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Scarlet Badis spawning on camera

Lowells Fish Lab

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After months of searching I recently found two female Scarlet Badis. After quarantine and conditioning I tried a little experiment. Since I've heard that their breeding behavior is somewhat similar to bettas, I tried a trick Gianne Souza mentioned while discussing betta breeding. I placed the male and females on either side of a glass barrier that allowed them to see and get interested in each other before being allowed to make actual contact. After 24 hours I pulled the glass divider and they started spawning within seconds. I got plenty of pictures of the "wrap." It was important to me to watch the actual spawn because I've been curious to know whether the eggs drop straight down (making an egg trap usable) or are adhesive and attach to plants (making a spawning mop usable). After watching a spawn, it certainly appears that the eggs drop straight down into the substrate.







It looks like the female is able to produce a fairly large number of eggs in one spawning session. The male energetically displays for her and follows her around trying to herd her to a suitable spawning site. I had the male in this tank for about a week before introducing the females. I gave him time to claim the anubias plant as his territory. I thought that might make a nice place that would still allow me to get pictures rather than dense, bushy vegetation. It had an added benefit. It seems like the female prefers to position herself under some kind of a canopy (under a leaf or this small flower pot in the last photo) to signal that she is ready for the wrap. It is kind of a compromising position.. It wouldn't surprise me if this is just a safety measure to defend against predation while they are temporarily incapacitated.

Here's what a fry looks like shortly after hatching. I found it clinging to the glass. It reminds me very much of celestial pearl danio fry, just with some banding and generally darker coloration. Once I grow out some fry I'll post pictures of juveniles.


I almost forgot: here they are getting to know each other. When I saw them both struggling to find a way through the glass, I knew it was time to pull it and grab the camera.


Edited by Lowells Fish Lab
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Here is a female positioning herself under leaves:





I think the most difficult part about this whole process was just finding females. For whatever reason, they don't ship to stores very often. Whether they are intentionally removed by the farms because they don't sell or because they don't want them bred, I can't say. I can say it took a while. For anyone else hunting for females, here are a few things I would offer from my experience.

1. Even if they are intentionally withheld by farms, it would be nearly impossible to hold back 100% of the females. At a young age and under stress, males and females can be difficult to tell apart. Any time you stop by the LFS and see a tank holding a recent shipment of badis, just stop and give them a look over before leaving and you might find one.

2. Females are white/silver (with possible greyish/black patches as you'll see in one of these two. Happens in males too but is less noticeable behind their red coloration). They do show blue coloration on the edges of their fins as well as a blue sheen across the body. My opinion is that what you want to avoid when looking for males is red vertical bands. No matter how white/otherwise colorless they may look, I found that if they have red bars, they turned out to be young, subdominant males that were suppressing color to avoid being bullied.



3. In the presence of a male, the females turn on some grey vertical stripes across the body. I also noticed some yellow coloration on the head while in breeding color. In the second photo below you can also see a yellowish/pinkish bulge on the lower body that I took to be full of eggs.




Something else I noticed was consistent with comparisons to betta behavior when breeding: before spawning I saw my males either curiously following the females around or eagerly trying to get their attention to engage a spawn. After spawning, they would become highly aggressive toward the female and chase them away from where the eggs were laid. The males would then stay at the spawning site, presumably guarding the eggs or at very least his territory. I remember reading about aggression from males toward females after spawning but what I learned from watching these females is that they are very peaceful with each other without males present. Once I added a male, the females became moderately aggressive with each other.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Quick update on the fry.. 

Like I mentioned they were extremely small and I only caught brief glimpses of them by carefully scanning the walls of the tank to see them clinging on to the glass. I added paramecium to the tank for the first week or so but eventually the fry disappeared. I actually haven't seen them for over two weeks and assumed they had died. Today, while resetting things to try another spawn, I saw movement darting across the tank and found them again. There's plenty of microfauna in the tank that has apparently kept them fed. it turns out they are just extremely reclusive.

Still very small but starting to look like a fish:



Hunting daphnia:


Blending into the sand:


Sitting on the heater:




This made my day. I'm setting up to spawn again with a container underneath an anubias plant to see if I can get a better look at the eggs and try raising them artificially. I may start feeding some baby brine shrimp now that I know these are still around. 

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