Scarlet Badis: Care, Diet, Tank Size & More

Dario Dario swimming in the lower section of the tank

Scarlet Badis is a very beautiful freshwater that is only getting more popular in the nano aquarium space. 

There are just so many things to love about these fish! So, it’s not hard to understand the reason behind its increasing popularity.

Firstly, the males are amazingly colorful and will outright stand out in any tank. Not to mention, they look absolutely stunning in a well-planted tank.

Secondly, they are one smallest nano freshwater fish around, even smaller than the popular Neon Tetra. This is a huge advantage because you can keep them in just about any room in your house.

Thirdly, they considerably easy to keep. Having said that, it’s important to point out that they can a bit challenging in some aspects. Luckily, those challenges can be easily solved if you know how.

In this guide, you will learn what those challenges are together with any other thing you need to know to successfully keep the Scarlet Badis. 

By the time you are done reading it, you will be able to decide whether its right for you or not.

Let’s get started!

Also called the scalet gem or gem badis, the Scarlet Badis (Dario Dario) is a very colorful freshwater fish from the Badidae family.

Most aquarists know pretty much about the majority of nano fish in the hobby. Unfortunately, these fish is one of the least studied nano fish currently, and yet its popularity is only increasing.  

Despite their small size, they can be a bit precarious to keep for some reasons which we will get to later in the guide. 

But one of those reasons deserves a mention now and it is that Scarlet Badis will only survive in a tank that closely resembles their habitat. 

I know you will think that this hold true for all aquarium fish but it just that these fish are incredibly sensitive to unsuitable water conditions. 

As such, we start with getting to know their origin and the features of their habitat so that we can fashion their tank based on that data.

Native to India, the Scarlet Badis is specifically found in tributaries that lead to the massive Brahmaputra River in West Bengal and Assam. 

The area they occupy contains very clear shallow waters with sand and gravels at the base and lots of aquatic plants.

Vegetation is one of the most critical needs of these fish because they use it to establish their territories. 

Some of the common plants you can find in their habitat include Vallisneria, Ottelia, Limnophila and Rotala. 

Scarlet Badis Care Snippet

  • Maximum fish size: 0.8 inch
  • Minimum tank size: 10 gallons
  • Aquarist Experience Level: Moderate – Expert
  • Temperament: Peaceful
  • Temperature: 71°F to 79°F
  • PH: 6.5 to 7.5
  • Hardness: 10-20dGH
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Care Level: Moderate
  • Ideal tank mates: Dwarf Gourami, Chili Rasbora, et Cetra.


Appearance is one of the major reasons why these fish are so popular. Scarlet Badis are amazingly beautiful, especially the males. 

Likes most fish, the males are way more colorful than females and the difference is due to what’s called sexual diphormism

Males usually have either red or orange as their base color. A series of 7 vertical stripes starting close to the front of their dorsal fin then follows. 

These stripes are orange in most specimens but can sometimes come in light blue, it all depends on the main color of the fish. 

Their dorsal and caudal fins are usually edged with a nice light blue giving them a very classy look. You will also find this same color on their ventral fins which dangle quite low. 

Male and Female Scarlet Badis

In most specimens, the ventral fin is the most striking part of the fish. Its color shimmers kinda like the Neon Tetras neon blue. 

The dorsal fin starts roughly where the ventral fin also starts and goes far back on their body with even height before curving a bit up at the end. 

They have semi-circular caudal fin which at its peak is roughly the same height as the dorsal fin. 

During spawning their color intensifies. 

Female Scarlet Badis on the other hand are silver-grey and have less prominent fins than adult males. 

Their fins are also transparent, unlike the males. Compared to the males, the females are dull and less exciting. 

But, they do have those vertical stripes on either side which make the fish body appear like some sort of a weave. 

Scarlet Badis are very difficult to sex when juvenile. That’s because it’s only when they start to mature that their body changes in both color and shape. 


Scarlet Badis are becoming one of the most recommended fish for nano tank specifically because of their tiny size.

More often than not, male Scarlet Badis do not grow pass 0.8 inches, while the females hardly exceed 0.51 inch. 

Lots of nano freshwater fish are mesmerizing to behold but these fish are at the top of my pick because of their delicate body design. I can’t imagine they be this beautiful if they were any bigger. 


