How to raise and breed Badis Badis in aquariums
Guide by Mick, keeping fish since 1976
Badis badis is one species of aquarium fish that displays beautiful markings but is often overlooked by fish keepers even though they make a great addition to the aquarium. They belong to the family of Badidae and are often referred to under several different common names. The most commonly used names that we refer to these fish are such names as Blue perch, Blue dwarf or even the Chameleon fish as they can change their colouration if they wish to.
Their natural habitat is slow moving waterways such as small streams or even natural ponds, they originate from Asia, namely river tributaries found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, the most famous tributaries being from the Ganges river.
It is believed that their colouration can alter dependant upon which locality they are found from but Badid badis is instantly recognisable wherever they occur, nowadays it is mostly tank bred specimens that are available for sale and these tend to be hardier than their wild cousins.
Caring for Badis badis in the aquarium
Sand or gravel can be used for the substrate in the aquarium, there is no preference so it is purely the owners choice which they decide to use, what is important is the addition of hiding places in the aquarium. These will also supply potential spawning sites if you wish to breed these fish and are important to make the fish feel secure, rocks or wood can be used as well as upturned plant pots, plants can be added if secured to the décor, any plants placed directly in the substrate do run the risk of being uprooted so be prepared for this if you do add them for aesthetic reasons. As mentioned above, these fish inhabit slow moving waterways and they tend to have a slow swimming style so restrict the flow from the filters to prevent the fish from struggling as they swim around the aquarium but make sure that there are no dead spots in the tank where detritus can accumulate.
Badis badis are quite a hardy species of fish, they tolerate a wide range of conditions in their natural habitat and this is also reflected in the aquarium. They do prefer the water to be slightly acidic but they will tolerate slightly alkaline conditions, bear in mind if you are keeping these fish in a species tank with a view to breed, alkaline conditions may prevent the production of fry. The pH can range from 6.5 – 7.5 according to a lot of profiles but 6.5 - 7.0 is the best range to keep these fish healthy and active. Temperature wise you can also acclimatise them to a wider range than many species of fish, temperatures as low as 15 °C (59 °F) will be tolerated but a more acceptable range is a temperature between 22-25 ° C (72-77 °F). The hardness of the water is not too crucial but if they are kept in acidic conditions then make sure that the KH of the water never drops below 4 or this can lead to pH swings which are bad news to any species of fish.
As the adult size of the fish will never exceed 3 inches (8 cm) a 20 gallon (90 liters, 24 US gallons) tank will be fine but be careful when choosing tank mates. These fish are slow moving and will hide constantly if they feel threatened, make sure that the tank mates are not too large and have a peaceful disposition, Corydoras make good bottom dwellers and for middle dwellers peaceful barbs or the larger Tetras are ideal. Males can be aggressive towards each other and will establish a territory very quickly, if there is more than one male in the tank then squabbles will occur so it is best to keep a single male with several females.
Make sure that the aquarium is fully cycled before the fish are added and perform regular water changes to keep the water quality high.
Feeding the Badis badis
Badis badis can sometimes be a bit tricky to feed when first introduced to the aquarium, it is best to start them off with live or frozen foods and gradually add dried foods such as flakes or small granules over a period of time. They will eat insects and small crustaceans in the wild so try them out on microworms initially, bloodworms should be fed sparingly as these can introduce digestive problems over a period of time. The nature of these fish makes them skittish anyway so feeding them with food that they can't resist to start with should help to overcome the shyness, once they feel confident you will have more success trying them out with different foods in their diet. Brine shrimp will keep their digestive system clear but unless they are gut loaded prior to feeding offer a low nourishment value.
Sexing and breeding the Badis badis
If kept in the correct conditions breeding the Badis badis will not normally be hard to do but obviously they will have a better success rate if kept in a species aquarium, this means that other species of fish will not distract them from breeding. Sexing these fish is not that difficult either, mature males display a much brighter colouration compared to the females and if you look closely at the bellies of the fish the female will have a more rotund appearance. To ensure a higher rate of success it is far better to keep 2-3 females to each male and if the breeding tank does not have a lot of room, only keep one male in there or the males will spend more time squabbling rather than concentrating on breeding.
Setting up the breeding tank is relatively easy, use gravel for the substrate and for filtration use a sponge filter so that the water flow can be reduced to a steady pace. The water should be soft and slightly acidic, the temperature should be set at 24 °C (75 °F).
Make sure that there is a lid on the tank as the parent fish can get over excited and jump the tank, not a good move if the tank is unattended!
The parent fish should be conditioned prior to breeding by providing them with a high protein diet of live or frozen foods and daily water changes in the breeding tank with offer them the highest water quality possible. The male should display a more intense colouration as he prepares to display to the female and they will pair off looking for potential spawning sites, adding a couple of upturned plant pots will offer these.
Early stages of spawning will include the male swimming closely with the female and you may even see him nudging at her or even trying to embrace her. If all works well the female will then deposit her eggs closely followed by the male who will swim over them to fertilise. At this stage it is wise to remove the female from the breeding tank as the male may turn aggressive towards her.
The male protects the brood and fans over the eggs, these should hatch after 48 hours but do not attempt to feed the fry at this stage. They will consume their yolk sacs initially and after this they will become free swimming a few days later, now the fry can be fed with nutritious food. Newly hatched brine shrimp or even a commercial fry food for egg layers are acceptable but make sure that the fry can reach the food without having to swim too far as this can use up their energy which will reduce their growth rate. While at this stage the male should not bother them but as they grow they can become seen as a food source for the male so removing him at an early stage will prevent any fry from being lost in this manner.
The fry should be fed small amounts at least 3 times per day and make sure that the water has a partial water change everyday taking care not to syphon out any fry while performing this action.
The growth rate should be quite quick and once the reach a size of 0.75 - 1 inch (2 - 2.5 cm) they can be sold on or moved into a larger aquarium if you wish to keep them.