Scarlet Badis: Ultimate Guide (Care, Diet, Breeding, & More)

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Written By Matt Stevens

Hi, I'm Matt! I've been obsessed with fishkeeping for over 15 years now and created this site to share my knowledge with others.

Scarlet Badis is a species of freshwater fish that are immensely popular in the aquarium community and are also among the most sought-after nano fishes.

It is fun to watch them move around the aquarium due to their beautiful appearance, quirky behavior, and activity around the tank. Plus, it is quite easy to take care of them, which makes them suitable for beginners.

However, it is very important to provide them with quality care and the perfect conditions in order for them to thrive and stay healthy.

We have created a Scarlet Badis guide to help you learn all there is to know about their care, including their habitat, water requirements, diet, tank mates, breeding, and much more!

Species Summary

The Scarlet Badis is a highly beautiful fish that have the scientific name Dario Dario and belong to the Badidae family.

They are native to the tributaries that flow into the Brahmaputra river in India, and they are used to shallow and clear waters with a sufficient amount of vegetation.

TemperamentPeaceful but aggressive towards other males
Life Span3 to 6 years
Color FormBright in males, silvery gray in females
Care levelIntermediate
CompatibilitySmall and peaceful fish
SizeLess than 1 inch
Tank SetupFreshwater with dense vegetation
Minimum Tank Size10 Gallons

Having a clear understanding of their natural environment is integral to their care, and replicating it in their tank is one of the wisest methods to ensure that these fish stay healthy and happy.


On average, Scarlet Badis have a lifespan of 4-6 years, particularly when they are raised in aquariums. This is quite sufficient if you consider that these are nano fish.

Their lifespan is greatly dependent on the level and quality of care they receive, as well as their diet and tank environment. Plus, their health also hinges on the availability of clean water. If this isn’t maintained inside the tank, your fish won’t be able to survive for a long time.


It is easy to tell the male Scarlet Badis from the female species because they are quite different in appearance. The male fish have a bright and vibrant appearance with several striking colors and patterns on their body.

The males have a bright red or orange body, along with a set of vertical stripes that adorn the body from the dorsal fin to the tail fin.

The stripes are either orange or light blue, depending on the base color. Moreover, you will also be able to notice a light blue hue that colors their caudal and dorsal fins.

These light blue edges of the male fins add to their beauty, and when they swim, these edges create a unique flickering effect.

On the other hand, the females aren’t as bright as the males. They have a grayish orange body, and their fins protrude less than males.

The dorsal fins of both males and females are located one-third of the way back on their bodies and go towards the end, protruding a little more at the end. Plus, their caudal fins have round edges and are evenly shaped throughout.


Scarlet Badis also belong to the group of percoid species, and they are among the smallest of the lot. The adult male is no longer than 8/10th of an inch, whereas the females grow up to a length of ½-inch even when they are fully mature.

Their tiny size complements their striking appearance even more, and the mixture of different colors looks like a small dot when they swim around in an aquarium.

Scarlet Badis Care

Caring for the Scarlet Badis is relatively easy, you just need to know what’s essential compared to others. In this regard, there are several things that take precedence over others, and that is all you need to know in order to care for them properly.

Out of all of the caring requirements for these fish, water quality is the most important one. This species is really sensitive to unsuitable or rapidly changing water conditions, and they can quickly become ill if the water conditions aren’t taken care of.

Since water quality is the most important component, you will have to change the water by 50% every week, and you can’t slack off on this. There are fish that don’t require you to change the water weekly, and there are also fish that do well with a 25% water change.

However, the Dario Dario require a lot more attention than those fish, which makes caring for them a little trickier and more strenuous. As mentioned above, they are used to cleaner and shallower waters in the wild, and you need to provide them with similar conditions in order to keep them healthy and happy.

Not maintaining the proper water conditions will expose your fish to a host of health problems, and they can even prove fatal for them.

Let’s have a look at the more focused components of Scarlet Badis care that you should know about.

Tank Size

First and foremost, you need to be mindful of the tank size when you are planning to raise Scarlet Badis. The minimum tank size that you can work with is 10 gallons, as this provides them with enough space to swim around and explore the tank comfortably.

This tank capacity is only suitable if you are looking to keep up to 6 fish together. If you are looking to increase the number, you will need to double the tank size as well. Of course, a 20-gallon tank may not be considered a nano tank, but it will help your fish coexist peacefully.

Another reason why you need a bigger tank is due to the requirement of lots of plants inside the aquarium. If you get live plants, you will also have to provide enough space for them to grow.

Water Parameters

Let’s have a look at the most crucial and essential component of caring for these fish. You have to maintain the water quality and cleanliness in order to keep your Scarlet Badis comfortable and happy. This will help them live up to the upper end of their lifespan.

Starting off, you need a water temperature between 72°F to 79°F, and it would replicate the warm waters that these fish are used to. Plus, they are used to neutral waters in the wild, which is why you should maintain a pH level between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neither too acidic nor alkaline.

Last but not least, the water hardness has to be kept between 10 and 20 dGH. Plus, you will have to test the water periodically in order to check that the water quality is intact. If you check the water every few days, you can easily change the water to restore the balance.

What to Put in Their Tank?

The next step of the care regime for Scarlet Badis is to determine what you can put inside their tank. Since they spend a lot of time in the lower half of the tank, you can make use of a thick layer of sand or gravel substrate.

Plus, adding plants to the tank is highly essential, as it will help them thrive and also keep them away from stress. Some of the popular plant choices to put in their tank include java moss, dwarf hairgrass, limnophila sessiliflora, ottelia alismoides, rotala rotundifolia, and several others.

While setting up their tank, you can also complement the vegetation with caves, driftwood, and hiding spaces. Although they are tiny, these fish have territorial tendencies and like to mark their place, and adding hiding spots will keep them from fighting against each other.

When it comes to aquarium lighting, you don’t need any special kind of lighting, and you can make do with the standard lighting available in most stores and online.

Since these fish are highly sensitive to water quality changes, you will also have to invest in a top-quality and highly efficient filtration system that keeps the water clean and clear.

However, you will have to cover the inlet tubes of the filter that you install. Otherwise, these micro fish may get sucked or swim right inside them.

Generally, you can make do without a pump in the aquarium, but if you want to add one, make sure that its speed is reduced, and the water movement is slow. Otherwise, they will start to struggle and become stressed, thus falling ill quickly.

As mentioned above, you have to change 50% of the water from the tank every week, and you can’t neglect this highly important requirement if you are looking to keep Scarlet Badis.

Common Diseases

Taking care of your Scarlet Badis also means that you have to ensure that they don’t fall ill. There aren’t any diseases that are specific to their species, but they are prone to diseases that freshwater fish suffer from.

Due to their sensitivity to poor water quality, these fish can develop Ich, or white spot disease. This can cause the emergence of small white spots all over their body, and although it is harmless, it can be lethal for them if not treated on time.

Moreover, Ich can be treated by over-the-counter medications and regular water changes, so you won’t have any trouble administering it to your fish. Apart from Ich, they can also be infected by several types of parasitic and bacterial infections.

What Do Scarlet Badis Eat?

Scarlet Badis are omnivores, and they are popularly known to be micro predators. In the wild, they scavenge and prey on tiny critters like an insect, larvae, plankton, crustaceans, and several others. This makes things a little tricky when these fish are in captivity.

You can’t give them commercial fish food, as it would go to waste. Not only that, but if left for longer, the food will rot and start to contaminate the water.

Rather, you can capitalize on the predatory instincts of these fish and allow them to seek out food like they do in their natural environment.

You can develop a well-balanced and healthy diet for your fish, and you can offer them brine shrimp, bloodworms, tubifex, Daphnia, Cyclops, Mysis, and several other options. You can alternate between live and frozen foods, which offers you some flexibility and convenience in your busy routine.

Another thing you need to know about Dario Dario is that they are prone to obesity, which is why you need to avoid low-quality foods that can cause them to swell up quickly. Also, you have to take care not to overfeed them. Otherwise, the leftover food will ruin the water quality.

If you notice your fish getting thicker and becoming lethargic, then you may have to cut down on how much you are feeding them.

Behavior & Temperament

Generally, Scarlet Badis are highly peaceful nano fish that keep to themselves in the tank. Due to their small size, they can’t fend off larger fish who may mistake them for food, so they will do whatever it takes to hide away from them.

This is why you need to add lots of plants and caves to the tank so that these fish have sufficient hiding spots. Even if there aren’t any larger fish in the tank, they like to relax by hiding away for a while.

When they aren’t relaxing, you will notice them swimming around the plants and substrate like a beautiful and colorful dot. A unique trait about this species is that they are deliberate and plan out their activities.

The only time when these fish exhibit quirky and unusual behavior is when they are placed with their own kind.

They like to claim their territory and don’t like it when someone invades their space. Therefore, you need to put them in a large enough tank so that each of them can have their own space.

Scarlet Badis Tank Mates

Scarlet Badis get along with their own kind when they are given sufficient space. However, if you are looking for a multi-species tank, you will have to be mindful of the temperament of each and every species of fish you put in the aquarium.

You should keep them away from tanks that have larger fish at all costs. Not only will it put them at risk of being eaten, but it will also result in them finding no food to eat since the larger fish can eat it all. Moreover, they might not come out of hiding at all, and this would take a toll on their health.

According to aquatic experts, you can place these fish in a tank with different types of Gourami (such as the Sparkling Gourami) and Rasbora, provided that the tank is large enough.


Thankfully, breeding Scarlet Badis is relatively easy and hassle-free. If you have maintained the suitable conditions, they will take care of the rest.

The presence of plants in the tank is also important to help these fish mate, and it also provides the female species a place to protect their eggs.

The males make use of their bright and vibrant appearance to court the females, and once a female shows her interest, she spawns eggs that the male fertilizes. Usually, the female lays anywhere between 70 to 90 eggs. Until the eggs hatch, the male will continue to defend the eggs.

After 2-3 days, the eggs start to hatch, and the fry go into hiding for a few more days. Once they grow into juveniles, they will come out of hiding and start feeding on little creatures and microorganisms found among the plants in the tank.

Final Thoughts

Scarlet Badis are highly beautiful and magical fish that look wonderful swimming around in your aquarium. Even though they are quite peaceful and tiny, they can act aggressively if their own kind trespasses on their territory.

The presence of live plants is highly important in order for these fish to have hiding spots and also for them to mate and breed.

You may have to go through some trial and error to find out the right amount of food you need to feed them, but they are easy to take care of.

If you think you can care for them, go for it! And make sure to refer to our guide if there is something you ever have problems with!