Scarlet Badis [Care Guide] – Size, Tank Mates, Breeding & More

The Scarlet Badis is a beautiful freshwater fish that is perfect for adding a splash of color to your aquarium. Our care guide will help you keep them healthy and happy.

Scarlet Badis – Quick Facts

In a rush? Check out the quick facts about Scarlet Badis below.

Fish Info

Scientific NameDario dario
Common NamesScarlet Badis, Dario dario
AppearanceScarlet red/orange with 7 pale vertical stripes
DifficultyCaring for Scarlet Badis is relatively easy, and they don’t require a large tank.
DistributionThe scarlet badis is considered restricted to tributary systems draining into the Brahmaputra River in India’s West Bengal and Assam states.
LifespanThe lifespan of scarlet badis is 3-4 years.
TemperamentPeaceful, shy fish. Slower than other small shoaling fish.    
Keep in Groups of1 male and many females in a small tank or many males in a larger tank. Multiple males will only tolerate females during breeding. 
Tank MatesGuppies, Galaxy Rasboras, Chili Rasboras, Sparkling/Chocolate Gouramis, smaller peaceful fish.
DietThe Scarlet Badis is a micropredator requiring a diet of meaty foods, including various small worms, small crustaceans, insects, and insect larvae.
LengthThe average length of a scarlet badis is 1.2 to 2 cm.
Sexual DimorphismMales are larger, more colorful, and develop longer fins than females.
Breeding DifficultyBreeding scarlet badis is not particularly difficult, but you must own both sexes, which is tricky.

Water/Tank Recommendations

Water TypeFreshwater
Water Temperature72-79°F / 22.2-26.1°C
Water pHThe ideal pH for scarlet badis is 6.5-7.5.
Water HardnessThe ideal water hardness for scarlet badis is 10-20 dGH.
Tank sizeThe minimum tank size for Scarlet Badis is 10 gallons, and the recommended tank size is 20+ gallons.


Scarlet badis are another fantastic freshwater fish that many aquarists don’t know about.

And for some reason, this species is wildly under-represented in the aquarium scene (in our opinion). While other popular shoaling fish have massive communities of owners and breeders worldwide, scarlet badis seem to get lost in the shuffle a little bit.

Well, we think they deserve more attention! These are pretty tropical fish with an interesting pattern that makes them stand out no matter what tank setup you plan on keeping them in.

With so many different types of freshwater aquariums being built these days, it’s a wonder why scarlet badis aren’t more prevalent. They fit into almost any ecosystem you can imagine!

But if you want something unique that will add some color to your tank, give this guide a read.

About Scarlet Badis

The scarlet badis is a freshwater fish that’s native to the northern parts of India. While you don’t see them too often in the aquarium scene, this species does have a following among the aquarist community.

These little critters are rather easy to care for and require only moderate attention regarding their tank setup (more on that later). But what really pulls people in is their bright red/orange color!

Along with their seven white vertical stripes, they will stand out for sure! When these colors come together at various depths and angles, it can create an almost fire-like look!


The body of the scarlet badis is a deep red or orange color. 7 pale vertical stripes run from their snout to the caudal fin.

The fins of these fish are translucent and shimmer in the light, giving them an extra pop of color when they swim around your tank! One unique thing about this species is that males and females have different colored bodies. Males usually have slightly more colorful bodies with more vibrant colors.

Their Length

The average length of a scarlet badis is 1.2 to 2 cm. These little fish are rather small in size, which makes them an excellent option for smaller tanks or community tanks that have other tiny species living inside.

Since scarlet badis are micropredators, they need to be able to swim fast in order to hunt for food. These small fish can do this with ease.


The lifespan of scarlet badis is rather short, at 3-4 years. This will differ depending on various factors, including the quality of care you provide and their genetic predispositions.

This said, there’s no way to guarantee that your Scarlet Badis will live for three or four years. They could suddenly die due to an accident or disease.

But, if you give them the best care possible, they’ll likely live as long as possible.

NOTE: We’ve heard from aquarists who have scarlet badis that are still going strong after 5+ years!

Sexual Dimorphism

Males are larger, more colorful, and develop longer fins than females.

Females tend to be a bit paler in color than males, and females are smaller.

It can be difficult to sex young scarlet badis until they reach about 1.5 cm in length.


