Badis badis (also known as the blue perch or blue badis) is the most famous Badis genus and Badidae family representative. This is a good-looking dark-blue fish that has been popular among aquarists for several dozens of years already. This calm, not demanding in terms of keeping fish, can be interesting not only for experts but for beginning aquarists as well.
Habitat in the wild
For quite a long time, it has been considered that Badis badis habitat is limited to waters of Central and South India. However, the studies held during the last ten years had broadened their habitat significantly and included lentic waters in South India, Nepal, and Bangladesh (Ganges River basin). The species is also encountered in Pakistan, India state Himachal Pradesh (Yamuna basin), Mahanadi River basin (India state Chhattisgarh), Bhutan, India state Assam (Kaziranga River, Gauhati River, Dibru River).
In the wild, the fish inhabits lentic or slowly flowing waters. In general, Badis badis natural biotope has a low water level, lots of vegetation, and snags.
A small river in West Bengal, which in some areas can be wade through easily, can be an example of such a biotope. It has a slow water flow with the following water parameters: t 30°С, рН 6,4, GH 6°.
Blue badis was brought to Europe at the beginning of the last century. German aquarists were the first Europeans to see the fish. Soon it was successfully bred by them and formed a stable aquarium population.
|Scientific name||Badis badis|
|Common Name||Blue badis, blue perch|
|Tank size||30 gallons and more|
|Temperature||23-26 °C (74-78 °F)|
|Size||3 in (7-8 cm)|
|Lifespan||up to 5 years|
Based on the latest revision, about 14 Badis kinds have scientific description nowadays. It seems that those described kinds are just a small part of the whole Badis genus. Each year some new not described species appear. Considering that the genus has a wide areal, which becomes more accessible, more discoveries may be expected in the nearest future.
Badis badis is the most famous genus representative, while scarlet badis comes second in this list.
The fish resembles dwarf cichlids in its appearance. The body is comparatively low, elongated and a bit flattened from the sides. The dorsal is long, and the caudal fin is rounded. It has a small head and mouth.
The male is about 3 inches long (7-8 cm) in the wild, while females are 2 inches (4.5-5 cm) long. In the tank, the fish grows a bit smaller.
The body coloring is quite unstable and changeable. It depends on tank conditions, the physiological state of the fish, and its mood. It is especially true for males. In several seconds their coloring may change unrecognizably.
Exited males coloring when they have fights between them or during the spawning period look especially good. The female fish body has significantly simpler coloring with brown colors prevailing.
Keeping in the tank
Blue perch is quite not demanding, and it gets used to any tank conditions quickly. The water hardness can be within 5-20°dH, pH within 6,5-7,5, water temperature in the range 23-26 °C. In most natural waters, pH level is about 7 or a bit less, and water hardness is in the range of 3-4 dGH.
The latter are the parameters you should try to reach only when breeding the species. Badis can also breed in ordinary tap water with pH not higher than 7.5 and hardness not higher than 8 dGH.
Let’s keep in mind that the fish species usually come from the wild; thus, it’d be logical to keep tank water parameters like those peculiar to the natural biotopes, at least at first.
It’s recommended to renew part of the tank water once or twice a week. It’d be better if the fresh water is a bit colder than the one in the tank. On average, you should renew from 10 to 30% of the total tank volume during a week. Due to the wide areal, the water temperature in the fish biotope may differ essentially.
For example, in Thailand, water is usually warmer than in Nepal. Water temperature in the natural biotopes depends on the season since in winter it may decrease up 15°С, while in summer it rises to 25°С or one-two degrees higher. However, when keeping the fish in a tank, the water temperature should be stable. The water flow in the tank should be moderate and slow – for young species.
It is a must to have lots of shelters when keeping Badis in a tank. These may be sick tank vegetation, a pile of stones, or coconut shells, the latter they often use for spawning.The advantages of having a large number of shelters in a tank will soon become obvious. The tank dwellers will get used to their new surroundings faster. They’ll become less timid and show the best of them.
The fish shows more natural behavior in a relatively small species tank decorated using pastel shades mainly. The tank lighting should be dim due to having fluctuant or long-stalked tank plants. In such conditions, the fish coloring changeability will be the most visible.
There are no specific requirements in terms of the tank volume. For one fish couple or one male and two females, a small tank is quite enough. However, you should keep in mind that chameleon males demonstrate territorial behavior, and in a small tank, they can’t get along with each other. A tank for a larger number of fish should be spacious and with a lot of shelters.
In this case, each male has its own territory around the shelter he fancies. He aggressively protects the borders and doesn’t let other males close. There shouldn’t be too many males in the tank since thus their territories may intersect, which will endanger the life of the weaker species.
The tank lighting should be dim. The tank plants flowing on the water surface will give the necessary shadow.
