Scarlet Badis Care Guide: Tank Mates, Setup, Size & Food

Common Name(s)Scarlet Badis, Gem Badis
Scientific NameDario dario
Temperature72-79°F (22-26°C)
SizeMale: 0.8 inches
Female: 0.5 inches
Minimum Tank Size10 gallons
Food & DietOmnivorous
Lifespan4 to 6 years
Water pH6.5 to 7.5
Tank MatesScarlet Badis will do best with others of the same species, but adding fish of other species is possible with careful consideration.
DiseaseMay be susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
Scarlet Badis
Scarlet Badis (Dario dario)

Scarlet Badis (Dario dario) is a small freshwater fish that are native to India. More specifically, they are found in the Brahmaputra River in India.

These are very small fish that will thrive in small environments. The males will reach 0.8 inches in size. The females are even smaller, reaching only 0.5 inches in size. Since they can be kept in a tank as small as 10 gallons, they are considered nano fish.

The males have a red and turquoise body with alternating stripes. While they are small, they are strikingly beautiful. Scarlet Badis are also known as Gem Badis, and it is easy to understand why. The females are less colorful, but they are beautiful as well. In addition, when they are swimming together, the female accentuates the vivid colors of the male.

This guide will help you understand how to take care of Scarlet Badis.

Scarlet Badis Care

Scarlet Badis are hardy fish that are relatively easy to take care of. Due to their small size, they don’t require a large tank. This makes it easier to setup and manage the tank for these fish. It’s not surprising that these fish are gaining popularity as fish for nano tanks.

When setting up their tank, keep in mind that the males can be territorial. When multiple males are places in the same tank, they can get aggressive.

While they are hardy fish, they do require clean water. Poor water quality can quickly lead to weakened immune system and disease.

Here are specific details on how to care for Scarlet Badis:

Temperature for Scarlet Badis

Scarlet Badis are tropical fish and they require warmer temperatures of around 72-79°F (22-26°C). For fishkeepers in most regions, this would mean that an aquarium heater is required.

Scarlet Badis Water pH & dGH

Scarlet Badis require a water pH of 6.5-7.5 and water dGH of 10-20. In order to maintain these water parameters, regular maintenance and monitoring will be necessary.

Scarlet Badis Size

Scarlet Badis are very small fish, and this is true for both the males and females. The male Scarlet Badis will reach 0.8 inches in size. The female Scarlet Badis is smaller, reaching only 0.5 inches in size. Needless to say, these fish are considered nano fish.

Scarlet Badis Tank Size

Scarlet Badis require a minimum tank size of 10 gallons. In a 10 gallon tank, it is possible to keep up to one male and two female, for a total of three Scarlet Badis. Keeping more than one male is not recommended, since the males are territorial. If multiple males are kept in a small environment, it would result in aggressive behavior.

A 5 gallon tank generally not recommended for keeping Scarlet Badis. Considering that Scarlet Badis prefer to have a tank setup with plenty of plants, a 5 gallon tank would most likely be too small. In addition, the water parameters in very small tanks tend to be unstable, which can be dangerous for the fish.

A 20 gallon tank would be ideal for keeping Scarlet Badis. In a 20 gallon tank, it is possible to keep approximately six Scarlet Badis with plenty of plants and hardscape. Even at this size, it recommended to keep one male and multiple females. If you wish to keep multiple males, a 30 gallon tank or larger is recommended.

Scarlet Badis Food & Diet

Scarlet Badis are micropredators with a carnivorous diet. In the wild, they feed on various small invertebrates such as insect larvae, small worms, crustaceans, and planktons.

In an aquarium, they will feed on various types of fish food such as live fish food, frozen food, and dry food. Live foods that can be fed to them include Brine shrimp, Bloodworms, White worms, and Daphnia. Since feeding live food on a regular basis can be inconvenient, it is best to acclimate them to dry flake or pellet food as soon as possible. Feeding high-quality flake or pellet food is often the easiest way to ensure that their basic nutritional needs are met.

Scarlet Badis Lifespan

Scarlet Badis has an average lifespan of 3-4 years. Interestingly, their lifespan in a well maintained aquarium can be longer than their lifespan in the wild. In their natural habitat, they are often at risk or predation by other larger fish. In addition, the males will fight against each other as well, often resulting in injury or death. All of this can result in a shortened lifespan.

Scarlet Badis | Best Fish for 10 Gallon Tanks

Scarlet Badis Tank Setup

A tank setup for Scarlet Badis should mimic their natural environment. These fish originate in freshwater tributaries and the distributaries of the Bramhaputra river in India. They are often found in shallow bodies of water with dense vegetation.

With this in mind, here’s how to setup a tank for Scarlet Badis:

As a solid foundation, starting with a 10 gallon tank or larger is recommended. They are small fish, but the water parameters in a tank that is smaller than 10 gallons may be too unstable.

