years now, having been known as D. sp. 'TW03' prior to description and is still often traded under the invented names of D. 'pantheri' or D. sp. 'snakeskin'.

It was probably first collected by Indian ichthyologist Sunder Lal Hora in 1937 but he misidentified it as D. choprae (Glowlight danio). Following Fang (2009) it’s a member of the D. rerio (Zebra danio) 'group' of closely related species within the genus.

In the aquarium it does well alongside many other small, peaceful fishes, but at the type locality was found alongside Garra flavatra, Lepidocephalichthys berdmorei, Rasbora daniconius and potentially new species of Devario, Puntius, Pangio and Channa among other fishes.

Availability: Wildwoods, Enfield, Middlesex

Price: £2.95

This item first appeared in the February 2010 issue of Practical Fishkeeping magazine. It may not be reproduced without written permission.