The average lifespan of Scarlet Badis in captivity is between 4 to 6 years. This is actually impressive when you consider how puny they are. Having said that, understand that their lifespan can be significantly impacted by the quality of care they receive. 

That comes down to how well their tank is fashioned, how clean it’s always kept and lastly how well they are fed.

Temperament and General Behavior

For the most part, Scarlet Badis are peaceful and stay clear of other species especially ones that are large or more active. 

They are easily frightened and you will find them tucked away in tank decors and vegetation when you have large fish in the tank.

For this reason, including lots of decors and plants in the tank is an absolute must.

Again, you may want to give large species a pass when you are keeping Scarlet Badis so as make them feel safe. Remember, stress can impact their well being and overall lifespan. 

I said they are peaceful for the most part because they are incredibly aggressive and territorial to their kind. 

As for their swimming pattern, they spend most of their time slowly exploring the middle and bottom part of the tank. 

Male Scarlet Badis

Tank Size

Some hobbyist recommends 5-gallons for these fish but in my opinion, Scarlet Badis should not be kept in anything less than a 10-gallons tank. Despite their tiny size, small 5 gallons tank will pose a lot of challenges.

To start with, they require heavily planted tank and a decent amount of stretching room.

Another thing is, remember when I said they can be a bit precarious to keep, the second reason for that is they need a very clean tank. 

You can jeopardize their life if you are letting their tank get dirty since they are used to exceptionally clean water in the wild. And, the smaller a tank is, the easier it gets dirty, or you will have to have more frequent water changes.

A 10-gallons tank will accommodate only 6 Scarlet Badis so that each fish can successfully carve out its territory. 

However, if you want to have more than 1 male, I recommend you keep no more than 5 of them. Like I said before, males can be very aggressive to each other. The only solution is give them abundant space.

You will face fewer challenges if you have one male and several females in the tank. Although males are more available than females and finding the females can be a bit challenging. 

Tank Requirements

Scarlet Badis have zero chance of thriving if their tank isn’t suitably equipped. At this stage, you want to make sure you mimick their native habitat as much as possible. The following elements will help us achieve the desired result. 

Dario Dario swimming in the lower section of the tank


Either sand or gravel will work fine as the substrate since both are found in their native habitat. 


Lots of aquatic plants is what these fish are used to in the wild. Plants help provide cover and make them feel more secure. Plus, they play a great role in helping the fish carve out and establish their territories. 

You can skip other decors (not advisable) but not plants. There are many plants you can use for their tank but you can try one of these because they are easy to keep and highly compatible. 

  • Java Fern 
  • Water Wisteria
  • Vallisneria
  • Water Wisteria 
  • Hornwort.
  • Java Moss

It’s also a good idea to provide floating plants so that they can get additional coverage. Java fern, Hornwort, Water Wisteria, Java Moss will be most suitable for that. 


Due to the presence of abundant vegetation in their habitat, these fish are used to subdued lighting. 

Tank Decorations

Including elements such as driftwoods, caves and pieces of rock will provide additional hiding areas for them. But make sure to use your best judgement so they have the needed space to explore the tank. 

Water Parameters

As I said before, Scarlet Badis are very sensitive to unsuitable water conditions. So try at all cost and keep the water within the following recommended ranges.

  • Water Temperature: 72°F- 79°F
  • Water Hardness: 10-20dGH
  • pH: 6.5-7.5

Test the water regularly so that you can be sure everything is ok and at the same time make the required adjustments quickly whenever needed. 

Because they originated from clear shallow water, they cannot survive dirty water. 

To avoid that, make sure you replace 50% of the water at least once a week.

Food and Diet

Here is the last reason why scarlet Badis are more challenging to keep than your average nano freshwater fish. 

The fact is they fussy eaters. They are micro predators and in the wild, they mainly hunt and eat small crustaceans, insects, insect larvae, worms and the like.

In captivity, you have to make their diet very similar to what they are used in the wild or else they will no chance of thriving. They outright reject common fish foods like flakes and pellets. 

Make their diet to be a different variation of live and frozen foods. Some of the popular options they are fed are;

  • Brine shrimp
  • Bloodworms
  • Banana worms
  • Mosquito larvae
  • Cyclops
  • Daphnia
  • Small tubifex
  • Mysis

The essence of giving them live food is it quenches their hunting craving and at the same time supply their body with excellent nutrients. Just make sure you quarantine the food to confirm it isn’t carrying any disease before giving to them. 