Regarding the aquarium substrate, sandy substrate is recommended. Aquarium soil may be a good option as well, especially if you wish to grow lots of plants. Since they spend a lot of time near the bottom of the tank, sharp substrate that may cause injury should be avoided.

These fish appreciate a lot of plants in their tank. Rotala sp., Cryptocoryne sp., and Java Moss are great plants to add to their tank. In addition to the plants, hardscape such as rocks, driftwood, and caves can be beneficial as well.

Since they are small fish, they should not be placed in a take with overly strong water flow. The aquarium filter should be adjusted for a gentle flow. In order to dampen the water flow, the outflow of the aquarium can be faced upwards. The water flow can be dampened by a baffle or spray bar as well.

Lastly, it is important to fully cycle the tank before adding the Scaret Badis into the tank. New fishkeepers can often get impatient after setting up their tank, and they do not allow the tank to properly cycle. A tank that is not cycled can have fluctuating water parameters, which can be dangerous for the fish. In fact, high levels of nitrites can be deadly for the fish.

Scarlet Badis Breeding

It is possible to breed Scarlet Badis in an aquarium, and they are known to breed quite readily when the right conditions are met.

Regarding the tank setup, it should be well planted. Plants with large leaves, such as Java Fern, should be added as well. They may spawn on the leaves of these plants. It is important to maintain a species only tank as well. Since they are small fish, having other larger fish in the same tank can inhibit them from breeding. Since they are territorial fish, the fish should not be moved while breeding. If they are moved, they will need to re-establish their territories, which may interrupt their mating process. Regarding the pH, they will breed in both acidic and alkaline waters. However, they seem to be more successful under slightly alkaline waters.

When the conditions are met, the mating process for Scarlet Badis will begin with the males showing off their bright colors to the females. By quivering and shaking, the males begin to attract the females to their territory. The females must respond to the male’s attempts. If the female does not respond, the male will chase her away. If she is ready to spawn, she will go into his territory and allow him to mate with her. The female will lay approximately 80 eggs, over the course of an hour. The male will fertilize the spawned eggs while they are being laid by the female. After the eggs are spawn, the male will chase the female away and begin to protect the area. The spawned eggs have an incubation period of about 2 to 3 days. Once they hatch, it will take up to one week for the fry to absorb the egg yolk sac. Once the fry are free swimming, it is best raise them in a separate tank. Raising the fry in the same tank as the adults will most likely result in a lower survival rate.

Scarlet Badis Disease

While Scarlet Badis are generally hardy fish, but there are disease that can affect these fish. Under poor conditions, their immune system can weaken. A common disease for these fish is Ich, also known as White Spot Disease. While treatment and recovery is possible, it is always better to prevent it in the first place.

Scarlet Badis Tank Mates

Choosing tank mates for Scarlet Badis can be a challenge. First, they are small fish, so they can easily be attacked by other fish. Secondly, they themselves can be the aggressors as well. This is especially true for the males. Therefore, Scarlet Badis is generally not considered to be a community fish.

The best tank mates for these fish are their own kind. In other words, a species only tank would be the ideal setup for these fish. Since the males are territorial, keeping one male and multiple females is recommended for tanks under 20 gallons. In larger tanks, it may be possible to keep multiple males.

With that said, it is possible to find tank mates for these fish. Here are some potentially compatible tank mates for Scarlet Badis:

Celestial Pearl Danio and Scarlet Badis can be compatible tank mates. Celestial Pearl Danio are very active, but they are peaceful fish. In addition, they are very small as well, only reaching 1 inch in size. In fact, most specimen will stay under 1 inch in size.

Shrimp and Scarlet Badis can be compatible as tank mates. Shrimps such as Cherry shrimp and Amano shrimp are possible candidates as tank mates. These are both peaceful aquarium shrimp that will not bother the fish. However, keep in mind that small shrimp may get attacked by the fish, so only adult shrimp should be added to the same tank.

Snails and Scarlet Badis may be compatible as tank mates. Snails such as Nerite snail and Mystery snails can be good tank mates. Similar to shrimp, snails will not bother the fish. However, they can get attacked by the fish. Therefore, adding mature snails that are too big for the fish to attack is recommended.

Of course, there are many other fish and invertebrates that may be good tank mates for Scarlet Badis. Since each fish is different, the outcome can’t always be predicted. However, significantly larger fish and aggressive fish should be avoided as tank mates.

Keeping Betta fish and Scarlet Badis in the same tank is not recommended. Betta fish are larger and aggressive. This will most likely cause the Scarlet Badis to shy away, and possibly prevent it from eating.

Where Can I Find Scarlet Badis For Sale?

Scarlet Badis aren’t the most widely available fish in the aquarium hobby. Therefore, you may not find them for sale at every local fish store. However, they aren’t a rare fish, so they can be found. If local fish store in your area do not carry the fish, online retailers are always an option. When available for sale, they are often sold for $8-10 USD.


As nano tanks gain more popularity in the aquarium hobby, more people are showing interest in Scarlet Badis as well. However, many people that have kept these fish still consider them to be very underrated.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *