The Scarlet Badis is a fascinating freshwater fish that thrives in nano tanks or species-dedicated aquariums. Its orange stripes and silvery hues make it an enchanting addition to any fish keeper’s collection of aquatic fauna.

Although these fish are quite small, they require the same care and attention you would normally give to larger fish. In this article, you’ll learn all there is to know about the Scarlet Badis and why it deserves to be part of your fish wishlist.

Stats and Facts

In the fishkeeping community, the Scarlet goes by a couple of different names. Some aquarists call it the Scarlet Gem Badis, while others prefer the shorter version, Gem Badis. Within the scientific community, this sparkling nano fish was previously known as the Badis badis but was later renamed the Dario dario.

This shy and tiny fish originated from Indian rivers. They are particularly abundant in the Brahmaputra River, which is located in the West Bengal region. In its natural habitat, the Scarlet Badis enjoys moving between multiple feeding and hiding places.

Surprisingly, this micro predator of freshwater aquariums is a part of the Percoid group of fish, the same group to which large fish such as perches, bass, and snappers belong.

Today, the nano fish is one of the most sought out fish in the hobby, despite the Scarlet Badis size reaching up to barely an inch in length. Here are more facts and figures that you should know about the Scarlet Badis.

– Scientific Classification

Order Perciformes
Family Badidae
Genera Dario

– Fish Overview

Size 0.5 to 0.8 inches in length
Lifespan 4 to 6 years
Temperament Shy but naturally territorial
Color Orange, with bluish-silver hues
Care Level Needed Easy; low-maintenance
Minimum Experience Level Needed Suitable for beginners
Minimum Tank Size Required 5 to 10 gallons
General Community Behavior Takes time to adjust to their environment; belongs to the category of micro predators

Searching for the Perfect Gem Badis

Now that you have a better grasp of what kind of fish the Scarlet Badis is, you will no doubt be wondering about how to get a few specimens for your home aquarium. If this is the case, our experts have lined up a series of tips that will surely be of help to you in your search for the perfect Scarlet Badis.

– Contact Local Suppliers and Enthusiasts

The first hurdle you have to overcome is knowing where to get your hands on legitimate Scarlet Badis fish. This type of fish is so rare that it often gets sold out as soon as it arrives in local pet stores and fish specialty shops. That said, you need to reach out to all of your relevant contacts in the hope that they will point you towards a reliable source for Gem Badis.

You can put in special orders or early reservations for the Scarlet Badis at your local fish store. Consider asking other enthusiasts in your local fishkeeping groups for advice as well. Who knows, they might happen to know a home breeder with extra Scarlet Badis ready for the taking!

– Select Only the Healthiest Fish Available

This might seem too obvious to be helpful. In reality, though, some fish keepers are so overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of having their own Scarlet Badis that they easily overlook signs of fatigue, weakness or illness in their potential purchase.

Before you agree to your chosen supplier’s deal for a Gem Badis, be sure to inspect the fish thoroughly. This will help you avoid disappointment and frustration later on. Here are some of the things you should personally inspect to know if the Scarlet Badis you are looking at is worth the investment.

– Physical Appearance

Healthy Gem Badis fish have bright eyes and clean, evenly-colored scales. This is true for both the male and female Scarlet Badis.

While the female Gem Badis is greyish-silver in color, its scales should still be clean and have a sparkling effect.

On the other hand, male Scarlet Badis should have decidedly orange scales. The saturation of the color tells a tale on the health of this fish!

Be sure to inspect the fish’s head and underbelly as well. Both areas should be clear of wounds and abnormal growths. Lastly, check your chosen fish’s fins for tears, bites, or strange growths. Torn fins are usually caused by fish fights or nutrient deficiencies, which are both causes for concern.

– Activity Level

You should also observe your potential fish’s activity level in its original tank. Scarlet Badis fish are terribly shy if they are not yet used to their environment, but this should not stop them from showing interest in newcomers and food. Observe whether or not your potential Gem Badis can swim to hiding spaces quickly and naturally.

Meeting your prospect Scarlet Badis in its old tank is a good chance to watch it move. Keep an eye out for any fish that might have difficulty swimming, prefer one side of fins over the other, or seems to be generally lost or without direction. These are all red flags.

If you can, ask the storekeeper to toss some food in the Scarlet Badis aquarium. Observe which fish immediately leave their hiding places and which ones lag behind. In addition, watch how the fish interact with each other during feeding time. Observing these factors firsthand should help you make better decisions when it comes to which Scarlet Badis fish you want to house in your aquarium.

Once you have selected a few Scarlet Badis that you like, consider placing them in a quarantine tank before housing them in a more permanent aquarium. You can place them in the quarantine tank for 48 to 72 hours to observe them and ensure that they are neither sick nor carriers of any parasites. This is especially important if you want to try pairing Gem Badis with other types of fish in a large community tank.

Talking About Tanks: The Ideal Gem Badis Home

There are two ways to house a school of Scarlet Badis. In this section, we’ll cover both methods, as well as their advantages and disadvantages. You’ll also learn about the specific tank and water parameters that Scarlet Badis fish need to thrive.

– Small, Species-Dedicated Aquariums

The most common way to house a school of these shy fish is to use a small aquarium that is solely dedicated to the Scarlet Badis species. There are a few good reasons that back this kind of setup.

First, Gem Badis are naturally timid fish. If they feel that their space and safety are threatened by other types of fish, they will go into hiding. This will prevent them from feeding regularly, and will eventually cause them to suffer from high amounts of stress. Stress, in turn, increases the chances that your fish might contract some illnesses.

Second, a school of Scarlet Badis fish does not take too kindly to other fish, even other Badids. Despite their miniature size, they are natural predators. This makes Scarlet Badis and shrimp or snails an unlikely pairing. As such, most fish keepers house Scarlet Badis in a tank that is only for them.

– Large Community Tanks

However, some aquarists insist that the option of keeping a school of Scarlet Badis in a community tank setup is not completely off the table. Our experts agree that it is possible to house Gem Badis fish in a large community tank, but there are a lot of caveats.

These fish are so tiny that larger, more aggressive fish can easily see them as prey. Without enough space to hide and move around, your Scarlet Badis will likely end up as another fish’s dinner. Even if you do manage to pair your Gem Badis off with a lot of other fish, you still have to deal with the challenge of making them comfortable enough to come out and feed freely.

– Weighing Pros and Cons: Which Tank Is for You?

Undoubtedly, a species-dedicated tank for your Scarlet Badis would be easier to maintain than a large community tank. If you choose the second option, you have to balance the needs of the other aquarium members with that of your new Gem Badis fish.

On the other hand, if you have enough skills and a lot of tank space available, you might just be able to enjoy the beautiful Scarlet Badis in a community setting. This would require more commitment from you as a fish keeper, but it would also reward you with more aquascaping possibilities to work with.

Our experts believe that if you are a beginner aquarist, then you should be fine with a small, species-specific tank setup for your Gem Badis. This will help you prioritize the well-being of your fish, and it will also save you a lot of stress that comes with managing a large community tank.

– Tank and Water Parameters

Whatever type of tank you decide to use, the environment and water parameters will remain the same. Take a look at the table below to learn more about the Scarlet Badis’ preferences when it comes to aspects such as water temperature and aquarium light level.

Temperature 72 to 79 °F; 22 to 26 °C
pH Level 6.5 to 7.5
Water Hardness Level 10 to 20 dGH
Light Level Dim to Moderate


In addition, you need to put considerable effort towards including a variety of live plants in your Scarlet Badis tank. Providing rock caves and wooden debris for your fish is also a good idea. These plants and decorative items will help your Gem Badis feel safer and give them different areas to hide in or explore.

– Care Guide

The Scarlet Badis is not a difficult fish to care for. It is capable of adapting to different environments, on the condition that it receives enough food and attention. In this section, we’ll provide a list of practical and effective tips on what to feed this type of fish, and how to treat or prevent common Scarlet Badis illnesses.

– Diet

Scarlet Badis fish are micro predators. This means that their diet needs to consist largely of live food. Commercial pellets and fish flakes are unlikely to stir the appetites of these fish, so use this type of food sparingly or only for emergency purposes. Below are some of the kinds of prey that Gem Badis love.

  • Live Worms

Small, live worms are one of the easiest types of prey you can feed your school of Scarlet Badis. Bloodworms, in particular, will provide your fish with a lot of protein and nutrients for growth. You can also feed tubifex or sludge worms if you can get ahold of them.

  •  Brine Shrimp

Brine shrimp or baby shrimp also make great food for Gem Badis. Your fish will surely be drawn out of their hiding places to hunt these tiny shrimp down.

  • Mysis and Daphnia

You should also endeavor to include small crustaceans in the diet of your Scarlet Badis. Mysis and Daphnia make for wonderful micro prey. Stock up on these whenever possible, so that you do not have to depend on commercial food even in emergencies.

You can also supplement the diet of your Scarlet Badis with frozen food. This is a better alternative for feeding your fish during the days when you do not have any live food on hand. Stock up on frozen insect larvae and worms to use when you can’t provide any live prey for your fish to hunt.

– Common Health Problems

The Scarlet Badis is on the harder side of the spectrum of nano fishes. However,  they are not completely immune to common health problems that are caused by a poor environment. Here are some of the problems you might encounter when it comes to maintaining the health of your Gem Badis.

  • Ich

Ich is a disease that spreads among aquarium inhabitants regardless of age or species. This disease is thought to be caused by a parasitic infection. One of the clear signs that your Scarlet Badis has Ich is if it suddenly has one or more white spots on its body or head.

