Dwarf Chameleon Fish (Badis badis)

Badis Badis is also known as Dwarf Chameleon fish, Blue perch or Blue dwarf fish. It is a freshwater fish species belonging to the Badidae family. It lives in ponds, ditches, swamps, and slow-moving streams of Ganges and Mahanadi river systems in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. This fish is popular in the aquarium trade for its ability to change color frequently.



Although Badis can grow up to a maximum size of 8 cm, it usually grows only up to 5 cm on average. Its coloration is extremely variable, ranging from blue-black to shades of brown or yellow. The male fishes display more vibrant coloration than females, especially during spawning. The female specimens have a rounder appearance and lack blue/red colors on fins. Also, females are smaller and have shorter body shapes than males.

Behavior and Compatibility

Badis has a non-aggressive nature but is territorial especially during spawning. It is a deliberate eater and has a sluggish nature, so it gets outcompeted for food easily by larger or more aggressive fish. Badis does well in a community aquarium with other non-active and non-aggressive fish like Harlequin rasbora (Trigonostigma heteromorpha), small characins or tetras (Characidae family).

Badis is not gregarious and can be kept in pairs or larger numbers. The males are territorial and squabble frequently. So, it is best to have a pair (male and female) or a combination of one male fish with many females.

This species predates on freshwater shrimp and putting it in a shrimp tank will harm the shrimp population. It is best to not have shrimp in the same tank together with Badis.

Water Parameters:

Temperature: 15-26°C
pH: 6,0 – 7,8
Hardness: 5 – 15 dGH

Badis can live in slightly acidic to slightly basic waters with soft to medium hardness. It comes from calm waters, so the aquarium should not have much water flow.

Proper Tank Conditions

The substrate must be sand or gravel in various grain sizes. A well-planted aquarium with plenty of hiding places is substantial. It is vital for the optimal health of the fish but also for it to display its vibrant coloration.

The aquarium must have structures made from driftwood, branches, rocks, pebbles, or leaf litter. This fish is a cave-breeder, so cave-like structures made from ceramic tiles, flower pots, PVC pipes or coconut shells are essential for breeding.

Aquarium plants are optional, but a well-planted aquarium gives further hiding and spawning spots. This fish dislikes bright lighting. Some floating plants are good additions since they provide shade.


Badis is a carnivorous fish that feeds on small aquatic crustaceans, worms and insect larvae. It is a deliberate eater and sometimes, takes up to two minutes to eat even a single bloodworm. It accepts only live or frozen foods like bloodworms, brine shrimp, or daphnia. Although some specimen can accept dried foods rarely.


Badis Badis fish are active breeders and spawn readily under the right conditions. Increasing the water temperature slightly (up to 27°C) induces spawning.

The male fish becomes more aggressive and develops an intense blue-black coloration when it is in the mood to spawn. Badis selects a territory having a cave-like structure and tries to attract females. A receptive female enters the cave and spawning takes place in there.

The female is quickly chased out of the cave after it lays 30-100 eggs. Males guard and fan the brood till they become free-swimming. The eggs hatch typically in 3-4 days, but the fry does not become free-swimming until another 7-8 days. For the first 14-15 days, they do not move much and need infusoria, microworms or the nauplii of Artemia. Once the fry starts moving around, the parent fish or other adult fishes can predate on fry and need to be moved to a separate tank.

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