Scarlet Badis Care: Complete Guide for Beginners

Caring for Scarlet Badis in your aquarium can be exciting for any beginner aquarist. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know to properly care for your Scarlet Badis. From tank setup and water requirements to diet and breeding, we’ve got you covered.

scarlet badis

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Scarlet Badis Species Profile and Identification

Scarlet Badis (Dario dario) is a small, colorful freshwater fish that is native to India. They are a part of the Gourami family and make perfect additions to nano or smaller, well-planted aquariums.

Size and Appearance

  • The size of an adult Scarlet Badis is usually up to 2 centimeters (0.8 inches), making them one of the smallest fish species suitable for home aquariums.
  • They have a vibrant red and blue color pattern, with males showcasing brighter colors and more distinct markings than females.


  • On average, Scarlet Badis have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years when kept in optimum conditions.


  • These fish are generally peaceful and shy, often hiding among plants and rocks.
  • Males can be territorial, especially during breeding, so it is crucial to provide them with enough hiding spaces.

Ideal Environment

Scarlet Badis thrive in densely planted aquariums with:

  • Floating plants to provide dim lighting
  • Soft, sandy substrate for digging
  • Plenty of hiding spots using driftwood, rocks, or caves

Scarlet Badis is a small, colorful, and peaceful fish species native to India. They are perfect for nano or smaller, well-planted aquariums, and, on average, they have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years.

scarlet badis infographic

Scarlet Badis Supplies

Before you start to set up a tank for your Scarlet Badis, you’ll need to gather all the necessary supplies to ensure their environment is well-equipped and comfortable. Here are the essential items you’ll need:

  • Aquarium: A 5 to 10-gallon tank will be suitable for a small group of Scarlet Badis. Remember, each additional fish requires space, so adjust the tank size accordingly.
  • Filter: A sponge filter or a gentle hang-on-back filter is perfect for maintaining water quality. The relatively weak water flow will ensure the Scarlet Badis feels comfortable in its surroundings.
  • Heater: Their ideal water temperature is between 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 26 degrees Celsius), so a reliable, adjustable heater is a must-have.
  • Substrate: Sand or fine gravel will be best for the bottom of the tank. Avoid coarse or sharp-edged substrates, as they could injure the fish.
  • Décor and hiding spots: Include natural decorations, such as driftwood, rocks, and live plants, to provide shelter and mimic their native habitat. Some good plant options include Java Moss, Java Ferns, and Anubias.
  • Lighting: Moderate lighting will suffice, as long as it doesn’t stress the fish or cause excessive algae growth.
  • Test kit: To ensure proper water conditions, a reliable water testing kit is necessary for regular monitoring of water parameters, such as pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Fish food: Scarlet Badis are primarily carnivorous, so provide a varied diet of live and frozen foods, such as brine shrimp, daphnia, and bloodworms.

With these essential supplies at hand, you’re well-prepared to create a safe, comfortable, and engaging environment for your Scarlet Badis.

Scarlet Badis Tank Setup

Setting up an ideal tank for your Scarlet Badis is essential for their well-being and vitality. Remember, the tank environment plays a crucial role in your fish’s overall health and happiness.

Tank Size: A minimum tank size of 5 gallons (19 liters) is recommended for a single Scarlet Badis or a pair. However, increasing the tank size to 10-15 gallons (38-57 liters) will provide ample swimming space and a better environment for your fish.

Substrate: Use a smooth, small to medium-sized gravel or sand substrate. This will create a natural environment, similar to their native riverbed habitats, and enable your fish to sift through the substrate for food.

Decoration and Hiding Spots:

  • Provide plenty of live plants, such as Anubias, Java Fern, and Cryptocoryne, to mimic their natural habitat and offer hiding spots.
  • Driftwood and rocks can be used to create additional caves and nooks for your Scarlet Badis to seek shelter.
  • Ensure there’s enough open swimming space and avoid overcrowding the tank with decorations.

Filtration and Aeration:

  • Scarlet Badis are sensitive to water quality, so effective filtration is a must.
  • Sponge filters or hang-on-back filters with a low flow rate are suitable options.
  • While not necessary, an air stone can be added to increase oxygen exchange in the water, especially in warmer temperatures.

Lighting and Heater:

  • Moderate lighting is preferred, as Scarlet Badis are not fans of bright light.
  • A heater is required to maintain a stable water temperature between 72-78°F (22-26°C).

With a properly set up tank, you create a comfortable and natural environment for your Scarlet Badis to thrive. It not only ensures their well-being but also allows their vibrant colors to shine and contributes to a stunning display in your home.

