by Don Kinyon
One of the fish that’s been around the hobby for years and years is the Nandid from India, the Badis badis. It’s sometimes called the Chameleon Fish, for reasons that become obvious once you observe them for a while. The fish seem to change color according to mood, especially during courtship and breeding.
Most of the time, they are a mildly colorful series of stripes of orange and blue, sometimes violet. However, when guarding a nest or group of young, the male becomes jet black with bright blue highlights in the fins.
I located six young fish through the internet, and through favors from friends, was able to get them home. They were 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" long, and seemed no worse for wear. I was told that there were three of each sex, but they looked all the same to me.
Their new home consisted of a 40-gallon tank and their tankmates were some croaking gouramis that arrived at the same time. Eventually, six Corydoras catfish also shared the space.
Nothing special was done to the water or filtration; tap water of 7.4 pH and three large sponge filters. There was no heater, so the water stayed at about 74 degrees. Some locust bogwood, inverted clay pots, Java Fern and Java Moss completed the setup. There was no sand or gravel in the tank.
The fish ate well from the start, always preferring live food but accepting frozen and even freeze-dried foods. Live foods were white worms, earth worms (chopped) and mosquito larvae. They got one of these each day, when possible. Water changes of about 30% were given every week.
In a few weeks, I noticed one of the males (by this time, it looked like the breeder was right; there were three pairs) acting strangely during a water change. He not only attacked the siphon, he had changed color. He was an absolutely beautiful black, with bright blue in the fins. Without thinking, I lifted the flower pot he was guarding to see if there were eggs inside. As soon as it was off the floor of the tank, about a hundred babies scattered.
Figuring that I’d done enough harm for the day, I put the pot back and let the father go about gathering the youngsters back up.
He must have done a good job, because the next day there were still many young in the pot. I left the other fish in the tank until the male no longer seemed to have control of the babies; about three weeks’ time.
After the adult fish were all removed, the babies were more at ease and ventured out of pot and plants more often. They hung on the algae-covered sides of the tank most of the time, possibly feeding, and grew slowly. The young also ate newly hatched brine shrimp and microworms well. At two months old, they are still growing slowly, and eating many of the same foods as the adults.
I would recommend this little fish to anyone who has kept Apistogramma or similar fish with any success. Because of the similarities, but also because of the differences. It’s a pleasure to keep, and fascinating when displaying breeding behavior.
This article first appeared in PVAS’s Delta Tale, Vol 30, # 2-3