The scarlet badis is a freshwater fish that inhabits streams, rivers, and lakes. They are most often found in shallow waters with some vegetation. This includes plants growing on the substrate or drifting along the water’s surface.

In their natural habitat, these fish prefer warmer waters.

They’re considered micro-predators, meaning they feed on tiny organisms like insects, insect larvae, and worms. They can also scavenge for dead fish or plant matter in the wild.

In captivity, these fish consume commercially available small worms, small crustaceans, insects, and insect larvae.

Caring for Scarlet Badis

Caring for scarlet badis is not too difficult. These peaceful fish do well in normal freshwater aquarium conditions, and you don’t have to go out of your way for them compared to similar fish.

The biggest thing you need to focus on with the scarlet badis is maintaining the water quality. To make them live the longest possible life then, it’s recommended that you make sure their tank water is clean and high-quality.


These fish are carnivorous and will eat just about anything. In the wild, they feed on insects, crustaceans, small worms, algae-covered detritus (dead organic matter), and larvae.

In captivity, their diet should be similar to that of what they would find in the wild – a little bit of everything! This means live foods like brine shrimp or bloodworms are staple parts of their diet alongside flake food and high-quality frozen food as well.

When you’re feeding scarlet badis, it’s essential to avoid large chunks of food because these fish have tiny mouths with short jaws (which makes eating hard). Instead, break up large pieces into small bites so your fish can easily consume them.

How Often & How Much to Feed Them

It’s important to get the balance of scarlet badis food right. Feeding them too much is a common mistake many beginners make, so be wary of this when you begin owning these fish.

The recommended amount to feed them each day is no more than they can eat in 2-3 minutes (this rule should apply to most of your freshwater species). This means if it takes 4 minutes for them to finish their meal, then you are probably giving them too much food!

Also, do not feed these fish more than two times a day.

NOTE: When you’re first getting started with scarlet badis it’s important to monitor their health and water quality.

Possible Diseases

Scarlet badis are susceptible to the same diseases that plague other freshwater species. Generally, they’re more prone to common issues if they live in poor water conditions or if their tank is overcrowded.

The most common disease you should be aware of when keeping scarlet badis fish is Ich, which causes white spots to form all over the body and fins. The good news about this particular illness is that it’s easy for aquarists to treat it with copper-based medications and salt baths.

Other possible illnesses include fungal infections, parasitic infestations like flukes and worms, bacterial infections (usually from fin nipping), fin rot, etc.

Tank Setup

A nice tank containing plants and a sandy substrate is best for scarlet badis. Aged driftwood or rocks can be used for additional hiding places too.

The plants should provide good shelter and shade as well, but don’t overdo it! Scarlet badis do not like to spend all their time in the thick of things.

Aquarium Size

The minimum tank size Scarlet Badis need is 10 gallons, and the recommended tank size is 20+ gallons

You can also go for an even bigger tank if you plan on keeping them with other small species as well. This will give each fish enough room to move about.

NOTE: If you plan on keeping these fish in a community tank, it would make sense to begin with a larger tank than the minimum recommended size. This will allow them each enough room to swim without getting territorial.

Water Conditions

Scarlet badis are found in slow-moving rivers and tributaries where there’s plenty of vegetation.

The waters they call home should have a neutral pH balance with moderate hardness.

When you add scarlet badis to your tank, make sure that it has some gravel or sand substrate.


The ideal pH for scarlet badis is 6.5-7.5.

Measure the pH levels of your tank periodically and act accordingly should you need to make adjustments, as this can affect other animals in your aquarium.

Always use test kits to ensure measurements are accurate.

Keep the pH levels at a consistent level to lessen stress on all of the fish in your tank and prevent disease from occurring.

Tanks that experience drastic pH level shifts tend to have more issues with nitrates and bad water quality.


The best temperature range for scarlet badis is between 72 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend keeping the water on the warmer end of this range to help them stay healthy and stress-free.

There’s nothing worse than having a fish in an aquarium that’s too cold! This can lead to sickness, decreased lifespan, and even death. Always ensure your scarlet badis are happy with their tank temperature.

NOTE: It’s also important to make sure the lid on your aquarium is secure. A poor-fitting lid can allow heat out of the tank and cold in, which will drastically impact water temperature.


The optimal hardness for scarlet badis is 10-20 dGH.

A little bit of hardness will balance the pH levels and keep your aquarium in a stable state that’s best for your fish to thrive.

