A young male
COMMON NAME -
Bengal dario, Scarlet badis
SCIENTIFIC NAME - Dario dario
formerly known as Badis bengalensis
. Not be confused with their slightly larger cousins, blue badis, Badis badis badis
West Bengal, India
They are found in densely planted, relatively shallow areas along the banks of small streams.
SIZE - They max out at 1 to 2 centimeters (1/2 to 3/4 of an inch).
Due to their small size, these fish are perfect candidates for small office, kitchen, office, bedroom aquariums. A pair or a trio can be kept in a 5 gallon tank. However, I do recommend keeping more of them, in larger thanks - they aren't schooling fish, but they obviously enjoy living in a social environment. They are not highly active fish, preferring to just hover among the plants, but they do frequently exert little bursts of energy interacting with each other. They are highly inquisitive and intelligent, and will make use of any space given to them. Due to the fact that females are rarely imported, most badis tanks are likely to be male-only. They will not fight if given adequate ground space to establish their own territories; each male should be allotted about 3 gallons or 35 to 40 square inches of territory. If females are also present, there should be as many females as males. They don't seem to pair up, and the males are not particularly over-amorous with the females, but a single female can be pestered by the rowdy boys and so more is better. Each female will also need her own territory. If you're going with a species tank, you could keep 5 in a 10gallon tank; 7 in a 15 gallon tank, 10 in a 30 gallons tank etc.
They can be kept in a community tanks, but because of their small size and relative inactivity, they should not be kept with any fish big enough to eat them. So, gouramis and angelfish would be out of the question as tank mates.
TANK DECOR -
Scarlet badis really enjoy heavy planting, including floating plants. Plants like spiral vals and amazon swords (of rosť variety, perhaps) are great for the background; pygmy chain swords and anubias make lovely mid- to fore-ground plants; java moss, guppy grass, moss balls and java Fern should be liberally used as these little fish enjoy them; and floating plants like penny wart and amazon frogbit are ideal for a bright green, cozy upper-level planting. Driftwood is fine to use particularly if it has lots of ins-and-outs, and Texas holey rock is ideal because the scarlet badis seem to really enjoy swimming in and out of the holes in the rock. Personally, I find a white or light beige sand substrate is the nicest against the vibrant red of the scarlet badis - just use some Malaysian trumpet snails to keep the sand from accumulating toxic gases.
Most Scarlet badis will turn their little fish noses up at flakes and pellets. Some can be weaned onto flake or slowly sinking pellets, but most will eat only frozen foods such as bloodworms, mosquito larvae, small daphnia, krill, small mysis shrimp, cyclops and brine shrimp. A rare, finicky few will refuse to eat anything but live food. Care should be taken to offer a variety of foods.
CHEMESTRY - Water conditions: Scarlet badis are pretty hardy fish, capable of thriving in many water conditions, providing that extremes, and extreme fluctuations, are avoided. They are most active and most colourful at about 76F, but will do fine in as warm as 79F. 6.5 pH, and moderately soft water is recommended.
Maintenance: Scarlet badis are not messy fish, but care should be taken to clean their water frequently, as they are sensitive to water quality. I recommend small weekly changes, such as 10% ever 5 days; 15% every 7 days or 20% every 10 days.
TANK ZONE - Scarlet badis will make use of any and all space they are given, and don't seem to have any particular preferred level in the tank. Each fish requires a certain amount of ground territory, but many will spend most of their time among the floating plants, or above bushy plants, or within bushy plants near the substrate. I have observed no preference.
TEMPERMENT - Not aggressive towards other species, or each other if they have adequate space.
ACTIVITY PEAK & PHOTOPERIOD - Scarlet badis are diurnal, so you will see them out and about during the day. They sleep soundly at night, on a leaf or within java moss or within floating plant roots. Photoperiod is not crucial, anywhere from 9 hours to 11 hours per day.
HARDINESS - A very easy fish to keep, if their diminutive size and clean water requirements are taken into consideration and respected.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION -
Male scarlet badis are like little rubies. They are easily identified by their bright red stripes. The head and back is bright red, and there are 7 bright red stripes on the body, interspersed with pearly white strips. The fins are also bright red, lined with iridescent blue-white. The females are slightly smaller and much, much duller. Personally, I find them very attractive, but compared to the males they are plain (this is why they are rarely imported). The body and fins are a pearly-pink, with sometimes very faint traces of pinkish stripes running into the fins.