To treat ich, you can opt to use home remedies — such as gradually adding a saline solution to the aquarium water — or commercial medications. The easiest way to prevent this disease from ever affecting your Gem Badis is to keep your aquarium water clean by cycling or changing it regularly.

  • Nitrite Poisoning

Your Scarlet Badis can also suffer due to the presence of toxins in the aquarium water. For example, high amounts of nitrite in the tank can poison your fish and make it difficult for them to breathe.

You can tell that your Scarlet Badis is probably suffering from nitrite poisoning if you notice that their gills are moving rapidly and they seem to be gasping for air. Sometimes, the gills of an infected fish turn from a healthy pink color to a dark brown shade.

This is yet another kind of health condition that is easily preventable with regular water maintenance. However, if you suspect that your Gem Badis is a victim of nitrite poisoning, you will need to quarantine all of the affected fish and perform a major water change in the main tank. You can also increase the aeration in your aquarium while it is undergoing this process.

  • Obesity

The Gem Badis, though timid for the most part, is an avid eater. It is easy to overfeed nano fish like the Scarlet Badis because of their small size. Aquarists are often fascinated by how much more lively than usual these fish can be when they are feeding. This leads to fish keepers feeding their Scarlet Badis with more food than is necessary.

Obesity in nano fish like the Gem Badis is a serious health problem that could lead to more complicated problems or even death. That said, be sure to go easy on feeding your Scarlet Badis. Create a feeding schedule and commit to it, adjusting the amount of food you make available only when necessary.

– Curbing Male Aggression and Territoriality

You should also be wary of the ratio of males to females in your school of Scarlet Badis. Ideally, you should only keep one male for every three to four female Gem Badis. This will help you keep aggression and territorial issues down. It will also help you later on, should you want to breed your Scarlet Badis.

  • Tank Mates

If you insist on housing your Scarlet Badis fish with other aquatic creatures, then this section is for you. Here, you’ll learn about the different tank mates for Scarlet Badis that you can raise in a single, large community tank.

  • Other Badids

If you have an aquarium with a capacity of at least eight to 13 gallons, then you might be able to raise your school of Scarlet Badis alongside other Badids. The key to a harmonious relationship between different species of Badids is having more than enough space for each group to claim as their territory.

Aside from that, you need to keep the number of male Badids relatively low compared to that of female Badids.

  • A Small Selection of Other Fish

In general, you might be able to successfully house your group of Scarlet Badis with other small and peaceful types of fish. Some aquarists claim that you can easily house Scarlet Badis and Tetra fish in the same tank.

This is certainly possible but bear in mind that even the most peaceful of Tetras, such as the Neon Tetra, can nip the fins of your Scarlet Badis.

You can also try pairing your Gem Badis with a group of Corydoras Catfish. These fish usually mind their own business, and will not actively chase your Scarlet Badis around the tank. Some fish keepers have also been able to keep their Scarlet Badis with gouramis, rasboras, and Red Cherry shrimp. However, these aquarists reported differing levels of success when it came to encouraging their Gem Badis to come out into the open and swim freely.

Breeding Scarlet Badis

The Scarlet Badis is one of the easiest fish types to breed in a home aquarium. Follow the steps for Scarlet Badis breeding listed below, and you should have a breeding tank full of fry soon enough.

  1. Choose a healthy Scarlet Badis breeding pair. During the mating season, the male Gem Badis will have a more intense coloration. He will begin to swim around females he wants to breed with.
  2. Place your selected breeding pair in a separate tank. This tank should have live plants and a soft, fine substrate.
  3. Once your breeding pair has acclimated to their new tank, the female should begin to spawn eggs on the leafy tops of your aquarium plants. Female Scarlet Badis lay around 70 to 90 eggs per spawning.
  4. The male will then fertilize these eggs and guard them until they hatch. You can transfer the female Scarlet Badis back into the main tank at this point.
  5. The eggs should hatch after 28 to 72 hours. You can support the growth and survival of your juvenile Scarlet Badis by providing infusoria as their main source of food until they are large enough to be rehomed in the main aquarium.


Though it is certainly one of the smallest fish in the hobby, there’s a lot to learn about the Scarlet Badis and how to best care for it. Here’s a rundown of the most important points we tackled in this article:

  • The Scarlet Badis originated from the rivers of India.
  • The male Scarlet Badis is bright orange, while the female has silvery-gray scales.
  • This nano fish is a hunter that thrives on live prey such as worms, brine shrimp, and daphnia.
  • These fish are best raised in a small, species-dedicated tank. They could be included in a community tank but should be paired with small and peaceful fish.
  • Breeding Scarlet Badis is a straightforward task, but you must support the fry’s growth with regular feedings of infusoria.

With all that said, you should now be more than equipped to try raising a group of lovely Scarlet Badis in your aquarium.

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