Panda Garra (Garra flavatra) | A very Pretty and Peaceful Species

The Panda Garra, also referred to as Garra Flavatra, Panda nibblefish, Striped garra, Rainbow garra, are an adorable and hardy breed of fish that can comfortably live and coexist in any tank. If you are in the quest to find a fish you can interact with freely with minimum maintenance, then the Panda Garra has it all.


In this article, we shall take a look at everything you need to know about this precious species of fish; from their natural habitat to their sexing and breeding. This piece of information is very handy especially for beginners looking to add this fish to their tank.

 

Panda Garra

Natural Habitat

This fish originates from the rivers and streams Rakhine mountain range located in Western Myanmar. The
The Panda Garra is native to the Rakhine mountain range in Western Myanmar. The fish have been found in rivers and streams located on the western slopes.

They are fond of highly oxygenated and fast flowing waters. However, it isn’t strange to locate one in a slow moving and less oxygenated water. This is attributed to their hardy nature.

Physical Appearance and Size

This is a relatively small-sized fish that will only grow to a maximum of 2.5 to 3 inches making it suitable for even small tanks. However, some reports have shown that there have been some few cases of the fish growing up to 4 inches.

A larger population of Garra species tend to be of a uniform brown or black color with recognizable few markings on their bodies. However, the Panda Garra is unique. They have a contrasted pattern of dark brown vertical bars with yellowish interspaces.

The fish possesses a modified adhesive lower lip of a disk-like shape that allows it to cling to substrates of fast-moving waters while still grazing on algae and biofilm.

Lifespan
In a properly set up aquarium with the optimal living conditions, the fish can thrive in the waters for 5 to 6 years and even more.

Behavior

This fish is more active than any other species you will ever meet. It spends most of its time looking for food. If you are prone to giving it food regularly, this fish becomes so tame and associates you with its food. They can even get more comfortable around you and may end up eventually feeding from your hand.

They tend to be less friendly to their own kind hence it is best to keep them as the only species of its kind and size in your community. An interesting characteristic about this fish is that their black coloration changes to yellowish whenever something irritates them.

Other than that, they are very friendly to other different species. They therefore can fit in a community tank of smaller and non-aggressive fish.

Diet

In their natural habitat, this fish is comfortable on feeding algae and biofilm. In the tank, this isn’t any different. The species is omnivorous. This means it can basically eat anything for survival including proteins, well, except dirt!
Your fish will enjoy blood worms, brine shrimp, daphnia and black worms.
This species is a natural cleaner.

Algae control in your tank is guaranteed once you have this fish in your tank. In case you aren’t up to the task of growing algae in your tank, or simply don’t love it, you can acquire algae wafers instead. Other supplementary foods you could opt for include blanched zucchini, cucumber and peas. Just make sure they are verified as pesticide free.

Power Tip: Food at the bottom of the tank is highly preferable for them. This is due to the design of their mouths.

Panda Garra planted tank

Did you know you can comfortably plant your tank with this fish in it? This fish will not eat, damage nor uproot your plants.
Apart from making your tank beautiful and offering hiding spots for your fish, plants like mosses will exponentially benefit this fish. Moss will act as a web, holding on to any food particle from the top of the water. This will offer a natural grazing spot for your fish.

Care Guide

As we have already talked about above, this is a very hardy fish. However, having a tank and system that is more focused to their needs will definitely make them thrive. Let’s check them out:

Tank Size:

A 10-gallon tank is the minimum size that this fish can comfortably live in. With such a tank however, you need to make sure you have a powerful pump to push the water around adequately.
The advised maximum number of Panda Garra you can keep in your tank is 4. To do this efficiently, you will have to have at least a 20-gallon tank.

Although this species is small in size, you should only keep a few in a tank. This will prevent them from competing for the limited resources.

Power Tip: Panda are capable of climbing out of your aquarium using their mouths or even jumping out. Therefore, it is advisable to cover your aquarium.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: This should be maintained in a range of 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (21-25 degrees Celsius). If your home temperature does not fall in this range, consider purchasing a heat. It should be noted that this fish doesn’t love it extremely warm. Therefore, always keep on the lower ends of this ranges:

Hardness: Medium water hardness is ideal. However, a figure in a 2 to 12 dGH range is also great.
pH: For this, a neutral level is ideal. A healthy range would be 6.5 to 7.5
Ammonias and Nitrites: This should be close to 0 ppm as possible. A figure slightly above isn’t that bad. Algae cannot grow in a 0 nitrate level after all.

Sexing

In its juvenile years, it is difficult to identify the sex of this fish. However, as they mature, distinguishing features become more pronounced. Males are slimmer and will develop tubercles on their heads whereas the females tend to be plump.
During the breeding season, the males tail color changes from a bronze color to a reddish one. If you achieve sexing this fish, then you can breed them in your tank.

Breeding

Breeding this fish isn’t a walk in the park. They are seasonal breeders therefore require certain conditions in order to initiate the process. These conditions include a highly oxygenated and neutral water.
After successful sexing, identify a male and a female Panda Garra and prepare a separate tank for them to interact. You could also head start the process by feeding the fish more protein-rich foods. If you lucky, the mating process will go just fine.

Suitable Tank mates

Fish:

This fish will coexist perfectly with a different fish species. This makes them fit for community tanks. Also, ensure that the fish are fast enough to escape being roughed up just in case they get in the way of the Panda Garra.
Some species that will make good tank mates include the Barbs, Albino Bristlenose Pleco, Otocinclus Catfish, Zebra Danios, Tetras and Pygmy Cories.

Shrimp:

It is possible to keep a shrimp with this fish. Just make sure it’s a slightly large-sized shrimp you are keeping to prevent them from being devoured. Good examples include the Bamboo and Vampire shrimp.
Crayfish and Crabs:

Do not even think of keeping them together . They will always try to catch your Panda Garra Hem.