Scarlet badis were formerly thought to be a dwarf cichlid, but this has been proven untrue. They are in the family of perch-like fish, gouramis and bettas being their distant cousins.
Not rare in their natural habitat. Not common in pet stores (not rare, just hard to find). Some fish stores may carry males from time to time, and scarlet badis can at times be found through dealers. Females are much more difficult to find - due to their dull coloration, they are rarely imported. They are not expensive, ranging from $3 to $10 in the Americas. If breeding if your object, aquabid.com and various dealers may provide sources for females.
RECOMMENDED TANKMATES -
Typical community tank fish are fine - dwarf gouramis, bushy-nosed plecos, glass catfish - but you will appreciate your badis much, much more in a species tank. I can, however, understand the desire for a little variety in a tank, so I do have a few tank-mates I can suggest that won't steal all the thunder, but will make great additions to a primarily-badis tank. A school of otto cats is a great addition - they are also great for the plants in your tank. If you don't have a sand substrate (as sand can irritate their barbels), a school of sterpai corydoras would be nice. You could also have a pair of rams - either German blue, Bolivian or golden, - just take care to provide enough room for the pair of rams should they decide to spawn (allot them at least 10 gallons). Again, if you have enough room, a school of glass catfish would make a neat addition. I do not recommend tetras or rasboras, because of their high activity level and schooling nature. Shrimp make great additions to a scarlet badis tank - cherry shrimp, for example, are bright red. They are expensive, but very prolific, and are a great addition to a tank. Amano shrimp, fan shrimp and ghost shrimp are all good choices and will help keep your tank clean. If you can find them, gold freshwater clams make neat additions to the tank. They don't do much, but they look neat and help keep the water clean.
The spawning of these fish is a rare occurrence. Not because it is difficult to do, but because they are not often found and when they are, it is likely only males in a tank. By all accounts, they are not difficult to breed. Happy fish will readily spawn, so keep your badis in clean water, with lots of plants, and feed them well. Provide lots of java moss and floating plants. When the male is feeling amorous (or boastful), he will display his bright red colours, puff himself up, and display his long, bright fins. He will quiver and shake at the female (or, another male) who, if she accepts his proposal, will follow him back to his territory. He will embrace her (like the hug of the betta) and she will drop up to 60 clear eggs. They aren't really adhesive, they just fall into the java moss (or wherever). This is where shrimp can become a nuisance, as they may eat the eggs. The female is then chased out of the territory, and the male stays to protect it. That's where the parenting ends. The male does not really tend to the eggs, he just keeps other fish out of his territory. The eggs will hatch in 2 or 3 days, and the fry will disappear into the plants, feeding off micro-fauna. Pouring in some liquid fry food, infusoria, baby daphnia or baby brine shrimp is not necessary, but can be done to provide an abundance of extra food for the fry. A week or so later, the fry will emerge as little pale versions of their parents. They are sexable at about a half inch long. The pair will continue to spawn every 3 to 4 weeks. They do not seem to eat their fry, but 3-week-old fry should be removed from the tank, lest they eat their younger siblings.
My first scarlet badis were an impulse buy at the LFS. I had no idea what they were, just that they were tiny, colourful and adorable. Affordable, too. Luckily, the clerk at the LFS was quite helpful and knowledgeable, so even though they were an impulse buy, I knew I would be able to care for them. I put them (4, 2 males and 2 females) in an 8gallon and absolutely fell in love! These little fish are active but not stupid (you know the impression of imbecility you get, watching a group of neon tetras ricochet around a tank?) they are social, they are smart, and they aren't very shy. Yes, they love their plants, but they are always out and about, interacting with each other, showing off to each other. A couple months later, I purchased a 28 gallon tank for them as well as a lot of plants, a school of ottos, and various shrimp. My only problem was that I could not find any female badis! Eventually, though, I did and now have 5 males and 5 females. They are on the dresser in my bedroom and I frequently find myself running late for work because I had to stop and watch them for a few extra minutes. So, if you see these little jewels in your pet store (and are able to care for them, of course), buy them!
28 gallon tank. 5 males, 5 females. 5 oto cats, cherry shrimp, amano shrimp, fan shrimp. Malaysian trumpet snails, freshwater clams. Sand substrate, driftwood and texas holey rock. Plants include spiral valls, amazon swords (regular and rosť), moss ball, java moss, penny wart, amazon frogbit, giant duckweed, anubias, various ground cover, pygmy chain swords.