Scarlet badis: Facts, Lifespan, Care, Feeding, & Breeding

The scarlet badis, also known as Dario Dario is one of the most beautiful Nano freshwater fish in the world. The demand for them is on a high in American stores, and it is all due to its unique ruby red coloration, followed by hints of gold on the body which makes the fish very attractive.

The perchlike aquarium fish such as the bettas and gouramis are cousins to the scarlet badis. They share similar traits when it comes to aggression, tolerance, and breeding. The males are more attractive than the female, and they tend to look after the eggs instead of the females.

A fish such as the scarlet badis live in streams or rivers near shores, where vegetation is dominant. The reason why the scarlet badis loves such a place is that it complements their nocturnal nature of hiding from UV lighting and also hunting –the vegetation gives scarlet badis the ability to hunt well.

Scarlet badis natural habitat is discovered in India. In Brahmaputra River along parts of West Bengal and Assam state. The type of rivers in which the scarlet badis inhibit are the shallow ones dominated by vegetation, and its substrates are sandy or gravel. Taking care of such a fish is not that hard, as long as the aquarium meant for it shares similar features to its natural habitat. Size

The scarlet badis are one of the smallest species of freshwater fish. The males are the largest compared to the females and their max size is below 1 inch (0.79inch or 2cm). The males are smaller with a size of 0.51 inches. A fish with sizes mention here will save a lot of spaces and money spent on the tank and feeding.


The scarlet badis lifespan is within the range of 4-6 years. This lifespan is most feasible in a well-designed aquarium that matches the natural habit of a scarlet badis. Also, if the feed is good and timely, such a fish is sure to match the given lifespan range.

The story is a lot different in the wild. Over there, the life expectancy of a scarlet badis is expected to be a lot shorter, all due to certain factors such as accidents, predators or sickness. Even in the aquarium, it can be a lot shorter too.

…How can this be possible?

Well… for one, the scarlet badis are not school pets, they can live in a community that easily. The reason is that the scarlet badis tend to react according to the mates around them, especially the males.

When two male scarlet badis are in the same territory, there is a tendency for them to clash and it could very well lead to the demise of one out of them. This is very natural because animals like the scarlet badis will always fight for space, food, and mate.

Scarlet badis are not very good tank mates

The scarlet badis may have a peaceful temperament, but that is if there are no others like it or treating its existence. For instance, a fish such as the scarlet badis can’t just live with a community; there are some things that must be considered before going through with choosing a tank mate.

Which will be explained later on this post.

The reason is that the community can affect the health of the scarlet badis which could lead to their deaths. If the tank mate is a lot bigger than the scarlet badis, it will get intimidated. While it is feeling intimidation, the scarlet badis would start eating less and could end up starving to death. All because it saw its mate bigger than it is.

How do we tell which gender it is?

The scarlet badis are unique fishes with the various physical indication for their genders. It is not quite easy to tell the gender of a scarlet badis fish until they’ve grown to a reasonable level. The reason for this style of determining the gender is because the physical features of these fishes are too underdeveloped to analyze while they are too young.

Once they are a certain age of a few months, it becomes easy to tell which gender they are. For the male, it possesses a larger body, brighter hue of red and hints of gold. Also, certain features like the dorsal, abdominal and anal fins are longer.

For the female, it is almost the opposite. The body is a lot smaller and less colored (like gray). The dorsal, abdominal and anal fins aren’t that long. In summary, the body of the female is a lot smaller and rounder.    

Tank conditions

For a scarlet badis to live a full lifespan in an aquarium, the conditions of the tank must be similar to that of their natural habitat, the rivers of India. Freshwaters dominated with vegetation. The vegetation gives them a good home feel and a good hiding spot throughout the daytime.

Water conditions

The temperature of the water should be with the range of 72 – 79 degree Fahrenheit (22- 26 degree Celsius). An increase or reduction from the given temperature range will lead to problems for the fish. The fish could end freezing in the case of low temperature, or it could boil up due to increase in temperature.

The pH of the water should be with the range of 6.5 – 7.5. Any deviation from this range could cause the fish to suffer an acidic bath. Make sure to check the pH level at convenient times.

The hardness of the water should be tested regularly with the range 10 – 20-degree dGH.

