Panda Garra Guide

Panda Garra
Animal Characteristics
Latin Name Garra flavatra
Family Cyprinidae (carp)
Animal Type fish
Care easy
Water Temperatures 70 - 81 °F
21 - 27 °C
Size 2.36 - 3.94 in
6 - 10 cm
Endangered no

General Information

The Panda Garra (Garra flavatra) is a freshwater fish that thrives in tropical water and originates in Southeast Asia. In the wild you will find Panda Garra in shallow and fast-moving waters like streams or small rivers. Their natural habitats usually have little vegetation and lots of rocks.

Like goldfish, Panda Garra belong to the carp family but are often confused with loach or catfish because of their similar looks and behavior.

They are popular aquarium fish because they will make themselves useful by nibbling away on the algae and biofilm in your tank.

Panda Garra Lifespan

The lifespan for a Panda Garra is around 4 - 6 years if cared for accordingly.

To ensure optimum health and longevity of your Panda Garra it is important to provide enough of the right food, keep water parameters in the required ranges and make sure to eliminate possible stressors.

Please keep in mind that caring for an animal for such a long time is a big commitment and consider if you really want and can do that.


Panda Garra Size

Panda Garra are a relatively small fish as adult animals only grow to between 2 and 4 inch (6 and 10 cm) in length.

The final size of an adult Panda Garra also depends on the genetic and the type and amount of available food sources. The more food is available, the more the animal will max out on its potential growth.

Make sure to provide adequate food for your Panda Garra, but don't over- or underfeed as this brings its own problems. You can find more information on feeding below.

Panda Garra Colors

Panda Garra have a greenish brown color with yellow stripes or dots. They sometimes change color when they are stressed, e.g., in case of a fight or bullying by other fish.

One of our Panda Garra once managed to jump out of its tank. Although it was rescued and put back into the water immediately, it went almost completely pale from this stressful experience.

The color returned to normal after the fish recovered from the shock.

Panda Garra Shape

When looked at from above or below, the bodies of Panda Garra seem teardrop-shaped: a broad round head with a body that tapers toward the caudal fin.

Their underside is completely flat with the mouth located towards the front. This makes them perfectly adapted to lying on smooth surfaces and scraping off the algae.

This distinctive shape and behavior are the reason they regularly get confused with catfish and loach.

Water and Tank Requirements

Panda Garra Water Temperature

Panda Garra are tropical water fish, which means they thrive in temperatures between 70 °F (21 °C) and 81 °F (27 °C).

You may need to install a heater in your tank depending on what your usual room temperature is. Tanks without a heater will most likely have a similar water temperature as the surrounding air.

It's best to install a thermometer in your tank to check the temperature regularly.

Panda Garra Water Parameters

Panda Garra are fairly adaptable when it comes to water parameters but they don't respond well to extremes, such as very sudden and big changes or huge deviations from their preferred parameters.

The pH levels of the water should be between 6.5 and 7.5 and the general hardness shouldn't exceed 15 dH. Carbonate hardness should be between 2 and 8.

Panda Garra Tank Size

Every Panda Garra should have at least 5 gal (19 l) of water to themselves. So, if you want to keep 5 small Panda Garra, there should be at least 25 gal (95 l) in your tank.

Please keep in mind that your aquarium hardscape also takes away from the overall water volume in your aquarium and that if you plan to add other fish to the tank you need even more water!

The calculated water amounts shouldn't be shared between species but always added up.

Panda Garra Tank Requirements

Panda Garra usually dwell in the middle or bottom area of the tank, but can also be found along the glass panels when scraping off algae.

They can be kept in planted tanks, but they're habitat shouldn't be planted too densely as they originate in habitats with little vegetation and lots of woods and stones.

They enjoy fast-flowing water and a stable water temperature.

Behavior and Tank Mates

Panda Garra are a peaceful species of small freshwater fish and will usually leave tank mates alone. They do however establish a rank order within their group and can get a bit aggressive with each other at times.

If your Panda Garra are swimming in circles of quickly up and down along the glass panel, it may be an indicator that the tank is too small. When we kept our three Panda Garra in a 20 gal (80 l) tank with some other fish they showed this behavior. Once they were put into an 80 gal (300 l) tank, they never did this again.

Panda Garra are rather energetic and get a bit hectic, which means they shouldn't be put together with aggressive fish that are sensitive to movements, such as betta fish.

Fish generally don't sleep the same way mammals do and how exactly they sleep is still a topic of research. It is clear though, that they also have periods of rest where they move less and their metabolism is reduced.


Panda Garra are omnivores but primarily eat algae and biofilm in their natural habitat and will also prefer these food sources when kept in an aquarium.

If your tank doesn't provide enough food resources to sustain the Panda Garra naturally, you can also add feed them algae wafers or pellets, mosquito larvae, small worms and even regular fish food.


Panda Garra need enough clean water and nutrition to reproduce. Panda Garra are relatively difficult to breed in captivity as they require specific requirements to mate.

First, you need to put one male and one female in a separate breeding tank with a neutral pH and high oxygen levels in the water. The couple should be fed a protein rich diet and immediately removed from the tank after spawning. Otherwise, they might eat the fry directly after hatching.

The eggs are very small and translucent in color. Hatching occurs after approximately one or two days and the fry should be feed with specialized fry food or boiled egg yolks in the beginning.

Common Problems

  • Jumping: Panda Garra like to scrape algae and biofilm off the glass panels of an aquarium and will sometimes come very close to the edge of the tank, especially if water levels are relatively high. When startled or a bit over-motivated, they can easily jump or fall out of the aquarium this way. Make sure to keep a lid on your tank to prevent this.
  • Fighting: While Panda Garra are a peaceful species overall, they do establish a rank order amongst themselves and can get pretty rough with each other while doing so. We have observed our Panda Garra engage in little fights, where they will circle, follow and bump into each other. These skirmishes usually end without casualties, but you should keep an eye on the group to make sure individuals that seem to get bullied over a longer period of time get separated from the group.

Fun Facts

  • Relatively new aquarium fish: Panda Garra have first been described scientifically in 2004 by Kullander and Fang along with six other Garra species. Panda Garra have quickly gained popularity in the fishkeeping world.