How to Succeed with Your New Chameleon Fish
Aqualand's inside scoop on Badis badis
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Origin: Chameleon fish come from India -- another pretty big place. Namistay. Chameleon fish are a type of nandid similar to a dwarf cichlid but not eligible to enroll in the ACA or other cichlid club. Some people call them “blue perch.” Others call them Indian nandids (with good reason). Chameleon fish are neither rare nor expensive, just hard to find. And when you do find them, the little dudes are hard to see, because they are small and plain. You’re more likely to find Badis badis as the result of a fish club’s Breeder Award Program.
Size: If you believe everything you read, chameleon fish grow to three inches. Maybe so. We just haven’t seen any Badis badis over two inches. However, we’ve never seined any waters in India, either. You usually see them for sale at less than one inch long.
Colors: We haven’t taken one of these apart, but chameleon fish appear to have black, blue, orange, yellow, and drab iridocytes they can change the size of at will. Since blue’s a reflective color, you’ll see their best colors if you keep your light at the front of their tank. We’ve checked them with a flashlight at night. Their colors darken at night. Badis badis also seem to prefer non-bright lights.
Plants, Rocks, Wood: Add plenty of live plants, plastic plants, knick knacks, paddy whacks, rocks, terraces, niches, notches, castles, caves, crevices and chunks of wood. Chameleon fish color better and display better in tanks with lots of decor. Oh yes, you are treating Badis badis like dwarf cichlids. Namistay.
Foods and Feeding: But you are not feeding them like dwarf cichlids. When you buy rams off the shelf, most will accept flakes and pellets from day one. Not so your new chameleon fish. You better at least be ready with frozen brine shrimp. They are not enthusiastic eaters -- which may account for the male’s concave abs. The food they like best is live California black worms. Badis badis accept other live and frozen foods but not quite as eagerly.
Flake Foods: You’ll save probably less than half your colony if you feed your chameleon fish nothing but flake foods. The picky beggars die. The less particular survivors are tough little rascals. Rather than depend on luck, ask your dealer what his or her Badis badis are eating. ASK to see them eat it.
Good Community Fish: Chameleon fish mix well with other smaller fishes -- like moons, dwarf gouramis, etc. The best thing about mixing in other fishes is it encourages your Badis badis to compete for their food. They see the other fish eagerly eating and want their share -- just like our siblings when we were growing up.
Kimberly, Des Moines, IA, June 15, 2009Here is a picture of the male Badis badis in full color as he is courting a female in his tank near his cave. They do put off some intense colors! Thought I'd share it.
Also, the fish you have listed as 'Scarlet Badis' is no longer classified as a Badis at all. It is now Dario dario. They lay their eggs among plants, and the Badis badis uses a cave.
A: I'll add your info to my Badis page. The scarlets are showing up more these days. LA
Breeding: Add some small caves. Two-inch flower pots work fine. Chameleon fish breed like dwarf cichlids. You’ll see a little lip-locking and tail-slapping, but you probably won’t see the nuptials or the consummation. Badis badis enjoy their privacy. You’ll notice your male becomes more brightly colored. Your male chameleon fish will care for the eggs and fry.
Other Badis: You can also find blue badis and red badis on rare occasions. Both cost more and are less seldom seen. Good luck finding any Badis.
Last Word: Except for the picture of the members of the tribe and the other species of Badis, all these pictures were of the same “first four.” As we said earlier, “Badis vary a lot.” And as we also said earlier: “Chameleon fish are neither rare nor expensive, just hard to find.” LA
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