Badidae – Scarlet Badis (Dario dario)

Updated on January 30, 2021 by

Easy to care for and displaying wonderful colors, the Scarlet Badis is such an underrated species in the aquarium hobby. They are shy and very peaceful, but territorial, so only a male per tank is advised, unless a large and well planted tank is provided with plenty of hiding spots.

Quick stats – Scarlet Badis

Category Info
Origin South East Asia
Max size 1” / 2 cm
Aquarium Min 10 gallon / 30 liters
Water 73-79° F / 23-26° C

KH 10-15, pH 6.5-7.5
Care level Easy
Behaviour Peaceful
Diet Omnivore
Family Badidae
Colors Gold, red

Scarlet Badis description

Belonging to the Badidae family, the Scarlet Badis is a vibrantly colored and peaceful species. Another common name frequently used is Scarlet Gem Badis. Despite all of its charming attributes, the Scarlet is still such an underrated species in the aquarium hobby, but the good news is that its popularity is on an increasing trend.

Being among the smallest species of Percoid fish, the males typically reach at most 2 cm, while females are even smaller reaching about 1.5 cm or half an inch.

The difference between the males and females does not only relate to the size but also to colors. Males typically display seven dark vertical stripes across sides with bold red coloration, while the females appear in grey nuances, with roughly indistinct vertical bars.

The males’ breathtaking coloration and activity reach the highest intensities during breeding of course.

When purchasing Scarlets from stores, they are usually still juveniles, thus making a difference between males and females won’t be an easy task. When they’re juveniles, Scarlets look rather similar in color and shape.

Scarlet Badis in the natural habitat

In nature, they aren’t widely spread. Scarlet Badis can be spotted in the drainage systems of Brahamaputra River in parts of West Bengal and Assam states in India.

Although its natural environment is rather restricted to this area, occasionally it can also be found in Bhutan.

Originating to these areas, means the Scarlets truly love crystal clear waters that have dense vegetation with a sand and gravel substrate.

Scarlet Badis - Dario dario

The ideal aquarium for Scarlets should be at a minimum of 10 gallons (although a little bit less is also acceptable). For such a tank the recommendation is to keep one male with several females.

A small group of Dwarf Corydoras would be a great addition to such a tank formation, helping you with the general maintenance. In the case of a larger tank where you would house more Scarlet Badis males, make sure you follow the rules described below regarding vegetation and hiding spots.

Starting from the bottom, it is highly recommended to use sand and gravel as a substrate. In the quick overview of this page, the table lists the water parameters that you should thoroughly achieve and maintain.

Dealing with a highly territorial species, it is mandatory to provide the Scarlets with plenty of plants and hiding spots. This enables the males to establish territories and prevents them from unnecessary aggression towards each other (given you are housing more males within the same tank).

In regard to the recommended plants for Scarlets, in their natural habitat, the following plants can be found: Hygrophila, Limnophila, Rotala and Vallisneria. Choosing some of these for your newly setup tank can definitely bring a lot of joy to your Scarlets.

Keep in mind that these fish are typically rather shy, so providing them with lots of vegetation prevents them from being scared and staying hidden for extended periods.

The ideal tank mates for your Scarlets, should be other small, peaceful and not very active fish, otherwise the Scarlets would get shy and stay hidden without consuming any food.

They can get along really well with Gouramis, for instance the Dwarf Croaking Gouramis, or the Liquorice Gouramis, and with Dwarf Corydoras. Invertebrates such as snails and shrimp should be avoided as well, as they would be regarded as prey.

Housing large and aggressive fish, like Cichlids and Bettas or boisterous ones like the Goldfish, with your Scarlet Badis, should be avoided at all costs.

Once everything is set in place and your Scarlet tank is doing awesome, we naturally have to maintain this tank. A clean tank with the optimal water parameters and a good filtration is key to the wellness of your Scarlet. At least once a week, about 50% of the water should be changed.

Make sure the replacing water is within the right parameters when added to the tank. Try not to disturb the Scarlets too much during the water change. A siphon should be used when removing the water so you can filter and clean the gravel as well at the same time.

Since the Scarlet is a very sensitive fish to pollution, all these measures should keep your fish healthy.
The plants should be also trimmed when there’s too much growth.

Having a tank with so many plants for your Scarlet, lighting is also mandatory. A moderate lighting should be assured for your Scarlet tank, benefiting both the vegetation and the fish.

Scarlet Badis feeding

Perhaps the only challenging part in the journey of keeping Scarlet fish – their feeding. Rather fussy eaters, one should be careful when feeding the Scarlet, ensuring the fish is actually consuming that food.

Among their preferred food we have noticed the following: small live and frozen foods like banana worm, daphnia, cyclops, brine shrimp, grindal worms.

Their optimal diet should be as similar as possible to the natural one. To make sure they thrive in the aquarium, we should provide a well balanced and diversified diet, and flake foods for instance should be avoided.

Scarlet Badis breeding

When we think about other species, we all know how difficult the breeding process can be. Fortunately, the breeding of Scarlet Badis is rather simple and straightforward in captivity.

Being a species that loves vegetation, plants play a key role in the spawning process as the fish will lay their eggs on them. In the beginning of the spawning, the males will display their truest and brightest colors, trying to impress females and attracting them into their territory.

As the female might not be initially very impressed by the male’s dance, she will show a rejecting attitude, determining him to chase her away.

A spawning process similar to Bettas’ one, after a while the female will finally accept the male’s dance, entering his territory and beginning to lay down eggs. Several dozen eggs will be laid, being fertilizing by the male at the same time. Once the mating has finished, the males then chase out females from the mating their territory.

Although after this it appears that the male is actually protecting the eggs, he’s actually just continuing to defend his territory. The Scarlet Badis species does not care about their eggs.

The incubation period lasts for about 2-3 days after which the fry can take up to 1 week to absorb the egg yolk sac. When the hatching occurs, the offspring disappear in the tank for several days and turn into juveniles.

During this period, they begin swimming and feeding on their own eating other microorganisms found among the aquarium plants.

The juveniles can be fed infusoria until they’re large enough to begin eating normal foods such as microworms.

To conclude

To recap shortly, the Scarlet Badis will definitely cheer up and bring amazing colors to your aquarium. Keep in mind that although they are a peaceful and shy species by nature, males are extremely aggressive towards each other.

They should be provided with a heavily planted aquarium and abundant hiding spots, things that enable them to establish territories and feel safe in the tank.

As fussy eaters, their are quite demanding when it comes to their diet. Flake foods will not be accepted and sometimes they have issues with obesity, so ensure their diet is well balanced and diversified.

Scarlet Badis FAQs

What is the best food for Scarlet Badis?

Among their preferred food we have noticed the following: small live and frozen foods like banana worm, daphnia, cyclops, brine shrimp, grindal worms.

Is Scarlet Badis compatible with Betta?

Housing large and aggressive fish, like Cichlids and Bettas or boisterous ones like the Goldfish, with your Scarlet Badis, should be avoided at all costs.

How many Scarlet Badis in a 10 gallon tank?

Scarlet Badis will do very great in a well planted 10 gallon. You could house one male with 2-3 females.

What is the lifespan of a Scarlet Badis?

Provided with the optimal conditions, a Scarlet Badis can live for about 4-6 years.