Beginner's Guide

Scarlet Badis Fish: Beginners Guide To Keep The Fish

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If you are a beginner at fish keeping, then hardy and small fish must always be your priority. Schooling, shoaling, and community fish are a bit harder than keeping a goldfish in a pot, but you can learn a lot by keeping these fish. Along with guppies, mollies, platies, and other hardy and small fish, Scarlet Badis are also getting quite popular nowadays. People are interested in keeping them due to their hardy nature and gem-like colors (especially on the male).

In this section, I will be discussing everything you need to know before keeping scarlet badis. I will try to include everything from their origin, appearance to diet, breeding them, etc. So, if you want to be confident enough to keep scarlet badis, then be sure to make it till the end of this article.

Introduction To Scarlet Badis

Dario Dario also, known as Scarlet Badis, is one of the most underrated and less studied species among all the freshwater fish. Anyone who sees it for the first time will surely love it, but it is not readily available. These fish are not recommended for beginners as they might get picky while eating and can get sensitive to cleaning routines. A slight mistake can easily be fatal to them. So, Badis can be categorized as intermediate fish.

Origin of Scarlet Badis

The natural habitat of scarlet badis is somewhere around the Brahmaputra river and parts of Assam. These fish can also be seen in parts of Nepal and Bhutan.

Their natural habitat is a crystal clear water system with lots of vegetation. These are very difficult to catch in their natural habitat because of the thick vegetation around them. So, in-tank also you must maintain this dense vegetation because it helps them to establish territories. Their natural habitat has sand and gravel as a substrate, so you can use any of them.


Scarlet Badis are extremely small fish with the male reaching about one inch and female even smaller than that.

The male and female can be distinguished easily. The males are like jewels because of the bright red color. You can see the bands on their side and fins. These orange bands or stripes are mixed with silver color up to the fins. Under proper lighting, the males look like shining gems or ruby.

However, the females are a lot dull than the male in terms of color. The females have a more greenish color than red or orange. Females have clear fins and are a lot smaller than the male.

You might not be able to differentiate between male and female badis in the store because fish-keepers sell most of them as juveniles. The main reason behind this is that the parents die quickly after giving birth.


IUCN has not been able to label scarlet badis with any conservation status due to a lack of study on them. Due to this, it is not known whether they are rare or abundantly found in nature.

In captivity, scarlet badis can live to about four years, whereas they will live up to 6 years in the wild. Their lifespan in captivity depends upon various factors like tan condition, disease, etc.

Although these are extremely small, one badis may cost up to 4.5$ because they are rare, and you will not find them in all pet shops.

Social Behavior And Tankmates.

Scarlet Badis are peaceful and shy fish, at least when they are with similar kinds of species. These fish easily get threatened by large and aggressive fish of other species. So, keeping them with peaceful fish like dwarf gouramis and rasboras might be good.

However, Scarlet Badis fish shows careful while placing them together. Especially the males get more aggressive and territorial, so you should keep them in a large tank with plenty of hiding space.

Keeping Scarlet Badis with larger and more aggressive fish like cichlid, bettas, and goldfish must be avoided.

If you are planning to keep them together and if you have a small tank, then don’t even think about keeping more than a male. But if you have a larger tank, then you can go for a couple of males.

Difficulty In Keeping Scarlet Badis

Scarlet Badis tend to die very easily. Sometimes you may not even know the reason behind their death.

Badis are also very demanding regarding their diet and tank hygiene. These are also prone to many diseases, but due to the lack of their proper study, the main reason behind their mysterious death is not known. These fish won’t eat everything that you give to them.

Also, the aggressive and territorial behavior of the male may give you a headache. This is the reason that they are not a good choice for beginners.

Caring For Scarlet Badis

To be honest, caring for Scarlet Badis is not that easy. You should be extra attentive to their diet and water condition. So, before keeping them, I request you to follow all the guidelines that I have discussed below.

In this section, I am mentioning all the factors that you need to maintain to care for scarlet badis. Although they are not very easy to care for, they can become hardy enough if proper measures are taken. I am about to discuss water parameters, diet, tank size, and tank conditions in brief so that you will be able to keep scarlet Badis just after reading this article.

Maintaining Water Quality

Making them live for 3-4 years is quite difficult to achieve. For this, you must maintain the water parameters. Maintaining water parameters like temperature, pH, and hardness is mandatory, and you must be very careful and cautious while doing this.

Even a slight carelessness in maintaining these parameters can have severe consequences on your fish.


These are tropical fish and prefer a temperature of about 70-80F. Maintaining such a temperature is not possible naturally, so a heater is a must.

pH And Hardness

Scarlet Badis requires neutral or close to neutral water with pH 6.5 to 7.5. To maintain this pH in water, you must check the water pH level regularly, and necessary actions must be taken immediately.

The favorable hardness for Scarlet Badis is 10-20 dGH. To maintain this moderate hardness, you must regularly perform the change the water on your tank, and chemicals to remove magnesium and calcium must be avoided.


Due to their small size, you should always avoid using powerful filters with huge suction capacity. A 5-10 W filter should be good enough for a 10-gallon tank with scarlet badis. You should conduct the water purifying process through regular water change rather than using powerful filters for a long time.

Many people ask if they can turn off their Aquarium Filter at night. I suggest not to do so.

Water Maintenance

A 10-20% water change weekly is mandatory, or else the fish won’t thrive. Although they don’t produce a lot of bioloads, regular water change can help to remove excess chemical concentration and any uneaten foods.

You should perform a complete water test every 15 days to check the level of ammonia, nitrate, phosphate, and other chemicals. To perform a complete water test, you have to use test kits that are easily available in pet stores locally. You must take necessary actions accordingly if you find an excess of these chemicals.

Also, you should not place the fish in the tank without performing a complete nitrogen cycle of about three weeks. You always have to remove uneaten food within 5 minutes of serving.

Tank Size And Condition For Scarlet Badis

Suitable tank size for these fish would be about 10-gallon. But in such a small size, you should only place one male. For one male, you can use 2 to 3 females. Never allow two or more males in a tank with less than 10-gallon size. Your tank should always have 2 to 3 females for every male.

You must plant a tank of scarlet badis because it helps them establish territories. Also, you must set lots of caves and hiding spots so that weaker ones don’t die during territorial quarrels.

While choosing plants, you must select those who can provide hiding spots also. The perfect plants would be java moss and water sprite.


The lighting must be moderate. This will allow the male to shine slightly, making them look like gems.

Also, these fish are sensitive to high lighting, so using lights for a long time might not be a good thing to do.

Decorations And Substrate

You can use both gravel and sand as a substrate. Because of their small oral size, there won’t be any risk of gravel being stuck in their throat.

You must decorate the tank with rocks and driftwoods. You must use them in such a way that it helps them build territories. Try to build cave-like structures for hiding using rocks. This will resemble their natural habitat and help during the breeding process.

Also, while installing rocks and decorations, you must not hamper their swimming space. These fish require a lot of swimming space because they are very active.

Check out our article on “Different Types of Aquarium Substrates“.

Scarlet Badis Diet

Badis are micro-predators, which means that they feed entirely on other living organisms. They are finicky eaters. In the wild, they feed on larvae, small worms, insects, etc. They even feed on their own fries. Let’s just say that they eat every living organism that fit in their smallmouth.

In the tank, these fish won’t eat flake foods. However, they will eat tiny pellets. Providing them with the food that they consume in the wild is the best way to make them thrive. So, you can feed them pellets daily (twice) and provide insects, larvae, blood worm, and other live foods as occasional treats. Occasional treats help your fish remain happy and satisfied in the tank.

As these fishes are prone to disease, you should avoid low quality food. You must always diversify their diet as much as possible and provide them with lots of protein.

Scarlet Badis Disease

Due to the lack of studies on them, we don’t know about the disease that they can get. But fish-keepers like me who have been keeping badis for some time now have seen them get bacterial and fungal infections resulting in a disease like ich.

You can see skin disease with visible effects on their bodies. These diseases affect not only the skin but also their gills that result in respiratory problems and, ultimately, death.

The most efficient way to prevent bacterial and fungal infections is to maintain water quality. A weekly water change helps to reduce such infections. In case of an outbreak, you can use antibiotics.

Also, live foods like bloodworms, insects, and larvae can carry parasites with them, so be sure to get your live foods from trusted stores that provide healthy live foods.

Breeding Scarlet Badis

Breeding Scarlet Badis is quite easy and similar to bettas. You must not place them in a separate breeding tank. The territories that these fish have established earlier, now come in use.

After the male has established his territories, he will try to attract the female and bring her to his territory. The male will show off its bright colors to attract the female. Inside the territory, the female will lay eggs, and the male will fertilize them. At once, the female almost lays 80 eggs. Then the male chases off the female. Now, the male starts becoming more protective towards his territory, rather than the eggs.

The fries will hatch with three days and will eat their egg remains. After the fries eat their eggs, they will disappear within gravels, decorations, and plants devouring on small food particles and micro-organisms. They will finally reappear as juveniles when their parents can’t eat them anymore.

Caring The Fry

The fries will be able to swim and eat on their own within a few days of hatching. So, you don’t have to worry about them. The only thing you can do for them is to build enough hiding spaces so that they are safe from big fishes, including their parents.

In case of feeding them, they won’t be able to eat the same sized food as their parents so you must crush pellets and give them. In a community fish, they have more danger from other fish, so you must care for them more properly.


To sum it all up, Scarlet Badis are quite easy to care for but are not a good choice for beginners. These fish add colors and shine to your aquarium but are very fussy eaters. You must set up the tank in such a way that it becomes easier for them to establish territories.

If you want to challenge yourself, then surely go for these fish. I think I have included everything related to Badis. After reading this article, you should be more than ready to start keeping scarlet badis.


Image Credit:

  • [Ida]

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