Scarlet badis care guide

Scarlet badis (Dario dario) is a small fish from Badidae family from India. This is the least known species from Perciformes kind. Further in the article, you’ll find out how to keep dario fish, feed it, select tank mates, and breed it.

Habitat in the wild

Dario dario inhabits in the basing of Brahmaputra river within Assam state area and in South of West Bengal state. The scarlet badis can be encountered in small rivers up to 1 m deep with crystal clear water and sandy or gravel bottom. It usually stays close to shores and swims among thick-set water plants.

Scientific NameDario dario
Common NamesScarlet badis; badis fish; dario fish; scarlet fish
Range and habitatIndia
Size2,5 cm (1 in)
Lifespan5 years
Ease of keepingMedium
Minimum tank size30 liters (6.6 gal) and more
Temperature22-26 °C (72-79 °F)
Water hardness9–20 dGH


Adult scarlet badis males grow up to 2,5 cm (1 in) long, the females — 1,5-2 cm. The lifespan is about 5 years. Dario dario head and back color varies from rusty orange to ruby-red. Its sides are covered with seven different stripes that continue on the fins as well.

These stripes interchange with eight silvery-blue stripes that also stretch along the fins. Its abdominal fins become saturated bluish and white as well as all fins have bright white edges.

The scarlet badis females have simpler coloring. They are silvery-gray with transparent fins. Some large females have several thin pale-orange stripes on their body sides. Nevertheless, it is much harder to see the difference between the male and female when buying it in a pet shop.

Since the fish on sale in quite often young, they tend to have similar coloring and fins shape. Besides, many males, especially if they are at the bottom of the group hierarchy, have uniform gray coloring.

Difficulties in keeping

This is quite a demanding fish in terms of tank conditions. Despite its small size it can demonstrate aggression towards its tank mates. Scarlet badis doesn’t eat artificial food much, therefore for successful keeping it in a tank you’ll have to feed it with live food.

Care and keeping in a tank

This dwarf fish isn’t quite often seen in tanks for now, but due to its simple tastes and appealing appearance it has all chances to become quite popular soon.

Tank size

It perfectly suits small sized tanks, so called ‘nano tanks’. Scarlet badis has peaceful temper, swims slow and is very timid. The fish tends to swim close to water plants in medium and bottom water layers.

It is better to keep this fish separately from other fishes, since larger and more active tank mates will eat all food and live dario starving.

The juveniles as a rule stay together, but adult males show territory dependence and compete with each other. That’s why it is recommended to keep scarlet badis in couples or in a group that consists of 1 male and 2-3 females.

This fish doesn’t need a spacious tank. For them a tank of 30 liters (6.6 gal) capacity is enough, though it’s desirable to get at least 50 liters (11 gal) capacity tank. It should be sickly planted and tank plants will create shelter for the fish. At such conditions dario will feel comfortable and stop getting scared of everything.

In a roomy tank you can keep a larger group of fish. Dario males as a rule control small territory and they won’t intersect with others in a big tank. Floating plants should also be present in a tank, they’ll make it a bit shadowed. Tank bottom substrate can be made of sand or pebbles.

Water parameters

These species aren’t demanding as for the tank water parameters, but still you should avoid any extreme changes. Recommended tank water temperature is 22-26 °C (72-79 °F), pH 6,5-7,5, hardness 10-20°dGH.


Tank water filtration, aeration and weekly water renew (1/3 of the total tank volume) is a must. It is important to maintain the tank water clean.


In the wild the dario fish feeds on various insects and their larvae. In a tank dario can become quite discerning in terms of food. They refuse eating artificial food. Scarlet badis may eat small sized pellets while they are falling in the tank water, but still they prefer live food: daphnia, cyclops, brine shrimp, small tubifex.

Scarlet badis are prone to obesity and become more prone to various diseases when they don’t have a diversified diet (if they get just bloodworm or tubifex).

Tank mates

Scarlet badis it is not a schooling fish. Its males become rivals and they are very aggressive towards each other, especially in a small tank. When keeping just one couple in a tank of 40 liters capacity, it is recommended to get one male and several females.

Nevertheless, in a roomy tank with lots of shelters and clearly seen territory limits several males can successfully dwell together.

Properly put tank decorations will promote peaceful coexistence of the tank dwellers; particularly you can’t put all the bottom substrate for spawning in one corner of the tank.

You should be careful when choosing tank mates for scarlet badis. This is due to the fact that the fish is slow and too timid to fight for the food with its tank mates and that’s why it is easily pushed out by lively schooling fish.

Gender differences: male vs female

Scarlet badis have very strong dimorphism, but quite often you can see only males on sale. Females are smaller and less brightly colored, they are almost gray (they don’t have red or blue pigmentation) and have noticeably shorter and rounded body.

Besides the males develop elongated abdominal, dorsal and anal fins, when they grow up.


If the scarlet badis is kept in a species tank there is no need to have a separate spawning tank. Put 1 male and 1-3 females for spawning. The fish lays eggs on tank plants, often inside java moss bunch (Taxiphyllum barbieri).

Though sometimes the couple prefers wide leaved floating plants, it can be, for example, Ceratopteris thalictroides. We recommend to give the fish a choice and provide it with both options.

During the spawning period the scarlet badis male coloring becomes brighter. Almost all its body and fins are bright red. The male all the time stays on its territory and attracts females that swim around.

It looks very spectacular: the male unfolds its fins and starts shaking in front of the female inviting her to its territory. If it doesn’t respond, the male attacks her and makes her run.

When finally the scarlet badis female is ready to lay eggs, it follows the male to its territory.

The couple gets inside the tank plants together, the male holds the female with its body (very similar to the way betta fish does it). Thus the male squeezes a portion of eggs from the female and fertilizes it at once.

They process of laying eggs occurs several times, till the female lays all the eggs. Usually, the fish lays about 80 eggs during one spawning.

Though, it is said that fish guards its eggs mass, still it is better to remove the adult fish from the spawning tank, to avoid eating the eggs. The eggs stage lasts 2-3 days depending on the water temperature. After this larvae hatches from the eggs and the offspring disappears in the tank plants for several days.

After they eat their yolk bags, it usually happens on the 5th day, the larvae turns into juveniles and start swimming and feeding on their own.

Juveniles are very small and not very active. Only in 9-10 days the offspring starts to swim more actively.

The main problem when badis badis breeding is to provide its juveniles with food. It is considered that the juveniles feed on microorganisms which they find among the tank plants.

As a rule the scarlet badis juveniles are fed with infusorian as a start food. When they grow up, they’ll be able to eat brine shrimp nauplii and then you won’t have to worry about them.