pearl danio

Fishing for pearl danio

The pearl danio (Brachydanio albolineata) is a small member of the cyprinid family native to southeast Asia. These fish are occasionally kept in the home aquarium but are otherwise relatively unknown to most people. This is apparently even true across most of their range.

Pearl danios can take on quite beautiful colors at times that seem to almost glow in broad daylight. Despite their small size and lack of notoriety, these fish are voracious feeders that can easily be caught on a hook and line of the proper size.


The pearl danio is a small fish that averages about 1.5 inches (4 cm). It can range in color from an almost washed out or pale silver to an almost iridescent purple with orange hues and dark horizontal stripe-like bands that get wider at the base of the tail.

pearl danio caught micro fishingPearl danio caught in Cambodia

Pearl danios can exhibit differences in color and appearance in different locations. Because of this there is some disagreement among scientists over separate populations of these fish. It is possible that it will turn out that what we now call “pearl danios” are actually several different kinds of fish that happen to be closely related. Thus the fish is commonly known as a danio and sometimes called danio albolineatus although the generally accepted scientific name these days is actually brachydanio albolineata.

Range and habitat

The pearl danio has a rather wide distribution throughout southeast Asia. It can be found in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. The fish is native to the Chao Phraya, Mekong, Irrawaddy and Salween watersheds. It is also found elsewhere in the region.

pearl danio range map

The pearl danio lives in clear rocky streams with some flow. They seem to be more common in areas with riparian plant life. This may be because they prefer cooler water. It is reported pearl danios can also inhabit rice paddies though we have not personally seen evidence of that. We’ve caught pearl danio in streams flowing through the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia. We have also observed them in parts of Thailand.

Fishing for pearl danio

Pearl danio are small fish but they readily come to investigate small objects that fall into the water. They are eager feeders that are actually quite easy to catch on hook and line. Of course catching them requires the correct tackle, which in this case means micro fishing.

Using specially designed micro fishing hooks made for tanago fishing in Japan makes catching pearl danio quite simple. Bait the hooks with a tiny piece of bait and cast it to a pod of pearl danio and wait a few seconds for one of the fish to snap up your offering. That is usually all it takes.

Where these fish are found they are often quite numerous. They compete over small insects that fall into the water. Several fish will often rush toward your bait at once. In our experience a small piece of Gulp! Maggots on a micro hook works well. We had no need to try anything else though a small piece of micro fishing bait or even a midge fly would probably work as well.

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