One last thing is, be sure whatever you feed them is high quality to avoid any health complication. 

Tank Mates

Due to their extreme shy and skittish personality, its best to keep the Scarlet Badis in a species only tank. That’s because Most fish you will put them with will most likely drive them into hiding. 

Understand that they don’t have to be big, even small active species like Tetras or Danios will stress them out.

So long as your tank is adequately spacious, you will have no problem keeping multiple male Scarlet Badis in the tank. And if you can find lots of females to mix with a male, that’s even better.

On the other hand, if you still want to keep other species you obviously have to avoid aggressive species, whether big or small. That means species like Battas, Barbs, Cichlids, to mention a few would have to be avoided. 

Also, large peaceful species like Rainbowfish, Angelfish, Goldfish, Giant Gourami and so on, are not going to work. 

The most ideal Scarlet Badis tank mates are small peaceful species like Rasboras e.g Chili Rasbora, Harlequin Rasbora and small Gouramis like Honey Gourami or Dwarf Gouramis. 

The above species have worked for many aquarists but even then you have monitor your Badis to make sure they haven’t retreated to hiding and are taking food as they should. 

It’s common assumptions that this species will cohabit well with critters like snails and shrimp given their size. 

It seems people often forget that these fish usually hunt and eat those kinds of things in the wild. If you combine them, your critters will most likely get eaten.


If you can provide these fish with the proper tank set up you can breed them, that’s how easy it is. 

Scarlet Badis are probably one of the easiest fish to breed in captivity.

They don’t need any special condition to spawn. Just make sure the tank is heavily planted as it should, since they will lay their eggs on the available plants. 

During the period, the male will entice the females into his territory using his flashy colors together with shivering and shaking movements around her. If she is interested in spawning, she will enter into the territory and then he will embrace her. 

At this stage, she will spawn and the male will fertilize the eggs. 

You can expect to see somewhere between 70 to 90 eggs in total. Once the fertilization is done the male will chase her away to depend his territory. 

The eggs will hatch in 2 to 3 days and the fry will consume the egg yolk sac for a couple of days. 

Common Diseases

Although there isn’t any known disease that particularly affects the Scarlet Badis it doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to any disease. 

With their high sensitivity to dirty water and parameter fluctuations, you can expect them to be more vulnerable to disease than hardy freshwater fish. 

Some of the diseases that affect them can be of bacterial, fungal or protozoan origin. 

Freshwater ich is perhaps the most common among them and its caused by a protozoan called ICHthyophthirius Multifilis. 

This disease attacks the skin and gills of a fish and makes them develop white spots like sprinkled salt. 

Fortunately, you can drastically lower the chances of your Dario Dario getting sick by maintaining a properly cleaned tank and keeping the parameters always in the zone.

Whenever you are adding a fish or bringing in live food to the tank, quarantine them so you can know for certain they aren’t carrying any disease. 


Without question, Scarlet Badis are one of the most interesting fish you can add to your nano tank. They are small, highly colorful and all things considered fairly easy to keep.

To keep them you just need a 10-gallons tank (this can house 5 to 6 of them) and set it up with the recommended parameters.

Next, you need to equip the tank with lots of plants and decors so that they can easily carve out their territories.

If you choose to house them with other species be sure they are passive, small and not too active. Conduct thorough research before qualifying any fish as their tank mate.

After this, you need to make sure you stick to feeding them live and frozen foods and make it as varied as possible.

Avoid overfeeding and giving them low-quality food as they are prone to obesity.

I highly encourage you to develop a habit of occasionally observing them, not just during feeding or testing times. This will help you become very familiar with them plus, you will be able to understand whenever there is a problem.

Diseases are best cured and prevented that way. Well! that plus keeping the water parameters always in the zone and maintaining a clean tank.

This virtually sums up the Scarlet Badis care. Don’t let this rundown fool you in to thinking that Scarlet Badis are suitable for beginners.

These fish are more suitable for moderate to well experienced aquarist who will not have a headache keeping their tank conditions within the required parameters.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with all you needed to know about keeping the Dario Dario.

Please feel free to rich out if you have any question we haven’t covered or if you have any info you think will help improve this guide. We’ll be more than happy if you do.

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