scarlet badis

Scarlet Badis 101: Everything You Need to Know

It’s no surprise that Scarlet Badis has become one of the most popular freshwater fish in the nano aquarium community. These tiny creatures have a lot of personalities and offer a mesmerizing display of beauty, activity, and behavior. Not only that, they don’t require much maintenance or effort to care for – making them an ideal choice for beginner aquarists.

However, there are some important elements of Scarlet Badis care to be aware of if you want your fish to thrive.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything from tank size and water conditions to diet and tank mates. Let’s dive in!

scarlet badis
Radiant Scarlet Badis with its striking coloration and elegant swimming style.

Species Summary

Scarlet Badis (Dario dario) is native to the tributaries of the Brahmaputra River, which runs through India, China, and Bangladesh.

They generally live in shallow and clear waters with plenty of plants. It’s helpful to understand their natural habitat as it provides insight into what they need to thrive in captivity.

In terms of lifespan, Scarlet Badis typically live up to 4-6 years in captivity – a decent length considering their small size. Of course, this lifespan can vary greatly depending on the quality of care they receive.


Male Scarlet Badis are especially stunning and make for a real treat to observe. The primary coloration of these fish is orange or red and is present across their entire body.

Their fins often feature a light blue shading, creating a flickering effect when they swim.

Plus, male Scarlet Badis features a series of vertical stripes that begin near the front of the dorsal fin; these stripes are either orange or light blue depending on the fish.

When it comes to female Scarlet Badis, they are less flashy with a basic orange-grey hue.


Scarlet Badis are one of the smallest percoid species, with males reaching a maximum of eight-tenths of an inch, and females topping out at around half an inch in length.

While their small size might seem like a disadvantage, it actually makes it easier to appreciate their beautiful colors.

Scarlet Badis Care

Caring for Scarlet Badis isn’t too challenging, once you know the key elements of what makes a good habitat for them. In the wild, these fish should have access to clean and clear water, so it is essential to replicate those conditions in their tank.

Weekly water changes and cleanings should be done to maintain water quality, with the aim of a 50% change once a week.

Tank Size

Since Scarlet Badis are so small, a tank of 5 gallons or less should suffice – though larger tanks will always be better.

Remember, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain water quality and avoid issues like ammonia buildup.

Tank Mates

When selecting tank mates for Scarlet Badis, opt for species of similar size (no larger than 2/3 of their size), temperament, and water requirements.

Here are some suitable tank mates for Scarlet Badis:

  • Harlequin Rasboras
  • Pygmy Corydoras
  • Bumblebee Gobies
  • Dwarf Gouramis
  • Mosquito Rasboras
  • Crystal Red Shrimp
  • Amano Shrimp
  • Malaysian Trumpet Snails

It’s important to provide plenty of hiding spots and plants for the Scarlet Badis, as well as sufficient swimming space for all the fish in the tank.

Scarlet Badis are also sensitive to changes in water conditions, so be sure to maintain stable water parameters, especially the temperature and pH levels.

Whatever you do, make sure to avoid aggressive fish that may attack or bully your Scarlet Badis.


Scarlet Badis are omnivorous and will readily accept a variety of food. Dry or frozen treats like mosquito larvae, blackworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia should make up the bulk of their diet.

Additionally, these fish feed on smaller creatures in the wild, so offering live foods like small snails and insects is recommended.

Just make sure you’re not giving them too much, as it could compromise the water quality of your tank.

Tank Setup

In order to create an ideal habitat for Scarlet Badis, you’ll need to provide a few key elements. Aim for a dark substrate (such as sand or gravel) that mimics their wild habitat, plus plenty of live plants and other decorations for them to explore.

You should also include plenty of hiding places in the form of rocks, driftwood, or artificial plants – this will help them feel safe, and make for fun exploring for them.


Scarlet Badis don’t require very intense lighting, so standard LED or fluorescent aquarium bulbs are fine.

We recommend investing in bulbs that focus on natural, color-enhancing properties; this will bring out their bright colors and make for a beautiful display.


The most important aspect of filtration is ensuring that your filter is strong enough to cover the entire tank. Since Scarlet Badis are so small, they are particularly sensitive to ammonia and nitrate levels.

Make sure you’re doing regular water changes and testing the water to make sure it’s within the necessary parameters.

Water Parameters

The ideal water parameters for Scarlet Badis are a pH level between 6.5-7.5 and a temperature of 78-80°F.

If you’re having trouble maintaining the right levels, you can use a liquid pH test to measure the water’s acidity.

Also, make sure to use a conditioner whenever you do water changes to ensure the water quality stays high.


Scarlet Badis are known for being relatively reclusive and shy, so it’s essential to supply plenty of hiding places throughout the tank.

This can be achieved with a variety of decorations such as rocks, roots, sunken logs, or artificial plants.

Just try to avoid too many sharp objects, as this could lead to injury.

Water Movement

In terms of water movement, it should be kept low to moderate in intensity.

This will mimic the slow-flowing rivers of their natural habitat and keep the water oxygenated.

Stress Relief

Scarlet Badis are not particularly active fish and can become easily stressed in overly-active environments.

To help prevent stress, it is important to provide plenty of foliage and other hiding places throughout the tank.

This will give them a sense of safety and allow them to stay social instead of becoming reclusive.

Aquarium Maintenance

As with any aquarium setup, regular maintenance is important for keeping your Scarlet Badis healthy and happy.

Do weekly water changes of around 15% and make sure to clear out any debris or uneaten food from the tank.

Dietary Considerations

When feeding your Scarlet Badis, it is important to opt for a balanced diet that includes both protein and plant matter.

Food such as mosquito larvae, blackworms, brine shrimp, and daphnia will provide them with all the essential nutrients they need.

Additionally, you can occasionally offer dried flakes, pellets, or freeze-dried treats.

Health Concerns

Scarlet Badis are known to be fairly resilient to most health issues, provided they are well-cared for.

However, it is important to watch out for diseases such as Ich and fungus, which can be caused by poor water conditions.

If you notice any signs of illness, make sure to act quickly and treat them appropriately.


If you’d like to breed Scarlet Badis, it is important to house pairs that were raised together in a separate tank. The breeding tank should be set up like their normal habitat, with a temperature of around 78-80°F and a pH level of 6.5-7.5.

Once conditions are right, the female will lay her eggs on plants or decorations in the tank. After she drops eggs, the male will then fertilize them. Fertilized eggs usually hatch within 48 hours.


Although Scarlet Badis require some specific conditions to thrive, they are definitely worth the extra effort.

Once you’ve got their habitat properly set up, you’re likely to have happy and healthy fish!