We report a novel gene tagging, identification and mutagenicity ('gene-breaking') method for the zebrafish, Danio rerio. This modular approach consists of two distinct and separable molecular cassettes. The first is a gene-finding cassette. In this study, we employed a 3' gene-tagging approach that selectively 'traps' transcripts regardless of expression status, and we show that this cassette identifies both known and novel endogenous transcripts in transgenic zebrafish. The second is a transcriptional termination mutagenicity cassette assembled from a combination of a splice acceptor and polyadenylation signal to disrupt tagged transcripts upon integration into intronic sequence. We identified both novel and conserved loci as linked phenotypic mutations using this gene-breaking strategy, generating molecularly null mutations in both larval lethal and adult viable loci. We show that the Histone 2a family member z (H2afza) variant is essential for larval development through the generation of a lethal locus with a truncation of conserved carboxy-terminal residues in the protein. In principle this gene-breaking strategy is scalable for functional genomics screens and can be used in Sleeping Beauty transposon and other gene delivery systems in the zebrafish.