Conditions for a community

When considering adding more fishes to the aquarium, it is best to take note of which is more compatible with the scarlet badis, given that they are aggressive when it comes to territory. The deal is, a scarlet badis would fight other fishes for territory. In the case of two male adult scarlet badis, a fight for territory and other resources is imminent.

The solution is to find a species of fish that can tolerate the scarlet badis traits.

•    Such a fish should be able to swim around the upper stratus of the aquarium. This way no fish would trespass their territory.

•    Make sure the fish isn’t larger than the scarlet badis. It would be nice if the fish has the max size of 1 inch.

•    If you are keeping schools of scarlet badis, there should be 2-3 females for one male.

•    It would be a big plus if the tank is larger, as the scarlet badis aggressive territorial males are known to control only a small territory due to its small size.

•    In a larger tank, it is best to add more tank decorations such as vegetation and hideouts for the males to coexist peacefully.

Water filtration

There should be weekly water filtration, aeration, and renewal. When renewing the water, a 1/3 of the old water should still be in the tank. This way, once new water is added to the tank, it should be able to replicate some of the water tank conditions.

It is very important to keep the water very clean. If constant sanitation does not take place, then it becomes very feasible for the fish to get sick.

What kind of substrate should be used?

You can make use of either sandy or gravel substrate. However, the choice depends majorly on the community in the tank. There could be a tank mate that is compatible with the scarlet badis but is too delicate for a gravel substrate.

Other accessories that can be included in the tank:

•    Indian Almond or guava leaves

•    Aide cones

•    Mopani wood

•    River rocks


The scarlet badis are omnivores, which means they feed on both plant and animal life. In the wid the badis are known to feed on various insects and larvae, but in a tank, they become choosey of what to eat. They do not prefer artificial pellets, but they can still eat them. The scarlet badis prefer to eat their food alive.

What do scarlet badis eat?

•    daphnia

•    cyclops

•    small tubifex

•    brine shrimp 

The fish is prone to obesity which could lead to the cause of diseases. Obesity is quite a natural stage for the scarlet badis to reach. They shouldn’t be fed at random proportion at any time. They should be trained on how to eat and what quantity they should eat. The reason is that scarlet badis are “munchers.” They tend to eat a lot.


The mate of male and female scarlet badis is that complicated. But still, there are key things to consider before commencing mating. The first and obvious thing to do is identify the male and the female. As said earlier on this post, the female happens to be much smaller and less bright than the male.

The male use their bright color fins and body to attract the females for mating. Here is how it happens… the male will unfold its fins and then begin to dance or shake in front of the female. If the female is interested, then it will come into the male’s territory. That is if the female is ready to lay eggs.

What happens if she’s not ready?

Then the female will not be attracted. The males are very prideful fishes, they would and attack the female she does not accept its invitation.

In a community of several species then it is better to have a separate water tank specifically formatting. After identification of the males and the females, the next step to take is to make sure there are several females for one male. 1 – 3 females for one male.

During the mating period, the male badis will become brightly colored. Most of its body and fins will be bright ruby red. While in that period, the couple will look for a good spot in the plant life within the tank. After that, the male will hold the female’s body and then squeeze eggs out of the female and then fertilize them.

The male continues to squeeze the eggs out of the female fish until they are a much. The female is able to lay a maximum of 80 eggs for one spawning season. After the eggs are fertilized, they are expected to hatch within 2-3 days. It depends on the tank’s water temperature.

Once the offsprings have hatched from their eggs, they feed on their yolk bags for more nourishment. This usually happens on the 5th day of the egg stage. The newly hatched larvae now become juvenile, so it can swim freely and feed on their own.

The scarlet badis can be a demanding fish and it depends on the tank conditions. It could be a larger tank which makes maintenance a bit demanding but can still be handled. The small size of the scarlet badis isn’t going to stop its aggressive behavior towards other tank mates. Especially if they share the same gender and species.


So there you have it… all that is necessary to know about the scarlet badis. This beautiful freshwater fish is a great pet overall. But a feisty one to keep. An expert will be able to care for such a fish comfortably without much of a problem. A novice can still take care of such a pet as long as he/she follows the given protocol for caring.