Scarlet Badis Water Requirements

When it comes to providing the best environment for your Scarlet Badis, paying close attention to their water requirements is crucial. These small, colorful fish originate from slow-moving streams in India, so it’s essential to replicate their natural habitat as closely as possible.

Temperature: Scarlet Badis prefer water temperatures between 72°F (22°C) and 78°F (26°C). Use an adjustable aquarium heater to maintain this range consistently, as sudden temperature fluctuations can stress your fish and lead to health problems. In addition, consider setting up a thermometer to keep track of the water temperature.

  • 72°F (22°C) to 78°F (26°C)

pH and Hardness: Scarlet Badis are somewhat adaptable when it comes to water parameters, but they thrive in a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 with a hardness between 3 and 12 dGH (degrees of general hardness). You should perform regular water tests to ensure the pH and hardness stay within these ranges.

  • pH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 3 to 12 dGH

Water Changes: Regular water changes are essential to the overall health of your Scarlet Badis. To maintain optimal water quality, perform a 25% water change each week, replacing it with clean, dechlorinated water that matches the temperature of your aquarium.

  • Weekly 25% water changes

Filtration: Choose a gentle, efficient filtration system that won’t generate a powerful current, as Scarlet Badis are not strong swimmers and prefer calm water. A sponge filter is an excellent choice for these fish, as it provides both mechanical and biological filtration without creating strong water movement.

  • Gentle filter, such as a sponge filter

By carefully considering these water requirements, you’ll create a healthy and comfortable environment for your Scarlet Badis to thrive and display their vibrant colors. They will reward your efforts with their fascinating behavior and captivating beauty.

Scarlet Badis Diet and Feeding

As an aquarist, one of your primary concerns is ensuring your Scarlet Badis receives proper nutrition and has access to a varied diet. Scarlet Badis, or Dario dario, are known to be micro-predators, meaning they prefer live foods over dry or processed items.

  • Live Foods: These fish love to hunt for tiny live invertebrates, such as daphniacopepods, and mosquito larvae.
  • Frozen Foods: Although not as preferred, Scarlet Badis may also eat frozen foods like bloodwormsbrine shrimp, and tubifex worms.

At the same time, it’s essential to understand that they can be picky eaters and may take time to accept non-living food. This is why it’s crucial to always have live food available to maintain their health, and then gradually introduce frozen options.

Feeding Frequency: Experts recommend feeding Scarlet Badis 2-3 times daily to ensure they receive adequate nutrition. Remember to only provide a small amount of food in each feeding session, enough for them to consume within 2-3 minutes. Overfeeding can lead to poor water quality and health issues.

Adults vs. Juveniles: The diet doesn’t significantly change between juvenile and adult Scarlet Badis, but it’s essential to provide a slightly higher feeding frequency for growing juveniles.

With the above information, you can confidently provide a well-balanced and nutritious diet for your Scarlet Badis, keeping them healthy and active. Focus on live foods, gradually introduce frozen items, maintain a proper feeding schedule, and adjust accordingly for juvenile fish.

Scarlet Badis Care Schedule

Caring for your Scarlet Badis requires a consistent and well-planned schedule. By establishing a routine, you will ensure the health and happiness of your fish, making it easier for you to maintain their needs.

Weekly tasks:

  • Water changes: Perform a 25% water change each week to maintain water quality, keeping your Scarlet Badis healthy. Make sure to use dechlorinated water, as they are sensitive to chlorine.
  • Test water parameters: Check the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels weekly to ensure they are within the acceptable range. Though Scarlet Badis aren’t particularly finicky about water parameters, a sudden change can cause stress and health issues.

Monthly tasks:

  • Filter maintenance: Clean your filter every month to ensure a stable tank environment and optimal filtration. Avoid replacing the entire filter media at once, as doing so could disrupt the beneficial bacteria responsible for the nitrogen cycle in your tank.
  • Keep an eye on plants: Trim and prune live plants in the tank regularly to maintain proper growth and prevent decay that could affect the water quality.

Daily tasks:

  • Feeding: Feed your Scarlet Badis once or twice a day, providing them with a varied diet of live and frozen foods. Overfeeding can cause health issues, so offer only what they can eat within 2-3 minutes.
  • Observation: Spend a few minutes each day observing your Scarlet Badis for any signs of illness, stress, or abnormal behavior. Early detection is important for addressing these issues.

By adhering to a well-thought-out care schedule, you will ensure the overall wellbeing of your Scarlet Badis and create a thriving underwater world for them to enjoy.

Scarlet Badis Health Problems

Scarlet Badis can experience a range of health problems which could be detrimental to their well-being, just like any other fish species. If you are attentive to their needs and keep their tank well-maintained, you’ll be able to prevent many of these issues or spot them early on.