Badis is a perfect tank mate for a group of small calm fishes, where it will take the near bottom zone. Usually, adult male or fish couple territory is limited to a small area near some shelter they choose: a coconut shell, a snag, or a flowerpot.
In the presence of comparably sized and peaceful tank mates, which they don’t see as a source of real or potential danger, they behave quite relaxed and swim freely all around the tank. Thus the observer can see all of their best coloring and behavior.
Small caves and thick plants provide the important feeling of safety, and at the same time, they don’t let the fish hide completely, which is quite common for this kind.
It’s worth mentioning that freshwater shrimps (like cherry shrimp) may be the fish prey.
While females swim around the tank studying all its corners, males invade a small territory near one of the shelters and leave it only to eat.
I must say that blue badis is quite demanding in this respect. It mainly eats only small live food, and at that quite often this is limited to a blood worm only. The fish completely refuses to eat dry food even after starving for a week.
Tubifex, blood worm, and other maggots will do as live food for it. Feeding issues quite often arise when Badis badis is kept in a common tank. Its faster and more active tank mates will often outpace this slow fish. If you don’t throw them food right to their shelters, they can starve and die.
The fish has quite a moderate appetite. As a rule, it is not prone to overeating.
The fish becomes reproductive rather early. Depending on the kind, it happens by the age of 5-8 months old. At this age, its length can comprise 2/3 of the estimated one.
Sexual dimorphism may be seen even if the species are not reproductive yet. The male has a sunken abdomen till you feed it, while females have more rounded shapes, not that bright coloring. Their dorsal and anal finds don’t have sharp endings.
As for the males, besides their bright coloring, large size, and specific body shape, they have wider and higher dorsal and anal fins, which they eagerly demonstrate to their females.
There are lots of contradictions in the information about breeding. The fish isn’t demanding in terms of water quality, and they can spawn even in water with hardness about
20 dGH. However, they feel better in water with a neutral or slightly acidic reaction, which was cleaned through the peaty filler.
For keeping the fish, the water temperature can be within 24—27 °С, while for breeding, the water temperature should be 28 °С.
As for the shadowing of a spawning tank, which many authors recommended, experience has proven that it’s not necessary, at least before the larvae appear.
The couple participates in the spawning process. It uses some solid substrate. Quite often, the female leads the dance. Her first attempts to get closer to him are taken aggressively, but she continues her efforts till he responds and embraces her. The couple can spend quite a long time in this position under the substrate. Then the process starts all over again.
The spawning continues till the female lays all the eggs. During the spawning process that lasts almost for an hour, the female lays about 150-200 eggs.
They are quite large (0.8-1 mm in diameter), and it is very sticky. It’s almost impossible to tear it from the substrate without damaging it. There are very few undertilized eggs in the clutch; the waste during the incubation period is also quite insignificant.
It’s better to remove the female once the spawning is over. The male protects the clutch and the offspring. During this period, he also actively changes its coloring and surprises with the number of colors and shades.
Unlike most cichlids and climbing perches, this male can’t be called a carrying father. All his care is limited to waving the eggs with his fins.
The larvae sprout in 40-50 hours, depending on the temperature. They do it together for no longer than an hour. The larvae are 2.5-33 mm long, and they are almost motionless at first. They may spend hours at the same place.
If the water temperature in the spawning tank is 27—28 °С, in about 6-7 days, the larvae eat all the yolk bags, and they grow to become juveniles. They try to swim from time to time. But only a day later, the juveniles completely get used to the conditions and start looking for food.
If by this time the male is still in the spawning tank, this is about time to put him away in another tank. Since some males don’t take it easy when the offspring starts swimming around, and they try to catch them with the mouth and bring them back.
At the same time, you can leave the male together with the offspring for several weeks because adult fishes of this kind don’t tend to eat their offspring.
The juveniles require very small live food. They don’t move much, so to make sure they have enough food and don’t starve, you should put it right in front of them.
Overfeeding is the largest danger for juveniles. It also quickly leads to tank water contamination, and as a result, the whole offspring dies in a short time. For this reason, water renews and tank cleaning should be done every day.
In the breeding tank with a sandy bottom, live tank plants, several snails, and biological filtration, the chances of the offspring death get lower.
The juveniles’ growth pace can’t be called fast. By the age of a month, they are barely 1 cm long. After you start feeding them with cut blood worm, they’ll start growing faster, since they start to move and swim more. There are fewer leftovers, and the process of taking care of the juveniles becomes simpler.
Sergey is a founder and author of Meethepet.com. He’s been fond of aquarium husbandry since his early childhood.
His favorite aquariums are biotopes (Amazon River), with Echinodorus and Angelfish. However, through the years he’s had experience of keeping almost all types of freshwater fish and shrimps.