Just call me Dario Dario, is what a scarlet badis will say. Scarlet badis is a freshwater fish and the smallest percoid species. It has several other names such as badis badis and badis bengalensis. A scarlet badis can only grow up to two centimeters, and the male one is somehow bigger than the female one.
The scarlet badis is easy to keep in an aquarium, and it has a beautiful appearance plus a high activity level. It is a small fish but a very dangerous predator that feeds on small crustaceans, insect larvae, and worms. I will look at the habitat, breeding, feeding, and other general details of a scarlet badis in this article.
Origin of Scarlet Badis
The first scientific name for scarlet badis was Labrus Dario. The first person to notice and bring it to the market was Francis Hamilton in 1823. He saw this species in fish ponds and thought they were young fish, but a few months passed, and they remained the same size.
In 2002, Sven Kullander gave it the current scientific name Dario Dario. Since 2002 the scarlet badis has been given many names like badis badis Bengalensis or Badis Dario.
Surely, the scarlet badis is a small fish that does not reach one inch. A male scarlet badis can grow up to two centimeters while the female one reaches 1.3 cm. You can easily differentiate the gender, but the male scarlet badis is sold more than the female one.
Color and Appearance
Color is what makes it easy to differentiate the gender. Generally, the scarlet badis has a bright orange color and some blue hue on the fins and stripes. A male scarlet badis is bright orange with some blue shimmer on the body.
A female Scarlet badis is solid grey or orange, and the stripes are less pronounced than on the male one. Female scarlet badis vary in color from light grey to dull orange.
The scarlet badis has vertical fins and dorsal fins that start at the same point. The dorsal fin runs along the back, but it rises up near the end. This is the only fish with a rounded caudal fin and fits on the mid-length of the body.
As we have discussed earlier, the male scarlet badis can grow up to 2cm while the female reaches 1.3cm only.
Another difference is the color. A female scarlet badis is dull orange or slightly grey, while the male one is bright orange with a blue shimmer on the body.
A male scarlet badis also has extended anal and dorsal fins with a blue color on the tips of the caudal fins.
Behavior and other Characteristics
The scarlet badis is a very shy small fish. It can feel timid around larger fish. The scarlet badis is the slowest small fish, and it does not actively look for food like other fish species. This makes it disadvantaged to compete for food against other small fish or agile fish.
The behavior of scarlet badis is what makes it challenging to keep. When it is kept on its own, it is a very peaceful fish. A scarlet badis can form a school of about five of them and swim slowly around the aquarium.
The males can be aggressive if they are many in a small fish tank because there is no enough space for each one of them to establish a territory. Aquarists advise that you keep a pair or one male with two or three females in one fish tank to prevent fighting.
Feeding and Diet
The scarlet badis is a natural predator. It feeds on insect larvae, some crustaceans, and zooplankton. When you are keeping it in captivity, try and replicate its natural feeding habit by giving live foods or frozen foods rather than giving it processed flakes and pellets.
Aquarists recommend you feed it live foods because doing so encourages the natural predator behavior. A funny fact about the scarlet badis is that it is vulnerable to obesity. So be careful not to overfeed it and avoid giving it blood worms because it has a lot of proteins and fats that encourage obesity.
Give the scarlet badis a variety of diets because a limited diet makes it susceptible to diseases and malnutrition. It is a very picky eater, so try and give it a variety of foods. The best foods for it are; daphnia, bloodworms, Mysis, brine shrimp, Cyclops, banana worms, mosquito larvae, and bridal worms.
A scarlet badis is easy to breed in captivity. Use a separate tank that has only scarlet badis to breed. Doing so increases the chances of the small fry to survive and not preyed on. If you have several males, you must provide enough space for each to create its own territory. A scarlet badis can breed as a pair or as a group.
The scarlet badis has funny behavior during mating. The male changes its color to brighter orange to attract the females into his territory. The courtship starts when the male chases the female around while moving the tail to entice the female.
Some females are receptive, and the act takes a few seconds. The female lays eggs for the male to fertilize. The female scarlet badis likes to lay eggs on a substrate like under a leaf, and she can lay up to 90 eggs. The female will leave, and the male has a job to defend the territory.
In the natural habitat, no parent of a scarlet badis takes care of the young one, the young fry has to survive on its own by hiding in the dense vegetation. Once the eggs are fertilized in an aquarium, you can move them into a different tank with the same or almost the same water condition.
The eggs hatch in three days, but the yolk is fully absorbed after seven days, and at this time, the fish can swim freely. Feed the small scarlet badis infusoria for 21 days when they will be big enough to eat some micro worms.
Tank Set-Up and Natural Habitat
This fish species is found in India in the tributaries of the river Brahmaputra. It is also found in Lake Bhutan and most parts of east India. The scarlet badis likes to hide in the dense vegetation of these rivers and lakes. Also the water in these rivers and lakes move slowly over the sand substrate.
Water Conditions in an Aquarium/Tank
Try and replicate the natural habitat in a fish tank. It is a very sensitive fish species, any slight change in water condition will make it change its behavior. Introduce it in a well-established aquarium with favorable conditions.
The water filtration system should be good with very little water movement.
Many aquarists recommend that the water temperature should be between 70F-79F. When it comes to water hardness, it should be between 10-20 dGH and pH concentration of 6.5-7.5.
A scarlet badis loves a dim light environment. Use an LED bulb because it cannot heat up the water tank hence changing the water temperature. If the lighting is very bright, use aquatic plants to diffuse it. For example, use the dwarf rotala because it has floating leaves.
In its natural habitat, the scarlet badis enjoys a nice soft sand substrate. So try and replicate this in your aquarium by using sand or soft gravel.
The scarlet badis loves to hide, so create a tank with many hiding places. You can use thick vegetation or driftwood to create these hiding places.
In the natural habitat, the scarlet badis can be found around the red badis or kanabo badis. However, in an aquarium, they are not suitable as tank mates with scarlet badis because the scarlet badis is shy when there is a larger fish or an aggressive fish around.
Many aquarists advise keeping it in a species-only tank, but if you want to include other fish, introduce small and calm species. For example, the pygmy Cory, small gouramis, chili rasbora, and galaxy rasbora.
Avoid fast-moving fish because they will scare the scarlet badis, and it may not come out to feed, and in turn, it becomes vulnerable to diseases and stress.
Always remember that the scarlet badis is a micro predator, so avoid snails and shrimp as tank mates because it will feed on them.
What is The Lifespan for a Scarlet Badis?
According to research, a scarlet badis can live up to six years, but it can die early due to many unknown diseases.
A scarlet badis can also be called Dario Dario, and it is the smallest known micro predator fish. A male one can grow up to 2cm while the female one up to 1.3cm. The scarlet badis is known for its bright orange colors that is attracting many buyers nowadays. It has a lifespan of between 4-6 years. However, the male scarlet badis are sold more than female ones worldwide.
The scarlet badis is the easiest fish species to breed in captivity. Avoid keeping many males in a small tank as it might start territorial disputes. Feed it live foods or frozen ones and avoid manufactured pellets or processed flakes. Use a dim light in the tank, and you will have a happy scarlet badis.