Zebrafish in the wild: a review of natural history and new notes from the field

Zebrafish. Spring 2007;4(1):21-40. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2006.9997.


The zebrafish, Danio rerio, has emerged as a major model organism for biomedical research, yet little is known about its natural history. We review the literature pertaining to the geographic range, biotic and abiotic habitats, and life cycle of the zebrafish. We also report our own field study to document several aspects of zebrafish natural history across sites in northeast India. We found zebrafish particularly abundant in silt-bottomed, well-vegetated pools and rice paddies adjacent to slow moving streams at a range of elevations. We further identified co-occurring fishes likely to be zebrafish competitors and predators. Finally, we present observations that indicate substantial habitat degradation and loss, and suggest guidelines for documenting and preserving natural zebrafish populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asia
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fresh Water
  • Geography
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Models, Animal*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*