Parasitic Infections: Scarlet Badis are susceptible to external parasites like Ich or Velvet.

  • Symptoms: Watch out for white spots, dust-like gold or rust-colored patches, labored breathing, or clamped fins.
  • Treatment: Use an anti-parasite medication following the manufacturer’s instructions; also ensure tank cleanliness and proper water conditions.

Fungal Infections: Scarlet Badis can be affected by fungal infections like cotton-like growths on their body.

  • Symptoms: Look for cottony-white growths, ragged fins, or loss of appetite.
  • Treatment: Specific anti-fungal medications are available for treating fungal infections in fish. Maintain optimal water conditions and quarantine the affected fish to treat separately.

Bacterial Infections: These fish are less likely to be affected by bacterial infections, but it’s best to be cautious.

  • Symptoms: Ulcers or redness on the fish’s body, bulging eyes, or a swollen abdomen.
  • Treatment: Use an antibacterial medication approved for fish treatment, and maintain appropriate water quality to prevent further infections.

Additionally, maintaining a clean tank with appropriate water conditions can also help prevent swim bladder disorders, which might occur if the fish ingests too much air.

Remember, observing your Scarlet Badis regularly can help you detect any health problems early. Always remove sick fish from the main tank and place them in a quarantine tank for treatment to prevent the spread of disease to other tank mates. Providing a suitable environment, tank setup, and diet plays a crucial role in keeping your Scarlet Badis healthy and stress-free.

Scarlet Badis Tank Mates

When it comes to selecting the perfect tank mates for your Scarlet Badis, compatibility is crucial. You’ll want to take into consideration factors like temperament, size, and even dietary preferences to ensure a harmonious multi-species aquarium.

  • Peaceful and non-aggressive fishes: Since Scarlet Badis tend to be shy and peaceful, they’ll thrive better alongside similar, non-aggressive tank mates. Some suitable options include smaller varieties of Tetras, Guppies, Danios, Cherry Barbs, and Corydoras.
  • Tank size matters: Remember, Scarlet Badis are tiny, and larger or predatory fish could easily see them as food. Stick to tank mates of a similar size to reduce the risk of any accidents.
  • Avoiding overpopulation: Overcrowding your tank can lead to stress and various health issues in your Scarlet Badis. With that in mind, be cautious not to add too many fish, especially if your aquarium is on the smaller side. A good rule of thumb is to allocate at least 2 gallons of water per fish, depending on the species.
  • Considering dietary preferences: While Scarlet Badis predominantly eat live foods, they can coexist with tank mates that thrive on various diets. However, it’s essential to ensure that both your Scarlet Badis and their tank mates receive adequate nutrition, so having separate feeding areas or alternating feeding times can prove beneficial.

By thoughtfully considering these factors, you’ll create a serene and enriching environment for your Scarlet Badis. Remember, compatibility is key to maintaining a successful multi-species aquarium – so choose tank mates wisely!

Scarlet Badis Breeding

Breeding Scarlet Badis can be a rewarding experience for hobbyists. In fact, these small and colorful fish are relatively easy to breed, especially when provided with the right conditions.

First, you need to establish a separate breeding tank with a 5-gallon capacity or more, as this ensures a peaceful environment for courtship and spawning. Next, take note of the following factors to increase the chances of successful breeding:

  • Sexing the fish: Ensure you have a combination of males and females. Males have more vibrant colors and sharper fin edges, while females are comparatively smaller and have a rounded belly.
  • Water parameters: Maintain a slightly acidic pH level (6.5-7.0) and a temperature between 76-78 degrees Fahrenheit (24-26°C).
  • Environment: Provide an environment rich in live plants and hiding spots, such as java moss, which can offer cover for eggs and fry.

Once the breeding tank setup is complete, you can introduce the selected Scarlet Badis to their new breeding environment. Be prepared for some courtship behavior, as the males will try to impress the females through displays, chased, and establishing territories.

After spawning, which usually occurs on or under plant leaves, it is essential to remove the parents from the tank, to prevent them from eating the eggs. After about three days, the eggs will hatch and small Scarlet Badis fry will emerge.

Provide adequate nourishment for these fry by offering infusoria or newly-hatched brine shrimp as their initial food source. As they grow older, you can progressively introduce other types of food suited for adult Scarlet Badis.

Remember that patience is critical throughout this breeding process, but if you carefully follow these guidelines and monitor your fish, you’ll likely see thriving populations of this beautiful species.


Taking care of Scarlet Badis can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for beginners who plan to keep these colorful fish as pets. With proper care, a suitable environment, and a well-rounded diet, your Scarlet Badis will thrive. If you have any questions, tips, or experiences to share, please leave a comment below!

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