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Black Tiger Badis, Dario sp. 'Myanmar'

Dario sp. 'Myanmar'
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Family: Badidae

Appears endemic to northern Myanmar and possibly to the state of Kachin, close to the city of Myitkyina.

Shows a preference for small, often tannin stained pools with dense growths of aquatic plants or submerged grasses.

Maximum Standard Length:
25 – 35mm.

Aquarium Size:
A pair or small group with a male and several females can be housed in an aquarium with a base measuring 45 x 30cm or more.

Best-maintained in a well-structured arrangement with plenty of cover. A soft substrate is preferable although fine-grade gravel is acceptable, while ideal plants include Cryptocoryne spp. or those that can be grown attached to the decor such as Microsorum, Anubias, or Taxiphyllum species. The latter is particularly useful as it’s also an ideal spawning substrate, and driftwood branches, floating plants and leaf litter can all be used as well.

Water Conditions:
Temperature: It is subject to seasonal temperature fluctuations in nature and is comfortable within the range 15 – 25°C with even greater extremes being tolerated for short periods. In many countries/well-insulated homes it can be therefore maintained without artificial heating year-round. Higher temperatures are known to stimulate spawning activity meaning a heater will be required if you want to breed the fish outside of spring and summer months though. Set your heater to around 20 – 24 °C for long-term care and breeding.

pH: Prefers neutral to alkaline water with a value between 7.0 – 9.0.

Hardness: The water in northern Myanmar is typically soft despite the relatively high pH so aim for somewhere within the range 18 – 90 ppm.

Dario species are micro predators feeding on small aquatic crustaceans, worms, insect larvae and other zooplankton. In captivity they should be offered small live or frozen fare such as Artemia nauplii, Daphnia, grindal, micro worm. They’re noted as somewhat shy, deliberate feeders and it’s also important to note that all badids develop issues with obesity and become more susceptible to disease when fed chironomid larvae (bloodworm) and/or Tubifex so these should be omitted from the diet.

Behaviour and Compatibility:
Given its rarity the emphasis should be on captive reproduction and we strongly recommend maintaining it alone. It’s not a gregarious fish as such and rival males can be very aggressive towards one another, especially in smaller tanks. In these cases only a single pair or one male and several females should be purchased but in roomier surroundings a group can coexist provided there is space for each male to establish a territory and plenty of broken lines of sight. Thoughtful placement of caves and boundaries can help tremendously in this respect so don’t be tempted to cluster all available spawning sites in one area of the tank, for example. If you do intend to house it in a community tank mates must be chosen with care. It’s slow-moving with a retiring nature and will easily be intimidated or out competed for food by larger or more boisterous tank mates. Peaceful, pelagic cyprinids such as Microdevario, Boraras, Trigonostigma or smaller Rasbora species make good choices as do diminutive loaches such as some members of the genus Petruichthys.

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are far more brightly-coloured and develop extended pelvic, dorsal and anal fins than females as they mature. In addition females are smaller and possess a noticeably shorter, stumpier-looking body profile then males.

Substrate-spawner forming temporary pair bonds. Other fishes are best omitted if you want to raise good numbers of fry, although in a mature, well-furnished community a few may survive to adulthood. Either a single pair or a group of adults can be used but if using multiple males be sure to provide each with space to form a territory with around 30 cm² per individual adequate. One male will usually become dominant meaning the others will not be involved in breeding. Water parameters should be within the values suggested above and the fish conditioned with plenty of live and frozen foods. As they come into breeding condition males will begin to form territories and display courtship behaviour alongside an intensified colour pattern. This can be prolonged for several days with the female often being chased away then courted again minutes later. The male will make a non-aggressive approach towards the female and appear to ‘invite’ her into the centre of his territory, and if ready to spawn she will follow. The act itself is over in just a few seconds with eggs being scattered in a random fashion on the underside of a solid surface such as a plant leaf. Post-spawning the female is ejected and the male takes sole responsibility for the territory. If you want to maximize the numbers of fry raised now is the time to either remove the medium to a container containing water from the spawning tank or the adults as the fry will be preyed upon once hatched. The incubation period should be 2-3 days after which the fry may need up to a week to fully absorb the yolk sac. They are very small indeed and will require an infusoria-type diet until large enough to accept microworm, Artemia nauplii, and suchlike.

This fish first became available to hobbyists in 2005 and has also been referred to as Dario sp. ‘pyjamas’ or ‘fire red tiger badis’. Despite the striking differences in colour pattern it’s officially recognised as a colour form of D. hysginon as per Kullander and Britz (2002) although D. sp. ‘Myanmar’ is now known to have an appreciably larger adult size. Females are also distinguishable from those of D. hysginon, plus the two will not hybridise with each other in aquaria, so we’ve included them separately for the time being. Dario currently contains five species, of which four are considered miniature species since they do not exceed 26 mm in standard length. The fifth, D. urops, not only grows larger, to at least 28.0 mm standard length, but occurs in southwestern India whereas the others are native to the Brahmaputra, Meghna, and Ayeyarwaddy river systems in northern India, Myanmar, and southwestern China, and this raises interesting questions regarding their biogeography. Prior to 2002 the family Badidae included just five species but an extensive revision paper published that year contained descriptions of ten new species along with the genus Dario of which the former Badis dario was designated type species. Dario is most easily distinguished from Badis by the small adult size of member species, predominantly red colouration, more extended first few dorsal rays and pectoral fins in males, straight-edged (vs. rounded) caudal-fin, lack of visible lateral line and less-involved parental behaviour. Badids have historically been considered members of the families Nandidae or Pristolepididae and it was not until 1968 that Barlow proposed a separate grouping for them. They share some characteristics with anabantoids, nandids and channids, perhaps most notably the typical spawning embrace in which the male wraps his body around that of the female.