If you want to ensure the best quality water for scarlet badis, test your aquarium water regularly. A submersible aquarium kit or a liquid testing kit can provide accurate results.


While scarlet badis are not particularly fussy about water quality, a strong filtration system is always beneficial. A canister filter or hang-on-back model will do the trick. The flow rate should be moderate to high, with low noise levels.

Filtration systems that produce too much movement may actually upset your fish and cause them to stay hidden in their hiding places all day!

A standard sponge filter pad and charcoal media are great for removing any potential ammonia and nitrate from the tank as well.

Remember to ensure that the filtration system is strong enough to handle your tank’s volume.

Aquarium Plants

Scarlet badis do well with a variety of plants in the tank. Plants can serve as hiding places, and they’ll enjoy playing in them too!

The same rules apply to choosing plants for scarlet badis as any other freshwater fish. You don’t want anything poisonous or overly dense that would hinder their ability to swim freely throughout the aquarium.

NOTE: There are some great choices like hornwort, java moss, dwarf hairgrass (our personal favorite), and water wisteria.

If you don’t want any plants in your tank, there are no adverse effects on these fish from lack of vegetation.

Behavior and Compatibility

Scarlet badis are ideal community fish and can even do well in a semi-aggressive community tank. They’re lively and active, which makes them fun to observe

These are schooling fish that have been found living in groups of anywhere from two to 30+! These groups stick together while scavenging for food at various times throughout the day. When they aren’t doing this, scarlet badis can be found hiding out underneath driftwood or among leaf litter in their natural habitats.

How Many to Keep Together

Scarlet badis are shoaling fish that should be kept in groups of at least five. A smaller group will not provide adequate social interaction and stimulation, resulting in stress-related illnesses.

You should always go for either:

  • A single-sex tank with either males or females
  • A tank with one male and multiple females

This is because males can be intolerant of females unless it is breeding time. One male will get along in a female tank, but multiple males will cause issues!

If you’re going for a multi-species tank, try to keep the scarlet badis away from more aggressive fish species. They can easily be outcompeted for food by larger or more predatory fish.


Scarlet badis are shy and peaceful fish.

This species is also quite slow compared to other small fish, which means they may not be a good choice for aquarists with more active fish species. This could lead to injury if the scarlet badis get kicked around by faster swimmers!

They are non-aggressive and able to get along well with numerous other fish species. Just make sure to avoid any larger or more aggressive fish that could harm the scarlet badis.

Tank Mates

When you’re choosing tank mates for scarlet badis, look no further than other scarlet badis. They seem to do far better when they are in a shoaling group of their own kind (usually of the same sex). A small community is always preferred over keeping them alone.

As long as there’s enough space between each individual fish, don’t be afraid to add different types and sizes of peaceful creatures into your tank too! Some good options include:

  • Guppies
  • Galaxy Rasboras
  • Chili Rasboras
  • Sparkling/Chocolate Gouramis
  • Small, peaceful fish.


Breeding scarlet badis is not particularly difficult, but you must own both sexes, which is tricky due to the aforementioned reasons. Males are simply not very tolerant of females (unless it’s time to breed, of course!)

A breeding pair will spend a lot of time in the middle of the tank to build their nest and lay eggs.

Scarlet badis typically breed during the warmer months, so it’s a good idea to bump up the temperature to encourage breeding.

Females can lay upwards of 50-100 eggs at a time. It usually takes around 4-7 days for eggs to hatch.

Once hatched, you’ll notice that the babies stay in groups together as they continue to grow.

Are Scarlet Badis Fish a Good Choice For Your Tank?

Breeders and aquarists with smaller tanks love scarlet badis fish. With their gorgeous looks, small size, low-maintenance nature, and peaceful temperament, this species is a good choice for everyone!


Scarlet badis fish are one of the most colorful freshwater species available. They look like little streaks of bright color as they dart around the tank!

These fish are also quite easy to care for and won’t cause you any undue stress in your aquarium setup (as long as you follow their needs).


Some of the cons to owning scarlet badis are:

  • They’re shy fish. So, they won’t ever be a showstopper when it comes to observing their swimming habits.
  • Males are intolerant of females, so breeding is difficult.


In summary, scarlet badis are an amazing freshwater species that we highly recommend. Their unique coloration and peaceful nature make them a great fit for just about any kind of aquarium setup!

If you have suggestions about how to improve this care guide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We want to help these beautiful fish thrive as much as possible!

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