- Body elongate
- Body depth contained 6-7.5 times in standard length
- Abdominal region almost circular in cross section, body behind anal fin laterally compressed
- Caudal peduncle long, narrow, 1.7-2 times in body depth and laterally compressed
- Head and eye large, mouth supraterminal
- Upper and lower jaws massive in large males, resulting in longer preorbital distance
- Nostrils well developed
- Lateral line canals and pores on head and body absent
- Dorsal fin short-based, situated opposite posterior half of long-based anal fin
- Caudal fin furcate with remnants of larval-fin-fold in front of its dorsal and ventral margins
- Remnant of pre-anal larval-fin-fold present in females only
- Anus and genital papilla of males located distinctly anterior to anal fin between pelvic fins, in females at typical position in front of anal fin
- Window (pseudotypanum) present in body musculature rendering pigmented surface of lateral side of anterior gas bladder chamber visible
- Body muscles greatly thinned out at lateral side of posterior gas bladder chamber
- Scales absent
Pigmentation in alcohol specimens is restricted to:
- 5 rows of melanophores
- a broad, mid-dorsal row from head to caudal-fin base
- a mid-lateral row along horizontal septum from shoulder girdle to hypural plate
- a ventral row from in front of and slightly above anal-fin base along ventral larval-fin-fold to the end of hypural plate
- a row along anal-fin base
- an abdominal, mid-ventral row from ventral tip of cleithrum to anus
- melanophores capping dorsal and dorsolateral surface of gas bladder chambers and their connecting duct
- melanophore patterns described above
- a thin yellow line running along body at level of neural tube
Danionella dracula is so far only known from the type locality, a small stream near Sha Du Zup, Kachin state, in northern Myanmar (Burma).
Due to the lack of data, the conservation status of this species cannot be assessed.D. dracula has occasionally been exported for the ornamental fish trade, but the impact this might have on the survival of the species is currently unknown.
Danionella dracula is distinguished from its congeners, D. translucida and D.mirifica, and D. priapus by:
- the presence of a single bone in the upper jaw (versus 2)
- the presence of a single row of 6-13 odontoid processes in males on the dorsal surface of the dentary and on the ventral surface of the upper jaw, the anteriormost processes of which are large and canine-like (versus absence of processes)
- the lack of the maxillary-mandibular cartilage (versus its presence)
- the possession of:
- 7+8, 8+7 or 8+8 principal caudal fin rays (versus 9+9)
- 3-4 dorsal procurrent rays (versus 5-8)
- 2-3 ventral procurrent rays (versus 4-8)
Habitat and Ecology
Evolution and Systematics
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Danionella dracula
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Danionella dracula
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Barcode data: Danionella cf. dracula
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Danionella cf. dracula
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
The dracula fish, Danionella dracula, is a species of tropical danionin fish from the cyprinid family. It is a freshwater fish endemic to Burma. A close relative is Brachydanio rerio, the zebrafish of aquariums. It is named dracula after its unusual "fangs": male dracula fish have protruding tooth-like bones stemming from their jawbones. Males have been observed using their fangs to spar with other males.
Identified in April 2007 from specimens shipped to the United Kingdom in a consignment of aquarium fishes, the dracula fish has so far only been found in the wild in a small stream at Sha Du Zup between Mogaung and Tanai in northern Burma. It is a colourless miniature species and grows to a maximum size of around 17 millimetres (0.67 in). The fish has an elongate body with a large head and eyes. Dracula fish lack scales and the upper body is dominated by the jaws on large males. Much of the fish's structure is cartilaginous: it has 44 fewer bones than the zebrafish, and thus it is translucent and appears similar to larval forms. The natural diet of the dracula fish is unknown but in captivity it eats shrimp larvae, small nematodes and fish flakes. Close relatives of the fish feed upon small crustaceans and invertebrates.
The dracula fish is unusual in that its ancestors lost their true teeth around 50 million years ago, but re-evolved its bone fangs as a replacement around 30 million years ago. The species is sexually dimorphic in that the female does not have such prominent bone fangs. It becomes sexually mature while its body is still not fully developed; scientists speculate that this may happen because younger fish were more successful reproductively. Ichthyologist Dr Ralf Britz, who named the fish after Bram Stoker's character Count Dracula, stated that the dracula fish "is one of the most extraordinary vertebrates discovered in the last few decades."
- Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Danionella dracula" in FishBase. November 2014 version.
- Black, Richard (2009-03-11). 'Dracula' fish shows baby teeth. BBC News. Retrieved on 2009-03-11.
- Ralf Britz, Kevin W. Conway, Lukas Rüber (2009). "Spectacular morphological novelty in a miniature cyprinid fish, Danionella dracula n. sp.". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276: 2179–2186. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0141.
- Tiny fish developed its own set of dracula fangs. The Times (2009-03-11). Retrieved on 2009-04-30.
- Devlin, Kate (2009-03-11). New 'dracula' fish discovered. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved on 2009-03-11.
- Jaggard, Victoria (2009-03-11). Photo In The News: New "Dracula" Fish Discovered. National Geographic. Retrieved on 2009-03-12.
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